Lakota Nation vs. United States (2022) Movie Script

The struggle for the Black Hills
has been
a generational struggle.
I was raised up
with that ideology.
We entered into treaties with
the United States government
that were made at a time of war.
And, so, that made them
peace treaties.
Nation to nation.
The great Lakota Nation
was an equal
to the United States government.
The treaties themselves
were violated
as soon as they were created.
When they illegally took
the land from our people,
it wasn't just the land itself
that was taken.
It was a part of a process
to assume control over us.
It was part of a process
to colonize our people.
It was a part of a process
to strip our identities from us.
And, so, as soon as these
treaties were made,
they were violated.
At the time that
they were violated,
it meant that the peace
part of it was over.
That's why we're still
at war today.
About 25 or 30 Indians
demanding that the Black Hills
of South Dakota
be returned to the Sioux Tribe
have climbed Mount Rushmore.
American Indians began
gathering today
at Pine Ridge, South Dakota,
for a weeklong protest
against what they call
anti-Indian racism
and brutality.
In Wounded Knee, South Dakota,
today, there was an exchange
of gunfire between federal
officers and militant Indians
who seized control
of the historic settlement
on the Pine Ridge
Sioux Reservation last night.
These demonstrations reflect
a new sense of ethnic pride
and self-confidence in
the American Indian community.
The Indians said,
through a spokesman,
that they are willing to die,
if necessary, to bring about
federal action
on their grievances.
This is a fundamental issue
that has to be understood.
They are within
the United States of America.
There's only one sovereign.
For the moment,
both sides remain stalemated.
You may like to know
I do not consider this a, quote,
"creative piece."
I do not regard this as a poem
of great imagination
or a work of fiction.
Also, historical events will not
be dramatized for a, quote,
"interesting read."
Therefore, I feel
most responsible
to the orderly sentence,
conveyor of thought.
That said, I will begin.
Keep in mind,
I am not a historian,
so I will recount facts as best
as I can given limited resources
and understanding.
500 years ago,
there were people on both sides
of the Atlantic Ocean,
but neither knew
about the other.
On the eastern side, in Europe,
the people were white-skinned.
They had learned how to build
houses and large sailing ships,
but they still didn't know much
about the rest of the world.
In fact, most of them believed
the Earth was flat.
I want to tell you
about the Sioux Uprising...
...but I don't know
where to begin.
I may jump around and details
will not unfold
in chronological order.
The United States' history,
as it tells itself,
is that of Indian people
being in the past,
that we are a phase, right?
We are a branch of the larger
US or American history.
The United States has
a history of making agreements
or treaties with the Indians,
which dates back 137 years.
Fred Briggs has a report on
how well they've been kept.
I begin the history,
when I tell it, of Lakota people
with the arrival
of the United States.
When an Indian prays,
he gives thanks to the land.
Land is quite sacred to Indians,
literally Mother Earth
in their religion.
At one time, of course,
the entire country
belonged to Indians.
Then the colonization began,
and with it,
the retreat westward.
Treaties are the reason
the United States exists today.
If not for the treaties
that the United States
signed with tribal nations,
the world would
not have legitimized
the sovereignty
of the United States.
Because President
George Washington knew
that one of the ways
to tell France, Spain, England,
all these countries that,
hey, the United States
is a legitimate country
just like you are.
You're signing treaties
with these tribal nations,
and so are we.
The first large-scale treaty
reorganizing Indian land
wasn't really a treaty at all.
It was the Commerce Act of 1836,
which more or less gave
the Indians
all the land west
of the Mississippi.
But each treaty made after this,
nearly 400 of them,
amounted to a whittling away
of Indian real estate.
During the 1800s,
when the US expanded territory,
they, quote, "purchased" land
from the Dakota people
as well as the other tribes.
But another way to understand
that sort of, quote, "purchase"
is Dakota leaders ceded land
to the US government
in exchange for money or goods.
But most importantly,
the safety of their people.
Some say that Dakota people
did not understand
the terms they were entering
or they never would have agreed.
Even others call
the entire negotiation trickery.
But to make whatever
it was official and binding,
the US government drew up
an initial treaty.
In 1851, the Sioux Tribes
were given
most of the western Dakotas
and northwestern Nebraska.
This treaty was later replaced
by another more
convenient treaty.
A treaty in 1868
said the land would belong
to the Sioux forever,
but the treaty was broken
nine years later
when gold was discovered.
And then another.
By 1889, the Indian lands
were greatly reduced
through a series of schemes
and illegal actions.
I've had difficulty
unraveling the terms
of these treaties,
given the legal speak
and congressional language.
As treaties were abrogated,
broken, and new treaties
were drafted one after another,
the new treaties often
referenced old defunct treaties
and it is a muddy
switchback trail to follow.
This week, the Supreme Court
ordered a sum of $122.5 million
be paid to
the Sioux Indian Nation,
the largest settlement
to Indians in American history.
But the Sioux don't want it.
They want their sacred land.
Although I often feel lost
on this trail,
I know I am not alone.
When you look at histories
of peoples
from different parts
of the world,
they all like to talk
about something
called a cradle of civilization.
In Judeo-Christian history,
we look at the birth
of Jesus Christ
as the place when time began.
Hesapais kind of the Lakota word
for the Black Hills.
It is our cradle
of civilization,
the heart of everything that is.
It's a love of this land
born out of thousands
and thousands of years of living
on and near the Black Hills.
In Lakota, we say, wi cho ni.
"Wi" is a sun.
"Cho" means beautiful.
"Ni" is to live.
So when you say,
"Miye wi cho ni,"
that means, "I live
in the beauty of this creation."
A lot of people
just don't understand.
Because some people see
the Black Hills as commodity,
a place to make a dollar bill.
US history is a branch
of a larger tree of history
in the way
that we understand it.
Not the other way around.
But it's that covetous branch
that thinks it's the tree.
All right.
is never any good.
But we go to war...
for peace.
Peace is through death.
Much of what we've learned
about the battle for the plains
comes from what we've seen
in Hollywood movies.
When we saw the Indian
defending his land,
we cheered for
the White man's soldiers.
The best way to kill people
is to dehumanize them,
right, to make them
into caricatures.
Whether it's Peter Pan,
whether it's John Ford's
"The Searchers,"
which is considered not just
the archetype of Western movies,
but one of the great
American films.
And this is a classic
Hollywood trope...
...that makes invasion
look like self-defense.
You know, we weren't obsessed
with the United States
the way that the United States
was obsessed with us.
And, so, if we reimagine
our history
from the perspective
of Lakota people...
...we get a different set
of questions
and a different set of answers.
- Good evening.
- Our focus tonight is on a story
that has been with this country
since its very beginnings.
It deals with a continuing
struggle over land
between the White man
and the Indian.
If it was ever easy
to delineate the good guys
and the bad, it isn't anymore.
I mean, I think
resistance is always defined
as being militant
or it's always looked at
as something
that's very aggressive.
But for me, resistance, I'm just
trying to exist in this world
as who I am
as an indigenous person,
as someone who comes
from this land
and who came out of this land.
For me, the sanctity and the
sacredness of the Black Hills
isn't just that
it's a sacred site,
but I think it's the fact that
the land itself is life-giving.
That's what makes it sacred.
That's what the Black Hills
represents to me.
And honestly, that's what
all land represents to me.
Is life.
It is one of the oldest
places on the Earth,
over 5 billion years old.
So we say we came
from the Black Hills.
And the Wind Cave is that place,
that opening on this
Mother Earth that breathes.
And we followed the buffalo
out to see this place.
This is why we say
we are pte oyate.
We are "buffalo people."
For Lakota people, specifically,
the Black Hills
is a place of emergence.
Not just the physical creation
of life itself,
but the emergence of ourselves
as a nation.
Especially in relation to
the United States government.
The Black Hills
represents our Mecca.
This is the most sacred place
in the world.
How do you say it?
I can't even express it.
I can believe it,
think it, feel it.
It's in my spirit.
But how do you put that
even into English?
The land and the people...
Are inextricably connected.
Not only is it central
to our creation stories,
it's central to our
understanding of ourselves
as a nation, as people.
And we are nothing
without the Black Hills.
That's why the Black Hills
are not for sale.
Because we are not for sale.
How can you sell
your very identity
of what makes you
an indigenous person?
And remember, Lakotas,
we have no ending.
That's the beauty
of our culture.
That's why we're survivors.
We have a beautiful, innate,
inherent right of life.
Deep in the Black Hills
of South Dakota
stands one of the biggest
and unlikeliest monuments
on the face of the Earth.
A feat of modern engineering.
Its size, its remote location,
its compelling oddness
begs the question,
how did it get there?
Mount Rushmore represents
and is, like, the ultimate
shrine to White supremacy.
Our sacred mountain,
the Six Grandfathers,
of course they carved four
racist White men
into our sacred mountain,
who believed in slavery,
who actually removed us
from our lands.
No matter how long
the faces are there...
And it could be a quarter
of a million years...
To the American Indian,
they will represent
our government's deceit
and dishonor.
After the murder
of George Floyd,
there was a series of
tearing down of colonial statues
all across the so-called US,
and the calling of White
supremacy of what it is.
We are watching statues
being toppled,
symbols of White supremacy
being toppled.
For us, there's no flag
you can take down.
There's no statue
that you can topple.
President Trump kicks
off the 4th of July weekend
a little later today with
a trip out to Mount Rushmore.
And all of a sudden,
the president wanted to come
in the middle of a pandemic
to the heart of the Black Hills,
to the hesapa.
The Lakota Sioux still believe
that it belongs to them
and they want it back.
And come to Mount Rushmore
and put on a big show.
My message is, is that this
is no longer about equality.
This is a radical rewriting
of our history,
and in South Dakota,
we won't stand for it.
Now, for the first time
in history,
Homeland Security is using
rapid deployment teams
to protect national monuments
across the nation.
We've seen this lawlessness
over the past four weeks.
This is an aggressive response
- by the Trump administration.
- The key, I think,
is what you just said.
It's federal property.
That's absolutely right.
We have people prepared,
ready to go with the air assets
to get them there quickly.
We can't think of anything
better than to celebrate
and have a little fun
on July 3rd
with a fireworks celebration
at Mount Rushmore.
That's where we were like,
"This is an opportunity."
This is an opportunity
for us to connect
this moment of racial uprising
and reckoning of the very heart
of this country
to the struggle
of indigenous people's land
and to the struggle right here
in the Black Hills
that is one of the longest
places of resistance
in this nation.
About 25 or 30 Indians
demanding that the Black Hills
of South Dakota
be returned to the Sioux Tribe
have climbed Mount Rushmore
and camped a few hundred yards
from the gigantic carved
likenesses of George Washington,
Theodore Roosevelt,
Abraham Lincoln,
and Thomas Jefferson.
They say they have
a right to the land.
Do you think maybe that's why
you're letting them stay there?
You know, there's a 50%
chance they're right.
- Testing, testing, one, two.
- Can you guys hear me out there?
We're in Keystone, South Dakota,
at so-called Mount Rushmore.
It was an opportunity for us
to reignite the fight
for the Black Hills.
And reignite the fight to return
these lands in the Black Hills
back to our people.
It's a beautiful day on hesapa.
- Whose land?!
- Our land!
- Whose land?!
- Our land!
- Whose land?!
- This is totally fucked up.
...assembly. Please vacate
the premises immediately.
Get ready!
- Think about it.
- This is our sacred Black Hills.
This is the land
of [speaks Lakota].
And we're prepared
to stand our ground.
Members of the Lakota Sioux
Tribe have been protesting.
They say that this land
is theirs and should be
NDN Collective,
an indigenous nonprofit,
staged a protest on the road
leading out of Keystone.
More than a dozen people
were taken into custody Friday,
many of them held
for the weekend.
Including organizer and NDN CEO
Nick Tilsen.
Cal, you spoke with Tilsen
before Trump's rally.
What did he tell you?
When you're dealing with places
of extreme pockets of poverty
and big struggle,
it's hard to find a unifier.
Because what happens
with poverty,
what happens with struggles,
it separates the people.
It creates further distance
between us.
But when you talk about
the Black Hills to a Lakota,
when you talk about landback
in the Black Hills to a Lakota,
there's not anybody
you're going to find
that's going to be against that.
The bigger picture is,
what was the trespassing
that these folks were doing?
The Black Hills is supposed
to be Native American land.
That was decided as recently
as 1980 by the Supreme Court.
I've been asked a lot about
what brought me to organizing,
what brought me
to activism, actually.
And I always say, like,
it was never a choice.
I was born into it simply
because of who I am
as a native person,
- as a native woman.
- You stole this land!
- I'm just trying to exist.
- You stole this land!
I always say that I wouldn't
recommend this
and I wouldn't choose this life
if I had a choice.
My preference would be literally
just being at home,
drinking the clean water
that still comes out of springs
in my lands.
But it's because I was
called to do this work,
because I can't do that work
without people coming in
and telling me
that it's not okay
to be who I am,
without education systems
saying that my history
doesn't exist.
Every single day,
every piece of our life
is impacted by White supremacy.
And because of that,
I can't just be home.
And, so, for me,
that's what resistance is.
Don't it thrill you
just to look at them hills?
Sure does.
No wonder the Injuns
fight so fierce
- to hang on to this country.
- Hmm.
Take me back to
the Black Hills
The Black hills of Dakota
To the beautiful
Indian country
That I love
Lost my heart
in the Black Hills
The Black Hills of Dakota
X marks an agreement.
Whatever name one uses
to refer to the Black Hills,
it is unquestionably
the place of our beginning.
And another X marks
this land as ours,
unquestionably, by treaty.
The federal government
always call us the wild people.
They always call us that.
What do they say? We're wild.
They say, "Be careful.
They're going to
cut your heart out
and show it to you
before you pass away,
and they'll even eat it."
So they made stories up.
Stories. Stories.
But, actually, we're
the good-hearted people.
Most of the 500-plus tribes,
federally recognized tribes,
have treaties
with the federal government.
And they're all under
the War Department.
In 1851, the Sioux Tribes
were given
most of the western Dakotas
and northwestern Nebraska.
That was ceded
as Indian territory.
No non-Indian could set foot
within the boundaries.
Within that is
the sacred Black Hills.
The Black Hills.
Brave men came from the north,
the east, the south,
the west by the tens,
the hundreds, the thousands
in their wild quest for gold.
Somebody gave news reports
back on the East Coast
that up and down the West Coast,
there was nuggets of gold just
sitting everywhere in the sand.
The pioneers keep coming.
Men and women of many faiths
and many countries
are joined in a common adventure
for freedom and security.
The continent that lies before
them will forge a character,
the character of a new people,
the character of a new country
they are making
in the wilderness.
There was expeditions,
you know, sent out.
And it'd start bringing
across into Indian country.
The Greater Sioux Nation,
abiding by the treaty,
they warned people that
you can't travel through here.
Wagons at that time
on the open prairie
just went destroyed the earth.
People by the thousands
were just coming through,
devastating the land, not really
caring about the earth,
destroying everything
along the way.
But one thing on their mind
was this yellow rock
that made them crazy.
For centuries uncounted,
men have sought,
fought, and died for gold.
The federal government knew
that they were breaking
the 1851 treaty,
and they built three forts
along the Bozeman Trail.
They called it
the Bozeman Trail.
It was a superhighway.
The grandfathers told each other
at that time,
they said, "If we don't stop
these people,
our way of life
is going to come to an end."
You may or may not have heard
about the Dakota 38.
If this is the first time
you've heard of it,
you might wonder,
what is the Dakota 38?
The Dakota 38 refers to 38
Dakota men
who were executed
by hanging under orders
from President Abraham Lincoln.
To date, this is the largest,
"legal mass execution"
in US history.
The hanging took place
on December 26th, 1862,
the day after Christmas.
This was the same week
that President Lincoln
the Emancipation Proclamation.
In the preceding sentence,
I italicize, quote, "same week"
for emphasis.
There was a movie
titled "Lincoln"...
Buzzard's guts, man.
...about the presidency
of Abraham Lincoln.
I am the President
of the United States of America,
clothed in immense power!
The signing of
the Emancipation Proclamation
was included
in the film "Lincoln."
The hanging of
the Dakota 38 was not.
In any case,
you might be asking,
why were 38 Dakota men hung?
They were hanged
for the Sioux Uprising.
After the Civil War,
the Federal Army
was occupying the South
to ensure the gains
of Reconstruction,
to ensure equality.
They began to withdraw
those troops.
They didn't just disappear.
They were sent west
to finish the westward expansion
of the United States.
The war on the plains
is being created
and carried out at the same time
that the United States
is saying, "No more slavery."
So we've got these moments
of progress
in one way
in United States history
and almost a stepping backwards
in another way.
From 1851 to 1868,
there was major wars throughout
the Northern Plains here.
One of the upcoming young
warriors at that time
was Thasnke Witk,
meaning Crazy Horse.
My grandfather,
he took up arms
in the spring of 1866.
Started with bows and arrows
and start, you know,
defending the earth.
The United States
military forces
tried everything in their power.
They had all the weaponry
and that,
but the federal government
was getting whooped.
The spring of 1868,
the federal government,
they decided that, okay,
we got to have, you know, peace.
And grandfather, at that time,
he said,
"I don't want to talk peace.
I don't want to talk treaty.
I don't want to talk
peace treaty at all.
Until the superhighway shut down
and the forts
are burnt to the ground.
Myself and my people
are going to have charcoal
on the soles of our feet
before we even think
about coming to Fort Laramie."
Memorials help focus our memory
on particular people or events.
Often, memorials come in
the forms of plaques,
statues, or gravestones.
The first signatories came in
on April 29th of 1868.
Other bands, headsmen, you know,
chiefs, bonnet wearers
came in with their people,
basically put an X there in
support of their peace treaty.
X marks the heart of our treaty,
which we generally agree
upon as land.
X marks the strange ways
of time.
How a century ago
can feel like yesterday.
And, quote, "from this day
forward" feels like never.
Nonetheless, we have
contractually agreed
from this day forward.
Okay. Article one of the 1868
Fort Laramie Treaty.
"From this day forward,
all war between
the parties to this agreement
shall forever cease."
"The government of
the United States desires peace,
and its honor
is hereby pledged to keep it."
"The Indians desire peace,
and now they pledge
their honor to maintain it."
X marks this contract
in which the United States
solemnly agrees that
"no persons,
except those herein designated,
shall ever be
permitted to pass over,
settle upon, or reside
in the territory
described in this article."
"The United States
hereby agrees and stipulates
that the country north
of the North Platte River"...
..."and east of the summits
of the Bighorn Mountains
shall be held and considered"...
..."to be unceded Indian
X marks the verbose
legal language used to distract
or dull the senses.
To this, beware.
A poet is especially alert.
It says, "The United States
will pledge its honor.
The parties to this agreement
will lay down their weapons
and live in peace."
But the Black Hills question
is also that.
It's a question of honor.
And whose honor
are we talking about?
X X X marks eight months,
April to November,
to assemble our leaders
to travel to various locations,
to translate the terms
of the treaty,
and to collect
or coerce 135 Xes.
X marks a reminder
I offer students
about our beloved leader,
Red Cloud,
who refrained
from signing the treaty
until the final month, November.
Red Cloud, who is quoted
as saying,
"The Whites, who are educated
and civilized,
swindle me,
and I am not hard to swindle
because I do not know
how to read and write."
X marks the swindling made
only because of a language
they could not read or write.
Grandpa, he was the very
last one to come in.
He came in November 6th of 1868,
and sure enough,
their moccasins, their hampas
were all charcoal black.
They went through and made sure
that all of these forts
were burnt to the ground.
I think he was a good man.
From what I know of Custer,
he was a unique individual.
One that probably was given
to eccentricities.
Custer was rough and tough,
and he was a man.
I think he was a very crazy man.
- He was a military man.
- And he was the best.
As far as I can see,
I think Custer
was a psychopathic killer.
Clinically, I had the kind
of a feeling
he was a paranoid schizophrenic
with delusions of grandeur.
He believed that 20 White men
could kill a thousand Indians
any day.
They tried.
You know, he really
was kind of unrealistic.
It amazes me that someone
so stupid went so far.
You must have
something I'm right for.
- Well, what do you want?
- I want action.
That brings us back
to the Indians.
There on the land
and we want it.
Plain robbery. You won't be able
to tell yourself
you're fighting
for a noble cause.
You'll be fighting against the
best light cavalry in the world.
And you'll have to chase
those devils
over the roughest country
in the world.
Deserts, mountains, prairies.
You know, Custer, you could
become a living legend.
Or get yourself killed.
Dead men make better legends.
So, Custer was sent to a place
called Fort Abraham Lincoln.
It's also important to remember
that Custer, you know, himself
was a seasoned Indian fighter.
The tactic that he had
kind of pioneered and mastered
was to essentially
attack noncombatants
to force the surrender
of enemy combatants.
So, on the field of battle,
against indigenous people,
Custer wasn't really a proven,
you know, man-to-man fighter
because he pretty much
attacked women and children.
Custer is the villain in
the mythology of Lakota people.
For the past eight years,
the Battle of Little Bighorn
has been reenacted
on a site near
the original battlefield,
which today is
a national monument.
The Sioux and Cheyenne,
who won the battle,
take no part
in this reenactment.
It is staged by the Crow Tribe,
who fought alongside Custer,
together with White farmers
in the area.
Is this reenactment just
a commercial enterprise,
or does it lead
to a deeper understanding
between the races?
- We're not all one people.
- We don't all get along.
But I think the fact
that we're not getting along
is keeping us from
being conquered.
O say does that
Star-spangled banner
yet wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave
There was an expedition
to the Black Hills
to look for gold.
Fort Laramie Treaty or no
Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868,
the light-eyed people
still entered Indian territory.
There was gold in them
thar hills.
- Oh?
- Gold?!
- Gold?!
- Gold?!
Gold on the mountains,
in the rivers,
and in the dark depths far below
the surface of the Earth.
Custer led a military expedition
into the Black Hills in 1874
and "discovered" gold near
a town that now bears his name,
which led to the impetus
to seize the Black Hills
from the Lakota to essentially
develop it as a gold mine.
In 1876, Washington directed
the Army
to round up the Sioux
and Cheyenne Tribes
and bring them
onto reservations.
The 7th Cavalry, led by
General George Armstrong Custer,
joined this expedition.
Prior to the Battle
at Greasy Grass,
Sitting Bull had a vision.
Of hundreds of mila haske,
the "long knives,"
falling into a camp.
The stage is now set
for disaster,
for there is bloodshed
on the move.
This was June 26th.
The United States was preparing
to celebrate
its century of existence
on July 4th.
The Greater Sioux Nation,
the Ochthi Sakwin,
they were unified.
And they were powerful.
Custer, in his arrogance,
believed that, if he charged
down the hill
and took the center of the camp,
where he believed women
and children were,
that he could give a present
to the United States
by this historic defeat
of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.
But what happened instead
is that this historic alliance
of indigenous people
blew out the birthday candles
for the United States.
Custer attacked
with his regiment
split into three columns.
At the Little Bighorn River,
the Indians wiped out
Custer's entire column
of 225 men.
The reason for the defeat is
still a controversial subject.
Military historians rate
the battle
as the greatest single defeat
of the American Army.
It was an inglorious defeat
of a modern military
by so-called savages
and primitives.
The US has never
really forgotten.
My grandfather was in a battle.
Wooden knife.
He was 18 years old
when he fought.
He took two scalps,
one here and one up,
and he took a gun
and spurs and money.
And we fight back once,
just once.
That one.
We lost all the rest of the wars
and everything.
But that one,
we... we fought back.
For the lies
that were spoken
For the blood
that we have spilled
For the treaties
that were broken
For the leaders
you have stilled
Custer died for your sins
Custer died
for your sins
Now a new day must begin
Custer died for your sins
Everything is in
the language we use.
For example, a treaty
is essentially a contract
between two sovereign nations.
The US treaties with
the Dakota Nation
were legal contracts
that promised money.
It could be said this money
was payment
for the land the Dakota ceded,
for living within assigned
boundaries, a reservation,
and for relinquishing rights
to their vast hunting territory.
Which, in turn, made Dakota
people dependent
on other means to survive.
The previous sentence
is circular.
Akin to so many aspects
of history.
At the center of all
the treaties
the Lakota have signed with
the United States government
is the Black Hills.
The supreme law of the land
forbade the United States
from taking it.
And when the tribal nation said,
"No, we're not
giving you this land.
We're not exchanging it.
We do not agree to that,"
they simply passed a law
that just took the land.
Custer's historic defeat
impelled Congress
to pass the Black Hills Act
to crush Lakota resistance once
and for all in terms
of protecting the Black Hills.
The 1877 Act was the taking
of all of the hunting territory,
all of the unceded territory,
and some of the western
and northern portions
of the reservation.
The Black Hills Act of 1877,
which "ceded," formally
ceded the Black Hills
to the United States government,
didn't match
the necessary numbers
required by treaty for consent.
It said it had to be three
quarters of the adult males.
The United States got nowhere
near that number.
I mean, we can use that act
as a... as a pin to mark
when that land
was legally taken.
But the duress the people
were under was pervasive.
And it was in all these
other aspects of culture.
There was no actual intention
to honor those treaties
because, meanwhile, they were
murdering off the buffalo,
and they were murdering off
the buffalo
because it was the main part
of the economy.
If you can make
the people suffer
by destroying
their economic system
and their societies
and their culture
and their languages
and their spirituality,
then you can try
to conquer a people.
The United States
forced Lakotans into dependency
on the United States
for everything.
It seems that, at that moment,
in 1877,
is when this dependency
was implemented.
They tried every way they could
to subjugate these Lakotas
and could not.
They tried everything
and they could not do it.
So they made Lakotans
dependent upon them.
And then we have
all of the social ills
that we have today
that are tied to dependency.
What the United States did
was took away
their weapons and their horses.
Now, that was critical.
They took them away
so that the Lakotans
could not feed themselves.
As you may have guessed by now,
the money promised
in the turbid treaties
did not make it
into the hands of Dakota people.
In addition, local government
traders would not offer credit
to Indians
to purchase food or goods.
Without money, store credit,
or rights
to hunt beyond
their tract of land,
Dakota people began to starve.
And you were told to get off
your horse,
and they'd take your horse
and they shoot it.
And they handed you a shovel
and say, "Go be a farmer."
The Dakota people were starving.
This is the region where
people resisted the longest.
And because we resisted
the longest,
some of us
got treated the worst.
The Dakota people starved.
In the preceding sentence,
the word "starved" does not
need italics for emphasis.
One should read
"the Dakota people starved"
as a straightforward
and plainly stated fact.
White settlers had gained
a lot of territory
in the United States.
However, tribal nations
still, communally,
through their traditional
forms of governance,
had their reservations,
and they controlled
millions of acres of land.
The United States
all of a sudden kind of sat back
and said, "Huh?"
The Dawes Act was passed
in the 1880s,
and they didn't want to
just call it a land grab,
even though that was the goal.
So, in order to make it
a little bit more palatable
for even Americans at that time,
they said, "We're going to do
this to civilize the Indians."
So let's examine the structure
of American capitalism.
There are three great pillars.
The first and foremost
of these is...
Who can tell us?
Isn't it the principle of
private ownership of property?
Yes, it is.
This principle of
private ownership
is undoubtedly the most
fundamental element
in the structure
of American capitalism.
Allotment policy was created
to essentially
assimilate native people
into the values of
Anglo-Saxon property ownership.
Under this act of Congress,
this tribal nation will
no longer actually own its land.
That land will now be broken up.
And they just took out a map
and carved out little squares.
- They surveyed the land.
- They have a census.
Then they allot the land.
By giving each Indian
his own 160 acres,
that individual ownership, that
will civilize those heathens.
The "surplus" land,
quote-unquote surplus,
then was open to settlement,
and settlement
by almost always non-Indians.
All of the pretenses
were really just clever excuses
to justify another land grab.
And it was wildly successful.
In 45 years, they got 90 million
acres of American Indian land
across the United States.
Home, home on the range
Where the deer
and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard
A discouraging word
And the skies
are not cloudy all day
The red man was pressed
from this part of the West
'Tis unlikely he'll
ever return
Turn to the banks
of Red River
Where seldom, if ever
Their flickering campfires
Home, home on the range
Yea, though I walk through
the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil.
For thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff,
they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table
before me.
In 1882,
in the administration
of Chester Arthur,
there was a proclamation that
Indian religion was outlawed.
There was a notion in America
that all civilized people
are Christian,
and Indians need it
to become civilized,
and therefore,
they should be Christianized.
X marks English words
that function
as both nouns and verbs.
As in,
X marks the noun civilization,
an established
and vibrant culture or society.
They outlawed our language.
They made
our ceremonies illegal.
They criminalized us
for living our way of life.
X marks the government's
order to ensure the civilization
of the Indians
entering into this treaty.
Thus, the necessity of
colonizer education is admitted.
X marks the mandate
to pledge themselves,
the, quote, "Indians," to compel
their children, male and female,
between the ages of six
and 16 years, to attend school.
From as long as I can
remember, I had something.
You know, I'd ask
my great grandpa.
I said, "Teach me Lakota.
I want to know the language."
Him being a product
of residential schools,
he would say,
"No, that's not good for you.
You're never going to make it
in this world
if I teach you
how to be this way."
I often ask my parents
why we weren't raised
with Lakota
being our first language.
But it always goes back
to that trauma
that they endured
with the boarding school.
Both of my parents
are survivors
of the boarding school era.
Upon entering
the boarding school,
everything that you had
with you was taken from you.
They cut your hair, which was
a symbol of loss and grief.
You were scrubbed down,
sprayed with chemicals
to kill any bugs on you.
You were given
White man's clothes
and an English name.
Punishment was given down to you
whenever you were heard
speaking your own language.
They were beaten
and they were traumatized
in all of the ways...
Mentally, physically,
For holding on
to their unshakable faith
and our Lakota spirituality.
By the year 1900,
thousands of children
were attending close to 150
boarding schools
throughout the United States.
"Kill the Indian
and Save the Man"
became a model
for a new government policy
of assimilation
through education.
And when you look
at Richard Henry Pratt,
a general in the US military,
who opened and designed
and administered Carlisle,
the boarding school
that all the other boarding
schools are modeled after,
who did he pick
to bring into that school?
He targeted the tribes that were
still fighting the US military.
And took those students against
the will of those nations
and their families who fought
the removal of their kids.
It was nothing
other than kidnapping.
But the goal was very clear.
Richard Henry Pratt
told Congress,
"This will be a more effective
means of taking those lands
than continuing to fight
on the battlefield."
At that time, you had about
80% of the children
taken from their families
and put into boarding schools.
Hoping to ease hunger and to
reunite with their children,
Lakota leaders began
signing agreements
such as the Great Sioux
Agreement in 1889,
which opened up about 9 million
acres for White settlement
and created the six modern
Sioux reservations
of Pine Ridge,
Rosebud, Cheyenne River,
Standing Rock, Lower Brule,
and Crow Creek.
There is even this exchange
back and forth
during the allotment
negotiations where the headmen
were petitioning the Indian
agents to stop off at Carlisle
so they could see
their children.
And what they saw when they
arrived there disgusted them.
They said, "This isn't a school,
this is a boot camp."
X marks the history
of these schools
to, quote, "educate,"
said, quote, "Indians."
The Christian churches
charged with this duty,
the thousands of children
removed from homes,
an intentional killing
from the inside out.
This X completes a formula
with a dependable result.
The people with the yellow
index cards marked with an X,
please step off the blanket.
You represent one
of the thousands of children
who died at the schools.
Everyone else with yellow cards,
you represent those
whose connection
to your family and community
was completely broken by your
experience in boarding school
and you never made it home.
X marks my bodily reaction...
High blood pressure,
fever, nausea...
When I researched this history,
the sordid brutality, then
attempt to summarize genocide
for a reader.
Though I feel
a responsibility to share facts,
my exposure to colonizer
sickness boils me into illness.
Those who survived absolutely
left the boarding schools
with a mentality
that was not their own,
and it was "Kill the Indian,
Save the Man."
As far as I can remember,
my parents continued to talk to
me about living in both worlds.
My mom and dad
had thought the best thing
they could offer me
is an education.
And so I grew up
on the west side of Rapid City,
where they felt
the best schools were.
It took me a while
to forgive my parents
for not knowing
how to be parents
because they thought they were
doing the best thing for me.
They provided a home
and there was food
and there was no abuse
and there was no alcoholism.
And I think they didn't see
that there was...
...that they were putting me
through hardship
that they didn't even
comprehend at the time.
Look in the sky
Look at the stars
shining down on us tonight
Going through that school
district with the igluwasicu,
the White man education,
and every day, I knew
that there had to be
something more
than just me being,
you know, from the res,
not going to make it anywhere.
And I never really, you know.
Grew up knowing any different,
but other than I was Lakota
and this is who I was going
to be my whole life,
looking at my arms
and seeing how brown they were
and just being so happy
that I was born this way.
I knew the one way
that I could empower myself,
the one way that I could
beat these racist parents
who were calling me names
and who would tell
their children to spit on me,
I knew that I could
beat them with my voice.
And, so, I'm still
doing that today.
So, from a Western perspective,
land is seen as
a bountiful object
that you can extract resources
from to your benefit.
From a Lakota perspective,
this is not an inanimate object.
It's a living entity.
And this living entity
doesn't belong to any one person
or even any one nation.
While the Indians
are barely surviving,
because the 7 million acres of
the Black Hills
have been taken away,
the Whites
in the Black Hill region
are getting fabulously wealthy
off the gold deposits there.
That wasn't just
any gold strike.
That was as rich a gold strike
as probably there's been
in the history of humankind.
Water trickling down
from the Black Hills
is piped over the mountains,
through miles of tunnels,
to drop nearly 700 feet below
into one of Homestake's
hydroelectric plants.
It became the home
to the Homestake Mine,
which yielded many,
many hundreds
of millions
of dollars of gold over time
and became the foundation
of the Hearst family fortune.
The Hearst family, being one
of the most powerful families
in the history
of the United States.
The original site of the
Homestake Mine has disappeared,
and in its place has risen
a thriving industry
geared to modern progress.
Water, water everywhere
and not a drop to drink.
There go thousands
of tons of coal,
one of nature's
greatest servants.
From the grizzled
prospector of yesteryear
to the great Homestake
organization of today,
yes, men are the most
important thing at Homestake.
Men seeking life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness
under our flag and Constitution.
The Black Hills claim was
the longest running litigation
in the history
of the United States.
It went on in court for 57 years
and is still, in many ways,
As early as 1890, the leadership
on the various reservations,
they begin to meet and agitate
over what had happened to them.
Members of the tribes
who have gone
to these Indian
boarding schools,
like the Carlisle School,
develop an understanding
of the US government
and the possibility
of trying to do something.
Now you should have a good idea
of how the Constitution sets up
the three main branches
of our government.
Ralph Case files 24 cases
on behalf of the tribe in 1923
under the 1920
Jurisdictional Act.
He thought, in his heart
of hearts, that, at some point,
in some way, the government
would do right by his clients.
Ralph Case was an enormously
well-intentioned person,
but the complexities
of the Black Hills claim
outstripped his abilities
as a lawyer.
He didn't just lose
the Black Hills claim
in the court of claims.
He lost all 24 of the cases
that he filed there.
His appeal to the Supreme Court
is not accepted.
And in 1942, the tribe
finds itself out of court.
Today we set the home
of the Oglala Lakota.
The people of Red Cloud
and Crazy Horse today
were known as
344 Concentration Camp.
CC Camp 344.
The whole reservation system,
was designed to move tribes
out of the way.
It's a long history
of dispossession
based on the notion
of keeping the races apart.
The attitude in places
like Rapid City was one
to keep native people
out of sight and out of mind.
Our Indian young people want,
just like anybody else,
a chance to have a choice
to do what they want, a chance,
an opportunity to be educated,
to be professionals,
to be whatever
they choose to be.
The reason why I left here
was there was no economic
There was no jobs here.
I couldn't go to work.
I had to leave to provide.
So I was up and down
the East Coast,
West Coast, cities in between.
My profession
was structural steel.
I helped build many
of the manmade wonders,
and I spent many years out there
on the construction field.
Sitting up on on high rises,
looking down,
people just moving
about quickly as possible.
Wherever I was, I would gaze on
over in the direction of home,
thinking about home, thinking of
how the people were doing,
how my relatives were doing.
I come from a family
of generations of military.
My grandfather was
a code talker.
47 code talkers
from World War I.
17 code talkers
from World War II.
So we're very much
military background.
As a young person,
and as a woman,
I went to work for
the United States government.
I was part of a training.
And there were three native men
who did the in-service training.
One was a Mohawk.
One was an Omaha and the third
one was Russell Means.
- Hello, my relatives.
- I am an Oglala Lakota,
and I come from a very sacred
holy land, the Black Hills.
American Indians
are human beings.
We are supposed to be citizens
of the United States of America.
So I left the State Department.
And I went to work
for Russell Means.
I was part of Cleveland American
Indian Movement we call CLAIM,
and we were the most active
AIM chapter in the country.
For 500 years,
we have had to fight and resist.
They called us Indians and said
that we didn't have any rights.
They called us Indians and said
that we were no longer people.
They called us Indians
and they used
their manifest destiny mentality
to justify their genocide
against us.
The beauty of our people
is the survival of our people.
We have survived
incredible odds.
This is a country
where all men are created equal
and it's the land of the free
and the home of truth
and justice and liberty for all.
Well, we want to know
why that doesn't apply to us.
Hopefully, we created
a footprint with our activism,
protesting, demonstrating,
by any means necessary.
We did it all in our lifetime
to make the change.
You have to understand
that people were sick
and tired of living
the way they were, just sick
and tired of everybody else
the so-called American dream.
And they themselves
have nothing.
They're still the most
poverty stricken people
in this whole country.
They're still the most sickest
of all the people
in this country.
People were getting
routinely killed.
Women were routinely
being raped.
People were routinely
being belittled,
made to feel like
less of a human being.
It was not very pretty pre-1973,
let's put it that way.
That atmosphere
needed to be pierced
and done away with,
or at least recognize it.
In Wounded Knee,
South Dakota, today,
there was an exchange of gunfire
between federal officers
and militant Indians
who seized control
of the historic settlement
on the Pine Ridge
Sioux Reservation last night.
The village has at least
symbolic importance today
to the militant
American Indian movement.
Indians call it their My Lai.
This was a very sore spot
where they massacred 300 men,
women and children, unarmed
and in the middle of winter.
So that's why Wounded Knee
happened in 1973.
- We have declared...
- Wounded Knee
an independent country.
By returning to Wounded Knee
to fight for tribal rights,
it was like with a bullhorn.
The majority of the American
citizens agreed with us,
that the government
was in the wrong
in its dealings and treatment
of native peoples.
It resonated, and you can read
and hear them talk
about the idea
of the ancestors being there.
The energy that was used
to create Wounded Knee
had an equal energy
that pushed back.
It was bolstered by the FBI.
It was bolstered
by the National Guard system
to quell the Indians
because they're unhappy again.
Webster Poor Bear got shot
clean through the left hand.
What were they doing
when they got shot?
What were they doing
when they got shot?
They were laying on their belly
because we were being shot at.
The standoff continues
at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
200 Indians still occupy
that small community
and federal marshals
still surround them.
In other words,
they have complete total power
or in their interpretation
of it, over us.
This is how they look at it.
Now, they have never been
One danger I do see
for Indians...
That's getting legalistic
and relying on the courts.
But let me assure you,
these courts are so adroit
that the last thing
I would expect
is that you would be able
to get into any court
on any basic issue.
My father, Arthur Lazarus,
was a specialist in the field
of federal Indian law.
He was convinced
beyond a shadow of any doubt
that the Sioux tribes had
a righteous argument on the law.
He was hired to take on
the Black Hills claim in 1956.
That Black Hills case...
it stayed laying there dormant
for almost 70 years.
When he took the case
over together with his partner,
Marvin Sonosky,
they come to two conclusions.
One is that there's a lot
of potential merit to the case,
and the other is that they're
in a desperately bad position
because the case has been lost
in 1942, lost in 1954
and lost in 1956.
Through a series
of almost legal miracles,
they were able to resuscitate
that claim and take it to court.
The land originally belonged
to the Sioux Indians.
In fact, an 1868 treaty decreed
the land to the Sioux forever.
They decided that
the best theory was to claim
that the taking of
the Black Hills by the 1877 Act
was a violation
of the Fifth Amendment
of the United States
which says that government
cannot take private property
without paying
just compensation.
At the Court of Claims,
the tribes finally win,
and that's in 1978.
The government,
they can only appeal
to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That's all that's left.
The court only reviews a small
percentage of all the cases,
but decides that it is
going to review the case.
My father was sitting there
nervous about the fact
that they had
even taken the case.
They could have let
the Court of Claims'
positive ruling stand,
and that would have been
the end of it.
We'll hear arguments next
in United States
against the Sioux nation
of Indians.
I was in college at the time,
so I sat anxiously by the phone.
Custer lost to the Sioux
in South Dakota's Black Hills
more than 100 years ago.
Today in a case growing out
of that campaign,
the U.S. government
also lost to the Sioux.
Today, the Supreme Court
ruled 8 to 1
that the land really belonged
to the Indians.
The order means
that the Sioux Nation
will now get over $100 million.
The largest court settlement
ever won by any Indian tribe.
"It is,"
wrote Mr. Justice Blackmun,
"an obligation that must now
at last be paid."
Back in the day, we were very...
unsettled with that.
On Sioux reservations
in the Dakotas,
Indians are debating a recent
court-proposed settlement.
The U.S. government
is offering $105 million
for the Black Hills.
It's not justice to say
I'm gonna steal your car
and then I'm gonna give you
10 cents on the dollar
and keep the car.
In 1934, the gold alone
was $80 million alone.
When that decision came down,
it came out to maybe a dollar
an acre, $2 an acre,
no compound interest,
no kind of inflationary costs,
nothing based
on the finance picture
of the richest country
in the world,
the United States of America.
Old-timers like
Chief Charles Red Cloud
and Bill Horn Cloud
say the land should not be sold.
The Hill was held sacred
by the Indian people,
and it means a lot to them
in a spiritual way.
It's not just
a monetary question.
It's not a land question.
It's none of these.
We are fighting
for the integrity of our people
and we are fighting
for the honor of our people.
And we are waiting for
the White man to do the same.
So we said,
"We don't want the money."
The Supreme Court
of the United States
has already ruled that they
should be awarded the money,
but the Sioux don't want it.
They want their sacred land.
I've been here for the past
27 years now,
been home.
And when I hear people
talking about the Black Hills,
they still stand their ground.
The Black Hills
are never for sale.
It's intermission.
Rise and stretch time.
Time to refresh yourself
and visit our snack bar.
Showtime will be announced
loud and clear
to get you back
to your car in time.
Hey. You guys must be Arapaho.
How did you know?
The way you walk.
Hey, you guys
look like hostiles!
Where you from?!
On Saturday, December 19, 2009,
U.S. President Barack Obama
signed the congressional
resolution of apology
to Native peoples
of the United States.
No tribal leaders
or official representatives
were invited to witness
and receive the apology
on behalf of tribal nations.
The apology was folded
into a larger,
unrelated piece of legislation
called the 2010 Department
of Defense Appropriations Act.
I am a citizen
of the United States
and an enrolled member
of the Oglala Sioux Tribe,
meaning I am a citizen
of the Oglala Lakota Nation,
and in this dual citizenship,
I must work,
I must eat,
I must mother...
...I must listen...
...I must observe.
Constantly I must live.
I didn't grow up having
the freedom to worship.
In 1978 was the first legal
Sun Dance.
After 60 years,
after three generations
of people,
we were allowed to be
the only people in the country
that needed an act of Congress
to grant us freedom of religion.
I lived on the river
all my life.
Before and after
they removed me.
So you go back and as long
as we have the collective memory
of that connection,
we'll go back
and we'll understand
what's there for us.
I was at a crossroads
within my life.
I ended up on this long journey
and then returning home in 1995.
And I had a calling
for the land within myself.
I went up on a hill.
I took a mini vision quest
of one night.
I'll watch the sunset
and all the beautiful stars.
So much stars.
Once you're out in the country
where there's
no light pollution,
man, that's magical.
Oh, I was up all night
sitting there
thinking in the bed of my truck,
hearing the different animals
throughout the night.
And then I saw
the... the sun was...
It was headed towards morning.
The first star of the day
was the Morning Star.
Oh, that was beautiful.
Just beaming.
Just beautiful.
Never saw anything so beautiful
in such a long time.
I sat there and watched it.
I saw the life-giving force
coming up over the horizon.
I reached out with my arms.
I reached out to Anpetu Wi
and offered a song.
The song goes
something like this.
Solar is our way of life.
It's our ceremony.
It's our song, our dance,
our annual Sun Dances.
We send our prayer
to Anpetu Wi [indistinct] Waka,
the life-giving force
of the sun.
I said, "This is what
we ought to be doing.
Taking this new way
and honoring the old way
and then becoming sustainable."
Some of us,
we put our hand to the earth.
We put our hand there,
and we don't feel anything.
But some of us,
we put our hand on the earth,
and we can feel
something pushing back.
I was born in the middle
of winter in January,
and the day before I was born,
my mom was out riding horse.
So she tells everybody that
I was almost born on a horse.
Thank you, Alex.
I think the first time I saw you
after, like I said,
years had passed,
it was on horseback
at Standing Rock.
And what I witnessed that day
will probably always
live with me
the rest of my life.
I think you might know the day
I'm talking about.
There was some sheriffs
guarding the road.
Well, when they put
the call out,
we were watching online.
They put a call out for horses.
And then right then I knew,
well, we're gonna...
We're gonna do this."
I took a horse.
She was given to me,
and I kind of always kept her.
But I never really
did anything with her
as much as just riding
on the ranch.
So this was her first real trip,
and I didn't know
what was gonna happen.
We're 250 miles
south of Standing Rock.
We left our house
at 4:00 in the morning.
And all the way up, I was like,
"What am I doing?
This is crazy because this horse
hasn't been off the ranch
maybe a handful of times
and never 250 miles."
And when they called us,
we were riding up.
She seen the cars
and she stopped.
And I had my daughter with me.
And I was thinking, "Okay,
if my horse doesn't go,
her horse probably wouldn't go."
But they brought the elders
over with Johnny Eagle,
and he came
and he azilyad... smudged.
And when he did,
my horse dropped her head.
And when they prayed,
she just sat there.
And then she took over.
When we were coming,
she was walking by the cops
and I said, "I'm sorry, but you
guys might have to move."
That first akicita, she took off
and she ran a circle.
She ran around again.
Third time she came around,
I just took her back
around in a circle
because I said,
"Maybe she's gonna get wild."
When we were coming around
that fourth time,
I stopped her in front
of the barricades
and I lifted my arm and I leled.
And then she took off.
I thought she was
gonna kill a cop.
I honestly did, because
she wasn't gonna stop.
And she picked out the one
that was saying
some pretty awful things to us
while we were riding up.
And she stopped
right in front of him.
And that's when
they turned and ran.
And the people
went over the barricade.
Her doing that,
never being off the ranch,
never really in a crowd,
she knew what she's gonna do.
She was a warrior horse
that day.
She knew.
She had it picked out.
And I was just a passenger.
But when they moved and when
the people followed us back
over the barricade, right there,
that's when the movement
shifted for me.
Because then and there,
for the first time
in over 150 years,
the Oceti Sakowin came together.
And not only the Oceti Sakowin,
but indigenous nations
from across the world came.
And at that moment in time,
that day, we were one,
and it was perfect.
When the peace treaty
was made of 1868,
the grandfathers
put their pipes together
and said a prayer.
Their prayer was upon
seven generations,
everything will be back
to normal and harmony.
Before they even thought about
putting an X
on a piece of paper,
they were sending
their prayers forward.
You know, today I'm the fifth
generation from that era,
the fifth direct descendant.
So, "Oh, my God." I said...
Hey, baby.
Hey, hey. Hi.
I'm your Gaga.
I'm the grandfather of that
sacred seven that they...
That they put their pipes
together and said the prayer.
So we're just living
within that prayer structure
that they made at that time.
You can jump, too, huh?
Yeah, you can.
Jump, yeah.
You're trying to smile.
Are you smiling at Grandpa?
The last time
indigenous people got together
was to repel White invasion
and we won at the Battle
of Greasy Grass.
We are now gathered together
to prevent another invasion,
this time in the form of oil
and gas development,
this time in the form
of a pipeline,
this time in form
of the black snake.
But instead, at that time,
when nobody cared about Indians,
we have non-Indians with us.
And that's the biggest
In those first days
when the people were coming,
we told them our stories.
We need to protect Mother Earth.
We are her keepers.
We have suffered.
We have given.
We have paid the price.
No more.
There will be no black snake
going through our homeland.
We are Lakota,
Dakota and Nakota.
That word means "ally."
Doesn't mean frozen tundra
or Fargo.
It's ally.
People were just flooding in.
Every single day,
the camp was growing.
I'm a veteran, right?
And so, you know,
I went to work doing the thing
that I was trained to do.
And that's, like, logistics,
to run a camp.
I've been going down
that route ever since.
That's what set
the foundation for now
for the work that I do now
with the landback campaign.
When you walked through
the gates of Standing Rock,
it didn't matter
if you were indigenous,
non-Indigenous, whatever,
you became a water protector.
We are building the world
that we want to live in.
The future already exists.
When I say things
like, "Me, ma Lakota,"
"Me, I am a Lakota."
Someday your people
are going to depend on you.
One of the old men
told me one time,
he said, "Hoksila," he said.
"Hoksila" means boy, you know,
a young man.
Telling me that, you know,
maybe I need... I'm going
to learn more, know more.
He said, "Hoksila...
[speaks Lakota]
This road that you're on."
He says, "Even a dead...
a dead dog
deserves your respect."
To be a common man
in [speaks Lakota]
is probably one of the hardest
things you can do
because you have to put
the needs
of other people before yours.
When somebody is sick,
you try to heal them.
When somebody is crying...
you wipe their eyes.
When somebody is hungry,
you feed them.
When a child is crying,
you comfort them.
First in battle...
the last to eat.
All these things.
So...[speaking Lakota]
The people will learn
to depend on you
because you stood up
for the rights of the people.
Yeah. Thank you, Milo.
Thank you so much.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want
to welcome all of you here
on this very special occasion,
and particularly our guests
from all of the western part
of the United States
who have come a long way
to be with us.
If you look at
the 1980 Black Hills case,
it only allowed
for monetary awards.
So it was essentially trying to
settle these outstanding claims.
However, there is precedent
with executive orders
and executive actions,
as we know,
with the return of Blue Lake
to the Taos Pueblo by Nixon.
I trust that this will mark
one of those periods
in American history
where after
a very, very long time,
and at times a very sad history
of injustice,
that we start it on a new road.
But the return of Blue Lake
to the Taos Pueblo
happened in the context of mass
uprisings of indigenous people
during the red power movement.
So the policy change
was happening alongside
the insurmountable pressure
put on two administrations
to essentially cave
to demands for land return.
We are in an era
of mass indigenous protests.
"'X' marks a line I once wrote.
Everything is in the language
we use,
and 'X' marks
my humble correction.
At critical moments,
everything is in the language
we do not understand."
"'X' marks the question
I ask my students.
What does it mean when someone
signs a document with an 'X'?"
"'X' marks the silence
in our classroom
when I ask this question."
"'X' marks the reason
for silence,
a pause before answering,
the deep breath
before an immense psychological,
emotional and spiritual lineage
rolls out before us.
The responsibility to rectify."
The organizing principle
of any settler society
is elimination of the native.
They don't hate us
because of our language,
because of our culture,
because of our spirituality.
The intent of treaties,
the intent of removal,
the intent of boarding schools
has always been the elimination
of native people
to gain access to the land.
It may seem reductive,
but when you look
at the arc of U.S. history,
that is fundamentally the intent
of the United States
is to gain access
to native land.
We know for a fact that
when indigenous peoples are back
in relationship with our lands
and back
into managing our own lands,
that it benefits all peoples.
So us fighting for clean water
is not just so we have
clean water on the reservation,
it's so that there's clean water
all downstream
and for all living beings.
When a lot of people here
their immediate response is,
"All of it?"
You know, when you say
landback, right away,
people's White fragility
goes into effect.
"Oh, shit.
They're coming for my house."
I would say the first argument
that's always put against
native people
is that you're going to do to us
what our ancestors did to you.
We have to move beyond the realm
of representation
and recognition.
You can recognize
that you did harm in this way,
but does that make Flint's
water clean and drinkable?
No. Like, you actually have
to have material transformation.
Landback is
a reparations framework,
and it's about repair.
Like, at the heart
of reparations is repair.
We want everybody
beyond indigenous spaces,
beyond just organizing
movement spaces,
but general public to be
talking about landback
and to be talking
about it in a way
where there is no fear
attached to it.
But there's a sense of justice.
Your voice is power,
your body is power.
Be proud to be Lakota.
Be proud of where you come from.
This country
has only gotten better
when people resisted
the powers that be.
Our work here is about
not just reclaiming land,
but reclaiming power.
I'm fighting for prosperity.
Our goal is not to just go back
and live in teepees.
I grew up listening to Tupac.
It's about building a future
that this next generation
can see themselves in.
I think the best days of my
people are in front of me.
I think the best days
of the Lakota
are in front of us
and not behind us.
When I hear landback,
I think of the...
...just return of what was taken
from American Indians.
Want to welcome everyone
to this press conference
this morning.
We're here to talk about peace
and mutual respect.
Thanks, Karen,
and thanks, everybody,
for speaking here today.
The mid 1800s... we really
lacked the sophistication
and the technology
and the education
to have in place systems
of conflict resolution
that we do today.
Sometimes in those days,
we would have a duel
or a lynching
or something of that.
You know,
our... our times have changed.
When we think of the past
as just being in the past,
we actually do harm today
because until we address
what happened in the past,
understand it and seek
to create remedies
and redress it,
we're doomed to repeat it.
I want Rapid City to know
that we're not gonna
take their racism anymore,
their criticism.
I lived here
about my whole life.
My children were born here.
My oldest daughter,
she would get spit on every day
and there would be White kids
driving by, barking at her,
throwing things at her
every day.
I just want to see
a little change, you know?
We just want people to see us.
We're people.
We're humans.
I am tired of the heartache.
I'm ready to hold my heart out
and to be strong.
And so that's what I'm showing
my daughters
when I'm standing out there,
when I'm standing
on those front lines,
when I'm marching.
I am protecting
our sacred ways of living.
I am empowering
that intention of healing
from this historical trauma.
We're not going anywhere.
This is our ancestral land,
and we'll continue
fighting for it, by all means.
It's not always one
spectacular resistance
or a battle
or the defeat of Custer. Right?
Resistance movements really
bring together spaces for us
to remake ourselves
and for us to be Lakota,
for us to be Dakota.
None of us achieve liberation
without each other.
We can work towards indigenous
landback and Black reparations.
This is not
an either/or situation
and we do not live
in a world of scarcity.
To be honest, I don't want
to achieve my liberation
and my sovereignty
unless I bring
my relatives with me.
- Hey, everyone.
- It's Krystal Two Bulls,
of the Landback campaign.
Myself and a crew
of four indigenous climbers
just now completed
climbing over 100 feet
on the side
of the Dakota Mill silo.
All this land
is indigenous land.
Landback is a war cry
for the liberation of my people.
And I believe that down
to my heart.
I pray on that.
I live my life for that.
I sacrifice for that.
What I like to tell people is
we're still here.
You know,
as Oglala Lakota people,
we're the last of the fighters.
We held on so hard for so long
and we continue to hold on.
Step out of line.
Don't be waiting when you know
deep within your spirit,
that is the right
direction to go.
What is often seen
from the outside
is just a protest camp.
It forgets that,
in those spaces,
there are also campfires.
And there are also families
in Tiospaye
who get together
and tell stories.
Forgets all the joy,
all the love
and all the laughter
that accompanies
these resistance movements.
Those are forms of joy that we
have in this beautiful struggle.
Because that's what it is.
It's a beautiful struggle.
I have to own America.
I have to give credit
where it's due
and give hell where it's due.
I started this piece
because I was interested
in writing about grasses.
So there is one other event
to include,
although it's not
in chronological order,
and we must backtrack a little.
When the Dakota people were
starving, as you may remember,
government traders would not
extend store credit to Indians.
One trader named Andrew Myrick
is famous for his refusal
to provide credit
to Dakota people
by saying, "If they are hungry,
let them eat grass."
There are variations
of Myrick's words,
but they are all
something to that effect.
When settlers and traders
were killed during
the Sioux uprising,
one of the first to be
executed was Andrew Myrick.
When Myrick's body was found,
his mouth was stuffed
with grass.
I am inclined to call this act
by the Dakota Warriors a poem.
There's irony in their poem.
There was no text.
But on second thought,
the words "Let them eat grass"
click the gears
of the poem into place.
Things are circling back again.
Sometimes when in a circle,
if I wish to exit,
I must sleep
and let the body
swing from the platform
out to the grasses.