Tragedy of the Native Americans
“As long as water flows, or grass grows upon the earth, or the sun rises to show your pathway, or you kindle your camp fires, so long shall you be protected on your present habitations.”
President James Monroe, 1817, to the Cherokee Nation in Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi
Unfortunately, as the United States expanded, settlers began to occupy Indian land. And then, with discovery of valuable timber and mineral resources (including gold) on that land, President Monroe’s promise was going to be impossible to keep.
Hope for the Native Americans shattered when President Andrew Jackson signed the “Indian Removal Act” in 1830. It authorized the federal government to relocate entire tribes from their native lands in the East to federal territory West of the Mississippi. When the Supreme Court invalidated this act as unconstitutional, a defiant President Jackson stated, “The Supreme Court ruled, let them enforce it.” Nothing was going to stop these massive and heartless relocations.
Hollywood in the early 20th century was not too sympathetic to the plight of Native Americans. They were commonly portrayed as tomahawk-wielding savages engaging in barbaric practices like scalping settlers they captured, burning down farmhouses, and sexually violating white women. Patrons in theaters cheered as the cavalry came to the rescue of beleaguered settlers and mowed down those “murdering injuns.”
Slowly, by the mid-20th century, the tide began to turn. Hollywood started producing films and documentaries that were sympathetic to the tragic history of the Native Americans.
Here are seven extraordinary and very emotional films. A few will bring you to tears. Guaranteed!
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Following their victory at Little Big Horn, the United States continued to push the Sioux off the Black Hills of the Dakotas, this time looking for gold…
An emotionally bruised veteran of the Mexican-American War, Jeremiah Johnson renounces the civilized world and heads to the Rocky Mountains wilderness…
Sitting Bull: A Stone In My Heart
Sitting Bull: A Stone In My Heart is a documentary that covers the life of the revered and heroic Lakota leader from 1830 to…
Little Big Man
In 1970, 121 year-old Jack Crabb, living in a hospice, recounts to a visiting historian his incredible life. Jack’s story begins when he and his sister survive…
The Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy (first two episodes) examines the horrendous effects of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that was passed by Congress…
Broken Arrow is a landmark film produced by a courageous studio that was one of the first to sympathetically depict the plight of the American Indian…
Dances With Wolves
Union officer John Dunbar is given the command of Fort Sedgwick, the Army’s remote outpost in the Dakota territory…
Coming Soon, Can’t Wait
News Briefs and Commentary
Variety, in collaboration with analytics firm Wizen, listed the outlets most popular with viewers. Here are the top five:
- Amazon Prime—4.5%
The top four digital outlets are all streamers indicating that “streaming is not the future; streaming is now.”
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