“Land back!” It’s a call to action that powers this very insightful documentary.
That rallying cry is part of a stream of thought that you can watch, study and internalize. You learn that Native Americans have a deep connection to their land and nature. Specifically, their discussions center on the Lakota Nation’s fight to reclaim control of the Black Hills Mountain range in South Dakota and Wyoming.
Credit writer, narrator and acclaimed Oglala poet Layli Long Soldier for pulling discernible issues together. Accolades to co-directors, Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli, for sending a clear message that America’s first inhabitants deserve respect and their territories too.
Photos, footage and paintings reveal the past. Interviews with NDN Collective founder Krystal Two Bulls and activist Candi Brings Plenty, among others, express outrage, determination, goals and a plan for reparations.
When you uncover the history of European expansion (starting in 1492), grueling wars (Custer), 400 broken treaties and genocide it is a very sobering experience. Hearing about the activism (Wounded Knee Occupation), war heroes (Code Talkers) and lineage of their culture is enlightening in ways that become inspiring and counterbalance the examination of a dark history of oppression.
Cinematographer Kevin Phillips makes every visual aspect striking. Editor Laura Tomaselli boils a lot of facts and figures down to what’s essential. While Raven Chacon’s deeply felt musical score adds a strong emotional core.
A powerful documentation about a beautiful struggle. You’ll be astounded. It’s like taking a grad course in Native American studies and loving the professor.
Streaming on Prime Video and Apple TV+.