Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007) - full transcript

In the 1880s, after the U. S. Army's defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the government continues to push Sioux Indians off their land. In Washington, D.C., Senator Henry Dawes introduces legislation to protect Native Americans rights. In South Dakota, school teacher Elaine Goodale joins Sioux native and Western-educated Dr. Charles Eastman in working with tribe members. Meanwhile, Lakota Chief Sitting Bull refuses to give into mounting government pressures.

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"It is easy to be brave...

From a distance.

Easy, and often
quite safe."

Once there was
no honor in killing...

Only necessity.

Honor came
with true courage.

But that day...

Is long gone.

go with the others!

I said, go!


the man was
a fucking idiot.

Splits his forces,
daylight raid, high noon.

An idiot, perhaps,
but he had his orders, Mr. President.

"Drive the Sioux out
of the Black Hills,

Onto the ration rolls..."

So that we could get
to that damn gold.

The Sioux resisted.


They resisted,
General Sherman.

Blocking a roundhouse to
the chin is resistance, Henry.

Massacring five companies
of cavalry...

I am not defending their brutality,
Mr. President.

The Sioux resisted
because by the '68 treaty

This land is theirs,

And we had no legal...

That treaty was also only supposed
to feed them for four years,

And yet here we are
eight years later,

And you Senators are passing
a million-A-Year appropriation

To keep filling
their bellies. Why?

To keep them
from starving, General.

and that's all it's done...
made them beggars.

Hasn't advanced them
one bit.

- And those smart enough not to sign...
- Do this.

They were attacked
by us first.

And what would you
have us do, Dawes?

Cut and run?

Mr. President,

This is
a senseless argument.

A senseless argument?

You know what they did to
those men on that hill?

They did things even
I've never seen before.


The survival of the indian is your
deepest concern, isn't it so?

You know it is.

I thought it was yours.

And it still is.

I appointed an indian to
the head of Indian Affairs,

I'll remind you.

Another decision that your
colleagues were so fond of.

And another damn knot in the
noose of this administration.

Along with a three-Year depression
and a bankrupt treasury.

This isn't about money, gentlemen,
this is about human beings.

And when you make an agreement,
you have a solemn obligation

- To fulfill...
- In spite of this atrocity...

I still believe
that setting the indians

On the course
to civilization

Best ensures their survival.
Now, do you or do you not agree?

Yes, Sir.
I do.

Then you can't deny that
there's no saving the Sioux

Unless we compel them to
give up their way of life

And settle
on the reservation.

I'll say it till
my tongue bleeds:

If we're ever going to claim
what we bought from the French

And whooped
the Mexicans for,

It's going to mean
killing indians.


Your father.

Did you win
this feather?


In the fight
at the Little Bighorn.

300 of us were
to be hanged.

I killed two whites,
but the Great Father Lincoln saved me.

He sent me to prison where
my heart was made free.

- Free?
- Yes.

Because I have learned
there is another road

That runs beside
the warpath.

A secret road...

Only known to
the Christ worshippers.

And you came back,
to make us Christ worshippers?


I have come
for my son.

O Lord, Grant us
the wisdom and strength

To come to a peaceful accord

With our red brothers
here with us today:

Great Chief of the
Oglala Sioux, Red Cloud;

His head men

Young man afraid
of his horses,

American horse,

And others.

We beseech you,
o Lord,

In the name of Your Son
and our savior Jesus Christ.

- Amen.
- Amen.

I want to know to which God
the white robe is praying.

The same God whom you deceived
when you made treaty with us

And broke it?

We come to you once again to negotiate
for your rights to the Black Hills

And your old
hunting ground.

I am speaking,
or has my medicine made us invisible to you?

If so, you will not notice when
I lead my people out of here,

Back to our lands.

I would like to know how many
of Red Cloud's young bucks

Were at the Little Bighorn with
Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

Those men were hunting,

As the agent permitted.

indeed they were hunting.

They were hunting
for white scalps.

I am a friend of the Great Father,
president Grant.

And I want to tell you,
he did not wish

For there to be war
between us again.

The Great Father is
the chief of all your people,

Chosen by them.

Did he not order
those soldiers to attack?

Yes, it was
the Great Father's order.

But it did not come
from his heart.

Then I don't understand
how you whites do things.

And now you will place
a paper before us that says,

"Give the Black Hills and
your old hunting lands to us

Or we will
no longer feed you,

And we will kill Sitting Bull and
all those who continue to fight."

- Is that not so?
- All right.

Red Cloud has
had his say.

this new agreement...

Will ensure
your continued support

And a new home
at an agency to be known...

As Pine Ridge.

We no longer wish
your support.

We wish to hunt
on the lands

Which the treaty
said we may keep.

Only as long as the game abounds.
The game is scarce now.

Because of your hunting
for amusement.

The paper you signed
allows for us to lay rail.

You agreed to this
when you touched the pen.

I touched the pen
because I wanted peace.

For the past eight snows,

My people have been living
like the poorest of whites.

Where are the fine things
you promised?

The kind you lavish on us when
you want our mark on your paper?

Chief Red Cloud,
did you or did you not

Sign the paper
and advise your people

To do the same?

Am I invisible now?
I am speaking to you.

Colonel Miles,

I will speak
straight to you

Because these
are the words

Of the Great Father
and his people.

You must touch pen
to this paper,

Or you and your people
will perish.



Bear coat.

They say he was fearless in the whites'
big war against themselves.

Bear coat was a friend
of Longhair Custer.

He comes for revenge.

Sitting Bull requested
this council.

We await his words.

Take your soldiers
out of here...

- They scare the game away.
- Very well, Sir.

Tell me then, how far away
should I take my men?

You must take them
out of our lands.

What precisely
are your lands?

These are the lands where my people
lived before you whites first came.

I don't understand.

We whites were not
your first enemies.

Why don't you demand back
the land in Minnesota

Where the Chippewa and others
forced you from years before?

The Black Hills
are a sacred land

Given to my people
by Wakan Tanka.

How very convenient to cloak
your claims in spiritualism.

And what would you say
to the Mormons and others

Who believe that their God has given
to them indian lands in the West?

I would say they should
listen to Wakan Tanka.

No matter what
your legends say,

You didn't sprout from the
plains like the spring grasses.

And you didn't coalesce
out of the ether.

You came out of the Minnesota
woodlands armed to the teeth

And set upon
your fellow man.

You massacred
the Kiowa, the Omaha,

The Ponca,
the Oto and the Pawnee without mercy.

And yet you claim the black
hills as a private preserve

Bequeathed to you
by the great spirit.

And who gave us the guns and
powder to kill our enemies?

And who traded weapons to the Chippewa
and others who drove us from our home?

Chief Sitting Bull, the proposition
that you were a peaceable people

Before the appearance
of the white man

Is the most
fanciful legend of all.

You were killing each other
for hundreds of moons

Before the first white stepped
foot on this continent.

You conquered those tribes,
lusting for their game and their lands,

Just as we have now conquered
you for no less noble a cause.

This is your story
of my people!

This is the truth,
not legend.

Crazy Horse
has surrendered...

With his
entire band.

And by his surrender,
he says to you and your people

That you are defeated.

And by ceding
the Black Hills to us,

So say Red Cloud
and the other chiefs,

Who demand that you end this war and
take your place on the reservation.

Red Cloud is
no longer a chief.

He is a woman you have mounted
and had your way with.

Do not speak to me
of Red Cloud!

I suppose you are
the only chief then?

Sitting Bull is King
of all the indians.

Ah, humility.

It's one of the four
virtues of a Sioux chief.

Sitting Bull shows
his true nature now.

I have had
my say with you.

And I have had
my say with you.

Then we will
have a fight.

So be it.

Artillery, prepare to
fire a volley.

shoulder arms!

Fire at will.

Artillery, reload.

prepare to fire.

And fire!

Front line,


Fire. Fire.

Front line,

Close ranks!



fires are cold, Sir.
They left hours ago.

- Burn it all.
- yes, Sir.

Burn it all down...

Get a torch over here.
I don't want to see one tepee standing.


Who can give me
the names

Of the last four

I would call on you,

But it must be
by a white name.

Have you chosen
one from your book?

No, missus.

Shall I choose
one for you?

No, missus.

Raise your hand only
if you can name all four.

If just one student
can name all four,

I will dismiss you early.

Morning, Sir.

Major Walsh,
Northwest Mounted Police.

People of Canada have
heard of your victory

Over the soldiers
in Montana.

Queen Victoria believes
the American government

Is to blame
for this trouble.

So you and your people...

You're welcome here.

I know the grandmother's
heart for the red man.

Now they will learn on the
reservation that we are safe.

And Crazy Horse
will come.

- And many more.
- Crazy Horse?

He was the war chief with you
at the Little Bighorn valley?

He was made
to surrender,

But that life
is not worth living.

apparently not, Sir.

Crazy Horse is dead.

He resisted while they were
locking him up for some trouble.

If others join you,
they're welcome here.

But you cannot use our land as a base
from which to attack the United States.

Nor can you make raids
on other tribes here

Or interfere
with their hunting.

If you do,
I'll have to bring our own soldiers,

And force you
all to leave.

Now, we've brought
you some food and supplies.

You'll find buffalo in the valleys
to the north and to the east.

I suggest you do your hunting now and
take as much meat and skins as you can.

It's not like
the Dakota here.

Our winters
can be harsh.

Tomorrow, we will review
fractions and verbs.

Don't forget
your homework.

You have been chosen from all
the children on the settlement.

This woman has come to take you
to a new school in Illinois.


If you study
as hard there

As you did here,

You will go on to college
and study even further.

And learn the trade
of the white man.

I don't want to go.

Excuse me.

The earth belongs
to the white man.

There is no future
outside his world.

You must go.

You must go.

Everything will
be fine.

the indian today is civilized

Only in the most
elemental sense.

His race wears
civilized clothes,

Live in wood houses.

They send their children
to schools.

We have reached the point
where the indian problem

Should be no different
than the Irish problem

Or the German problem.

Like them, the indian
has been absorbed.

But, unlike them,

He has not yet
been assimilated.

This can only come

When he is educated to so high a
plane of thought and aspiration

As to render his
former savage way of life

Intolerable to him.

Ladies and gentlemen,

On a late June day
in 1876,

The young man I'm about
to present to you

Was nearly killed
by Arikara scouts

Attached to
the Seventh Cavalry

Of General George
Armstrong Custer.

Yes, I am referring to
the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Once destined for death

At the hands of enemy
tribes or U.S. Soldiers,

He has flourished

As a recipient of the friends
of the indian scholarship.

From Dartmouth College,

Where he is
soon to graduate,

He will, with your
continued support,

Matriculate at Boston
University Medical School.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I present to you,

Ohiyesa of the Sioux,

And Mr. Charles Eastman of
the United States of America.

A Lakota proverb.

It means...

"Tell me,

And I will listen.

Show me,

And I will understand.

Take me in,

And I will learn."

Elaine. Mrs. Goodale,
and her daughter Elaine,

Neighbors of mine
from Massachusetts.

- Senator Dawes.
- Lovely to see you.

Pleased to meet you.


Delighted to meet you.


Besides being
a student of Lakota,

Elaine is also
a published poetess.

- Ohiyesa?
- it means "winner."

I won the name
in the pony races.

And, where did
"Charles" come from?


Eastman is
my mother's name.

Her father was a white...
don't tell the friends of the indian.

And "Charles"?

I was in school one day and the
teacher was mistaken about something:

The name of the chief
of my Sioux tribe.

- She called him "spotted bear."
- Chief spotted bear...

So, I raised my hand

I felt it was
a dishonor to the chief

To misspeak his name.

But she
wouldn't call on me,

Because I hadn't taken
a white name.

I just couldn't do it.

And I remember her words
as if it were moments ago...

Chief spotted bear
could have saved his people.

But he chose war


I cried...

I believe you
are mistaken.

And she turned to me...

How shall I address you?

Quickly, the children
are waiting.

I replied.



Yes, Charles, what is it
you would like to say?

"Excuse me, missus,

I am certain..."

I am certain the name of
this chief was little Crow.

"Little Crow."

I believe you
are right, Charles.

His name was little Crow.
Thank you...

"Thank you...


And he did not want war.

"He did not...

Want war."

And this is how

I came to be called...



I'm sorry.

Did I upset you?


I'm all right.

It's all right.

She's not getting
any better.

You must talk to him.

Our daughter's
getting worse.

Bring her to me.

The cures have not worked.
We need to go back home.

You cannot leave.

If you leave,
others will follow.

If you tell the people they must stay,
they will stay.

That's what
you must stay.

Morning, Sir.

These Crow are from the
camp on the Poplar river.

They say they've seen your
men on their hunting ground.

Crow are liars
and they hate us.

They've always
hated the Sioux.

They are liars!

They're missing horses.

And they say it's your men who
raided their camp two nights ago.

I must ask that you allow
them to look in your corral.

Sir, I must report this.

And when I return next, it may be with
men to take you back across the border.

Who stole these ponies?

Who would see us die like
slaves on the reservation?



You will see how
I deal with this thing.

Please, don't do this.

You must know that
I did not know.

We cannot be
sent back.



These men will fight
if they are stopped.

I can't let
that happen.

Then leave, brother.

I won't stop you.

Elaine Goodale was up
the other day

To meet the commissioner
of indian affairs.

She made quite an impression,
as you'd expect.

But I'm afraid you're gonna
have to outdo even her.

That would be impossible.

Remarkable young woman.

And quite an ally
in our cause.

She completes
her teacher's training

And she'll be on the Sioux
reservation within months.

I know, Sir, we've been
corresponding for some time.

Have you?

Have you indeed?

All right,
let us begin.

Northern boundary of
the new Pine Ridge reservation,

South fork of
the Cheyenne river...

Downstream to the mouth
of Battle Creek.

The indian must have
full citizenship

And a deed in his hands
like any white man.

Assimilation, Charles,
or extinction.

Gentlemen, the plan we put
before you for the Sioux

Will be a model for indians
from the Pequot in Connecticut

To the Pomo in California.

Now, step one is
the division of Sioux land

Into six distinct

Pine Ridge, Rosebud,

Cheyenne River,

Standing Rock,
Crow Creek...

And then, due West
to the 102nd meridian.

step two is the division

Of each new reservation

Into individual tracts.

160 acres to each man...

To farm,
to feed his family,

To market his crops,

To earn a living.

thus apportioned,

Excess lands will be sold
to white settlers.

the Sioux and the white man...

Neighbors, partners
in business,


And with white settlement
of central Dakota,

What follows?
The railroads, gentlemen.

straight through from Pierre

To Rapid City,

Rail service to
the Black Hills mines.


At long last,

The Northern Pacific
will see completion.

The Sioux will travel,
be exposed to white society,

And be influenced
by it as I was.

And finally, statehood
for the Dakotas,

governance, business.

With your vote
on this bill, gentlemen,

America will be built.

- Mr. Naylor of West Virginia.
- Nay.

- Mr. Allison of West Virginia.
- Aye.

all gentlemen accounted for.

The bill has passed.

- Charles... Charles...
- Congratulations, Sir.

We did it.
We did it.

This could never have
happened without your help.

Thank you.
Thank you, my boy.

These are the borders
of your reservation,

As set out in the black
hills agreement of 1876.

Now once each parcel
is assigned,

You will have a great deal
of unused land.

When this land was
first set aside,

You could not have sold that
for 10 cents an acre.


The great council
in Washington

Has authorized me
to offer you

50 cents an acre.

Those excess lands
will yield you

$5.5 million,

$5.5 million that will
go right into your pocket

As these lands
are sold to whites.

Your map does not show the land
we would be giving back to you.


This area in red.

Now this offer is
only possible

Because the Dakota Southern
would be able to lay rail

South of the Cheyenne River
into the Black Hills mines.

So you admit this land
has no value

Except to
lay iron through.

No, I do not
admit that.

These are not my words.

Chief Red Cloud?

I would like to know what
chief Red Cloud has to say.

Do you believe
this proposal

- Is in the best interest...
- Every man is a chief here.

You wanted it so.
We do not need to hear his words.

How will this money
be paid?

For every acre of land
the government sells,

The money is yours.

The money
is not ours, then,

Until you sell the land you
have taken that is ours.

This land
is not to farm.

This land is to graze,

And we do not eat grass.

If we are to take this chance that
the whites may be foolish enough

To make their home here,

Then you must get us more of this
money that we may never see.

Come back when
you have done this.

Have you any notion

The efforts I have
expended on your behalf?

Do you have any idea?

I can't simply
come back!

There'll be
a new congress.

A new congress may not
authorize any offer at all.


Hear my voice today.

Sitting Bull is a great
leader of the Lakota.

There is no greater.

Thank you for
letting us go, father.

Keep me
in your prayers.


It arrived.

What is this?

Father, I'm a policeman.

Where's the person in charge?
I'll see him now.

I'll take you to him.

He's here, Sir.

Yes, I know.

Good day, Sir.

I'm James Mclaughlin,
agent here at Standing Rock.

Let it be known that I,

Tatanka Iyotaka,
Sitting Bull,

Was the last chief
to give up his rifle.


The Great Father
has sent me a letter

Saying that
if I came in,

I would be Big Chief
of this agency,

That you would build me
a fine house on a stream.

Do not give me ration tickets...
I will not touch them.

I will take all supplies
for all my people

And hand them out myself.

I will not
put in crops.

Those things
that grow in the ground

My people and I
will gather wild,

As we always have.

Is this all
you wish to say, Sir?

I have said all the words
I wish to say...

For now.

I see.

First of all,
the Great Father sent no such letter to you.

You will not be a big chief,
a medium-Sized chief,

Nor any sort of chief.

Here, you will be
the same as any other man.

That is to say,
you will be given materials and loaned men

To build a cabin.

You will have
a horse and wagon.

If you do not put in crops,
you will live on your bimonthly rations,

And if you do not accept
ration tickets,

You and your family
will either be beggars

Or you will starve.

My clerk will
add you to the rolls.

And those are all
the words I wish to say.

Good day, Sir.

beans, one blanket.

one shawl, seeds.

"Pawnee killer."

"Crow killer."

One blanket,
a suit of clothes,


Use your flour
ration, chief.

You'll fill it out
soon enough.

two blankets, matches.

"Little feather."
One coat...

Sitting Bull.

Tatanka Iyotaka,

They're calling
your name.

Sitting Bull.

Never mind,
moving on.

I'll accept
his issue.

You can't do that,
Miss Goodale.

I was told by
the commissioner himself

That I may assist these
people in any way I see fit.

One blanket.

One blanket.

Without holes.

Thank you.


We are lucky.
Here the agent lets us hunt for our meat.


One bull.

Whoo! Whoo!

"my dear Charles...

The great Sioux reservation is
no longer great in size alone.

It is now home
to a great celebrity.

Sitting Bull
has arrived.

But the sorrow
in his eyes...

It is the image
of all I have seen,

And not only
at Standing Rock,

But at all the agencies.

At Pine Ridge,

A drought destroyed
the late summer crops

And made for
underweight cattle.

And then there are
the epidemics...

Measles, influenza,

Whooping cough.

Have you seen a dying child
with whooping cough?

There is little
that can be done

Except to prepare the
families for the inevitable.

This has become
my avocation.

Sincerely, Elaine."

there's a fine line
between incentive and coercion.

And if we have to
cross that line

In pursuit of
the indians' betterment,

- Then so be it.
- hear, hear.


May I speak with you
a moment, Sir?

Yes... I want to introduce
you to a few new people.

- Come on.
- Yes, wait.

I received this letter
from Miss Goodale.

Yes, that can wait.
Charles, with this resolution,

The senate will authorize
a new offering for the Sioux.

- One...
- Do you know about this measles epidemic?

And whooping cough
and influenza.

The agent's official reports
are... somewhat different.

I haven't known Elaine
to exaggerate.

She's an inspector
of schools, Charles.

She's not a physician.

She's an advocate for their cause,
as you are.

And now you speak
of coercion.

I don't understand.

If we don't put that land into
the hands of individual indians

In five years... less...

Homesteaders and ranchers
will demand it all...

For nothing.

The indian must own his
own piece of earth, Charles.

Did you know
that there is no word

In the Sioux language
for that, Sir?

For what?

To "own the earth."

Not in any native language.

Well, then perhaps
you should invent one.

Come on.

I am sorry.
The road is not good for wheels.

It's all right.
I'll get some help.

Oh, I'm your
assistant, doctor.

- I'll take your things.
- No no, please.

Take care of your son.
And watch over our things.

Little Hawk,
keep an eye on your father.


Good morning.

he wants to mend the wagon.

you must be Dr. Eastman.

I'm agent Royer.
Welcome to Pine Ridge.

A pleasure.

- Right this way.
- All right.

Here it is.

Where's the
examination table?

Last fellow managed
with a chair.

What is that, Mr. Royer?

That's how you dispense
your medicines, of course.

Without examination?

- Well, I...
- I'm sick.

I need a brown bottle.
Brown bottle, please.

Me too,
a brown bottle.

Cod liver oil.
Shipment's late.

When you're ready,
I'll show you around.

I'm sorry,
but there's none left.

If you men are sick,
please, come in.



You wrote you'd be inspecting
the schools at Rosebud.

I doubt I'll be missed.

Not by the teachers,
in any event.

I'm so happy
you're here.

Me too.

What do you think?
Needs a lot of work.

It's going to be great.

All right, Sir, we're just going to
shift the shoulders just a little bit.

And chin up, please.

chief Sitting Bull.

Very still now, please.

Very still.

Thank you.

It would also be an honor for
me to have your autograph.

Turn around.

It would be an honor me
to take more of your money.

Thank you.


Nice hat.

- Wild West show?
- Mm.

And the horse...

You must be looking forward
to joining Bill Cody again.

What is that
you're making?

When I am finished,
I will know.

If we get enough rain,
you could still raise corn.

Grasshoppers eat corn.

Let them plant it.

I will live
as I please.

No, you will not.

Do you understand?

I'm told you squandered Cody's
pay on friends and fancy dinners.

And you come back
with tall tales.

You did not meet
President Cleveland.

Yet you go around boasting
that he called you

The greatest
living indian.

These things do not advance
your people's cause.

Nor does posing
for portraits,

Autographs for money.

Now I have had very good compliance
here at Standing Rock...

The best of
all the agencies...

school enrollment, church.

And I will not see
that jeopardized

By the poor example of a
respected man like yourself.

You will farm,

And you will enroll
your son here in school

And see that
he attends church.

Now I am finished.

- And what is that?
- To my ears,

Your words seem to come
out of your rear end.

This is to silence you.

This is what is left of the
great tree that was my people.

Take it
and you would have it all.

I'm allowing 12 Standing Rock Sioux
to go with Cody again this fall.

You will not
be among them.

"my dear Senator Dawes,

As I believed
you sincere

In asking me
to keep you informed,

I write you again in an appeal
for your assistance.

With no medical equipment
here worthy of the name

And understocked
in medicines,

There has been little reason for
the sick to risk the journey

To the agency
for treatment.

I bought a horse and a
wagon with my own salary

And I've just now returned
from the several weeks

In the villages."

- Take a seat.
- "It is a mistake

To trust the official reports.

Measles, influenza
and whooping cough

Have ascended from hell
all at once.

My own assistant's
child has been taken."

"The agent here, Royer,
has no experience

And even less inclination
to help these people.

Of equal concern is the
epidemic of hopelessness

That has overtaken
the reservation..."

I'm sick, doctor.

Brown bottle,

"That the Sioux would bear the
wretched taste of cod-Liver oil

For the ounce of spirits
contained in the bottle

Is, to me,
the whole of their experience in a nutshell."

Thank you, doctor.

"I no longer deny them.

Many here fear
a return to the old ways.

The prophesy of a Paiute
Shaman called Wovoka

Has spread
from tribe to tribe

Faster than
a telegraph signal,

Rekindling old superstitions
among the Sioux

And old apprehensions
among the whites

Who are sure to mistake
desperation for hostility.

As conditions worsen,

The church can provide little
solace beyond a christian burial.

Sincerely yours,

Charles Eastman."

A vision came to me

When the sun...
went into shadow,

And I lay dying.

And in my death,

I saw the heavens

Of the white robes.

And yes,

It is as they describe it.

But also there,
my children,

All the indians
that ever roamed

This earth...

All your beloved
ancestors, and mine;

And those young ones

Who were taken
by the white man's diseases.

Do not grieve for them.

They want you to know

That they are happy.


And you should not grieve
for yourselves,

Because here is
what the white robes

Did not tell you:

The white man,

My children,

Will soon...
be no more.

Now you must not
hate the white man.

This will only delay
his end.

But if you
will do the dance

That I will teach you...

All the ancestors
will return.

And the buffalo...

Will be renewed.

And you shall all live...



In the freedom...

That we as
indian people once knew.

Lone wolf!

I called to the trader,
give me a red shirt to wear

So the soldiers
will know me.

Though there were
hundreds of soldiers,

Not one bullet touched me
because of my strong medicine.

and not one bullet
found you on the Little Bighorn.

Yes, this is so.
But I wore no red shirt that day.

There was
no time to dress.

I mean...

It is said that you were
hiding under your blanket

The entire fight.

That's not true.
Who says this?

We all heard it.
Everyone knows it.

- Sitting Bull!
- Don't believe this.

My father
saved many lives.

He is a great leader.

- Oh.
- Great leader, hiding in his tepee.

- Sitting Bull.
- Go on...

"Greatest living indian."

Get your meat.

- Hey, little brother.
- Hey.

- Where is the old man?
- He's inside.

Hello, father.

Men from Washington are coming
for a big council soon.

Will you go?

No one has ears
for my words,

And I have no ears
for theirs.

If you go,
you can have your say like any other man.

Then let any other man
take my place,

Since one man is as
important as another here.


I know who started speaking
the lies against you.

The last time
I came before you,

It was with an offer of 50 cents
an acre for your excess lands.

It has been very difficult
to renegotiate

In Washington
on your behalf

With men who believe that to
have been a very generous offer.

But I have done so

In your interest.

And I return to you...


With what
I must tell you

Is a final offer.

If refused,

The government
may take these lands

For whatever
they wish to pay,

Which may be less than what
you were first offered.

In fact,
it may be nothing.

I return, however,

With authorization
to offer you

$1.25 an acre.

If these lands are sold

By this agreement,
my friends,

This would put more
than $12 million

In your pockets.

$12 million.

And remember,

Each head of the household
will still receive

The 160-Acre parcel
to do with what he wishes.

We give you this,

And we take nothing
more away.

You will continue to receive
the same rations and annuities

That you do at present

Until you have achieved
full self-Sufficiency.


As we discuss this over
the next couple of days,

Let us not retread
old trails.

The mistakes
of the past

Are in the past...

On both sides.

We have a chance now
to correct them.

For we believe in
your very wise saying:

"We will be known forever

By the tracks
we leave behind."


Are you threatening to take
their land if they don't sign?

That is no threat, Charles.
That is the reality.

Would you permit this land
to be stolen from them,

To see your plan succeed?

My plan?
You mean "our plan."

You played
no small hand.

One I've come
to question.

Don't worry, Charles.

They will vote for it.

There were
no early crops.

Now there will be
no late crops.

Does it seem to you that our
coffee rations are smaller?

Why do you tell lies
about my part

In the fight
at the Little Bighorn?

It was agent Mclaughlin.

You angered him.

He made me say
these things against you.

How can this be?

All our lives,
we were like brothers,

Sharing meat
when we had it.

When we had no meat,

And when food was but
a day's ride to an agency,

We could not be made
to take from the whites!

I will go
and speak straight...

And set things right.

These words cannot
be put back.

- I have said all I have to say.
- My brother,

Listen to me.

Many would have taken from the
whites for all those years,

But they did not
because you did not.

I did not
because you did not.

Before you came,

I was big man here.

But now you've come
and you do nothing.

You sit and tell stories
while I work my fields.

You go with Cody,
you write your name on a piece of paper

And you take money...
money that I must sweat for.

I do not understand why you feel
so honored by these things.

I do not understand
why you've come,

Because to me
you are Sitting Bull,

Our leader who
would never surrender.

That is all
I have to say.


Because of confusion
in the past,

You will put your marks on
one of the two papers here.

You will sign the red
paper if you agree...

Which we hope
that you do...

And the black
if you don't.

So they will know who is
a friend and who is not.

So they will know who
to take rations from.

What is this?

Sir, this is not your agency.

The council at Standing Rock
is next week.

You have no place here.

do you not recognize
who this man is?

I know...
he is Sitting Bull.

But I do not recognize him
as having any more a voice

Than any other indian here.

Hear me, then...

For one last time.

They mean to take
our land away from us.

You may say, "they wish
to give us land.

This patch to you,
this patch to you."

But here is the truth:

Each patch is
for a man

And all generations
that follow him.

And they know that this land
cannot feed but one generation,

Not even so much
as that.

All right,
you've had your say.

Do not interrupt.

You teach our children
the words of your God:

"Be fruitful
and multiply."

But it seems these words
are not meant for the indian.

For what kind of man
would take a wife

And have children
he cannot feed?

No indian man.

Not a Lakota,
not an Arikara,

Not a Crow.

You would have us
cut off our balls

And end our race
right here

On a patch of land
on which nothing can live,

And that
will not happen!

I have spoken.

We did not put you
on this land.

Red Cloud surrendered...

He made peace
with the government.

Have you forgotten the
bloodshed that came before?

Sitting Bull
is a great leader.

I believe this,
no matter that the whites

See us men
all as the same.

But he did not sit
with us in the council

Those many snows ago when
our reservation was made.

He did not sit with us
in the next council

When these borders
that we were told

Were like marks
in stone were moved,

When the Black Hills

And our hunting lands
were taken from us.

Sitting Bull
might have had a say,

But such was his suspicion
of the whites,

Such was his pride.

I say today...

For all ears
within hearing...

That if Sitting Bull
had spoken

The way he speaks today,

I would not
have touched that pen.

I will not touch your pen

To your paper.

I will not touch it
to your red paper,

I will not touch it
to your black paper.

The white man...

Will not see my mark
again on his paper

For the rest of my days
on this earth.

we cannot allow a return to incivility.


And what has civility
earned them, might I ask?

Trained nurses?
Even one hospital?

All things the Sioux will
provide for themselves, Charles,

Once this plan
has passed.

As you
yourself agreed,

They must adapt.

Must they adapt, Sir,
to the point of their own extermination?


I suppose you say we've
exterminated your indian heritage

Rather than provided
to you the benefits

Of an entire civilization?

Senator, please sit.

Sir, if every individual were
taken personally under your care,

As was my good fortune,

I admit, the outcome
might be what you seek.

But I am not the example you held
up to the friends of the indian.

I am the example...

Of nothing.

I simply do not see how
placing each indian man

On a desolate,
160-Acre parcel of land

Is going to lead his
children to medical school.

It will,
in time.

But first,
this must pass.

Or I guarantee you,

Destitution is all the
Sioux will ever know.

I have many opponents,

- In the press, in congress...
- You have an opponent

Before you, Sir.


I see that
clearly now.

This explains the tone
of your letters.

drought, disease, hunger...
year in and year out.

You think you are the first
one to decry these things?

This looks all very
grim to you, of course,

Having been spared
all this yourself.

Children have
died in my arms.

I have not been spared!

I devoted the larger
part of my career

To the betterment
of your race,

With you as
the principal beneficiary.

Is this your gratitude?

I am acting in the
interest of my people,

Following the example
you set for me.

Do you really think
you know better than I

What is in the interest
of these people?


I am one
of them, Senator.

You're no more
a Sioux indian

Than I am.


Did you know
there was a moment

On the train
to Illinois

Where I was sent
away to school...

When I might have returned
home to my old land?

I nearly jumped.


What do you mean?

From that train.

I nearly did, Elaine.

I very nearly jumped.

Charles! Charles,
you have to wake up.

Ah... what?

It's Royer.
He's ordered all the Sioux to the agency.

- He wants them all here.
- Why?

There's been trouble.
They heard about the ration cuts.

He says they have guns
at the dance camp.

He's wired for troops.

Just read it
for yourself:

"Uprising of the whole
indian race is imminent."

Imminent. I've got
people to protect.

You're damn right
I'm getting troops here.

It's a stupid prophecy.

It'll pass if you let it.
I've been to these camps...

- It's harmless dancing.
- Harmless?

Preaching death to all
whites is harmless?

if soldiers come to this reservation,

You'll have more dead indians
than any disease has ever taken.

You'd better leave
like the others.

With the threat of troops,
maybe the holdouts in those camps

Will be frightened
enough to see reason.

Why should they see reason?
The land deal was shoved down their throats,

And still they're punished
with ration cuts.

A million pounds of beef,
Elaine... a million.

It has to have been a mistake.
They were promised by the commission.

You've been here
longer than I.

You know these are
never mistakes.

To provoke the Sioux
further in this panic?

- Does that make sense?
- Yes. Knowing the whites.

I think you should go.

We're still needed here.

As what,

It won't come to that.

What are you doing here?
What do you want?

Why haven't you brought
these people in?

For what?
Another council?

More rotten meat?

This is nonsense.

You're a Christian.

You don't believe
in this.

Then tell me
what to believe.

Tell me what to believe in,
white medicine man.

I ordered you to shut
down these dance camps.

I can't.

Why not?

Sitting Bull
permits the dancing.

The people listen
to him again.

- Bring him in.
- What if there's trouble?

There is already trouble.
Soldiers are riding for Pine Ridge

And I'll be damned
if they'll ride in here.

The agent has
sent for you. Dress.

I said, dress.

your eyes are getting worse.

Quick, somebody
get dr. Eastman!


- Easy, easy. Careful.
- This way.

- Where do you want her?
- Right here!


behind you.

Charles, hurry!

- What happened?
- She's been shot.


Somebody help!

Where are my children?

Help me!

What happened?

My children...

Tell me what happened.

They came
for my father.

They came to arrest
Sitting Bull.

They came
to take him away.

What is going on?

We tried to stop them.

- Where are you taking him?
- Father,

Don't let them
take you without a fight.

Be quiet!
I won't go, I won't go!

Stay back, stay back!

Or we will
arrest you all.

Oh, I got it.

The horse...

the white horse...

It danced.

We all turned
to look at it.

And he fired!


They killed him!

They killed
Sitting Bull!


His boy's over here!

they shot Crow foot!

He was just a boy.

They killed him too.

We ran away,

But the soldiers
found us.

they took us to Wounded Knee Creek.

Oh no!

Where are my children?

Where are
my children?

Doctor! Doctor!

It was at Wounded Knee,
near where we were dancing.

Elaine, bag!

They tried
to take our weapons.

You had
more than this.

You had Winchesters
and Henrys.

I know you had
Winchesters and Henrys.

- Where are your weapons?
- "Where's your weapons," he shouted.

Search the tepees.

Have heart, men.

The Messiah's promise
will come true.

Their bullets
will not harm you.

Their bullets...

Will not harm you.

Search all of them!

He tried to take a gun
from a deaf man!

- He could hear, they didn't care.
- Give me that gun.

- Leave him alone! He can't hear you!
- Let go of it.

Let go!

And then
the cannons came.

Go after them!

I cannot mend
the leg.


You will not take it.


You have no choice.

There is a choice.

We didn't fire first.

I swear to Almighty God,
we did not fire first.

blue coat...

You whites use many
weapons against us.

Do not have such
a bad heart about it.

We have always feared
your guns the least.

For two days,
the snow prevented

A search
for survivors...

And the burial
of the dead.

From that day on,

Nothing would
be the same...

Not for the Sioux
as a people,

And not for Charles.

Tell me what you see.

I'm the one who told
our people to stay.

Tell me straight.
I have ears for it.


It's not what
we set out to be.

But in the end,
it's what we were.

Charles would practice
medicine again only briefly.

A succession of positions
always seemed to end

In voluntary resignation
or dismissal

And eventually,
financial hardship.

Soon he had nowhere
to turn.


and we needed money.

- Well, how are you?
- I'm fine.

I'm sorry to hear about your resignation...
and your wife's.

Great loss
to the reservation.

You're awaiting
the commissioner?


Well, we would be very grateful
to have your services again

For the renaming project.

- Renaming project?
- Yes.

I only know there's
a position available.

Yes, I put you up
for it myself,

Knowing your

It's the individual
deeds to the land.

They've been
impossible to assign

With each indian going
by so many tribal names,

So much confusion.

So what we need
is a single name...

A Christian name...
for each Sioux,

Assigned by you,
randomly or at your discretion,

Working from
the last census.

Dr. Eastman?

We're ready
for you now.

- Good luck.
- Senator.


Give my best
to your wife.

I won't do this!


Should have jumped.


Should have jumped
from the train.

Might have got off...

Might have
got off in Sioux city.

Yes, that's...

What I would have done.

I would have walked

Till I reached
the Red River...

Which I would have
followed to the North woods.

That's how I will
find my way home.

By the Red River.

By the Red River.