Indigenous history doesn’t have the luxury of being taught in classrooms, which is why films such as Jesse Short Bull’s and Laura Tomaselli’s Lakota Nation vs. United States are such groundbreaking achievements and a welcome sight in the community. The documentary follows the fight for the Black Hills up to the modern day, showing how these issues have continued to persist and the atrocities that have been committed in that time. The film premiered on July 14th earlier this year and has since made select appearances in cinemas all across Turtle Island. The documentary is now available to watch digitally on demand, opening the door for many more people to experience this excellence in native filmmaking.
The film features interviews with social activists recounting their first-hand experiences in the fight for the Black Hills as well as a narration from Layli Long Soldier, speaking about the history of the US government displacing and exploiting the Lakota. Interspersed throughout are clips of the news and other media displaying how they were both used to tear away the identity of Indigenous people and mythologize them in the country’s eyes. The narrative woven is that of perseverance and struggle, exemplifying the shared experiences of Indigenous people across decades for audiences who both can and can’t relate.
Lakota Nation vs. United States was directed by Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli, both acclaimed filmmakers who’ve brought their mastery to this documentary. Actor Mark Ruffalo served as an executive producer on the film as well, having been an advocate for and involved in Indigenous movements such as the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016.
The history featured in this film not only validates and recognizes those who’ve lived through it, but it also has the potential to educate those who’ve otherwise never had the chance to learn about it. Jesse Short Bull shared his enthusiasm for the film’s digital release: “I am very excited that Lakota Nation vs. United States is available because when our film team first started, we wanted to try and get the history about the treaty as it pertains to the Oceti Sakowin (7 Council Fires), the origins of the state of South Dakota, and the federal government to as many people as possible. It’s not to shame or make anyone feel bad for the difficult history, but to showcase the resilience of our culture through voices that define modern Lakota heroism.”
Learn more about Lakota Nation vs. United States on Instagram @lakotanationfilm and their website. You can now watch the film on iTunes, Amazon, and wherever you rent movies.