* I have been following the production of the PBS five-part series We Shall Remain with great interest, not only because it pledges to be "a provocative multi-media project that establishes Native history as an essential part of American history," but also because two of the episodes focus on subjects about which I have written books (my Tecumseh: A Biography and The Trail of Tears and Indian Removal), and all touch on issues about which I've lectured and taught in university courses. (It's hard to believe it's been almost a full year since I was at Wounded Knee!) The Trail of Tears segment, in particular, is especially noteworthy, as it is the first drama to look at removal from the often overlooked perspective of the Treaty (Ridge/Boudinot) Party of the Cherokee Nation, and that is a very big deal. With Native filmmakers such as Chris Eyre and actors such as Wes Studi involved, the project has tremendous promise, and my hopes are extremely high.
The first installment debuts on PBS on April 13; you can read more about the series here.
Here is the lineup of episodes:
1. After the Mayflower - In 1621, Massasoit, sachem of the Wampanoags of New England negotiated a treaty with Pilgrim settlers. A half-century later, as a brutal war flared between the English and a confederation of Indians, this diplomatic gamble seemed to have been a grave miscalculation. Directed by Chris Eyre.
2. Tecumseh's Vision - In the course of his brief and meteoric career, Tecumseh would become one of the greatest Native American leaders of all time, orchestrating the most ambitious pan-Indian resistance movement ever mounted on the North American continent. After his death he would live on as a potent symbol of Native pride and pan Indian identity. Directed by Ric Burns and Chris Eyre.
3. Trail of Tears - Though the Cherokee embraced "civilization" and won recognition of tribal sovereignty in the U.S. Supreme Court, their resistance to removal from their homeland failed. Thousands were forced on a perilous march to Oklahoma. Directed by Chris Eyre.
4. Geronimo - As the leader of the last Native American fighting force to capitulate to the U.S. government, Geronimo was seen by some as the perpetrator of unspeakable savage cruelties, while to others he was the embodiment of proud resistance. Directed by Dustinn Craig and Sarah Colt.
5. Wounded Knee - In 1973, American Indian Movement activists and residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation occupied the town of Wounded Knee, demanding redress for grievances. As a result of the siege, Indians across the country forged a new path into the future. Directed by Stanley Nelson.
* While I'm talking about Native artists, let me suggest a great book for those of you who are enjoying the current young adult vampire novel phenomenon: The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel by Drew Hayden Taylor. I highly recommend it!
"Will the Congress of the United States permit its citizens to invade us in a warlike manner in time of peace?"
- Elias Boudinot, Editor, The Cherokee Phoenix, January 8, 1831