Dances with Wolves

Amanda Nall


Text Review Assignment: Dances with Wolves

Dances with Wolves is set in 1863 (filmed in 1990) and depicts the meeting and development of multiple relationships between a Union Army lieutenant, John Dunbar, and the Sioux people across South Dakota and Wyoming.

Most generally there is a difference in power between the Americans and the Native Americans that resides all throughout the movie. It is the preface through which the actions of John Dunbar are decided upon and it is the top concern for the Sioux chief, Kicking Bird. Relative to this class, the Native American people are seen as the Other by the Union Army and experience aggressive take over of the land that the Native Americans call home. They are dehumanized and seen as savages. At the end of the movie, Dunbar returns to his post and is dressed as a Sioux person but he is shot at and his horse, Cisco, dies because the Union Army blindly shot at someone who resembled a “savage”.

One intimate relationship develops between John Dunbar and an American woman, Stands with a Fist, who was taken in by the Sioux chief, Kicking Bird, at the age of six. Stands with a Fist is challenged by meeting another white person after having grown up and married within the Sioux tribe. She has to remember how to speak english and to open herself back up after losing her pervious husband. Stands with a Fist is battling her identity and trying to understand it after she has intimate feelings for John Dunbar but is, temporarily, banned from relations by the chief. Once the chief grants her freedom, she experiences an overwhelming affection for Dunbar and they are married soon after.

Throughout Dances with Wolves the main themes, discussed above, are morphed into a beautiful story and the development of personal relationships. I think that the director wants the audience to understand that getting to know someone is a rewarding experience and forming new relationships, keeping and open mind, and placing trusting others can bring rewards that reach beyond even the largest power struggles. I think that this movie is a perfect example to talk about identity and power and it is interesting that I found less injustice that expected. Perhaps there was less injustice on the plains of America before is was colonized by immigrants. The power struggle between the Union Army and the Sioux is clearly developed throughout the film and is a basis for many of the tribes actions and thus the plot of the movie. The identity struggle of both Stands with a Fist and John Dunbar is portrayed and both people learn to develop their identities in order to understand each other and be together.

#MMIW – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

By Nicole Leo

Since Christopher Columbus landed and “discovered” America, its native people have been treated as the Other.  Without diving into the many past and current injustices that have been and are imposed on Native Americans, there is one specific systemic injustice that can be again linked to a lack of importance and urgency within the judicial system.  Faith Hedgepeth was a co-worker, fellow student at the University of North Carolina, and a friend of mine.   She was raped and murdered in 2012, a huge devastation to our small college town.  Although the police have appeared to work diligently and still reassure us the case is still being worked on, the killer is still at large.  Her death led me to learn about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement.  There are alarming statistics that highlight the epidemic of MMIW.  Indigenous women are ten times more likely to be murdered than any other demographic; Indigenous women are more than twice as likely to be the victim of a violent crime than any other demographic.  What is most alarming about these statistics, is that they only report a small percentage of crimes against indigenous women.  The Urban Indian Health Institute conducted various studies to gather information to compare numbers to those (like the ones above) given by our government and found that the rate of violence experienced by these women were much higher than reported.  For example, the institute found there to be over 5,700 cases of MMIW but only 116 of these women were placed on the United States’ Department of Justice missing persons list.   There are specific shortcomings that try to give reasons why the government failed to protect our these women including jurisdiction issues between government and Native lands, lack of services including emergency care and amber alerts, lack of community awareness, and lack of communication between government officials and native people.  A call for action is needed for our judicial system to protect and uphold the law of justice and fairness for all and to stop the othering of indigenous women.  Below is a video for reference of the suffering and injustice these families are facing.  To learn more and raise awareness, you can visit