An enlightening discussion of “Dakota 38”
Butler intern Abby Shores provides this insightful report on the first of the 2019-2020 Few View Film Series.
The Center for Interfaith Cooperation is again proud to partner with Butler University’s Center for Faith and Vocation (CFV) for the New View Film Series, which aims to create a dialogue about faith issues in America and explore different viewpoints.
The series was kicked off September 5th with a showing of Dakota 38. The film centered around a group of the Dakota people who were remembering their heritage through a horse-back ride that covered the path walked by 38 Dakota warriors on their way to be executed in 1862. Having been pushed off their lands and starved by the U.S. government, the Dakota people rebelled against the Americans who were threatening the lives of their people. On December 26, 38 of these men were sentenced to be hanged by U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln. Now, each year, individuals from the Dakota tribe and others who come to support them complete a 16-day ride that ends at the place of the hanging the day after Christmas.
The film itself was very well attended by members of the community and, following the film, a lively discussion was led by Dr. Courtney Mohler (one of the country’s leading experts on Native American theatre) about threats still facing the Dakota people—as well as many other Native Americans. The Dakota people continue to have their land stolen from them and their cultures repressed, which for many of these people leads to a deep sense of not-belonging. The reservations that some choose to live on include some of the poorest places in the United States and see some of the highest rates of suicide including individuals ages 10-75.
The story of the riders in Dakota 38 was incredibly moving. While many still harbored anger against the American people, a large portion of men featured in the film were seeking to forgive the country that slaughtered their ancestors so long ago. Dakota 38, while a film, is an experience more than anything. To see individuals who have suffered so much at the hands of others reach out and shake those same hands was a source of hope for humanity’s future.
Those who attended the film and participated in the following discussion came to recognize the importance that the natural world plays in the Dakota people’s spiritual experiences. By having their land taken from them, they not only feel the effects of physical displacement but those of spiritual displacement as well. In an age where we continue to see actions fueled by hate, it is important that we recognize the importance of religious and spiritual experiences. A climate must be fostered in which people of all practices are able to feel spiritually connected and physically welcomed in the country that we now all share.
More information on the New View film series can be found on the CIC’s website. The next film will occur on November 6th and will look at the life of Howard Thurman. We encourage all to attend as we continue both our discussions of different viewpoints and the creation of a community in which all feel welcome to share and express their faith.