The sub-heading to the title of Dodging Bullets is Stories From Survivors of Historical Trauma. This is an apt description of what the documentary does successfully, which is to tell the stories of marginalized people. In this case, we’re talking about Native Americans. If you think about it, the Native Americans have been and are still treated as second class citizens since before the founding of this country. We all learned about the Native Americans’ plight while in school, but it is almost always sugar-coated. This film takes us through a brief tour of all the historical trauma that white people have caused Native Americans.
“…Native Americans have been and are still treated as second class citizens…”
From Native Americans’ first contact with white people, there was a change. The previously matriarchal societies were turned patriarchal as the Europeans wouldn’t do any dealings with women, so they always asked for men. The white people also brought diseases that the Native Americans couldn’t handle, such as smallpox. Originally there was said to have been 16-27 million Native Americans, and after Wounded Knee, which occurred in 1890, there were only 240,000 left. The total of Native Americans today is somewhere over five million.
Dodging Bullets features interviews with Native Americans of all ages, telling us the tales that contribute to their historical trauma. If you’ve never heard of the term historical trauma before, don’t worry, you’re not alone. A crowd of people is asked to define it, and most of them have never heard the term either. Something else I didn’t know is that Native American children were sent in droves to boarding schools. While there, they were, unsurprisingly, treated terribly. One man tells a horrific story of his mother getting three of her fingers cut off for speaking her own language. The mission of the boarding schools was to assimilate the Native Americans into white society.
"…critical for people who aren't Native to see what impact American culture has had on these people."