The endurance of indigenous women in the face of systematic extinction soars high in Deborah Anderson’s powerful Women of the White Buffalo. In South Dakota, adjacent to the site of the mass murder at Wounded Knee, the Lakota people live in Pine Ridge and Rosebud, the poorest reservations in the U.S., despite being on the second largest expanse of native land outside the Navajo Nation. The Lakotas’ economic desolation they have been systemically impaled with has spurred a meth scrounge in the tribe.
“The Lakota women interviewed detail the rampant abuse they have seen and experienced…”
There is also an epidemic of women being murdered on the reservation, for which, due to federally imposed obstacles, the tribe is unable to pursue criminal charges. The Lakota women interviewed detail the rampant abuse they have seen and experienced themselves, speaking of the black road many of their people still walk down. Yet, they also talk of a red road of glory, reaching back to their ancestors’ traditions that sustained them for centuries. Walking this red road has allowed these women to survive atrocity and prevail against the system built to destroy them.
Even a lifetime of ultra-intense horror movies did not prepare me for the depth of the brutality revealed in Women of the White Buffalo. There are horrifying things spoken of that can’t go unheard. The danger of secondary trauma is frequent, and you will be kept up at night. While far from being a mondo documentary ala Pine Ridge Blood and Guts, the shock factor inherent to the history of indigenous occupation repeatedly socks you in the stomach. I had never seen footage of the mass hangings used against tribes before. It lasts just a few seconds, but it will probably be the most people you will ever see die for real at once. It only gets worse when you realize how many times they could hang over ten people at a time in a day. Even with the instances of toddlers being raped to death, you get the feeling that instead of digging up the worst to create a sensation, the filmmakers are holding much worse back. This is just the s**t tip of the enormous iceberg of frozen blood.
"…the way everything weaves together fits the same pattern one finds in music."