Review of PBSs further attempt at getting history accurate! The Seven Council Fires…


To give you a short terse response, rather than a long windy one, I think I can sum up that PBS program in a few key points.

Overall, the program wasn’t bad. It did present something to viewers that the probably didn’t already know. It’s content was “truthful” so far as the immediate points or bits of evidence they wished to present. I would say that it’s problems wasn’t in what was said, but was omitted.

One incorrect point, to my mind, would be claiming that Nadouwesse meant “Snake River”, although they noted it literally is “like a snake”, so it could be a reference to anything that was “like a snake”. The use of the word in French texts from the 1600s is attributed to Ojibways speaking about Iroquois.

As the program mentioned, the French put an sioux suffix on the end, to make Nadouwessesioux, and that it is this nonsense suffix that has survived in the modern word “Sioux” after dropping off all of the other root words that actually meant something. The word gets shifted to the Dakota group for two historical reasons : 1) the Iroquois are a related language group, and early Ojibway may not have differentiated Iroquois from their distant counsins the Dakota; and 2) the Ojibway switched their main enemies from warring with the Iroquois to warring with the Dakota. So from the Ojibway point of view, there wasn’t much difference.

The rest of the program suffered from being too narrow and applying successive divisions or thought-boundaries, that kept making the box smaller.

First of all, the program concentrated its evidence after 1850, so the view of Siouan Civilization overall was really a quite recent one. (Assiniboine and Crow were not mentioned for example, while the migration of the Tutelo and Saponi was dismissed as a “white story”.)

Second, the program chose a geographic division of west of the Mississippi, and events east of the Mississippi got little attention or were diminished.

Third, the program accepted the US/Canada border as a dividing line and dismissed 95% of Siouan history and cultural geographic north of the border.

Fourth, the program accepted all of the above boxes, and then applied backwards a post Fort Laramie reservation system as if it represented a traditional pattern of centuries.

If all of the Siouans are taken together, then the Nakota dialect is actually the most numerous and dominant. The Dakota would be second, and the Lakota third. As long as you can justify cutting away all of the outer boxes, then the Lakota importance seems to increase. So, this Lakota point of view of what was and what is the Oceti Sakowin, depends on cutting away parts of history, geography, culture and language until you only what you want.

This is a little like taking meat to a butcher, holding up the finished carved steak and saying “There is a cow.”

So, not wrong, but rather incomplete.
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This is what happens when you (PBS) do not do your due dillegence in researching the subject, or simply not going to the correct source for information.

About Looking Back Woman-Suzanne Dupree

Tetuwan Lakota scholar, educator, historian, Sun Dance participant, Cannunpa carrier, cultural & spiritual preservationist, journalist-writer and fraud investigator.
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