Lakota Nation vs. United States Movie Review

“Lakota Nation vs. United States” is from Jesse Short Bull & Laura Tomaselli, both making their feature directorial debut. After watching, you’ll find that hard to believe! This movie touches on almost every subject about Lakota Nation and how they were treated. ​

The Black Hills have belonged to Očéti Šakówiŋ people, the Lakota and Dakota people forever. These are their preferred names, but they’re often called Sioux, American and Native Indian, as well. They would like to be called and known as the Očéti Šakówiŋ by native and non-native, in whatever context or language they’re speaking. They would also like their “Land Back,” which is what they chant during protests. The struggle for the Black Hills has been a generational one. Their people have entered into treaty after treaty with the U.S. government for the land; each time, the government breaks the treaty. 


The great Lakota Nations were equal to the U.S. Government and told that. So, another treaty would begin. Per usual, it was violated the moment the treaty was created. The Lakota Nations finally believed it was settled law when the Treaty of 1868 said, “The land belonged to the Sioux forever.” Finally!! But then GOLD, just a yellow rock, was found in the Black Hills, the most known in any other place on earth, and in 1868 they were betrayed once again. There was always “trickery” involved.


An old news clip says, “The U.S. Government saw that the Indians (sic) have been given great consideration and should be happy about how well they’ve been kept.” It isn’t easy to hear. It also isn’t easy to see the films and cartoons depicting the Indigenous people as savages to knock them down and dehumanize them as worthless characters. The government called them “wild,” which they never were. They simply didn’t want the people who were coming by the thousands to ruin their sacred ground.

They’ve been offered what would now be billions of dollars for it, but they will not accept the money. 

This movie isn’t focusing on how the native people of this country were taken advantage of monetarily. However, that’s a part of this, too, but instead, it gets deeply into how they were stripped of their beautiful, sacred land that meant God, Love, Peace, and Life to them. As they protest, young and old people wear shirts and hold signs that read “Land Back.” That is an announcement. The Black Hills were never for sale and never will be. It was stolen from them, and there’s a movement to get the “Land Back” and, this time, to keep it for good.


When it’s mentioned that the Black Hills is where “Mount Rushmore” is, your jaw will hit the floor. The government had four racist white men’s faces carved into stone in these hills, possibly, intentionally to hurt those who fought against it.  

Custer is mentioned. He would burn their forts to the ground and attack the women and children to force the surrender of his enemy combatants. It’s mentioned that he wasn’t a very bright man. You’ll love the quote, “It amazes me that someone so stupid went so far.” 


This is a deep dive not only into how men like that, and white people in general, saw the Lakota people but you’ll be frustrated to see that what was finally given back to them in the Black Hills Treaty of 1868 has grown smaller and smaller. Can what had been taken ever be given back? Millions of acres were stolen in a “Land Grab,” and it was said it was done to civilize them. The children were then sent to boarding schools to become Christians. Their hair was cut, and they were given English names and beaten. Essentially, they were kidnapped from their mothers. 

Not happy about it? Sign an agreement to give us your land.


I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing in this movie. I’ve only described a tiny bit of it. It comes out on July 14th. Please see it as a reminder of the history America must fix and never repeat.

Lakota Nation vs. United States


Directors: Jesse Short Bull, Laura Tomaselli
Writers: Layli Long Soldier, Benjamin Hedin, Laura Tomaselli
Features: Phyllis Young, Henry Red Cloud, Nick Tilsen

Rated: PG-13 (Some Strong Language|Violent Images|Thematic Elements)
Runtime: 1h 58m
Genres: Documentary, History

Distributor: IFC Films

Producers: Benjamin Hedin, Phil Pinto



Rating contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

What's your take?

Free movie screenings and more.
Watch movies with friends.


No comments yet