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Jives with Tribes
Pelegrin and the Crackpot Discuss the Movie Dances with Wolves
[The Crackpot's comment's will be in brackets—because he is insane and must be semantically caged in some way.]

Dances with Wolves
Sun, Mar 28, 9:39 PM (6 days ago)
James,
Watched this —the last hour twice, recently with my elderly father.
Thanks to you, a few things stood out to me in this re-watching.
1. White. The Lakota name for euro-american/christians/english was Wasicu. They used that word for the Costner character and others but thanks to you I took to searching online. I thought when I began this email that the main stream source Wikipedia acknowledges the mistranslation. But I’m not seeing it now in the entry for the movie. Or in Infogalactics. But now I see that if you search the word ‘wasicu’ there’s a Wik entry that expressly declaims any suggestion that the term is race-based.
“Wašíču is the Lakota and Dakota word for people of Western European descent.[1] It expresses the indigenous population's perception of the non-natives' relationship with the land and the indigenous population. Typically it refers to white people[2] but does not specifically mention skin color or race.[3]” ... A common folk etymology claims that wašíču originates from wašíŋ ičú "he takes fat"[2] and this is used by natives in puns to refer to non-Natives who collectively rob tribes of their resources.[1] [citations and hyperlinks stripped by...]
[The most likely origin of the term for fat taker, was that the Lakota had a Great Lakes origin and had been extensively befriended by French Voyagers. These and many other tribes would extend hospitality to the steel-bringer, news-bringer and fur trader, up to and including marriage with their daughters. However, the most common hospitality extended to a man who brought salt and steel, who had been starving in the snow would be fat. The Northern Plains and Great Lakes are cold now and those French-Tribal relationships began at the height of the Little Ice Age. These men would also take fat in the form of pemicen, a mix of fat and meat and berries, for which they traded. Until Custer, only the Crow Indians would dare take from these powerful tribes. An entire mixed-race tribe grew up near lake Winnebego in Canada around the production of pemicen for the Hudson Bay Company, with French hunters marrying Indian wives and the two cooperating in the crafting of this supply source.]
2. Increasing use of the term white. The story arc made this necessary, but having searched and confirmed my understanding of the true history, it became jarring as the use of the term increased, almost exponentially. It’s almost as if the first use was just slipped past, and then after it’s locked in —after the nail of the propaganda gets a placement, it’s hammered in very thoroughly. Like, why not, we’ve already got you accepting that its race-based, pound away boys!!!
[The Costner character is a narrative contradiction that Indian life was race-based. But the Muricin Meat-Puppet is immune to reality, even when it dances on the same stage as the lie. The term white is crucial to the progress of globalism, as it was at its root an economic designation that crossed many racial and religious lines—negating those identities and providing a purely civic-economic identity which really did mean privilege, as privilege alone is easily reassigned when it is divorced from a true active identity.]
2.5. BTW, looking this over, why would there even be a word on first contact with little old Costner? If it’s truly first contact, then they wouldn’t have a word; they’d have to invent one or work it out. Since they had one at the ready, they had experience. This could have been an interesting scene. Costner Narrator voice: ‘Today I learned that the Lakota name for us is ..., meaning....’ If that was in it and I missed it, my apologies.
[American history narrative has always stressed first contact when there was none, in order to negate earlier European claims: Salutrean, Celtic, Nordic, Spanish, French... The idea that plains Indians, who had horses, did not know about Europeans, when they shared mutual sign language with the English Delaware tribe from Jersey, named after an English lord is supremely arrogant. In fact, Wyoming may mean "plain" in Lakota, but may mean "plains and mountains alternating" in Delaware, and probably means both and was named separately by this various tribes. Delaware Indians were feared in the Columbia River valley in 1807! Look at where Delaware is on the map—and we are supposed to believe that Indians lived like medieval serfs who never left the valley of their birth?]
3. The US/euro guys. There’s a class, cool/uncool thing going on, where there’s this resentful horrible uncouth worker/servant low-level soldier uneducated class of euro’s, and then there’s these 2 or 3 ‘good’ educated officer literate euro guys who naturally have some sympathy for the Costner character. The good ones are a general who gets Costner to his own ambulance because Costner’s ‘an officer that’s worth something’ —never mind that his actions made absolutely no tactical sense imo, just a lark, a crazy brave dare; and another two officers —a major and a junior type out west.
[All American films I have seen denigrate the working class man of European descent. If the hero hails from this class he is an exceptional person. This hate of the working class by the aspirational class film-maker will be cloaked by making fun of some rich ninny. But, the moral authority, like in the supremely gay movie Titanic, will always lie with the elite woman. Her sissy rich men might be walking jokes in the movie. But the only working guy worthy of being a protagonist, can only be elevated by her affection. This holds in the Costner film, as he is elevated through his relationship with the adopted sister/daughter of a chief. This is a necessary narrative arrangement to sell two movie tickets to a couple. Our entire narrative as a phony pie-in-the-sky nation is only sustainable if we identify exclusively with the upper class of the past, even though almost all of us descend from the lower class. This narrative was sustainable because the vast resources of this plundered continent—once its stone age people were brushed aside—made it possible for us to enjoy elite comforts by most world standards even as working joes. Even Louis the XIV did not have air conditioning or a Trans-Am.]
There was one guy, who I thought might serve as a breaking the mold character. The NCO tough dude with the beard —basically looked like an experienced special forces guy from today’s units. But he ends up being basically useless in the battle scene where the Lakota expeditionary force busts Costner out of US Army custody while in transit. He takes cover initially. Ok. But then he stays hidden. Does he even fire his weapon? Then he flees, ignoring the cries for help —by name no less, from his fellow soldier/friend? I had forgotten that part. What a disappointment. The only euro’s played with any sympathy were officer class level guys who sympathized with the Costner character.
[The important aspect of the enlisted men was that one of them wiped his ass with Costner's journal. The entire western narrative focuses on less than 1/2 of 1% of Americans. The idea of myth building is to mold young minds according to an exceptional character and to place the context in an exceptional setting. This is why, although more Americans lived in New York City than lived west of the Mississippi the only movie you have set in the non-frontier, non-Civil War context of 19th Century America is Gangs of New York, set against many hundreds of westerns. The western genre is smoke and mirrors to begin with. Could you imagine if we took an inventory of law enforcement dramas set in and broadcast on TV from 1960 through 2020, and discovered that only one was set in an American city and the other hundreds were all set in Wyoming? That would seem like fakery.]
So it was like the upper level Euro’s were like, yeah, we’d like to be cool with you all Lakota, but we’re riding the tiger of this massive amount of low class euro people who are breeding like rabbits; what can we do? I mean look, I agree, they’re all horrible. And cowards too. Can’t get good help.
4. Thought Costner flipped over a little too easily. “There’s nothing for you here,” he implores the US Army guys. I was like, wait, bro, it’s 1860-something. We’re in Frisco by this point. Seattle. Trading with Japan. China. The Brits have India. This continent conquest thing is happening. This is not Mars. We’re coming. Now. Of course there’s something for us here, lotsa land, lotsa buffalo, use you’re imagination.
Also, he gives the Lakota the Army posts guns. Where is this guy’s foresight?
[This had already been done by private actors. Custer's men at Little Bighorn faced Indians who had much better guns!]
What was he thinking? He’d been up close and personal in the machine; in the north’s civil war army in (?) Tennessee. He must have seen the power, the might, the logistics, the organization, the record-keeping. Yeah, ok, these Lakota are cool. I’ll just go all in and give them US Army weaponry and marry in. All while AWOL. What could possibly go wrong? I’ll just live with them. Life is short. Maybe another 30-40 years. Live in the mountains half the year. Lay low.
I’m saying, even if these Lakota were great, he knew this life-plan was nuts.
What was the point of this movie?
[I see this as a nostalgic yearning for not what was lost—but what was taken. Once you have seen and eaten buffalo, it is mind boggling that we killed them all and replaced them with shittier meat just because the U.S. Army could not find anyone other than Custer who could ride a horse well enough to catch these fuckers and take their scalps. That seems pretty pathetic, to devastate such a natural resource out of laziness and lack of martial character. In a way, Costner was Custer in this. Custer hated his enlisted men and admired the Indians he hunted.]
I would. I think that would be interesting, even though I think I might have displayed some weakness of my own character: Like why wouldn’t even a few years of bliss as an Indian husband/hunter/warrior been worth it? I forget the exact quote, but Thomas Fleming from Chronicles wrote something almost 20 years ago to the effect that he had to doubt the manhood of guys under 40 who made decisions based on their retirement plan.
Also, I forgot to mention a reason why I qued it up for Dad to re-watch the ending: He wanted to know what happened to the Costner character. The film leaves that a bit of a mystery, closing with a coda about how the Lakota took to a reservation 15 years later.
But, yes, this and earlier, please feel free to write about.
I think I’ve used pen name ‘Pelegrín’ before so why don’t we stick with that?
—Pelegrín

I liked the music with the scenery—it worked.
There are many very gay and inauthentic aspects of this movie, like the Japanese actor playing Kicking Bird. But the slaughter of the enemy Indian warband, the shit-eating little Indian dogs and the retreat into the mountains to escape the Soldiers, was very touching. The west seemed to capture Costner's soul after this and he has worked on low budget westerns...I pass a western town he had built in Utah once a week when I am visiting there. I like this movie despite its flaws—like everything out of Hollywood being fake, gay, phony and lame. But we at least got to see a European American go native and shake off the moral shackles for a couple hours of childish fantasy...because many did, many "white" men decided that they were something more and other than the lack of color and took one of the last available time machines back into our collective past and lived a lot, if only for a little while.
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DeniseApr 5, 2021

As is typical of Hollywood, this movie served it's purpose.
JApr 4, 2021

I would be very interested to hear James' review of Hostiles, starring Christian Bale. Not aware of an article about it already existing.
Ruben ChandlerApr 3, 2021

My Lakota friend, Leonard Crow Dog, says it means greasy, white person.
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