Chase Iron Eyes has an ambition to help the Oceti Sakowin Oyate Nation to finally be seen as equal by the United States of America. He plans to run for congress and to become the first Native American member who will bring change and hopefully peace.
In 2016, a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline became violent, many Native people were arrested and abused by the police and it took years for Iron Eyes’ arrest to get overturned. Things certainly weren’t helped by Donald Trump coming to power as he had an investment in the pipeline, so as soon as he got in, he undid all the good that President Obama had done.
Oyate is a documentary about Chase Iron Eyes and his struggle to be heard as a spokesperson for his people. It also talks about the history of indigenous people and the many different ways in which they have been oppressed right from the moment Columbus landed in America.
Different issues such as native women being more in danger of physical and sexual abuse, the damage that inequality can do on a young mind and straight on racism are all covered. In the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, it also highlights how little is heard about the problems that indigenous people face. Not just the issues with trying to become any kind of political power, but also from living in a country that they were a part of long before white people took over.
Oyate pulls no punches when talking about the problems faced by indigenous people and is a stark reminder to anybody about how far they’ve come only to be pushed back over and over again. However, there is hope and it lies in the next generation as is shown with Chase’s daughter, Tokata.
Although, despite a surprisingly sweet moment between them while discussing racial politics, Tokata is shown to be just as fierce and passionate as her father.
Oyate is worth watching as a reminder of how far America has to go for racial equality, despite the tide seemingly turning in recent years. With Trump now in America’s immediate past, then there may even be hope that progress can be made once again
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