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Dances with Wolves

In: Film and Music

Submitted By chloebarone
Words 2003
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Dances With Wolves Dances with wolves is an important motion picture which gives us a look into the lives of Native American culture, and white America. The movie promotes acceptance and tolerance for the Lakota culture. During the film the humanity of the Lakota people and their familial bonds and tribal culture is introduced to us. These different people that are established in nature are threatened with running into the white civilization and having everything they know ripped away from them. Little do they know that they will run into a white settler who will teach them white ways, introduce them to new technology and english words, practice their own culture as well and live together in harmony, without superiority getting in the way.

At first when we are introduced to John Dunbar a Lutenient who is positioned at a white soldier fort alone, it assumed that the indians are not too far off from the post, and the two cultures will eventually clash and could potentially end in a battle. We see the Lakota Sioux tribe who are friendly and accommodating, and the Pawnee Indians who numerous tribes are not accepting of other cultures even the Lakota which is surprising due to the fact that they are both indians. The only reason the Lakota Indians feel as though they have to ever fight is because the pawnee is threatheing their well being. At first when the Lakota discover that their is a white man positioned at a post close to their own homes, two leaders are sent their not to kill him but to see the way he reacts to them, when they holler and shout. When John Dunbar is confronted with these new people he does not shoot them or act out he simply just stands and does not act out towards them because of their race. He is open to meeting this new culture and is accepting the fact that maybe this tribe can eventually be useful for working out treaties, and no one would have to be harmed. John Dunbar accepts the native americans their race and different cultures by never once judging them. Throughout the movie he makes an obvious effort to learn their language, hunt buffalo with them, sing songs, communicate, and even trade and wear their clothes. In return the peaceful Lakota tribe are interested by the new white man who has come into their lives who does not want to hurt them and simply get to know them. They make an attempt to accept his culture by learning some english, trying coffee, and even at times trading with him.

At first when the Native Americans are exposed to John Dunbar they experience a bit of a culture shock. They cannot understand any words John has to say to them and assume they are all cruel or threats. As the movie progresses on they see how the John Dunbar is accepting of them and wants to get to learn more about them. Due to John's presence they learn simple skills like how to learn english, use proper gestures like waving, say John's name. Most importantly John Dunbar an average white man and his culture effected the Native Americans, by showing them that not all white people are cruel. The whites have standards and morals just like their own people and not every one of them is out to push the native americans out. They learn from John and his culture that the two different races come from extremely different places. They learn to accept the whites and have a better understanding of some actions that take place in the white culture. ******

During the course of the movie Dances with Wolves new technology such as new products, foods, and weapons were introduced by the white Man John Dunbar to the Lakota Indian tribe who are not as advanced due to living in rural areas and developing their own cultures.. The first exchange of gifts occurs when Kevin Costner, Lt. Dunbar, makes coffee for the small Lakota band that comes to visit him at the soldier fort. As the scene winds down, we see the warriors leaving him with new tin coffee cups strapped to their backs and through a voice over narration, it is revealed that he has also given them some coffee and sugar to take back to their camp circle with them. During the scene in the movie in which The Lakota were going into war with the Pawnee indians John Dunbar wants to go to war and aid the Lakota he introduces the idea of using rifles which will increase man power and will increase the strength of one soldier to that of two. Weapons like guns and rifles are also introduced when the Lakota and John Dunbar had found the migration of buffalo. Instead of all of the warriors killing each buffalo one by one using spears they can now use guns to kill the buffalo more faster and more efficiently.

During the movie dances with wolves their is an evident in differences in customs and cultures, in which the ideas of inferiority and superiority are very much present. In the beginning when we see John Bar staying in his post after the first encounter with the yelling native americans, and after the pawnee had killed his other friend at the post he is acting inferior to the native americans by assuming some of them are wild or uncivilized while at the same time keeping an open mind about them. He is shocked and acts superior to them when they don't even know simple things like what waving is or even what to do with coffee or milk. Although it would come across that John Dunbar would be and act the most inferior and superior to the Lakota, it is actually the Lakota who act inferior to the white race. The Lakota automatically assumed that the white man is out to get them and that all whites are violent. They go to the post to try to intimidate John Dunbar and think he is crazy or has lost his mind because he cannot understand a word they are saying. The Lakota feel as if John is uncivilized for acting this way. They do not understand how a white man can not understand their culture and act as if the only thing he can be is evil towards them and even get mad when he tries to save Stands With Fists when she is cutting herself underneath the tree. They act as if he is weaker then them by trying to mess with his head and steel his horses or even ruin his post, thinking that Dunbar would not be able to do anything about it .

Another major topic in the Movie Dances with Wolves is that of the environment. The environment is everything to the Lakota indians, the lakes are wear they bath themselves the hide from animals is responsible for making teepees in which they reside in, their food is wild animals, and transportation is solely by foot or horses. The use timber or wood to make weapons to defend themselves and bones of other animals and feathers to decorate their own bodies, which is all found in nature. The most important thing to the Lakota though in the environment is the Buffalo or Tatanka as it is referred to in the movie. Without the Buffalo the indians how no fur or meat to survive in, so it is crucial that they are hunting for them at all times. John Dunbar notices that the Lakota tribe has been experiencing a shortage of buffalo in the first place and when he hears the heard in the dead of night alerts them right away. When john and the tribe move across the land to search for the buffalo migration. When they arrive they see wagon tracks and dead buffalo with meat missing lying all over the field. The Lakota are disgusted at the mistreatment that the other white settlers have used on the buffalo and does not understand why they would due that if it is known the native americans rely on solely that food source. The native americans never gave up hope that they would soon fine the herd of buffalo and they eventually find thousands. After they spear and kill all of the buffalo it is evident how important the land and buffalo are to the Lakota because they celebrate all night and are overwhelmed with joy and happiness.

A strange topic in this movie that is observed is communal living. The Lakota are a indian tribe that are mostly nomadic which means they have no one place that is called home and move wherever the wind takes them. Most of the indians live in teepees, and have household items that can easily at any time be packed up and moved to the next accessible location. The indians rely on warmth and household happiness by all sitting together by fires and bonding like a family. It comes off strange to Luitentient John Dunbar because more than one indian lives at a tent at once which means, that everyone is exposed to arguments private discussions, and other private matters like expressing love that are meant to be done in private. The indians have a wonderful family life and all look out for one another. We see the leader of the clan looks out for stands with fists when he finds out she and John Dunbar are engaging in a relationship after she was taken into their indian family after her all white family was killed. Indians have strong family values and morals and stick strictly to their own customs and cultures. They are very protective of their children and keep them on a tight leash. When we see two boys who escape at night to steal John Dunbar's horses and when they take the horses and fell off exclaim that he would get chastised and beaten by his father for disobeying his rules. They raise their sons to have strong morals and be warriors and learn how to fight and provide for their families by hunting. The girls are trained to become wives and learn how to provide and look after their children.

All in all the film Dances with Wolves changed the way i felt about the white settler's justification for Manifest Destiny. At first i thought and believed it was our god given destiny to move west and settle to expand our land technology and communication. Now having watched the movie Dances With Wolves, the sweet and loving side of the native americans were exposed to me. I feel as if it was not right to push the Native Americans out of their land. Even though they were nomads they were settled their with families and cultures and they are people too. It is just as much the Native Americans Manifest Destiny and god given right to expand their own cultures as well, and experience what advanced life could be like. The two cultures should be able to mix and expand with each other with no problem. Racial discrimination to justify moving and expanding through the terms of Manifest Destiny is an abusive of power. Which shows the white people feel like they are superior to the other races.

Dances with wolves is an excellent interpretation of how indian and white life was really like, especially when the two worlds collide. This film teaches a different outlook on life and how two cultures can live together equally with peace and harmony. Equality is shown in this film between the whites and the indians and how the two worlds may be different, but can indeed mix together with little issues. Both cultures have valuable morals, lessons, and even new technology to introduce to one another, which benefits both sides in the long run. Dances with wolves shows how life can really be like between a misunderstood culture and an advanced civilization.

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