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How the Legacy of Native Americans' Forced Assimilation Lingers Today

Sep 30, 2016 | 699 videos
Video by America Reframed

The short documentary Little Dream Catchers takes us to White Earth Nation in Minnesota—the state’s largest tribe with over 20,000 members. There, communities have been affected by drug addiction and unemployment, as well as a loss of culture due to forced assimilation for hundreds of years. It’s a moving film that centers around the necessity of early childhood education when it comes to returning to the tribal language and culture. "When you're told for 500 years your ways are evil, that damages your self esteem,” says the writer Gyassi Ross at the start of the film. “Showing the beauty of the language is a small dent in reclaiming that self-esteem.” In the White Earth Nation in Minnesota, preschoolers learn school readiness while engaging in tribal rituals, such as pow-wows, to prepare for kindergarten with a sense of identity.

Little Dream Catchers is the second of a series of three films exploring the lives of people in rural America. You can watch the first one, on Booneville, Kentucky, here. Little Dream Catchers was directed by Dustinn Craig, and will be streaming on PBS.org until December 12.

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Author: Nadine Ajaka

About This Series

A showcase of short films curated by The Atlantic