Incident at Oglala

Incident at Oglala (1992)

Michael Apted directs a film that recounts the story and subsequent trials resulting from a shoot-out, involving federal agents and members of the American Indian Movement (AIM), on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Set in the midst of internecine Indian conflict on the Rez, two FBI agents follow a vehicle onto Calvin Jumping Bull's land looking for a pair of stolen cowboy boots, and within a few minutes they are both dead by weapons fire, along with a member of AIM.

Apted speeds through a fairly complex series of events, including wildly differing accounts from the witnesses, which saw two brothers (initially Robert Robideau, and then Leonard Peltier) accused of the murders in successive trials. Peltier is convicted, fails his appeal, and remains incarcerated to this day. Although, Apted seems to skew slightly in favour of the Indian side, presenting a final Hail Mary confession from an anonymous source as evidence of Peltier's innocence, I remained unconvinced by anyone's whole story. Both sides appear to be lying at any given time. My gut tells me that the agents exceeded their reach, but based on a 90 minute documentary, I'd be foolish to reach a final conclusion. I have to say I wish Apted had slowed down, and spent more time carefully establishing what he perceived to be the participants' motivations.

Below is the entire film as presented on YouTube. It's a rip from a VHS tape. I am presuming this is a fair use of the material as it has been sanctioned by YouTube.

Conversation starters

  • Stolen boots... are you kidding me?
  • But what else do you expect in a culture of grievance, conflict and gun ownership? Here, it ain't so bad, thankfully.
  • Is Greg House MD right? Everybody lies?


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