Thunderheart Analysis

Topics: United States, Native Americans in the United States, Washington, D.C. Pages: 3 (1081 words) Published: January 23, 2011
Let Us Smoke the Pipe so There Will be no Lies Between Us
The Native American Sioux have long standing traditions which predate the establishment of the United States, yet the American government stripped the majority of Native Americans from their lands and placed them on reservations where they can hardly carry out any of their customs. The motion picture, Thunderheart, tells an adaptation of the incident at Oglala, where the main protagonist, FBI agent Raymond Levoi, and his partner Frank Coutelle have to investigate the murder of a local pro-government Indian supporter. Thunderheart conveys three main images throughout the film which includes ceremonial tobacco pipe to show that American government agencies always hide their true intentions, and that Native Americans are stuck in a “third-world country” environment where they constantly battle a civil war.

The image of the tribal peace pipe shows how the American government and Euro-Americans have lied throughout the film. When the Pine Ridge Sioux gather for a ceremonial meeting, they need to smoke from a tribal peace pipe to in order prove to each other that none of the group members will lie (Thunderheart). When Levoi sits down for the first time with Grandpa Sam Reaches and Walter Crow Horse, Walter tells Levoi that “[we] shall now smoke from the pipe, and there will be no lies between us. If you do not smoke, then the old man [Grandpa Sam Reaches] will think that you are hiding something” (Thunderheart). Levoi did refuse to smoke from the pipe which established in the film that Levoi was intentionally hiding his true agenda from Grandpa Sam Reaches. It is also symbolic that in the same scene, it can also be seen as a white FBI agent who refuses to smoke from the pipe in the sense that the entire FBI is hiding their agenda from the whole tribe. The film later reveals that the other FBI agent, Coutelle, has his own secret agenda from the whole of the Indian tribe. He is trying to strip mine a...
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