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Reservation Dogs - General Discussion


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15 hours ago, aghst said:

I’m not saying people can’t be close-knit as depicted.

But stats suggest some bleak aspects of life on reservations.

Money problems stress Americans so I’m wondering if they don’t cause similar issues for people who live on reservations.

It’s certainly Harjo’s prerogative if he doesn’t want to depict the sad aspects of reservation life.

But maybe viewers need to understand the context.

I think Harjo did show sad aspects of reservation life, but he just presented them as status quo, not as grim statistics.  If you consider that of our four main Rez Dogs, only 1 lives in a home with both parents, that's a pretty sad aspect of reservation life.  Elora was raised by her grandmother, and did we ever learn what happened to Cheese's parents?  He's living with an old lady he met at the Indian Health Center.

What Harjo wanted to show was how much the community was there to support everyone.  Not to show how hard they all had it.

I think a lot of the aunties at the funeral supper were relatives of his.

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2 hours ago, meep.meep said:

I think Harjo did show sad aspects of reservation life, but he just presented them as status quo, not as grim statistics.  If you consider that of our four main Rez Dogs, only 1 lives in a home with both parents, that's a pretty sad aspect of reservation life.  Elora was raised by her grandmother, and did we ever learn what happened to Cheese's parents?  He's living with an old lady he met at the Indian Health Center.

What Harjo wanted to show was how much the community was there to support everyone.  Not to show how hard they all had it.

I think a lot of the aunties at the funeral supper were relatives of his.

It just seemed like they chased going to California for most of the first two seasons, then they get out there and turn back soon.

So there's the possibility of a life in the wider world but in the end, all of them return to the reservation, seem fated to live the rest of their lives there except Elora.

Yes they will be supported by good people.  But they likely will face financial challenges most of their lives.

Bear's mother got a chance to leave behind job insecurity and her friends urged her to take the job even if it means leaving the reservation.  She's in her 40s when she may be able to start building some financial security.  

Not sure why she wouldn't take Bear with her.  It would be difficult leaving behind his friends and community but people do that all the time, to pursue opportunities which may not be available where they were living.

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41 minutes ago, aghst said:

So there's the possibility of a life in the wider world but in the end, all of them return to the reservation, seem fated to live the rest of their lives there except Elora.

 

But is that good, bad, or neutral? When we leave them Elora's going to college, a place where she'll probably start to think about what she wants to do. Bear's taking a year off to decide what he wants to do. Cheese is still in high school. So all of them seem to have nothing but choices before them to me.

The one person who does seem like she's choosing to be there is Willie Jack, but that came across as a positive choice to me--that is, not just a passive failure to launch, but the beginnings of how she wants to shape her life. 

I grew up in a culture/family where it was the default that you ought to go out into the world etc., but I don't know how I'd see the world if I grew up in a world with elders and a history.

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I'd like to see other depictions of reservation life.  This is the first one I can recall watching.

Harjo himself has obviously looked for opportunities beyond the reservation and the success of this show should open up new projects for him.

BTW, he talks with Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald a bit.  They discuss among other things how he decided to plot the last season.

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6 hours ago, aghst said:

It just seemed like they chased going to California for most of the first two seasons, then they get out there and turn back soon.

I suspect maybe you missed the focus of that particular plot point. The Rez Dogs’s primary (not only, but primary) reason for going to California wasn’t to escape the reservation; they went to fulfill a dream of Daniel’s, which Daniel didn’t live to fulfill.

 

6 hours ago, aghst said:

So there's the possibility of a life in the wider world but in the end, all of them return to the reservation, seem fated to live the rest of their lives there

Maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying here, but - to me, anyway - it comes across like you view the reservation as some kind of economic prison from which they can’t escape, to which they are doomed to serve their own individual life sentences.  Try as I might I can’t come up with any gentle way to say this, so pardon me for being blunt - but that is purely an outsider view of life on the rez.

I don’t think you’re taking into account the significant cultural and historical differences between what American Indians have always experienced - and continue to experience - as everyday life on a reservation.  What many/most may call “economically depressed”, or “extreme poverty”?  Folks on the rez call that “Tuesday”.  From their initial inception on - and carrying forward in many ways to present day - reservations were created and geared towards achieving and maintaining a primary mission consisting of several specific goals: dispossessing an indigenous population of land and natural resources which was rightfully theirs in every possible sense, segregating them from the “mainstream” (aka white) population, and maintaining them in such locations as cheaply as could be managed without fomenting insurrection.

Basically the AI/AN population was treated as an inconvenience which everybody else (the government, their white neighbors, etc.) wished would simply “go away” - and when the reservation occupants unreasonably refused to comply with that wish, further steps were taken: reservation borders were repeatedly redrawn to take back any land which showed any promise of economic potential or development, children were forced to attend schools created for the sole purpose of erasing their cultural identity, and so forth.  For years the government and mainstream white society pursued a single-minded agenda: kill off the Indian population by starving them to death, or - failing that - kill the differences which made them “Indian”.

The response of the tribal populations was as simple as it was (to the mainstream) frustrating: they worked with what they had, and they survived.  That bleak economic picture you see from the outside? That’s their everyday reality - as it was for their parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents, etc. - and as a rule they tend to be pretty pragmatic about it.  To the people on the rez, life there is no more dreary or bleak than your everyday life is for you: it’s where their lives are, where their families are, where their communities are - and that’s their center of social stability.

6 hours ago, aghst said:

except Elora.

Got a news flash for you: the story line laid it out pretty crystal clear that Elora would go to college, get her degree, and come back to the rez to work at IHS as a behavioral health counselor or specialist - driven, no doubt, to try to help as many of her people as she can from ending up in the same dark place as Daniel did.

 

6 hours ago, aghst said:

Yes they will be supported by good people.  But they likely will face financial challenges most of their lives.

Bear's mother got a chance to leave behind job insecurity and her friends urged her to take the job even if it means leaving the reservation.  She's in her 40s when she may be able to start building some financial security.  

Not sure why she wouldn't take Bear with her.  It would be difficult leaving behind his friends and community but people do that all the time, to pursue opportunities which may not be available where they were living.

All I can say to this is, your view that everybody’s overriding life goal is financial success does not necessarily translate well to other cultures.  If one has lived their entire life in a societal culture where simple subsistence is the normal baseline, then wealth accumulation may not necessarily be the driving impetus you seem to assume it is.


P. S.: Sorry for the Great American Novel, y’all - when I started out on this post, a great big ol’ wall of text was NOT my intent. 😄

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But why was it Daniel's dream to go to California?  Could he have wanted to see what it was like outside the reservation?  Did he just want to visit or did he aspire to move out there?

Yeah some of the kids were seeing this only as a trip, always planning to go back.

They didn't have money or plans so they didn't have a chance to see what it would be like living somewhere else.

Most people leave home and see a different place for the first time in their lives to be able to say they've done it, that they've seen this different place and return home.

But some people have their preconceptions or expectations changed, including maybe thinking about moving.

 

My only point about the the kids leaving wouldn't be about financial success but stability.  I'm not saying they have to have money to be happy.  In fact some of the happiest people in the world are in poor countries, where they don't even have some of the modern amenities we take for granted, like electricity and running water.

However, almost all Americans have experienced issues when they don't have money.  People argue or fight about money, including husbands and wives, parents and their children, etc.

Money isn't the only cause of stress or tension between people but it's one of the most common ones.

And it's something that the show briefly alludes to.  When Bear's mother has a chance for a better job, with way more money, they all encourage her to take the job, even if it means leaving her family and community behind.

We also see that Teenie is encouraging of Elora going away for college.  As for her plans, sure kids all have plans on what they are going to major in and what kind of job they will do.  We know often, kids pivot when they go to college, find something else they like and maybe meet friends or get internships which draw them to different places.

Maybe Elora follows through on her plans, maybe she doesn't.  But when she says she will come back every weekend, that may not be necessarily the best thing for her.  It seems like that's a way to deny herself opportunities that college may offer, not to mention socializing with other people, expanding her world.

 

Harjo may well intend that the reservation life is the best and all these kids including Elora will live and work there the rest of their lives.  But Harjo himself must have worked outside of Oklahoma or would have to spend most of his career outside a reservation if he plans to keep making movies and shows?

 

 

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It sounds like you want the story to say ALL the kids leave and that leaving is the best thing for them. You mention some people leaving, but that's not enough for you? I don't get it. Why do you think you know what's best for other people? Why are you frustrated that some of the characters are making different choices than you would and that they seem happy?

I also don't know what you're talking about when you say most people leave their home of origin. That is not true. It seems like that is the norm from whatever community you come from, but it's not true for all.

 

 

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I think there’s a lot of subtlety in Reservation Dogs that outsiders miss, and I love that about the show. 
 

For all people, moving away, especially chasing economic opportunity, dramatically alters the support network and possible safety nets. Within the show, we see the kids screwed when their car is stolen away from all of their possible supports. Back home, when Elora needs a car to see her dad, she has people to ask and has support. Sure, new support networks can be built but that takes time and may not happen if one is an outsider. We see in this show the power and strength of maintaining that network regardless of other conditions. The network is still there even when a person moves away, but what they can actively do changes. 
 

Many of the show runners have actively worked to promote indigenous causes through media and other activism. This supports their personal communities as well as other indigenous communities, even when they’re not currently living locally. They want their cultures to thrive in spite of what mainstream America and the white gaze try to do them. 

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On 10/7/2023 at 12:40 AM, Nashville said:

that is purely an outsider view of life on the rez.

And one that has been promoted the past 40 years in the media. We have had a limited and singular view of reservation life: poverty, substance abuse, etc. Reservation life is more nuanced than that.

Reservations (and villages, rancherias, etc.) are fundamental to tribal existence and identity, conferring a very specific legal right to exist as sovereign nations. Also, the sense of community on many reservations runs very deep, and is uplifting and sustaining. There are large, extended family systems living on those lands. Activism to promote needed changes is alive and well. (https://ictnews.org/news)

They will never abandon their lands, but they do have more life choices these days. It's a rich and complex story, and I think Harjo tried to demonstrate this.

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Why do you think you know what's best for other people? Why are you frustrated that some of the characters are making different choices than you would and that they seem happy?

Native Americans are used to everyone else commenting on their lives without understanding their lives.

As for "everybody leaving home," I have family in the rural South who have traveled no farther than the nearest "big" town. They are productive and happy, despite others (including me in my youth) questioning their choices.

 

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8 hours ago, possibilities said:

It sounds like you want the story to say ALL the kids leave and that leaving is the best thing for them. You mention some people leaving, but that's not enough for you? I don't get it. Why do you think you know what's best for other people? Why are you frustrated that some of the characters are making different choices than you would and that they seem happy?

I also don't know what you're talking about when you say most people leave their home of origin. That is not true. It seems like that is the norm from whatever community you come from, but it's not true for all.

 

 

I'm not necessarily saying ALL the kids should leave or that they will have better lives if they do.

I'm asking why more aren't exploring the possibility of leaving.

We've seen stories about small towns, some kids who can't wait to get out.

But we see communities like former mining towns or Rust Belt cities.  People who are unable or unwilling to leave often have difficult lives.

Where did I say "most people leave their home of origin?"  I said people take trips and see other places, not leave permanently.

9 hours ago, aghst said:

 

Most people leave home and see a different place for the first time in their lives to be able to say they've done it, that they've seen this different place and return home.

 

I'm going to drop it, because apparently raising some possible critiques of the show is touching a lot of nerves, even though my points seem to be misunderstood or deliberately misread.

 

Edited by aghst
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11 hours ago, aghst said:

My only point about the the kids leaving wouldn't be about financial success but stability.  I'm not saying they have to have money to be happy.  In fact some of the happiest people in the world are in poor countries, where they don't even have some of the modern amenities we take for granted, like electricity and running water.

 

But isn't stability one of the things that they like about the reservation? They're surrounded by people who have been there all their lives. They have access to services they're famliar with there as well as family. It seems like the rez is the biggest stability in their lives even when they aren't living there, like Teeny.

2 hours ago, pasdetrois said:

And one that has been promoted the past 40 years in the media. We have had a limited and singular view of reservation life: poverty, substance abuse, etc. Reservation life is more nuanced than that.

 

Totally different situation, but it's been making me think of how it's always bothered me on so many sitcoms that characters live in cities and then when they have kids they have to move because kids need to live in the suburbs. Nothing against growing up in the suburbs at all, but it never seems like anybody is looking objectively at the pros and cons for them personally, they're just reciting it as fact. Like they don't value the obvious support system any kids would have growing up with all these adults who are like family, because all that matters is a big house with a yard where back in the 70s they would have been allowed to ride bikes everywhere but now will probably be driven everywhere by their parents.

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I think some things about reservations is you don’t miss what you don’t have. I think any and all walks of life should be encouraged to go wherever. Learn whatever. Take advantage of whatever opportunities there may be. And there’s no failure in returning to the reservation or your home town and bringing that enrichment with you. If that’s what elora does. Yippee. 
I feel like cheese and willie jack also intend to pay it forward in whatever way. 
The indigenous people I’ve known have been the happiest people I’ve ever known. And that’s people who have to bring in sheep to sleep with in winter for heat. Not ideal for everybody but they ain’t sad about it. 

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On 9/21/2023 at 4:01 PM, sistermagpie said:

ETA: It is, however, kind of strange to listen to Rick say how young he was when Elora was born when she's about 18, right? And he's in his 50s. You were not young, my dude.

 

On 9/21/2023 at 5:37 PM, aghst said:

Well EH is 52-53 but maybe his character is suppose to be in his mid 40s at the most.

I don't know that the character would have worked better with a relatively unknown actor.

I guess we bring some preconceptions because of EH's previous roles and maybe what we know of his personal life.

I’m rewatching from the beginning (almost done again, sad face) and I could swear a few episodes back they showed her birth certificate and it showed Father’s age as 18.  Which would require a huge stretch of imagination. Did I imagine or misread that? 

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Wasn’t there a joke on 30 Rock that wealthy 52 is middle class 38? Age shows different when you have a nutrient dense diet, easy access to healthcare, and certainty that you’ll always be able to provide a home for yourself and your family. I can easily buy that a 36 year old who struggled with substance abuse would be as weathered as Ethan Hawks is just because of the years passing. 

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I've been saying I'm going to watch Rutherford Falls once I got a deal on a Peacock subscription (I saw the first 2 or 3 when they were free), but I finally got around to it, and I'm bowled over by how many RezDogs actors are turning up.  Bev of course is one of the regulars, but it seems like every episode there's someone else.   I've seen Uncle Brownie, Irene, Elora, the Spirit Guy, Deer Lady... I'm sure I'm missing some.  I'm just starting the 2nd season.  It's no RezDogs, but it's a fun show.

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On 10/9/2023 at 1:20 AM, SoMuchTV said:

I've been saying I'm going to watch Rutherford Falls once I got a deal on a Peacock subscription (I saw the first 2 or 3 when they were free), but I finally got around to it, and I'm bowled over by how many RezDogs actors are turning up.  Bev of course is one of the regulars, but it seems like every episode there's someone else.   I've seen Uncle Brownie, Irene, Elora, the Spirit Guy, Deer Lady... I'm sure I'm missing some.  I'm just starting the 2nd season.  It's no RezDogs, but it's a fun show.

Rutherford Falls was the first TV show that made me see Native Americans's current state  in a different way than usual. As someone already mentioned, TV uses to show reservations in such a way, that me, the ignorant European, thought there were hell on earth and everyone living on them is a miserable junkie zombie.
I can't really stand the lead, but it is indeed a fun show. Too bad it got cancelled..

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3 hours ago, Zaffy said:

As someone already mentioned, TV uses to show reservations in such a way, that me, the ignorant European, thought there were hell on earth and everyone living on them is a miserable junkie zombie.

Exactly why shows like these, created by and/or engaging people from those cultures and communities in the production and execution are so important. 

On 10/8/2023 at 8:28 PM, peeayebee said:

I'll probably check that out. I do have a Peacock subscription, so I might as well use it.

I wasn't aware of this show either. Will definitely check it out. 

I'm already missing the greatness that was Reservation Dogs. Hope to see more from this team in the future. 

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Just saw a preview for “little bird” which is on pbs. 6 parts series. May be a realistic portrayal of rez life. Kids being taken from their families. Won’t say it’s a fun ride but maybe a realistic one. 

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22 minutes ago, nachomama said:

Just saw a preview for “little bird” which is on pbs. 6 parts series. May be a realistic portrayal of rez life. Kids being taken from their families. Won’t say it’s a fun ride but maybe a realistic one. 

Had not seen anything on this; thanks for the heads-up!

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Watched the first episode of Little Bird last night - it's based on Canada's 60's scoop of Indian children from the Reserve into adoption by white families.  Executive producer is Jennifer Podemski who played Willi Jack's mother on Rez Dogs. IMDB thinks it was broadcast in May/June, but I never saw it on our PBS stations.

They followed the first episode with a "making of" episode that was very interesting as well.  

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Rabbit proof fence is an Australian movie about similar things, aboriginal kids being taken from their families and basically put into indentured servitude. That policy went on until 1975. That baffles me. I got little bird on my dvr and I’ll be checking it out this weekend. I saw a couple rez dogs names in there. And I think I saw Eric schweig. Yummy yummy! 

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A friend who was "scooped" in the US in the 60s educated me about this practice in the US. He has been unable to find his Native birth parents. I think there have been lawsuits over the years. I look forward to watching this series.

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We finished the series last night and I have to say that it was the best thing I've seen in awhile. I got so hooked on these stories and I'm going to miss them! I think we'll let a little time go by and do a rewatch!

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I'd like to remind everyone in the forum that the Winter Primetimer Awards are open for voting and Reservation Dogs has been nominated in many categories, including Best Comedy, Best Writing and several others. Head over and vote in the various categories where Reservation Dogs has been nominated. Voting is only open for four days.

Here's the link to the main voting page, where you can search the categories:

The Primetimers: Awards

 

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The final round of voting in the Winter Primetimer Awards is now open, and may I say, "Well done!" to my fellow Reservation Dogs'  fans. The show is nominated in eight categories:  Favorite Comedy, Favorite Writing, Favorite Secondary Character,  Most Diverse Cast, Most Satisfying Death Scene, Favorite Ship Pairing, Character with Best Wardrobe and Favorite Musical Moment. Let's get the show some wins for its final season. 

Here's the link to the main voting page:  2023 Winter Primetimer Awards Second Round Voting

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Late to the game because I just got Hulu.  I've never had enough internet to stream, and always regretted that I simply had no access to certain shows, including Reservoir Dogs.  So I jumped on this when I got better internet.  Boy, am I glad.

The episode with Elora and her dad?  Mr. Outlier and I watched it as part of a block of the final four episodes last night, and when it ended, we just sat there in stunned silence.  I finally said, "I think that might be the best thing I've ever seen on TV."

On 9/20/2023 at 11:49 AM, peeayebee said:

The awkward dance betw the two characters and watching that change was a lovely experience.

We both picked up on that.  The way that played out in a limited amount of time was masterful.  I believed every word of it.

I can't imagine anyone doing a better job of portraying Elora's dad than Ethan Hawke.  (Hmm...the long walk-and-talk down the street is more than a little reminiscent of the "Before" movies, now that I think about it.  Not that he needs a niche, but this might be it.)

On 9/22/2023 at 11:00 AM, sistermagpie said:

I also loved the detail of him proudly saying he came from a line of Quakers because I get what that meant to him and how it was nothing to her

Or me.  I assumed it had something to do with Quakers' peaceable ways, but I looked it up just to make sure I wasn't completely wrong and I see the history there.  I agree, a nice touch.  Along with the one, which someone mentioned and I hadn't noticed, where Elora was loading stuff into the truck her dad had for sale.  (I never could keep track of what cars she was driving--glad to see she's got a permanent one.)

On 10/6/2023 at 4:52 PM, sistermagpie said:

I grew up in a culture/family where it was the default that you ought to go out into the world etc., but I don't know how I'd see the world if I grew up in a world with elders and a history.

That's one thing I really appreciate about this show.  Under the veneer of entertainment, it taught me a lot about this community and gave me some real insight.

It's the same way with movies--I like watching movies made in countries other than the U.S. just to see how other people live.  I understand it's from the vantage point of just that writer or director and could therefore be completely biased and possibly totally bogus.  And it's not intended to portray, say, Finnish culture as a whole, much less explain it.  But it gives me a little peep to do with what I want/can.

I do think Reservation Dogs had an educational purpose that many of the "foreign" movies I see don't.  But it was so deftly handled that it never seemed like it, and it obviously wasn't the only reason for its existence; it was, for me, first and foremost a fantastic show about a group of people I became interested in.

I'll confess that I don't have a spiritual bone in my body.  I just don't "get" any of that.  I think life ends at death, period, so the notion of spirits and everything in that realm flies right over my head.  The idea of sacred lands means nothing to me. 

But after watching this show I kind of get it.  Fortunately, I'm not the type to go up to someone complaining about encroachment on their sacred lands and say, "Eh, get over it."  So outwardly, there's no change in my approach.  But inwardly, I kind of get it.  And that could qualify as a near miracle.

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I saw something yesterday where Sterlin Harjo is creating a new show with Ethan Hawk, I think hawk executive producing. Again, for whatever reasons I don't like Ethan Hawk it's putting some people to work, so yay!

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I watch Resident Alien on SyFy which takes place in a small town in Colorado that has a mixed white and native population. In a recent episode, one of the white residents has an owl sitting and staring in her window. She mentions this to some of her native friends and they immediately started acting uncomfortable. Eventually, one of them (played by Sarah Podemski, actually) tells her that owls are considered bad luck and stuff in their culture, BUT I ALREADY KNEW THAT THANKS TO THIS SHOW.

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