ImagineNATIVE 2017: Our Review of ‘Mankiller’

Posted in Festival Coverage, ImagineNATIVE 2017, Movies by - October 18, 2017
ImagineNATIVE 2017: Our Review of ‘Mankiller’

Mankiller is the story of a great American Wilma Mankiller. She is the first female that of the Cherokee Nation elected as chief in Oklahoma, United States. A person we should all aspire to be. The documentary weaves her story with that of non-Indigenous America. She did, after all since she did begin her work as an activist during the 1960s in San Francisco. When that city’s black citizens were fighting for civil rights, she joined the Panthers during its early stage. Bringing up her early work is so crucial because of its intersectional message. It makes it seem that it was easier to reach out to other oppressed groups back then.

Becoming chief during the 80’s and 90’s was difficult for Mankiller, getting death threats simply for running. However she won multiple terms and had the visibility that other Indigenous leaders don’t have today. The documentary, directed by Valerie Red-Horse Mohl. She incorporates a lot of archive footage of Mankiller getting plaudits from presidents and celebrities alike. Red-Horse Mohl also adds talking heads to the mix. She reached out to the people Mankiller worked with during her long public life. And these people having nothing but praise for her. Mankiller has accomplished so much that I wonder what she could have accomplished had the settlers not come.

Mankiller lays out all this information and yet it is not as inspiring as the woman it documents. It especially peters off in the second half. That half jumps from one topic to another too quickly. It mostly depicts her later life and the tribal politics that Mankiller finds herself in. It also doesn’t explore a problematic decision that she reluctantly makes later in her reign as chief. These flaws, however, don’t take away the great contributions Mankiller made to her tribe.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.