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Taking Issue With the Saintly Light That Costner Shines Upon Native Americans

January 20, 1991

I am annoyed by the recent "bleeding heart" letters praising "Dances With Wolves." I found the movie, despite its technical perfection, to be disgusting propaganda, and I resented its charges against our ancestors.

Just what does actor/director Kevin Costner have against his own race and nation? There was not an admirable white American (except Costner's character) in the entire film, which tells us that all white settlers and Army personnel who came west during the late 19th Century were motivated by greed, destruction and hate for the Indians.

Now there is nothing wrong with a film that emphasizes the good qualities of the Sioux, so long as it is done without demeaning other peoples in the process. Such is not the case in "Dances With Wolves." For example, the Pawnee, who never once fought against the United States, are shown as being violent and aggressive murderers, while the Sioux, in contrast, are entirely peaceful unless attacked. The exploits of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and the unprovoked Sioux War of 1862, which took the lives of almost 500 Minnesota settlers, would hardly support such a contention.

I am proud that my ancestors played a part in civilizing the North American continent and in fulfilling our nation's manifest destiny. If Mr. Costner and his retinue feel otherwise, let them abandon the comfortable life of Southern California, which American pioneers created, and with their vicarious collective guilt relocate somewhere on the Great Plains to live the lives of "noble savages."

JERRY PATTERSON

Van Nuys

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