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Dan Girmus
color, 72 min, 2019
in English, Lakota

Also available on DVD and DSL

Oyate is a time capsule of moments, feelings, gestures, and events that took place on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota during the summer of 2015. The narrative, pieced together from the day-to-day activities of two families and a few other secondary subjects, aims to show what it is like to live on the reservation, while at the same time avoiding a direct, issue-based dialogue with the viewer. The history of representation of native folks within the nonfiction and ethnographic communities is a highly checkered one, and the film’s goal is to sidestep those potentially problematic approaches by firmly entrenching the audience within the rhythms, sounds, and feelings of everyday life.

While not an outwardly politicized film, Oyate is a deeply political one; a film that represents and repositions a collection of seemingly commonplace events (a conversation in the back of a truck, a group of young girls lighting off fireworks, a wedding reception) as deeply felt grasps toward purpose in an often difficult world.

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