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In-Depth Interview: Filmmaker Kevin McKiernan Revisits Wounded Knee

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As a cub reporter in 1973, Kevin McKiernan was “embedded” with American Indian Movement occupiers at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.  His new documentary examines the long-term impact, through Standing Rock.The film is From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock, A Reporter’s Journey. Get details, including screenings and DVD availability here.

We open with music from Robbie Robertson, including “Sacrifice”, which features comments from Leonard Peltier, who is still in prison today.

McKiernan explains that the new documentary resulted from a chance encounter in Humboldt County, California with Willard Carlson, a member of the Yurok tribe who was a participant in the 10-week occupation.

He relates his experience as an inexperienced reporter for the NPR station in Minneapolis who ended up inside the perimeter set up by US Marshals and the FBI.  His biggest takeaway was the spiritual renewal that many native people underwent during and after Wounded Knee, ultimately leading to the Standing Rock protests in 2016–the largest gathering of tribal members in modern times.

PBC shares his own cub reporter experience, when he reported on an AIM-supported occupation of a novitiate in Gresham, Wisconsin in 1975, where he met AIM leaders Russell Means and Dennis Banks.  And McKiernan shares back–he covered Gresham, too.

McKiernan gives a detailed account of the FBI’s use of paid informants, notably the insertion of Douglas Durham as security manager for the leadership, and PBC notes that Red Fawn Fallis was victimized by and FBI informant at Standing Rock.

And McKiernan serves up an excellent recap of the case of Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of killing 2 FBI agents at the Pine Ridge reservation in 1975, based on false testimony.  McKiernan had spent the night before the shootout in the same settlement where it occurred.