Hakela: The Last One, 2011 (Work-In-Progress Sample)

A work-in-progress sample for an aborted documentary project from 2011 that never received funding from ITVS, National Georgraphic’s All Roads Fund, nor Vision Maker Media.

“Hakela: The Last One” chronicles the story of Lakota tribal member Calvin Spotted Elk, the great-great-grandson of the famed Lakota, Chief Spotted Elk.

Chief Spotted Elk, who came to be better known by the name of Chief Bigfoot; a name first given to him by an American soldier at Fort Bennett, that, at the time, was mocking and undermining. Later, this name was picked up by other people, including Lakota unfamiliar with its origin. Because of a photograph taken after his tragic death at the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890, labeled Chief Bigfoot, this name has been etched into the public’s collective memory.

Around the same time there was another Bigfoot who was not a chief, but a headman from another Lakota band, an Oglala. Life events and pictures taken of this man has confused historians, researchers and even Lakota people so much that in books and films, memorials and even government institutions, museums and universities, the two men’s legacies have been fused into one. This has created public confusion and real-world problems for the Lakota people and the descendants of each “Bigfoot”. To make matters worse, this confusion created a problem within the Oglala Sioux tribal court when a man claiming to be a descendant of Chief Bigfoot wrongfully obtained the administrator to Chief Spotted Elk’s estate and the man went out on his own into the public as a pseudo-family historian giving wrong information to various institutions about Calvin’s ancestor.

This is the story of Calvin Spotted Elk’s struggle to restore his family identity and correct the historical record concerning his ancestor. Calvin, whose Lakota name is Hakela, meaning “the Last One” is the last full blood male direct lineal descendant to one of the last true Chiefs of the Lakota people. In making this documentary, we will follow Calvin’s modern-day struggle to fulfill a promise he made to his heartbroken father before he passed away. This struggle is part of a larger struggle endured by modern Lakota and something Calvin feels is a necessary part of mending the Lakota sacred hoop.

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