Yellowstone: A Wild Ride Through America’s Racial Frontier


Yellowstone, a TV series that is set in the countryside of Montana, specifically the national park of Yellowstone, portrays the modern battle of the old game between Cowboys and Native Americans. It’s a tale as old as time, or at least as old as colonialism, where the land is the ultimate prize and everyone else is just a pawn in the game. In Yellowstone, the Dutton family, who own the largest contiguous ranch in Montana, and the neighboring Native American reservation fight for the rights to this land. 

However, what sets Yellowstone apart from any other series about two power-hungry rivals is the deep-seated racism that pervades the American West today – not 50 years ago, not 100 years ago – today. That ugly truth that this racism is alive and kicking is portrayed by just as ugly derogatory slurs which are casually tossed around like horseshoes.

Historically, in Montana, the relationship between white settlers and Native Americans is defined by conflict and tragedy. When European settlers arrived in the region, they brought with them not only new technologies and ideas but also a sense of entitlement to the land. This clash of cultures led to displacement, violence, and the imposition of treaties that often failed to respect the sovereignty and rights of Indigenous people. Tribes like the Blackfeet, Crow, and Sioux for example called today’s state of Montana their home, until they were forced off into reservations, where they live until today, which is portrayed in Yellowstone. The scars of this brutal history still linger today, manifesting in the ongoing struggles for land rights, economic opportunity and cultural preservation within Native American communities.

Of course, it is easy to say that Yellowstone is just a TV show, a fictionalized drama meant for entertainment rather than enlightenment. However, to dismiss its portrayal of racism as mere fiction is to turn a blind eye to the harsh challenges faced by Native American communities across the country – and that is exactly what is happening in reality. The issues are ignored because the only ones who can solve them are the ones who created them in the first place, and who likes to admit that what they did was wrong? The only way to combat racism is through education. 

Ignorance breeds fear, and fear breeds hatred. Only by teaching future generations about the rich cultural heritage of Native American tribes and the injustices they’ve endured at the hands of White settlers, we can begin to break down the barriers that divide us. The reservation may be a fictional creation, but the struggles that it represents are all too real. So, if it takes an exaggerated yet realistic TV series to stress these issues to the world, I am more than thankful for those exaggerations, because they are the reason that people start watching and stop ignoring. 

There is now a renewed appreciation for the sustainable lifestyles of indigenous people and the self-sufficiency of cowboy culture as people become increasingly aware of the environmental consequences of modern industrial practices. This is because there is a growing recognition in modern society of the wisdom inherent in the ways of living with nature practiced by both groups centuries ago. In an era of environmental degradation and life-threatening fear of the consequences of climate change, many humans, especially ones living in big cities like Madrid, are turning to principles of harmony with nature, myself included. Whether it is adopting regenerative agricultural practices, embracing off-grid living, or advocating for the preservation of wilderness areas like the Vegan Activist Summer does in Yellowstone, people start to seek a path forward towards a more sustainable and balanced relationship with our planet – and they need to. 

Yellowstone therefore is not just a cinematically well made TV series that takes us through the untamed wilderness of America’s racial frontier, but it also serves as a poignant reminder that racism is not a relic of the past, but a persistent problem that continues to plague our society. Only by confronting our past and educating ourselves about the experiences of marginalized communities can we hope to build a more harmonious future for all of us. Being a city-girl myself, Yellowstone fascinated me because I believe I realized once again that the lifestyle that is actually worth fighting for is the only one that is in actual harmony with the earth, and therefore with us. 

Featured image by: Getty Images

Amelie Garnies
Amelie Garnies
I am Amelie, I am 20 years old and was born in the city of Munich in Germany. When I was 17 years old I moved to London to earn my International Baccalaureate. I am very passionate about History, Philosophy, and Politics, wherefore I am studying International Relations in Madrid right now. In the future, I wish to speak as many languages as possible, as I believe communication, whether written or oral, is the key to making the world a better place.

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