The Thick Dark Fog

Healing from Native American Boarding Schools
Year Released
Film Length(s)
57 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


A Lakota man faces his boarding school history and heals himself and his community.

Featured review

The Thick Dark Fog should be part of any Native Studies curriculum. The film is about hope, truth, and reconciliation. The truth-telling, honesty, and humor offer a form of justice.
—Sarah Deer (Muscogee)
Assistant Professor, William Mitchell College of Law


Walter Littlemoon attended a federal Indian boarding school in South Dakota sixty years ago. The mission of many of these schools in 1950, was still to “kill the Indian and save the man.” The children were not allowed to be Indians – to speak their language or express their culture or native identity in any way at the risk of being severely beaten, humiliated or abused. What effects did these actions cause?

Many Native people, like Walter, lived with this unresolved trauma into adulthood, acting it out through alcoholism and domestic violence. At age 58, Walter decided to write and publish his memoirs as a way to explain his past abusive behaviors to his estranged children. But dealing with the memories of his boarding school days nearly put an end to the project.

The Thick Dark Fog tells the story of how Walter confronted the “thick dark fog” of his past so that he could heal himself and his community.


The Thick Dark Fog is the compelling story of one man's journey from the pain of memory to a process of healing. In Walter Littlemoon's voice we hear the stories of untold numbers of children who suffered through an education that taught many bitter lessons. The film's images and narrative speak powerfully to the conscience of our country.
—Nancy Bonvillain
Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics, Bard College at Simon’s Rock

Awards and Screenings

Best Documentary, American Indian Film Festival, 2011
Big Sky Film Festival, 2012
People's Choice Award, The Black Hills Film Festival, 2012

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Transcript
  • Resources for Educators

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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