Honoring Native and Indigenous Voices
Enjoy a selection of movies and TV series about Native and Indigenous people and communities.
The Fast Runner2003Get this item
An epic movie that takes place at the start of the first millennium, bringing to the screen an ancient Inuit legend about a small community fragmented by an evil shaman. Written, directed, and acted in the Inuit language, this beautifully crafted film is a remarkable achievement and noted for its authentic sets, costumes, and documentation of an important Inuit myth. Recommended by Sharon.
N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear2019Get this item
Momaday says that he always considered poetry the crown of literature. He is a storyteller through and through, and this is a wonderful profile with several interviews, photos, and re-enactments. Hearing Momaday recite some of his writing, including excerpts from various poems, is a joy. Recommended by Sharon.
Wild Indian2021Get this item
This debut feature from emerging Ojibwe filmmaker Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. The story explores such themes as intergenerational trauma, Native identity, family, and community. It's a complex and personal narrative, and the actors do an incredible job adding layers and nuance to the characters. Definitely keep an eye on veteran actor Michael Greyeyes, who gives a chilling, masterful performance. Recommended by Sharon.
Smoke Signals2000Get this item
Offering a heartfelt glimpse into Native American life, this coming-of-age dramedy certainly is a fan favorite with much acclaim. In 2018 it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." It is recognized as being the first feature length film to include a mostly Native cast, directed, written, and produced by Native Americans, that received mainstream distribution in the U.S. and abroad. Also, it's great to see a young Adam Beach and Michael Greyeyes in their breakout roles. Recommended by Sharon.
Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian2010Get this item
Not just for movie buffs, this documentary takes the form of a road-trip movie, with director Neil Diamond traveling in a "rez" car to interview actors, activists, and scholars. The stories, commentaries, and archival footage offer a thought-provoking look at the history and portrayal of Native Americans in film. Recommended by Sharon.
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World2017Get this item
A hot doc from Canada, this award-winning film profiles several influential Indigenous musicians. I learned a lot and wished for part two. Recommended by Sharon.
The Cherokee Word for Water2018Get this item
This feature film tells the story of how Wilma Mankiller led a group of volunteers to build nearly 20 miles of waterline, saving a Cherokee community in rural Oklahoma. Using the Cherokee concept of "Ga-du-gi" (working together to solve a problem), Mankiller helps reawaken Indigenous values within the community and would eventually become the first woman elected as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Recommended by Paul.
Skinwalkers2002Get this item
Wes Studi and Adam Beach co-star as Navajo tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee in three PBS television adaptations of the Tony Hillerman mysteries: Skinwalkers, Thief of Time, and Coyote Waits. Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals) directed the first two adaptations. I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Chris Eyre several years ago and he said that he planned to film more in the series. Unfortunately, this never came about. Recommended by Sharon.
Songs My Brothers Taught Me2016Get this item
Filmed on Pine Ridge Reservation and nearby areas in Badlands, South Dakota, this is Chloe Zhao’s debut feature movie. Zhao used several first-time actors from Pine Ridge and wove their experiences into the general narrative. The emotional story looks at the close relationship between a Lakota Sioux brother and sister, each struggling to process complicated issues concerning family, community, and belonging. Recommended by Sharon.
The Rider2018Get this item
Based on true events and also filmed on Pine Ridge Reservation, using non-professional actors playing fictionalized versions of themselves, this story explores what happens when a Lakota cowboy suffers a traumatic head injury that completely derails his life.The cinematography is gorgeous and the location is a character in itself. Brady Landreau delivers a breakout performance, while filmmaker Chloe Zhao keeps everything unique and universal all at once. Recommended by Sharon.
Molly of Denali: Molly's Awesome Alaskan Adventures2020Get this item
Put this delightful animated TV series on your radar, and you won’t be disappointed. Molly Mabray is a 10-year-old Alaskan Native vlogger, reporting her daily adventures from the fictional village Qyah. Between episodes, there are short live-action segments filmed in Alaska that help to connect the viewer to the location and people. Molly is an awesome friend to spend time with, and I especially love her loyal Alaskan Malamute companion, Suki. Recommended by Sharon.
Raven Tales: How Raven Stole the Sun2017Get this item
Perfect for family viewing, here is the first episode in the Raven Tales series. Each tale is adapted from the folklore and mythology of many Native nations. The animation is bright and playful, and the characters Raven, Eagle and Frog are just so much fun. Recommended by Sharon.
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