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Media Studies

Media Studies refers to the broad range of interdisciplinary subjects focusing on media culture and production.


This Land hosted by Rebecca Nagel (Cherokee Nation)
An 1839 assassination of a Cherokee leader. A 1999 small-town murder. Two crimes collide in a Supreme Court case that will decide the fate of one man and nearly half of the land in Oklahoma. Hosted by Rebecca Nagle, Oklahoma journalist and citizen of Cherokee Nation, This Land traces how a cut and dry homicide opened up an investigation into the treaty rights of five Native American tribes. Tune in to Crooked Media's 8-episode series to find out how this unique case could result in the largest restoration of tribal land in U.S. history.

All My Relations hosted by Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation)
All My Relations is a podcast hosted by Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) to explore our relationships— relationships to land, to our creatural relatives, and to one another.  Each episode invites guests to delve into a different topic facing Native American peoples today. We keep it real, play some games, laugh a lot, and even cry sometimes. We invite you to join us!

The Red Nation Podcast hosted by Nick Estes (Kul Wicasa, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe)
The Red Nation Podcast features discussions on Indigenous history, politics, and culture from a left perspective. Hosted by Nick Estes with help from our friend and comrade Sina.

Métis in Space (Otipêyimisiw-iskwêwak kihci-kîsikohk) hosted by Molly Swain (Métis) & Chelsea Vowel (Métis, Plains Cree)
Métis In Space hilariously deconstructs the science fiction genre through a decolonial lense. Join hosts Molly Swain & Chelsea Vowel as they drink a bottle of (red) wine, and from a tipsy, decolonial perspective, review a sci-fi movie or television episode featuring Indigenous Peoples, tropes & themes.

The Indigenous Futures Podcast hosted by Teo Montoya (Lipan Apache/Ndé)
Amplifying indigenous voices as they vision a collective future built on indigenous ways of knowing.




More fiction: 
Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson (Cherokee Nation)
From the Hilltop by Toni Jensen (Métis)
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Tribe)


Nonfiction (Political/Academic)

More Nonfiction (Political/Academic):
Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe)
As we have always done: indigenous freedom through radical resistance by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Mississauga Nishnaabeg)
All Our Relations: Finding a Path Forward by Tanya Talaga (Ojibwe)
Speak of Indigenous Politics: Conversations with activist, scholars, and tribal leaders by J. Kēhaulani Kauanui (Kanaka Maoli) 



Feature Films

Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)
A small nomadic community is cursed by an unknown shaman. When Atanarjuat falls in love with a woman already promised to the son of the clan's leader, he has to fight for her. She is won by Atanarjuat and the leader plots to attack him in his sleep. Escaping, he sets off running across the ice, embarking on a harrowing adventure of survival in the brutal wilderness. He returns stronger and wiser to reclaim his life and stop the curse that has divided his people.

Smoke Signals
Story of the journey of two Coeur d'Alene Indian boys from Idaho to Arizona. Victor is the stoic, handsome son of an alcoholic father who has abandoned his family. Thomas is a gregarious, goofy young man orphaned as an infant by a fire which Victor's father accidentally started while drunk. Thomas is a storyteller who makes every effort to connect with the people around him; Victor, in contrast, uses his quiet demeanor to gain strength and confidence. When Victor's estranged father dies in Arizona the two young men embark on a journey to recover his ashes. Directed by Chris Eyre, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.

In the shadow of Mt. Rushmore, lies one of the poorest counties in America, The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. For police officer Rudy Yellow Lodge, the painful legacy of Indian existence is brought home every night as he locks up drunk and disorderly Indians, including his own brother. Rudy's frustration leads him to take the law into his own hands. Ultimately, Rudy is able to honor his big brother, and his people with a life-affirming act of defiance. Directed by Chris Eyre, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls
In the shadow of Mt. Rushmore, lies one of the poorest counties in Red Crow Mi'gMaq reservation, 1976: by government decree, every Indian child under the age of 16 must attend residential school. In the kingdom of the Crow, that means imprisonment at St. Dymphna’s. That means being at the mercy of “Popper, ” the sadistic Indian agent who runs the school. At 15, Aila is the weed princess of Red Crow. Hustling with her uncle Burner, she sells enough dope to pay Popper her “truancy tax, ” keeping her out of St.Ds. But when Aila's drug money is stolen and her father Joseph returns from prison, the precarious balance of Aila’s world is destroyed. Her only options are to run or fight...and Mi'gMaq don't run. The debut film from acclaimed director Jeff Barnaby, of Mi’kmaqi heritage.America, The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. For police officer Rudy Yellow Lodge, the painful legacy of Indian existence is brought home every night as he locks up drunk and disorderly Indians, including his own brother. Rudy's frustration leads him to take the law into his own hands. Ultimately, Rudy is able to honor his big brother, and his people with a life-affirming act of defiance.

Powwow Highway
With nothing in common but their Native American heritage, two men begin a cross-country adventure filled with comedy and drama. While not Indigenous-directed, it was adapted from a book my Huron author David Seals and the film stars Native actor Gary Farmer (Cayuga) as Philbert and also features Cheyenne tribal members playing a variety of minor roles.

This animated short tells the story of a ferocious polar bear turned to stone by an Inuk shaman. The tale is based on emerging filmmaker Echo Henoche's favourite legend, as told to her by her grandmother in her home community of Nain, Nunatsiavut, on Labrador's North Coast.


Native America: From Caves to Cosmos
Native America challenges everything we thought we knew about the Americas before and since contact with Europe. It travels through 15,000-years to showcase massive cities, unique systems of science, art, and writing, and 100 million people connected by social networks and spiritual beliefs spanning two continents. The series reveals some of the most advanced cultures in human history and the Native American people who created it and whose legacy continues, unbroken, to this day. This series explores this extraordinary world through an unprecedented combination of cutting edge science and traditional indigenous knowledge. It is Native America as never seen before - featuring sacred rituals filmed for the first time, history changing scientific discoveries, and rarely heard voices from the living legacy of Native American culture. Native America rediscovers a past whose splendor and sophistication is only now being realized, and whose story has for too long remained untold. It reveals a unifying belief that inspires these diverse cultures - people are deeply connected to earth, sky, water, and all living things. This belief is rooted in millennia of living on this land and continues to resonate in the lives of Native Americans to this day. From Caves to Cosmos focuses on the deep roots of Native America: Who are America's First Peoples and how did they create their unique world? Answers emerge from Hopi Elders on pilgrimage at sacred Chaco Canyon in the New Mexico desert, scientists examining ancient cave painting in the Amazon jungle, Chumash boat builders exploring their tribe's ancient migration legacy off California's coast, and an archaeologist digging deep below a towering pyramid near Mexico City.

Rumble: the Indians who rocked the world
Documentary highlighting the careers of musicians in Modern American Rock music (20th-21st century) of First Nations heritage. Features interviews with the musicians themselves, as well as a plethora of musicians who have been influenced by them.

Kanehsatake: 270 years of resistance
On a hot July day in 1990, an historic confrontation propelled Native issues in Kanehsatake and the village of Oka, Québec, into the international spotlight and into the Canadian conscience. A powerful feature-documentary emerges that takes you right into the action of an age-old aboriginal struggle. The result is a portrait of the people behind the barricades, providing insight into the Mohawks' unyelding determination to protect their land.

Imagining Indians
Employing a keen sense of humor to reveal a Native American perspective on the misrepresentation of Native Americans in feature films, this unconventional film plows headlong into the theme of the commodification and appropriation of Native American arts and material culture.

Bago Boys
In 2015, the Winnebago Boys basketball team won their first state championship since 1940. NET chronicles the Bago Boys 2014-15 championship season. This 30 minute documentary, follows the team through their challenges both on and off the court as they journey to Lincoln seeking a Nebraska State Championship trophy!

Kind Hearted Woman
In a special two-part series, acclaimed filmmaker David Sutherland (The Farmer’s Wife, Country Boys) creates an unforgettable portrait of Robin Charboneau, a 32-year-old divorced single mother and Oglala Sioux woman living on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Reservation. Sutherland follows Robin over three years as she struggles to raise her two children, further her education, and heal herself from the wounds of sexual abuse she suffered as a child. Kind Hearted Woman is a special co-presentation of Frontline and Independent Lens.

Other Lists & Resources
American Indian Film Institute (AIFI)
Indigenous Cinema Database (National Film Board of Canada)
Exploring NFB's Indigenous Catalog: 6 Films (CBC)
Native American Heritage Month: Films & Documentaries (PBS)
Breaking your reservation: the rise of indigenous cinema (BFI - Sight & Sound)
8 of indigenous cinema’s most important films (i-D)
11 Essential Native American Films You Can Watch Online Right Now (Indian Country News)

Further Reading on Indigenous Cinema & Natives in Film

Indigenous Heritage & History Month - Indigenous Peoples' Playlist

In recognition of this month's celebration of Indigenous history and culture, we present this curated playlist of Indigenous artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. Collected here are artists representing their heritage and identity in musical stylings varying from traditional to contemporary, spanning a spectrum of hip hop, metal, country, and experimental. Listen and explore a sampling of the vast contributions to modern American music by Indigenous peoples.

This list only serves as a diving point into the vast contributions to American and international popular music made by Indigenous artists. Join us in celebrating and exploring these genre defining (and defying) artists. Below the playlist, you'll find a comprehensive discussion of the context and history of the music we've highlighted, as well as a selection of resources for further reading on Indigenous music.

Playlist in Context
Our playlist moves throughout various points in North American musical history, with artists dating back to the early 20th century. In the early decades of jazz, Mildred Bailey (Cour de’Alene) emerged as a household name. Bailey started her singing career at 17 and went on to perform genre staples of the jazz giants of her time. In the late 1920s, blues music was being recorded and released to great popularity, and among the artists of this blues explosion was Charlie Patton (Choctaw). Hailed as the father of Delta Blues, Patton, of mixed (Black, white, and Indigenous) ancestry, pioneered the driving rhythms and impassioned vocals that became representative of blues music in the delta region and would lay the foundational groundwork for rock n roll musicians to come. 

Moving into the 1960s, Indigenous artists had an undeniable impact on popular music despite a lack of commercial success. Buffy Sainte-Marie, born on the Piapot 75 reserve and adopted by a Mi’kmaq family as an infant, gained notoriety in the New York folk scene for her impassioned and fiercely political compositions and performances. She penned hit anthems of the 1960s counterculture scene, including “Unknown Soldier” and “Cod’ine,” though she is seldom given credit where it is due. Further south along the east coast, rock n roll pioneer Link Wray (Cherokee and Shawnee) emerged with the single “Rumble” in 1958. Wray, born in North Carolina,, would change rock n roll forever with his signature heavy and distorted guitar tones, paving the way for punk and metal musicians to follow. Collected here is an example of Wray’s country and Americana roots from his self-titled 1971 album, a pioneering work of the home-recording movement that would carry into the 21st century. 

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Indigenous artists had a profound influence on popular American genres. Often forgotten in the shadow of his contemporaries like Eric Clapton and George Harrison, Jesse Ed Davis (Comanche, Seminole, Muskogee, and Kiowa) was a highly acclaimed guitar player. Born in Oklahoma, Davis played with hugely popular artists of his time, featuring alongside names like John Lennon, Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, and Leonard Cohen. On the west coast, brothers Pat and Candido Vasquez-Vegas (Yaqui, Shoshone, and Mexican) formed the all Native American rock group Redbone. The brothers penned radio-rock staples for the 1970s with hits like “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” and the ever-lasting “Come and Get Your Love.” Across the nation at this time, acts were popping up on reservations and in indigenous communities, exemplified here by the band Sugluk with their song “Ajuinnarasuarsunga,” a fusion of rock n roll song structure and first nations language. 

Moving into the 1980s, singer-songwriter Archie James Cavanaugh (Tlingit) released his yacht rock classic “Black and White Raven.” Born in Alaska, Cavanaugh traveled the west coast assembling a band that included members of Redbone to release his often overlooked album, its fusion of disco and soft rock represented here on “Take it Easy.” In country music, First Nations culture is frequently referenced but seldom represented justly. This was not the case in the music of Buddy Red Bow (Lakota). Red Bow dedicated his career to singing of the plight of Indigenous peoples and the injustices wrought by white colonists. The music of Indigenous artists was also significant in rising genres of the decade like new age. Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida and Onondaga) would become an influential figure in this genre and would go on to set the record for Native American Music Awards won by a single artist. 

Moving into the 21st century to the present, Indigenous artists still hold an influential place in modern American genres, driving them forward with ingenuity and expert artistry. Groups like A Tribe Called Red fuse electronic genres like dubstep and house with hip hop and traditional First Nations music to create a sound wholly their own in the massive EDM music market. Groups like Cemican and Nechochwen fuse First Nations history and political outcry over unjust treatment of Indigenous peoples with the harsh and aggressive sounds of metal, driving the genre forward still in the 21st century. Artists like Tanya Tagaq (Inuk) create music unlike anything heard before, fusing traditional throat singing with ambient soundscapes derived from noise and drone music. In hip hop, First Nations artists bring exciting changes and new voices to the cultural forefront, as is the case with Angel Haze (Cherokee), who raps of their experiences as an individual identifying as pansexual and agender in the hip hop world, as well as celebrating her mixed Indigenous heritage.

Playlist Resources & Further Reading
Library & Scholarly Sources
Indigenous pop: Native American music from jazz to hip hop (IUCAT - Book)
Rumble: the Indians who rocked the world (IUCAT - Documentary)
"The Nammys Versus the Grammys: Celebrity, Technology, and the Creation of an Indigenous Music Recording Industry in North America" (The World of Music Journal)
"A Tribe Called Red’s Halluci Nation: Sonifying embodied global allegiances, decolonization, and indigenous activism" (Intersections)

Popular Sources
Rumble On: Native American Musicians You Should Know (PBS)
8 Artists Exploding the Concept of Native American Music (Paste Magazine)
Review of 'Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985' (Pitchfork)
"Taking it Easy": On Archie James Cavanaugh (Numero Group)
The Evolution Of Angel Haze (BuzzFeed)
Remembering Buddy Red Bow (Indianz)
6 Indigenous Metal Bands You Need To Know About (Metal Injection)

Beyond the Playlist
If you'd like to engage more deeply with the experience of Indigenous people within the context of Turtle Island, we've also curated a list of books, movies, databases, and podcasts to support further curiosity and learning. You can also find that list by clicking on the Indigenous Heritage & History Month box on the left-hand side of this page, in the navigation menu.

Indigenous heritage and history month

Beyond the Playlist
If you'd like to engage more deeply with the experience of Indigenous people within the context of Turtle Island, we've also curated a list of books, movies, databases, and podcasts to support further curiosity and learning. You can also find that list by clicking on the Indigenous Heritage & History Month box on the left-hand side of this page, in the navigation menu.

Additionally, as part of this celebration and remembering, there is also an introduction to Two-Spirit identity and the LGBTQIA Indigenous experience on the Gender Studies Research Guide and an overview of Indigenous Philosophy on the Philosophy Research Guide.

Next Steps
For more information about the Indigenous communities with ongoing and traditional ties to this land, and how to support Indigenous groups and movements, take a look at our Land Acknowledgment and Local Indigenous Resources guide.