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Media Studies

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

Introduction

National Native American Heritage Month honors the histories, cultures, and lifeways of the Indigenous peoples of the United States. In recognition of this month-long celebration (rechristened Indigenous Heritage & History Month here), we have put together an array of resources meant to showcase the diversity of perspectives and experiences that constitute indigeneity across Turtle Island (what is now known as North America). Below, you'll find lists of books, databases, movies, and podcasts; you'll also find a playlist of songs by Indigenous artists across the 20th & 21st centuries under the "Playlists" tab, along with a number of resources for further reading about Indigenous music. 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.

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 the Land Acknowledgment section on the left-hand side of this page.

Resources
Native American Heritage Month: Indigenous People Will Not Be Erased (NDN Collective)
Celebrating Native American Heritage Month: Dos and Don'ts (Teen Vogue)
Celebrating Native American Heritage Month (MSU LibGuide)
November 2020 Monthly Message: Native American Heritage Month (National Parks Service)

Books

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) 

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)

Children's Literature

Young Adult

Films & Filmmakers

Introduction
There is a history, particularly within American cinema, of filmmakers without indigenous heritage telling stories about indigenous people. Oftentimes these stories reproduce and propagate harmful stereotypes. In doing so they adhere to a settler-colonialist mindset that masks a history of forced displacement, genocide, and cultural suppression. This is one major reason it is important to pay attention to the work of indigenous filmmakers who present authentic representations of their own lived experiences and the lived experiences of their people. The following is just a small sampling of indigenous filmmakers doing the important work of telling stories both universal and uniquely indigenous.


Chris EyreChris Eyre (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes)

Best known for his 1998 debut film Smoke Signals, Eyre’s career spans nearly 25 years and 14 films (both as director and producer). He has directed both fiction and documentary films. He treats both the subject of contemporary Native American life and the history of indigenous people. Eyre has dealt with themes like trauma (and specifically war-related PTSD) and race relations within the United States. He directed 3 of the 5 parts of the PBS docuseries We Shall Remain, which places indigenous history at the center of American history.

 

Further biographical information at the following webpage: Chris Eyre (1968-) (oregonencyclopedia.org)

 

 

 

 

 

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Sámi People and Kainai First Nation)See the source image

A filmmaker, actor, activist, and writer with a career spanning 12 films and 13 years. She is known for her use of films as a medium for activism. Her films treat themes like domestic violence and the environmental degradation of tribal land. She is perhaps best known for her 2019 film, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, which follows two indigenous women with contrasting domestic lives who meet by chance and begin a friendship (one a survivor of domestic abuse and the other happily married).

 

Review of Tailfeathers' work documenting the opioid crisis amongst First Nations people at the following webpage: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers sheds light on the opioid crisis in Kanai First Nation in new film — Stir (createastir.ca)

 

 

See the source image

Sterlin Harjo (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma)

Harjo is known for portraying stories set within his native Seminole Nation. He has worked in documentaries, fiction films, and series television.  Many of his films explore themes of death, dying, and grief. His feature debut was Four Sheets to the Wind, a film that follows a Seminole man who goes to visit his sister after the death of his father. He broke into documentary filmmaking with his film This May Be the Last Time, about his grandfather who disappeared in 1962. Most recently, he has collaborated with the New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waiti to produce the FX series Reservation Dogs, about four teenagers who dream of escaping Oklahoma to California following the death of their friend.

 

Interview at the following webpage: Sterlin Harjo talks ‘Reservation Dogs’ - Indian Country Today

 

 

 

See the source image

Zacharias Kunuk (Inupiak Peoples)

Kunuk is a Inuk producer and director best known for his 2001 film Atajarnuat: The Fast Runner, which recounts the Inuit legend of the title character entirely in the Inuktikut language (making it the first film entirely in this language. In his films, Kunuk treats themes of humankind’s relationship to nature and the encroachment of western ‘modernity’ on the beliefs of native people. He directed a segment on the National Parks Project, a large-scale Canadian documentary effort to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Canada’s national park system.

 

More extensive biography at the following webpage: Long Biography & Citations (inuitartfoundation.org)

 

 

See the source image

Sydney Freeland (Navajo Nation)

The daughter of a Navajo father and a Scottish mother, Freeland’s debut feature, Drunktown’s Finest, explores themes of parenthood, gender identity, and social marginality in the lives of Native Americans. Her second- and most recent- feature explores the dynamics of a family thrown into upheaval as two daughters have their mother arrested and find themselves placed in foster care. She has directed several episodes for television, most recently two episodes of FX’s Reservation Dogs.

 

Interviews: The Independent Critic - An Interview with Sydney Freeland and Characters on the margins: An interview with Sydney Freeland — High Country News – Know the West (hcn.org)

 

 

 

See the source image

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation)

Hopinka is an artist working in several media: film, poetry, photography, and installation. He is perhaps best known for his feature-length film debut małni – towards the ocean, towards the shore which explores Chinookan notions of death, the afterlife, and humankind’s place in the universe. Much of his work explores language and its preservation: his most recent short film Kicking the Clouds, for example, centers around the recording of a Pechanga language lesson passed from his grandmother to his mother. 

 

Further information at artist's website: Sky Hopinka

 

Podcasts

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.

Databases