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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

Movie poster for Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)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.

 

Movie poster for Smoke SignalsSmoke 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.


Drunktown's Finest
Three young Navajo Native Americans - an adopted Native girl, a young father-to-be, and a trans woman who dreams of being a model - strive to escape the hardships of life on an Indian reservation. Nizhoni seeks out her past, well after being adopted by a white Christian family, Felixia, a trans woman, pursues a spot in the "women of the tribe" calendar, and Sickboy is headed to basic training so he can take care of his soon-to-be-born child. Directed by Sydney Freeland, a Navajo.

 

Skins
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.



Shaman
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.

 


Native Art Now!
Native Art Now! is a documentary that examines the evolution of Native contemporary art over the last 25 years, presenting personal perspectives from internationally acclaimed Native contemporary artists. Produced in collaboration with the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

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