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First Nations / Native American Heritage Month Streaming and DVD Resources


Native American history and heritage is celebrated in November.  The month of November is meant to shine a light on the history and contributions of First Nations/Indigenous/Native American groups.

The month is an opportunity for the general public to educate themselves on tribal history and raise awareness about the (past and present) challenges facing Native American communities.  Throughout the United States, organizations, companies, schools, and communities hold events, programs, and exhibits throughout the month of November celebrating Native Americans and their role in history.

Indiana University wishes to acknowledge and honor the myaamiaki (Miami), Lënape (Delaware), Bodwéwadmik (Potawatomi), and saawanwa (Shawnee) peoples, on whose ancestral homelands and resources Indiana University Bloomington is built.

Media Services encourages us all to engage with contemporary communities, to learn the histories of the land on which we reside, to look at who has and does not have access to its resources, and to examine our own place, abilities, and obligations within the process of reparative work necessary to promote a more equitable and socially just community for all.

First Nations / Indigenous / Native American Representation in Film

Smoke Signals. Digital image. IMDb. 1998.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me. Digital image. IMDb. 2015. 

Shouting Secrets. Digital image. IMDb. 2011. 

Little Big Man. Digital image. IMDb. 1970. 

Powwow Highway. Movie poster. Digital image. IMDb. 1989

IUB Streaming Titles

The following resources require IUB CAS Authentication.

After the Mayflower (60 min., 2009) This episode begins in March of 1621, in what is now southeastern Massachusetts, when Massasoit, the leading sachem of the Wampanoag, negotiated with a ragged group of English colonists. The pale-skinned Pilgrim foreigners were in desperate need of Native help. Massasoit's people had been decimated by unexplained sickness, and he calculated that an alliance with the foreigners could help protect them. A half-century later, as war flared between the English colonists and a confederation of New England Indians, the wisdom of Massasoit's diplomatic gamble seemed less clear. English immigration, mistreatment, lethal epidemics, and environmental degradation had brought the Indians' way of life to the brink of disaster.

Counseling and Therapy with Native American Indians (70 min.,1995) This lecture presented by Teresa LaFromboise focuses on three key issues: assumptions that Indians hold about psychologists, assumptions that psychologists hold about Indians and the counseling implications of different perspectives.

Dancing in Moccasins (49 min., 1989) For the nearly two million Native Americans, representing 500 Indian nations, life in the U.S. today is a frustrating struggle to retain their ancient ways while functioning in the modern world, to carve out an identity in an overwhelmingly non-Indian culture. This program examines the needs and problems of today's Native Americans, both those who live on the reservation and those who have chosen the mainstream. The conclusion focuses on celebration and survival as reflected in the continuing tradition of the Powwow.

The Exiles ( 73min., 1961) Selected to premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and for the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 2009, The Exiles (1961) is an incredible feature film by Kent Mackenzie chronicling a day in the life of a group of twenty-something Native Americans who left reservation life in the 1950s to live in the district of Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, California. Bunker Hill was then a blighted residential locality of decayed Victorian mansions, sometimes featured in the writings of Raymond Chandler, John Fante and Charles Bukowski. 

Finding Ashely (11 min., 2019) Ashley Heavyrunner Loring was 20 when she disappeared from the Blackfeet reservation in Montana in June 2017. Her family has been searching for her ever since. Ashley was one of more than 5,000 Native American women listed missing in 2017. Lawmakers are calling it an epidemic.

The Healing Road (61 min., 2009) Discusses Native American mental health issues and the combined use of traditional Native American healing techniques and western professional healing approaches. The video contains two sections, one dealing with the historical and cultural forces affecting Native Americans and a panel discussion in the second half. The panel includes four multicultural specialists, representing different racial/ethnic groups, discussing cultural differences between western professional helping approaches and the healing techniques used by other people and cultures.

Hostiles (134min., 2017)  In 1892, an Army captain helps transport a Native American chief and his family from Arizona to Montana. Along the way, the group of soldiers and Native Americans must learn to work together in order to make their way through dangerous territory.

Manifest Destiny? (27 min., 2004) As Americans moved west, tensions arose between settlers and Mexico over ownership of the Texas territory. Investigate the Mexican War and the discovery of gold in California in 1848. Learn how the gold rush changed lives of different groups of people.

Mankiller ( 57min., 2019) She stands tall amongst the likes of Robert Kennedy, Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr. She humbly defied the odds and overcame insurmountable obstacles to fight injustice and gave a voice to the voiceless. And yet few people know her name.  MANKILLER is the story of an American legend, Wilma Mankiller, who overcame rampant sexism and personal challenges to emerge as the Cherokee Nation's first woman Principal Chief in 1985.

Musicwood (80min., 2012) "For hundreds of years guitars have been made the same way but now this could all change. Musicwood is an adventure-filled journey, a political thriller with music at its heart. An unusual band of the most famous guitar-makers in the world travel together into the heart of one of the most primeval rainforests on the planet. Their mission: to negotiate with Native American loggers and change the way this forest is logged before it's too late."--Publisher's description.

N. Scott Momaday, Words from a Bear (85 min., 2019) When N. Scott Momaday won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize, it marked one of the first major acknowledgments of Native American literature and culture. Now, Momaday’s words come to life in this biography of a celebrated Native American storyteller.

Native American Boomtown (26 min., 2014) The Bakken oil boom is bringing billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to North Dakota. A substantial part of the oil production is concentrated on an Indian reservation. Fort Berthold Reservation’s 1,000-plus oil wells have brought in money and jobs for some, but oil has also brought danger—organized crime, hard drugs, traffic fatalities—and other problems. Tribal members speak about the benefits and consequences of the boom.

Native Americans: Celebrating Traditions (30 min., 2001) Once forced to hide their heritage, Native Americans now enjoy both an acceptance and a celebration of their history and culture. By presenting the experiences of Native Americans from a wide array of fields including artisans, performers, and teachers, this program shows how many tribes are returning to the traditions and spirituality of their ancestors. Among those interviewed are Kevin Locke, award-winning Native American vocalist; Wilma Mankiller, the first woman in modern history to lead a tribe; and Richard West, Director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian.

Native American Religions (28 min., 2007) In this program, Dennis Wholey has a conversation about Native American religions with Suzan Shown Harjo, executive director of The Morning Star Institute in Washington, D.C. Topics of discussion include the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978; some common aspects of the approximately 300 remaining Native American religions being practiced in the U.S. today; the concepts of a supreme being and associated sacred beings as they exist in Native American culture; the prophecies of the Cheyenne prophet Sweet Medicine and the historical impact of North America's settlers on the land's indigenous peoples; and the pressing need for all Americans, non-native and native alike, to create a better future together.

Native Silence (24 min., 2013) Native Silence is a solemn account of the legacy of forced adoption on Native American children, torn from their tribal communities and placed in foster care and boarding schools. Joyce, is a recovered drug-addict and now mental health worker, and Paulette, a mother who ‘doesn’t associate’ with the Natives in her town. Their stories reflect the struggle that they and many others faced growing up as Native American within larger non-Indian culture.

Our Fires Still Burn (57 min., 2013) This exciting and compelling one hour documentary invites viewers into the lives of contemporary Native American role models living in the U.S. Midwest. It dispels the myth that American Indians have disappeared from the American horizon, and reveals how they continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make great contributions to society. Their experiences will deeply touch both Natives and non-Natives and help build bridges of understanding, respect, and communication. 

Searching for a Native American Identity (30 min., 1988) This program features the late Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich, a husband-and-wife team who collaborated as writers before his untimely death. They attribute their beliefs in family, community, and place to their Native American heritage: she is half Chippewa, he is half Modoc. As Native Americans, their writing reflects the difficulties of American Indians today. In this program with Bill Moyers, Erdrich and Dorris discuss faith and the search for a Native American identity in a pluralistic society.

Spirits for Sale: The Commercialization of American Indian Rituals (58 min., 2001) Western spiritualists often seek enlightenment through indigenous religions once practiced in different regions around the world. Native American rituals are especially popular, and Europeans stage ceremonies based on American Indian beliefs for which they charge admission. America's original people are not pleased with this development, for they regard this practice as the exploitation of their heritage. They see these performances as "pay to pray" ceremonies with imposters playing the rolls of American natives. Beautifully crafted and filmed, Spirits for Sale explores both sides of an unlikely dispute between native peoples and present-day interpreters of their rituals.

Trail of Tears (60 min., 2009) This third episode opens on May 26, 1838, when federal troops forced thousands of Cherokee from their homes in the southeastern United States, driving them toward Indian Territory in Oklahoma. More than 4,000 died of disease and starvation along the way. For years the tribe had resisted removal from their land. Cherokee leaders had established a republic with a European-style legislature and legal system. Their visionary principal chief, John Ross, would even take the Cherokee case to the Supreme Court, where he won crucial recognition of tribal sovereignty that still resonates. In the end, however, their landmark legal victory proved no match for white land hunger and military power.

Wounded Knee (60 min., 2009) On the night of February 27, 1973, American Indian Movement (AIM) and Oglala Lakota activists seized the hamlet of Wounded Knee, and police cordoned off the area. Demanding redress for grievances, the protesters captured the world's attention for 71 gripping days. With heavily armed federal troops tightening a cordon around the Indians, the event recalled the massacre at Wounded Knee almost a century earlier. In telling the story of this iconic moment, this final episode examines the political and economic forces that led to bringing the desperate conditions of Indian reservation life to the nation's attention. It also proved that despite centuries of warfare and neglect, Indians remained a vital force in the life of America.

IUB DVD/Video Films

To check out media items, you must have a valid IU crimson or borrower's card. Be sure to check with Media Services for hours. VHS titles are housed off-site at ALF, and can be requested via IUCAT.  Suggested keywords in IUCAT:  Native American, First Nation*, Indigenous and... *. Limit to film & video, dvd/videodisc, Bloomington campus.

American Indian (90 mins., 2015) Thirty miles from New York City, tucked away in the Ramapo Mountains of New Jersey, lives a group of indigenous people shrouded in mystery and discrimination, fighting for acceptance as Native Americans...The Ramapough Lenape Indians. American Native exposes this group's fight for respect as Native Americans, examining their efforts to gain recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the private interests that may have colluded behind the scenes to prevent them from doing so. Through expert interviews and unbridled access to the community, the film provides an in-depth look at the group's complex past, volatile present and endangered future.

American Red & Black (38 min., 2006) This intimate film follows six Afro-native Americans from around the U.S. as they reflect upon the personal and complex issues of Native and African hertiage, ethnic identity and racism within communities of color.

Apache 8 (57 min., 2011) Documentary about an all-women wildland firefighter crew from the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Barking Water (78 min., 2010) Frankie, a proud Native American, is attempting to reconnect with his estranged family. Released from the hospital, but still very ill, he hits the road with his ex-lover Irene, who acts as Frankie's nurse but refuses to offer forgiveness for his past indiscretions. As they travel through the sun-dappled country, they encounter various eccentric personalities. But his journey really begins when he reunites with his daughter and finally meets her newborn child.

Bones of Contention (49 min., 2002) The remains of more than 10,000 Native Americans unearthed at archaeological sites across the U.S. are in the possession of museums such as the Smithsonian. The bones have become the central issue in a war of ideas that pits scientists, historians, and museum curators against many Native American groups. Is the analysis of the bones valid scientific research, or is it a desecration of Native American culture? This program provides an even-handed examination of the situation, and in doing so, also provides an excellent survey of American Indian archaeology in the U.S.

The Buffalo War (57 min., 2001) The moving story of the Native Americans, ranchers, government officials, and environmental activists currently battling over the yearly slaughter of America's last wild bison ... This film explores the controversial killing by joining a 500-mile spiritual march across Montana by Lakota Sioux Indians who object to the slaughter ... Woven into the film are the civil disobedience and video activism of an environmental group trying to save the buffalo, as well as the concerns of a ranching family caught in the crossfire

A Good Day to Die (90 min., 2011) Chronicles the life story of Dennis Banks, the Native American who co-founded the American Indian Movement (AIM) in 1968 to advocate and protect the rights of American Indians, providing an in-depth look at the history and issues surrounding AIM's formation. From the forced assimilation of Native Americans within boarding schools, to discrimination by law enforcement authorities, to neglect by government officials responsible for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, AIM sought redress for the many grievances that its people harbored. Banks' personal struggle culminated in major armed confrontations at Custer, South Dakota and Wounded Knee -- climactic flash points which saw him standing steadfast as a leader for his cause.

Imagining Indians (60 mins., 1992) Using an eclectic mix of interviews, staged scenes and graphic imagery, this film represents a Native American's view of the disparity between self-perception and the white culture's principally Hollywood-inspired interpretations of American Indians.

In Whose Honor? (46 min., 1997) Discussion of Chief Illiniwek as the University of Illinois mascot, and the effect the mascot has on Native American peoples. Graduate student Charlene Teters shares the impact of the Chief on her family. Interviewees include members of the Board of Regents, students, alumni, current and former "Chiefs" and members of the community.

Inhabitants (77min., 2021) Follows five Native American communities as they restore their traditional land management practices in the face of a changing climate. For millennia Native Americans successfully stewarded and shaped their landscapes, but centuries of colonization have disrupted their ability to maintain these processes. From deserts, coastlines, forests, mountains, and prairies, Native communities across the US are restoring their ancient relationships with the land. The five stories include sustaining traditions of Hopi dryland farming in Arizona; restoring buffalo to the Blackfeet reservation in Montana; maintaining sustainable forestry on the Menominee reservation in Wisconsin; reviving native food forests in Hawaii; and returning prescribed fire to the landscape by the Karuk Tribe of California. As the climate crisis escalates, these time-tested practices of North America's original inhabitants are becoming increasingly essential in a rapidly changing world.

Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School (80 min., 2008) Imagine you are a child, taken from your home, your family, taken from everything you know. In 1869, the U.S. government enacted a policy of educating Native American children in the ways of western society. By the late 1960's, more than 100,000 had been forced to attend Indian Boarding School.

Powwow Highway (87 min., 2004) With nothing in common but their Native American heritage, two men begin a cross-country adventure filled with comedy and drama.

Pocahontas (81 min., 1995) In 1607, a group of British adventurers, including John Smith, led by the greedy Virginia Company governor Ratcliffe, set sail for the New World, seeking gold and other treasures. In Virginia, Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan's daughter, ponders her life as she is faced with marriage to the stern warrior, Kocoum. The British establish the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia and dig up the countryside for gold. Smith meets Pocahontas and they overcome their initial conflicts. She teaches him about her world. Relations between the British and the Indians deteriorate. Powhatan captures Smith and is about to execute him, but Pocahontas intervenes and Powhatan sets him free. When Ratcliffe tries to kill Powhatan, Smith saves him but is seriously wounded. He must return to England and Pocahontas must stay.

Reel Injun ( 88min., 2010)  Travelling through the heartland of America, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond examines how the myth of the movie "Injun" has influenced the world's understanding - and misunderstanding - of Natives. With clips from hundreds of classic and recent films, and candid interviews with celebrated Native and non-Native directors, writers, actors and activists, including Clint Eastwood, Robbie Robertson, Sacheen Littlefeather, John Trudell, Charlie Hill and Russell Means, Reel Injun traces the evolution of cinema's depiction of Native people from the silent film era to the present day.

A Seat at the Table (91 min., 2003) Explores the problems faced by Native Americans in practicing their religious ceremonies and beliefs.

Smoke Signals (89 min., 1998) 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.

Spirits for Sale (58 min., 2007) When Annika is given an eagle feather by a Native American performing a religious ceremony in Denmark, she realizes it is a sacred object..... Annika sets out to find it rightful owner, a quest which takes her to American Indian communities in Albuquerque, San Antonio, and to Bear Butte in South Dakota.

To Protect Mother Earth (60 min., 1989) Relates the legal battle between two Western Shoshone Indians and the U.S. government over land they claim is theirs according to the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. The Shoshone way of life is portrayed.

We Shall Remain (394 min., 2009) When Europeans arrived in North America, they encountered the Native people. Contrary to stereotype, American Indians were not simply ferocious warriors or peaceable lovers of the land. They were, like all people, an amalgam: charismatic and forward thinking, imaginative and courageous, compassionate and resolute, and, at times, arrogant, vengeful, and reckless. Native peoples valiantly resisted expulsion from their lands and fought the extinction of their culture using all avenues available, including military, legal, and political action, diplomacy, and supplication of the spiritual realm. From the Wampanoags of New England in the 1600s who used their alliance with the English to weaken rival tribes, to the bold new leaders of the 1970s who harnessed the momentum of the civil rights movement to forge a pan-Indian identity. Spanning almost four hundred years, these documentaries tell the story of pivotal moments in U.S. history from the Native American perspective, presenting Native history as an integral part of the American story.

Where the Spirit Lives (97 min., 2007) In the 1930's, two children are forcibly placed in an institution where they are emotionally abused, forced to give up their language, their heritage and - almost their spirits. Their only chance lies in - ESCAPE. Its about hope, triumph, and joy.


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