Historical

Q. Why is it important to have films created, written, and produced by Natives in today’s media?

An Eastern Shoshone Elder and two Northern Arapaho youth living on the Wind River Indian Reservation attempt to learn why thousands of ancestral artifacts are in the darkness of underground archives of museums and churches, boxed away and forgotten. Like millions of indigenous people in many parts of the world, they do not control their own material culture. It is being preserved, locked away, by ‘outsiders’ who themselves do not know what they have.

Return to Rainy Mountain is a feature length documentary film that tells the story of N. Scott Momaday. It is a personal account of his life and legacy told in his own voice, and in the voice of his daughter Jill. Momaday speaks of his Kiowa roots, family, literature, oral tradition, nature, identity, and the sacred and important things that have shaped his life.

On June 7, 1964, a driving rain buckled dams and flooded vehicles on the Blackfeet Reservation, sweeping crying children from mothers’ arms, and ferrying homes and bodies across the prairie. By the time it ended, more than two-dozen Blackfeet Indians had drowned in the worst natural disaster in Montana history. More than a half-century after the worst disaster in Montana history, two Blackfeet families struggle to come to terms with the 1964 flood.

In the Beginning was Water and Sky is a short-form New Media project that tells two parallel stories about a Chippewa boy who runs away from an Indian Boarding School in the 1950s and a Chippewa girl who runs away from her village in the 1700s.

Watch online: http://www.pbs.org/indiefilms/shorts/beginning-was-water-and-sky/

Words from a Bear examines the enigmatic life and mind of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Navarro Scott Momaday, one of Native America’s most celebrated authors of poetry and prose. The film visually captures the essence of Momaday’s writings, relating each written line to his unique American experience representing ancestry, place, and oral history.


SXSW Screens 'Through the REpellent Fence: A Land Art Film'
Annual Report Highlights Successful Partnerships
40 Years. 40 Films. 40 Weeks. 'Kinaalda: Navajo Rite of Passage' Gives Rare Insider's View of Navajo Culture
Upcoming Film Screenings
How Your Support Helps to Serve Indian Country

Medicine Woman, interweaves the lives of Native American women healers of today with the story of America’s first Native doctor, Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915). The one-hour PBS documentary produced by and about women, features historic and contemporary profiles of female healers, starting with Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915) of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. 

Ishi’s Return is a half-hour film about Ishi, billed in 1911 as the “last wild Indian,” when he wandered out of the woods in Oroville, California, and became a national sensation. When Ishi died, his brain was removed and sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Walking in Two Worlds journeys to the Tongass to reveal its splendor and shed light on the devastation and division resulting from the Settlement Act. The Tongass is rich with old-growth trees, salmon-filled rivers and wildlife. Alaska’s Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes have depended on this forest for their culture and survival.

In 2012, a film that Randy Vasquez directed and I produced, called The Thick Dark Fog, was broadcast nationwide on PBS. The film tells the story of Lakota elder Walter Littlemoon’s journey of healing from his American Indian boarding school experiences. During the production of the film, we spoke to many Native elders who had gone to boarding school.

For centuries survival was difficult for Alaska Native peoples, but they lived full lives. Today survival is easier, but they are dying young. Alaska Native peoples sustained their way of life through a social, cultural and spiritual balance, but the traumatic ramifications of colonization have left many scars that continue to be passed down from generation to generation. 

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