Native American Heritage Month

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. Eighty years later, his descendants in California fight to have his remains repatriated to his ancestral home.

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. 

The struggles of three Mohawk girls unfold as they navigate two worlds, the fast-paced modern world and the traditional path to womanhood. This documentary explores the resurgence of the adolescent passage rites in the Mohawk community of Akwesasne. 

Neon Buffalo examines the history of Indian gaming from the first bingo halls to today's destination resorts. This feature-length documentary film delves deeper into Indian Gaming than slot machines and black jack tables to explore Indian gaming's role as the economic measure of a social revolution that began throughout Indian Country decades before the first casino doors opened. 

Historical trauma in Native peoples has produced other traumas: abuse, neglect and addiction. However, from tapping the healing power that is within them there are powerful stories of healing strategies occurring now in tribal communities.

See a sneak peek of this film at the Vision Maker FIlm Festival March 11-13

Mankiller explores the life of Wilma Mankiller, the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation who led her people in building one of the strongest Indian Tribes in America. More than a biography, the program delivers an empowering message. 

What does it take for a contemporary Native family to thrive on their reservation? A portrait of individual, communal and cultural resilience of Native America as seen through the lives of three generations of a prosperous, modern-day Blackfeet family living and ranching on their Montana reservation.

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.

Indigenous communities around the world and in the U.S. resist threats to their sacred places—the original protected lands—in a growing movement to defend human rights and restore the environment.

SOL explores the death of a young Inuk man, Solomon Tapatiaq Uyarasuk, who is found dead in an RCMP detachment in a remote Inuit community. The locals suspect murder, but the police suggest suicide. As the documentary investigates the truth to Solomon’s death it sheds light on the underlying social issues of Canada’s North that has resulted in this region claiming one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world.

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Films

Native stories that represent the cultures, experiences, and values of American Indians and Alaska Natives for your station!

Filmmakers

Current funding, job, and training opportunities that support the production of Native content. Plus, additional information for filmmakers.

Educators

Hands-on educational tools for middle school to college-aged students that increase the Impact of Native films in the classroom.