Social Studies

For decades, thousands of Navajos worked the railroads, maintaining the trans-continental network. Metal Road explores the dynamics of livelihood, family and the railroads through the lens of a Navajo trackman. The film follows three Navajo railroaders from the 9001 Heavy Steel Gang as they leave their homeland to replace aging railroad tracks from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean under extreme weather conditions.

Every Monday night in the small community of Shiprock, New Mexico, a group of young Navajo leaders meet to decide how they will help their community. For more than seven years, the Northern Diné Youth Committee has worked to give youth opportunities to directly make changes within their community. But while the NDYC works to make changes, many members also consider their own futures, commitments to family and the world outside of the Shiprock. While they love their community, they all must consider their options both on and off the 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.
What does it take for a contemporary Native family to thrive on their reservation? Badger Creek is a portrait of Native resilience as seen through a year in the life of three generations of a Blackfeet family living on the reservation in Montana. The loving and sober Momberg family members run a successful ranch, live a traditional worldview and are relearning their language.

Ohero:kon - Under the Husk is a documentary that follows two Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) girls on their challenging journey to becoming women. They both take part in a four-year adolescent passage rites ceremony that has been revived in their community.

Lake of Betrayal looks at the Seneca Nation’s fight to protect its sovereignty against a backdrop of a federal Indian Termination policy, pork-barrel politics, and undisclosed plans for private hydro-power generation. The documentary takes a long view of the imposed changes on the Seneca’s way of life that have led to major economic benefits and irreplaceable cultural losses.

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.

For over 50 years, archaeologist Dr. Douglas Anderson, of Brown University, studied the Iñupiaq Natives of Northwestern Alaska. When one of the last excavations of his career shuts down due to the discovery of human remains, he must rely on the relationships he has built with the Iñupiaq. Policy dictates that archaeological excavations on National Park Service land must stop when remains are found and all living descendants be notified. Are the relationships between Anderson and the Iñupiaq based purely on his own academic pursuits?

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.

The first film to document the story of Michigan's Native Americans in the Civil War who served in Company K of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters. During the Civil War a regiment of sharpshooters was being recruited to fight for the Union. Since Michigan's Native Americans were famous as skilled hunters, it was decided to recruit one company--Company K--from among the tribes in Michigan. Nearly 140 men volunteered for Company K in the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters regiment.

The efforts of one dying woman to preserve her Native culture don’t end when she passes, but prompts a renewal in finding pride in that culture. She confronts the violent event over two centuries ago that began the destruction of her people and the shame that colonialism created.

The film Across the Creek is the story of the Lakota tribe in South Dakota, and their struggle to reclaim their culture through language, dance, working with the land, and participating in cultural activities.

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Lake of Betrayal looks at the Seneca Nation’s fight to protect its sovereignty against a backdrop of a federal Indian Termination policy, pork-barre

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