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Why not take time to watch Native American film productions and to talk about what you watched with family and friends. This month some major features and numerous outstanding short films—genres include documentary, fiction, and experimental media— mostly streaming for free. Go to the online film festivals or link to PBS, Vision Maker Media, or the National Portrait Gallery. These are varied works, but they frame issues, and accomplishments, and histories in unique ways that reveal the special outlooks and contemporary presence of Native Americans and Alaska Natives and other Indigenous peoples in Canada, Australia, New Zealand/Aotearoa, South Africa, Mexico, Peru and Sapmi in Arctic Europe.

Vision Maker Media

CommUNITY: Returning Home through Togetherness
Now through November 24. Free. Online

A program organized by Vision Maker Media, the national production organization for Native American and Alaska Native documentaries for public television, film festivals and education. Other VMM productions and/or their trailers are available through links in the PBS articles below.

Indigenous Americans continue to serve in the armed forces at a higher ratio per their demographic. According to the Department of Defense, out of 1.2 million men and women on active duty in the US military today, more than 23,000 of them are Native American and Alaska Native. Native Americans and Alaska Natives are one of the most consistent demographics that risk their lives for a government that tried to eradicate them.

Under the Battle Tipi: The Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society. Director: Charles “Boots” Kennedye. This 4-part series of short documentaries focuses on the present-day revival of the Ton-Kon-Gah, one of several military societies among the Kiowa in the 19th century. 

“Returning Home Through Togetherness: What Does it Mean to Be a Warrior” Free. Online. Originally on Veterans Day, November 11. 

The panel discussion with four men and women, veterans of the Vietnam War and Desert Storm and honoring veterans of the Korean War, warrior society members, focuses on what it means to provide for and defend their tribe, community and culture.

PBS Independent Lens

November 23 - Broadcast Premiere on PBS stations 

Home from School: The Children of Carlisle Directors: Geoffrey O’Gara and Sophie Barksdale. 130 years after three Northern Arapaho boys died at Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, members of the tribe set out from Wyoming to bring them home. 

November 2021 - PBS’ Online Indigenous Films and More 

“Celebrate Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month 2021” by Beatrice Alvarez, November 1, 2021  

The diverse experiences and artistry of Native Americans and Alaska Natives

On this article’s webpage some links are to previews, with the entire film available on PBS Passport or the PBS Video free app, and other links are to films that stream directly from the article.

From Caves to Cosmos. Ancient clues and modern science answer the question: who were America’s First Peoples? Native America

RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World The role of Native Americans in the history of American popular music. Independent Lens

The First Twenty: Ma’s House Shinnecock Indian Nation photographer Jeremy Dennis explores Native American art. The First Twenty series

The Art of Home: A Wind River Story Two indigenous artists create new works and define what it means to be a "native artist."

Zitkála-Šá: Trailblazing American Indian Composer and Writer The complex life story of the late 19th- early 20thcentury composer and advocate for Indian and women’s rights. From the American Masters “Unladylike2020” series.

Pamyua, Alaska's most famous Inuit band The Inuit soul music group from Alaska wow-ing audiences worldwide. Indie Alaska

What Does Electric Pow Wow Sound Like? A Tribe Called Red combine Native American drum circle sounds with electronic music. Sound Field

Without a Whisper The untold story of how Indigenous women influenced the early suffragists. PBS Short Film Festival

My Louisiana Love A young woman's quest to find a place in her Native American community in Louisiana. America Reframed

The Sacred Cypher: Albuquerque's Native American Hip-Hop Dance  Albuquerque’s hip-hop & freestyle dance scene is influenced by various Indigenous tribes If Cities Could Dance series

A Thousand Voices The universal story of New Mexico’s Native American women.

Dawnland Through November 29. Unique in the US, Maine’s Peace and Reconciliation aims to heal the results of damaging policies of foster care of Indian children. Independent Lens

alter-NATIVE: Kitchen, Episode 1 A Navajo chef brings his Native food traditions back. Alter-NATIVE series

The Warrior Tradition The largely-untold story of Native Americans who served in the United States military.

The People's Protectors Native American veterans reflect on their experiences during the divisive Vietnam War.

“30 Stories for 30 Days of Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month” by Beatrice Alvarez, November 1, 2021  

In November PBS is highlighting online 30 individuals or groups who are telling their cultural stories via myriad different ways, from fashion to film to cuisine. Many of those featured in video profiles or trailers of documentaries are named below.

Links to these and more profiles are on this article’s webpage.

· Bunky Echo-Hawk (Pawnee)

· Joy Harjo (Muskogee Creek)

· Link Wray (Shawnee)

· Daniel Golding (Quechan)

· N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa)

· Buffy Sainte Marie (Cree)

· Charles “Boots” Kennedye (Kiowa)

· Sequoyah (Cherokee)

· Maria Tallchief (Osage)

· Bethany Yellowtail (Northern Cheyenne)

· Sandy White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota)

· Jeremy Dennis (Shinnecock)

· Louise Herne (Mohawk)

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· Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa)

· Julian Brave NoiseCat (Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen)

· The Sacred Cypher (Jicarilla Apache, Diné)

· Tommy Orange (Cheyenne/Arapaho)

· Susan La Flesche Picotte (Omaha)

PBS American Masters

Online until December 5  

Words from a Bear Director: Jeffrey Palmer. The life and thoughts of Pulitzer Prize-winning Kiowa author and poet N. Scott Momaday.

Library of Congress Online Exhibit

“Native Narratives: The Representation of Native Americans in Public Broadcasting”  

This ongoing online exhibit curated by Sally Smith, 2019 Library of Congress Junior Fellow, explores how Native American peoples and cultures have been represented both in non-Native-produced and Native-created public broadcasting programs in the AAPB collection. Each section features a range of radio and television programs that cover key events or issues important to Native peoples or explores how mainstream public media and media produced by Native Americans depict and document Native peoples in ways that either confirm or reject stereotypes.

Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West with author Lauren Redniss”  Tuesday, November 16, 5:00 pm ET. Free. Online with Zoom registration.  

Lauren Redniss’s book Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West follows the fortunes of two families with profound connections to the contested site: the Nosies, an Apache family whose teenage daughter is an activist and leader in the Oak Flat fight, and the Gorhams, a mining family whose patriarch was a sheriff in the lawless early days of Arizona statehood. Live discussion with Lauren Redniss, artist, author, MacArthur fellow, and associate professor at the Parsons School of Design, and Sharyl Pahe-Short, visitor services manager at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

“Introducing… Zitkála-Šá” Wednesday, November 24, 11:00 am ET. Free. Online with link in event description.  

NPG’s “Introducing…” is a weekly online series on Wednesdays for kids 3 and older and their families that shines a light on some of the US’ lesser-known history makers and their portraits. This introduces Yankton Dakota composer and teacher Zitkála-Šá (which means Red Bird) whose work spanned the late 19th to early 20th century.

Taino Heritage

Taíno People Want to Stop Christie’s Sale of Artifacts” by Laura Zornosa, The New York Times, November 9, 2021.   

Despite International Outcry, Christie’s Sale of Pre-Columbian Artifacts Went Ahead--But Almost a Third of the Objects Failed to Sell” by Amah-Rose Abrams, Art Net News, November 11, 2021.  

The art auction house said none of the objects to be sold in Paris on November 10 were from illicit sources. But to those with roots in Indigenous Caribbean culture, no price can be put on its history. A petition urging the artifacts to be repatriated to the Dominican Republic (the Taíno island--called by Columbus Hispaniola--at which his ships first landed) garnered over 41,000 signatures.

Autry Museum of the American West Online

When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism in California  

Beginning with the occupation of Alcatraz in 1969, California became a beacon of creative freedom, individual expression, and social activism for Native peoples across the country. The region quickly transformed into a place where Native artists engaged with cultural diversity, historical traditions, and contemporary art to critique its colonial past. As a result, California became a site of artistic achievement within the broader story of Native art. This exhibition features Native California artists who have used their work as a means of cultural resistance and renewal. Many have helped—and continue to help—restore aspects of ceremony, dance, language, and material culture once in danger of disappearing. The exhibition was conceived by, and is dedicated to, Nomtipom Wintu artist Frank LaPena (1936–2019), a renowned art writer, curator, poet, traditionalist, and professor at Sacramento State University for 40 years.


Now through November 23. Online

Razelle Benally/Red Brigade Films offers a director’s cut, with soundtrack by Laura Ortman, of brief profiles of some of the artists in STTLMNT as they reflect on their creative practice in multiple genres.

This is our work, our world vision, our heart, our future dreaming, our technology, our stories, our complexity, our resilience, our pain, our beauty, our art and our community. Together we hope to learn deeper and question further, ultimately dismantling the amnesia wrought by Colonialism.” 

To date STTLMNT has featured the work of Dayna Danger, Demian DinéYazhi ́, Raven Chacon, Candice Hopkins, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Laura Ortman, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Tania Willard, Emily Johnson, Jeremy Dennis, Yatika Starr Fields, Sterlin Harjo, Marie Watt, Eric-Paul Riege, Tania Larsson, Raven Halfmoon, Elisa Lorraine Harkins, Haley Greenfeather English, Katherine Paul, Christine Howard Sandoval, Santiago X, Nicholas Galanin, Nanibah Chacon, Autumn Chacon, Rory Wakemup, Dakota Camacho, Jade Begay, Stina Hamlin, Razelle Benally, Camas Logue, Kathy Elkwoman Whitman, Ian Kuali'i, Dylan McLaughlin.


Now through November 28. Tickets. Online in US and US territories.  

Billed as the US’ largest documentary film festival. The premieres include Indigenous docs Warrior Spirit, Nothing but the Sun, Newtok, and Life of Ivanna, plus some works in the short film programs. Films are available, with varying start dates, through the end of festival.

Native Spirit Online Festival

Now through November 20. Tickets. Online worldwide or in UK and region.  

Closing Night November 20. Online for 24 hours. Loretta Todd’s Monkey Beach (Tickets. Online worldwide) and Thirza Cuthand’s Kwêskosîw/She Whistles (Tickets. Online UK and EU). Free and online worldwide: Bawaadan Collective Shorts: Mâmawi Nikamowak/They Sing Altogether. For information about additional screenings go to the website.


Festival Internacional de Cine y las Artes Indígenas en Wallmapu

Convocatoria: Taller de Producción radial comunitaria indígena

Noviembre 18, 25, diciembre 2. Sin costo. En linea. Español. 

A convening for production workshops organized by the Indigenous film organization in Chile, FICWALLMAPU, for Indigenous and migrant creators in Wallmapu (Mapuche lands) and all of Abya Yala (Indigenous Latin America).

La convocatoria está dirigida a personas migrantes y de pueblos originarios que formen parte de organizaciones o colectivos de Wallmapu y todo Abya Yala, que tengan disponibilidad para asistir los días jueves 18 y 25 de noviembre y 2 de diciembre, entre las 17:00 y 19:00 horas. Sin costo, solo deben disponer de un computador, un celular o grabadora y un audífono con manos libres o micrófono. Sólo hay 10 cupos, uno por organización.

Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival

November 19 - 21. Tickets. In-person in Richmond, Virginia                         

November 20 - 26. Online. $10 Pass permits streaming 11 films.  

The 5th year of this festival (founding sponsor is Francis Ford Coppola) is both showcasing in-person new dramatic and documentary works, emceed by Michael Horse, and streaming 15 recent documentaries on a variety of Native American subjects, such as the doctrine of discovery, adoption, the impact on the Seneca of the Kinzua Dam, and profiles of key people like George Attla and LaDonna Harris.

Hawaii International Film Festival

Now through November 28. Tickets. Online and in-person in Hawaii  

The 41st HIFF has programmed 13 Indigenous-themed narrative and documentary features, 5 short film programs with Indigenous films, three outstanding conversations on Indigenous filmmaking. Festival has a special focus on film premieres from the Pacific region. Films online are available, with varying start dates, through the end of festival.

New York African Diaspora International Film Festival

First Nation Films

November 27 - December 12. Tickets. Online and In-person in New York City.  

This prominent film festival concerned with African diasporic stories throughout the world also specifically includes a section of outstanding Indigenous films. This year it has selected 6 works from Australia, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and the US, including both premieres and the now-classic The Return of Navajo Boy.

Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival

Now through December 19. Tickets and passes. Online.

New programs of films every weekend with varying start and end dates. Eight feature films plus short films, from Australia, Ecuador, Honduras, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, and the US, focus on cultural diversity, traditional music, forced acculturation, learning traditions. Free films about Garifuna culture are also online.

More Indigenous Film Festivals 

  • LA Skins Fest, Los Angeles. In-person. November 16-21
  • Ethnographic Film Festival of Pará, Belém, Brazil. In-person. November 16-21
  • Art of the Real, New York City. In-person. November 19-21
  • Anchorage International Film Festival. Alaska. December 3-11
  • Indigenous Film & Arts Festival. Denver. Online. December 8
  • Sundance Film Festival. Utah and Online. January 20-30, 2022
  • Skabmagovat Film Festival. Inari, Finland. January 27-30, 2022
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