Skip to main content

June is Canada’s National Indigenous History Month

June is US’ Pride Month, recognizing the accomplishments and contributions of LGBTQIA+ people.

In New Zealand, Matariki--the Maori New Year--was passed into law in April 2022 as an annual national holiday. This year’s Matariki is on June 24; each year the date of this national observation will be in June or July, to be established according to Maori tradition by being aligned with the first sightings of the Pleiades. 

CELEBRATION!

We the Peoples Before

June 30 - July 2. Free. In-person at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. For some events seating is limited. Advance reservations started June 15.

We The Peoples Before is a 3-day festival presenting demonstrations, discussions, and performances that speak to the diversity of Indigenous nations, cultures, languages, philosophies, spiritual traditions, peoples, and practices rooted in land and territories that flourished across North America long before the founding of the United States and the US Constitution. The festival is a collaboration, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the First Peoples Fund and the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Center. For more information about the events and the featured participants go here.

A companion to the 3-day festival is an Education & Impact Initiative curriculum developed by a team of Indigenous educators.to be released over the weekend and later distributed across the US.

For more information see below, and go to the website for We The Peoples Before

FILM FESTIVAL and SERIES 
Hybrid/Online

Frameline46 

Ticket. Hybrid. June 16-26 in-person in San Francisco. Streaming online June 24 - 30.

Founded in 1977, Frameline is the longest-running LGBTQ+ film exhibition event in the world. Four Indigenous feature films are among the works in this year’s program, available both in-person and streaming (one of them is geoblocked to California).

In-person and online in US

Pure Grit  Documentary feature. US/Ireland. Kim Bartley. Extreme bareback horseracing has sustained Sharmaine Wood, growing up queer on the Wind River reservation in Wyoming, but with trouble at home, she relocates to Denver with Savannah, who initially had come to the rez to help her. And things happen… “This affecting documentary…is an exuberant tale of love, loss and resilience within the Native American community.”

Uýra: The Rising Forest  Documentary feature. Brazil/US. Juliana Curi. Following Uýra, the alter-ego of Emerson, a non-binary performance artist and ecologist of Indigenous origin living in Manaus, Brazil, who travels in the rural Amazon region to perform and spread the message of both environmental protection and LGBTQ+ rights.

Wildhood Narrative feature. Canada. Bretten Hannam. Blending familiar elements of road-trip and coming-of-age stories, this film follows a Mi’kmaw teen and his younger half-brother who undertake a formative journey in search of a mother they thought dead, meeting an empathic young drifter along the way who shares his Indigenous heritage and offers to guide them along the way.

In-person and online in California only.

Finlandia  Narrative feature. Spain/Mexico. Horacio Alcalá. In Juchitán de Zaragoza in Oaxaca state, Muxes, beautifully dressed in Zapotec clothing, are culturally recognized as representing a third gender. The plot revolves around personal and familial acceptance, the possible disruption from outsiders with their own motives, and the strong bonds that exist within the Muxe community.

imagineNATIVE Feature Fridays

Every year for National Indigenous History Month, imagineNATIVE puts together public programming throughout June. This year includes Feature Friday online screenings and FLOW, new audio works in the iNdigital Space (see below)

Friday, June 17-Thursday, June 23

Boy Taika Waititi The journey of Boy, a dreamer who loves Michael Jackson! Boy is forced to confront the father he thought he remembered (played by Taika Waititi), find his own potential and learn to get along without the hero he had been hoping for. In Canada available free from this website. In US available free on Vudu and with subscriptions to Showtime/Showtime Anytime, Sling TV, Roku Channel, and fuboTV. Also available in US for rent.

Friday, June 24 - Thursday, June 30

Into the Water iN Originals Screening and Artist Talk. To wrap up National Indigenous History Month a retrospective screening and artist talk from the iNOriginals collection. Available only in Canada.

FILM FESTIVALS
In-person

TAFFNY/The Americas Film Festival in New York
NMAI At the Movies

Friday, June 24. Free. In-person at NMAI in New York

As in the previous 8 years, NMAI is presenting the closing night of this year’s TAFFNY.

Bootlegger Dramatic feature. Canada. Caroline Monnet (Anishnaabe, French). In English, French and Ashinaabemowin with English subtitles)
For Mature Audiences: Contains adult language and brief nudity.

Mani (Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs), a master’s student, returns to the reserve in northern Quebec where she was raised. Resolved to reintegrate into her former community, she gets involved in a referendum debate on allowing the free sale of alcohol. Laura, a bootlegger, pockets the profits she makes under the protection of the band council and her partner, Raymond. Two radically opposed women divide the community into two fractions over the issue of alcohol in the community and come face-to-face with each other to determine the best path forward. A conversation with director Caroline Monnet follows the film.

We the Peoples Before - Screening Programs

June 30, July 2. Free. In-person at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Thursday, June 30 8:30–10:30 pm EDT Outdoor Film Screening.

Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting Feature documentary. US. Producer/directors: Aviva Kempner and Ben West. An in-depth examination of the movement to end the use of Native American names, logos, and mascots in the world of sports and beyond.

Saturday, July 2 8:00 - 9:00 pm EDT We the Peoples Before Short Films

A screening of six short films by women directors followed by a discussion with the filmmakers. Featuring Nanobah Becker (Navajo), Razelle Benally (Oglala Lakota, Diné), Maddie Easley (Wyandotte), Marcella Kwe (Chippewa), Charine Pilar Gonzales (San Ildefonso Pueblo), Shawna Shandiin Sunrise (Navajo). Moderated by Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne, Mescalero Apache)

BGC/Bard Graduate Center - Film Night

June 29, 6 pm EDT. Tickets and free for BGC members. In-person in New York City. Proof of vaccination and mask required.

Whale Rider Narrative feature. Aotearoa/New Zealand. Niki Caro. As part of its current exhibition, Conserving Active Matter, Bard Graduate Center will host the ancestral Māori figure of Paikea, visiting BGC from the American Museum of Natural History with the cooperation of his Te Aitanga a Hauiti relatives in New Zealand. In recognition of this honor, the 2002 film Whale Rider, based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, which tells a story of Paikea’s modern-day descendents will be screened. Dr. Wayne Ngata will provide a video introduction, connecting the figure to the film, and the past to the present.

Maoriland Film Festival

June 29 - July 3. Tickets. Tickets. In-person in Ôtaki, Aotearoa/New Zealand

The MFF2022 is part of Matariki Ramaroa - Kāpiti Light Arts Festival, opening with the celebration of the reo Māori version of one of the most successful of all Disney films. The Lion King Reo Maori was reversioned in te Reo Māori by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Chelsea Winstanley (Merata, Jo Jo Rabbit) and Tweedie Waititi (Moana Reo Māori, Rūrangi) of Matewa Media. MFF2022 features a second te reo Māori animated feature film with the premiere of ASTRO KID or TAMA KAIĀTEA, translated and voiced by talent in Ōtaki and produced at Māoriland. For trailer go here.

This year many of the films at Māoriland are directed or produced by women including the multi-awarded feature film The Drovers Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson (director/writer/producer: Leah Purcell) as well as Millie Lies Low (Aotearoa), Night Raiders (Canada/Aotearoa) and Whina (director: Paula Whetu Jones (Waru). Whina is the biopic of the celebrated and controversial Dame Whina Cooper, the woman who would become known as Te Whaea o Te Motu / The Mother Of The Nation. Featuring James Napier Roberston (The Dark Horse). Miriama McDowell (Coming Home In The Dark) and Rena Owen (Once Were Warriors).

Works will be screened from the Ngā Pakiaka Incubator Programme, conceived during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 with support from the Sundance Institute and New Zealand Film Commission, Eight young filmmakers from Te Kao in the far far North to Ōtaki produced their first professional short films. They include Tioreore Ngatai Melbourne (Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Cousins, Whina), Richard Te Are (The Luminaries, Beyond the Veil), Max Crean (Mystic).

Other feature films screening at the festival include Tote/Abuela/Grandfather, a filmmaker’s portrait of her grandfather, Portraits from a Fire– the best emerging film at Vancouver International Film Festival 2021, Canadian Screen Award Winner for Best Feature Film, Beans, and multi-award-winning Hawaiian feature films Waikiki and Every Day in Kaimuki. These screen alongside ten short film programs. 

Weengushk International Film Festival

July 8 - 10. Tickets. In-person on Manitoulin Island, Ontario

In 2022, the theme for the festival, developed by WIFF’s founder and artistic director Shirley Cheechoo C.M. is “Write From the Womb,” focusing on the stories and voices of Indigenous women, including those who identify as LGBTQ2s+. Full days are packed with outstanding films, as well as workshops and discussions. Among the narrative and documentary features to be screened are Bring Her Home, One of Ours, Cousins, Run Woman Run, Monkey Beach and Night Raiders. Excellent short films include KaYaMenTe, Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair, and “She Whistles.”

Broadcast and VOD
Online

Dark Winds 

Crime series. US. Directed by Chris Eyre, Sanford Bookstaver. Produced by Robert Redford and George R.R. Martin. Premiering in June on AMC and AMC+. Based on the Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman, the year is 1971 on a remote outpost of the Navajo Nation near Monument Valley. Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn (Zahn McClarnon) of the Tribal Police is besieged by a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. The closer he digs to the truth, the more he exposes the wounds of his past. He is joined on this journey by his new deputy, Jim Chee (Kiowa Gordon). Chee, too, has old scores to settle from his youth on the reservation. Together, the two men battle the forces of evil, each other and their own personal demons on the path to salvation. Also featuring: Jessica Matten, Deanna Allison, Rainn Wilson, Elva Guerra, Jeremiah Bitsui, Eugene Brave Rock, Noah Emmerich. This is a more intensive production than the earlier PBS series based on the books--it’s on a major streaming platform with an expanded budget, has a Native American writers room and cast, plus permission to film on Navajo lands in New Mexico. 

Mezquite's Heart 

Narrative feature. Mexico. Ana Laura Calderón. In Spanish and Yoreme with English subtitles. Free with subscription to HBO and HBO Max, "In a small rural community of the Yoreme, an Indigenous group in Mexico, young Lucía (Mayrin Buitimea) dreams of becoming a harpist like her father. Custom holds, however, that women cannot play the instrument.  This simple premise of tradition versus change flowers into a poignant tale of coming of age--not just of Lucía but also of a marginalized community struggling to hold onto its culture while adapting to the times. The film unfolds as part-portrait, part-parable.

Nudo mixteco

Narrative feature. Mexico. Ángeles Cruz (Mixtec). In Mixtec, Spanish (HBOLHD) or in Mixtec, Spanish with English subtitles. Free with subscription to HBO and HBO Max. Converging around the yearly festival of a village in Oaxaca's Sierra Mixteca, this drama depicts the upheaval created when three people who left return home. María comes to bury her mother but faces her father's condemnation of her sexuality. Estebán returns expecting his wife to be waiting for him after years of absence. Toña is compelled to address a childhood trauma that is impacting her daughter. A strong portrayal of the constraints on women's lives within a culture of machismo, as well as of the strength of community.

The Warriors 

One season. Comedy series. Australia. In US on Amazon Prime or Roku Channel. A lighthearted, PG sports tale, this one-season Australian comedy from 2017 is about an Australian rules football (“footy”) team and its star rookie, Maki (Gordon Churchill). The Warriors has a cheerful goofiness and is heavy on teammate shenanigans, but it is also frank about the discrimination Maki faces as an Indigenous man.

Rutherford Falls, Seasons 1 and 2  

Comedy/drama series. Free streaming of all 18 episodes with subscription to Peacock. Season 1, Episode 1 is streaming for free without a subscription.

“The first season was spent reckoning with the past, with an inconveniently-located statue of a dead white settler as the jumping-off point. Season 2 looks forward. As characters like Reagan (Jana Schmieding) and Terry (Michael Greyeyes) start dreaming big for the town in general and for its Minishonka community more specifically, the storylines become defined less by conflict than cooperation….And the show hasn’t lost its knack for balancing big-hearted comedy with incisive cultural commentary. One of this season’s sharpest installments sends Terry and Reagan to serve as cultural consultants on a Yellowstone-esque a hit called Adirondack, to the former’s excitement and the latter’s skepticism. (“This is the place where Adam Beach dies in the first ten minutes of every movie.”) Regan grumbles as they walk through the backlot.)” The Hollywood Reporter

Firebite

8 episodes. Fantasy series. Australia. Free with subscription to AMC+ (a premium streaming bundle), to AMC+ on Amazon, to YouTube and to Roku Channel. This highly original new vampire fantasy series was co-created by Warwick Thornton and Brendan Fletcher. It is set in a remote mining town in the middle of the South Australian desert,. The story centers around two Indigenous Australian hunters, a father and his adopted teen-aged daughter, Tyson (Rob Collins) and Shanika (Shantae Barnes-Cowan), on their quest to battle the last colony of vampires. The series began filming in August 2021, and is filmed in the traditional Country of the Antakirinj Matu-Yankunytjatjara people of the Western Desert and Kaurna People of the Adelaide Plains in and around Adelaide, the regional town of Coober Pedy, and at the Adelaide Studios in South Australia.

Total Control, Seasons 1 and 2 

Political drama series. Australia. Streaming on AMC+, AMC+ Amazon Channel, DIRECTV, Sundance Now, AMC+ Roku Premium Channel. Fearless Indigenous senator Alex Irving (Deborah Mailman) finds herself at the center of media attention after a shocking event and, barely weeks into her political career in Canberra, must deal with betrayal inside the government. Rachel Griffiths plays Prime Minister Rachel Anderson and Rob Collins plays Alex’ brother, Charlie Irving.

SPECIAL EVENTS

June 21 - 30. Free and open to the public. Hybrid. Events either online or in-person in Window Rock, Arizona.

The Navajo Nation lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit community and its allies host the largest Indigenous Pride in the country. The theme of this year’s event is “Proud-Living Life in Sacredness”. Featured events include a Proclamation signing hosted by Seth Damoan, Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council, virtual roundtable discussions on a range of topics, the Sovereign Sacredness Drag Show, a Pride Parade and a Festival and Market.

We the Peoples Before

June 30 - July 2. Free. In-person at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. For some events seating is limited. Advance reservations started June 15.

Thursday, June 30

1- 2:30 pm EDT Tribal Languages and Arts Panel: These are stories the stars remember…   Historically, about 500 distinct Native languages were spoken in North America. Today, that number has dwindled to about 150, with about half of those only having a few Native speakers who are still alive. Panelists will discuss language revitalization efforts and the importance of language to cultural survival.

8:30–10:30 pm EDT Outdoor Film Screening (see above)

Friday, July 1

Mainstage Event. 8:00 - 9:30 pm EDT. Free but advance registration required.

A one-night only, multi-generational, multi-genre stage production that takes the audience through the past, present and possible future of an indigenized America that is rooted in history and place. The story is structured in four movements with a finale and closing coda. The journey follows the directions of East, South, West and North, ending in the interconnectedness of Sky and Earth.

Among nearly 50 Indigenous artists taking the stage are poet Joy Harjo, a capella group Ulali, dancer and rapper Supaman, singer Robert Cazimero, spoken-word poet Marc Bamuthi Joseph, playwright and director Monique Mojica, musician Wade Fernandez, the Idiowin Youth Theater and more. Executive produced by Lori Pourier with consulting producer Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and directed by Roberta Uno,

Saturday, July 2

10:00 -11:00 am EDT. Culture Bearers: These are stories our hands remember
Discussion with First Peoples Fund Culture Bearers Elaine Timentwa Emerson (Colville Confederated Tribes), basket maker, and Ed Carriere (Suquamish), basket maker and canoe carver, with Lori Lea Pourier (Oglala Lakota), CEO of First Peoples Fund

11:00 am – 12:15 pm EDT Indigenous Food Sovereignty Demonstration and discussion with The Sioux Chef, Sean Sherman (Oglala Lakota), and Chef Kimberly Tilsen-Braveheart (Oglala Lakota)

12:30-1:30 pm EDT Poetry, Spoken Word & Writers: These are stories the stars rememberFeaturing Lyla June (Diné), Jamaica Heolimelekalani Osorio (Kanaka Maoli), Autumn White Eyes (Oglala Lakota, Turtle Mountain Band of Anishnabe), and Tanaya Winder (Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute, Diné, Shoshone)

2:30–3:30 pm EDT Indigenous Arts & Lifeways Featuring Rick West (Cheyenne and Arapaho) and artist Ben Pease (Crow, Northern Cheyenne)

4:30 - 6:00 pm EDT Tribal Sovereignty: These are stories the hills remember… Tribal nations ceded millions of acres of land that made the United States what it is today and, in return, received the guarantee of ongoing self-government on their own lands - tribal sovereignty.

6:00 - 7:00 pm EDT Millennium Stage Performance: Native Hip Hop Featuring Talon Bazille (Cheyenne River Lakota, Crow Creek Dakota), Lyla June (Diné) and Tanaya Winder (Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute, Diné, Shoshone

7:00-8:00 pm EDT Millenium Stage Performance: Traditional Hula Two hālau hula share both hula kahiko (ancient style Hawaiian dance) and hula ʻauana (modern style Hawaiian dance). Featuring Hālau Nā Kamalei, Robert Cazimero (Kanaka Maoli), Pua Ali’I ‘Ilima, Vicky Holt Takamine (Kanaka Maoli) and Jeffrey Kānekaiwilani Takamine (Kanaka Maoli)

8:00 - 9:00 pm EDT We the Peoples Before Short Films Screening and Discussion
A screening of six short films by women directors followed by a discussion with the filmmakers (see above).

CREATIVITY

Sonic Storytelling, Augmented Reality, One-Person Museum Exhibitions

imagineNATIVE iNdigital
Every year for National Indigenous History Month, imagineNATIVE puts together a series of public programs throughout June. This year includes FLOW, new audio works launched each Sunday in the iNdigital Space that connect listeners to bodies of water, geographies through sonic storytelling. Previously launched works have been by Suzanne Morrisette, Casey Koyzen, Marc Fudding-Rossbach, and Tom McLeod.

Sunday, June 26

Pamela Palmater. An award-winning podcaster, who produces and hosts the Warrior Life podcast and the Warriors Kids podcast. Pam is also a lawyer and professor who has won many awards for her community-based work in relation to Indigenous rights, human rights, social justice, and climate action. 

Laura Ortman. A soloist musician, composer and vibrant collaborator, Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) creates across multiple platforms, including recorded albums, live performances, and filmic and artistic soundtracks

McKnight Media Arts Fellows 2020-2021

Each year four Minnesota artists are selected as McKnight Media Arts Fellows. Join us for a unique evening of film clips and conversation as Pablo de Ocampo, the Walker’s Director and Curator of Moving Image, sits down with the four 2020–2021 fellows, who share their work and reflect upon their experiences as recipients of this prestigious award. Also online is Missy Whiteman’s The Coyote Way X: Expanded Cinema Experience, a continuation of a Sundance Native Lab supported project, The Coyote Way: Going Back Home. Use the QR code to access this work.

Athena LaTocha: Mesabi Redux

June 10 - December 25. In-person at MoCNA/Museum of Contemporary Native Art in Santa Fe,

Athena La Tocha (Lakota, Ojibwe) created the works in her Mesabi series on-site at iron deposits in the Mesabi Mountain Range of northern Minnesota, which is known to the local Ojibwe as Misaabe-waiiw, "Gian Mountain" or "Sleeping Giant."  The range is the site of the world's third-largest open-pit iron ore mine.  La Tocha casts iron reliefs during a month long residency, coordinated by the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids and supported by the Minnesota Museum of Mining in Chisholm, where iron mining started in the 1880s and continues today. As part of her process, LaTocha works within the traditional homelands of her Lakota and Ojibwe ancestors, and considers the impact of mining has on nature, society and culture.

Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe

March 11 - September 11. In-person at NMAI in New York

Showcasing the work of one of the twentieth centurys most innovative Native American painters, Oscar Howe (1915-1983). He committed his artistic career to the preservation, relevance, and ongoing expression os his Yanktonai Dakota culture, demonstrating that art can be simultaneously modern and embedded in customary culture and aesthetics. Developed in collaboration with the Portland Art Museum (PAM) and curated by Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo), PAM’s curator of Native American art, Dakota Modern traces more than forty years of the artist’s career. This exhibition will be on view at the Portland Art Museum, October 29, 2022–May 14, 2023, and at the South Dakota Art Museum at South Dakota State University, June 10, 2023–September 17, 2023.

TALKING ABOUT

Oscar Howe Panel Discussion

June 23, 1 pm - 3 pm EDT. Free. In-person at NMAI in New York

The curators of the New York museum’s newest exhibition, Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe, discuss one of the twentieth century’s most innovative Native American painters. Oscar Howe (1915–1983) committed his artistic career to the preservation, relevance, and ongoing expression of his Yanktonai Dakota culture. The panelists have each organized exhibitions and written extensively on such artists as Kay WalkingStick, Jeffrey Gibson, Marie Watt, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Fritz Scholder, Edgar Heap of Birds, and Virgil Ortiz.

Panelists

  • Kathleen Ash-Milby, (Navajo), curator of Native American Art, Portland Art Museum
  • John Lukavic, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Native Arts, Denver Art Museum
  • Bill Anthes, author, Native Moderns: American Indian Painting, 1940-1960

Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University
"Tales of Sweetgrass & Trees"

Online discussion

Speakers

  • Robin Wall Kimmerer (Citizen Potawatomi) is the author of the prize-winning Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants and Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses..
  • Richard Powers is the author of twelve novels, most recently The Overstory. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Book Award, and he has been a Pulitzer Prize and four-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.
  • Moderator: Terry Tempest Williams is the author of numerous books, including the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.

AWARDS AND HONORS

Chicken & Egg
2022 Project: Hatched Award - Finalist

Powerlands (director : Ivey Camille Manybeads Tso (Diné). Producers: Jordan Flaherty, Emily Faye Ratner, Ewa Iasiewicz) was named a Finalist and will receive a $15,000 grant. In Powerlands she investigates the global displacement of Indigenous people and the environmental devastation by corporations of her own Native lands.

James Beard Awards 
Owamni by the Sioux Chef

This year the prestigious James Beard Foundation awards for professional culinary excellence named Owamni by the Sioux Chef in Minneapolis as Best New Restaurant. Visit the website, which is in Dakota and English, and offers customers the chance to “experience the true flavors of North America, featuring foods of Mni Sota Makoce, Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds. On July 2 the Sioux Chef, Sean Sherman, will be demonstrating at We the Peoples Before in Washington, DC. Watch video here.

Native American Media Alliance

The Native American Media Alliance (NAMA) advocates for Native American representation in the entertainment industry and is a project of the Barcid Foundation.

Native American Writers Accelerator Lab 

In partnership with Netflix, the Native American Writers Accelerator Lab is the newest program of NAMA, part of the recently announced Netflix Fund for Creative Equity. Netflix will invest $100 million over the next five years in a combination of external organizations with a strong track record of setting up underrepresented communities for success in the TV and film industries, as well as programs that will help identify, train and provide job placement for up- and-coming creatives globally.

Lab Fellows are

  • Alex Nystrom (Chippewa)
  • Andrina Smith (Shinnecock)
  • Diego Moreno (Pascua Yaqui)
  • Glenis Hunter (Black, Latinx, Shinnecock)
  • Jeremy Charles (Cherokee)
  • JohnTom Knight (Cherokee)
  • Liz Stephens (Choctaw)
  • Shelby Ramirez (Diné)

Native American Writers Seminar Fellows

In partnership with the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Warner Bros. Discovery Access NAMA has selected fellows for the Writers Seminar. The Seminar is a month-long intensive that provides new access for Native American writers interested in breaking into writing for film and television. Professional coaches and successful writers will provide insights into career development and new writing opportunities.

  • Rory Crittenden (Cherokee), independent filmmaker
  • Gina East (Isleta Pueblo), writer and filmmaker
  • Joshua Emerson (Navajo), comedian, writer, actor
  • Michelle Hernandez (Wiyot, Latina), filmmaker
  • Kyle Leonard (Navajo), freelance producer, ABC/Disney and FOX Studios
  • Vanessa Little (Cherokee), author, Little Voices
  • Stefan Perez (Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria), filmmaker
  • Sydney Leigh Soliz (Mashpee Wampanoag), filmmaker
  • Steven Tallas (Navajo), filmmaker, Rez Dogs
  • Rhiana Yazzie (Navajo), playwright, director, filmmaker-A Winter Love, Artistic Director-New Native Theatre

Film Independent - Documentary Lab Fellows

Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, also promotes Artist Development through numerous intensive labs, as well as through Grants and Awards that provide over one million dollars annually to visual storytellers. Fellows in this year’s Independent Documentary Lab include Jonathan Oshefski and Elizabeth Day and their film, Without Arrows. Filmed with vérité intimacy over the course of twelve years (2011–2022), this documentary chronicles the choices, events and relationships that shape a Lakota family’s legacy.

Sundance Institute

For more information search for specific awards on the Sundance Blog page here.

Momentum Fellowship

For the fourth Momentum Fellowship, supporting professional development for mid-career artists from historically marginalized communities, Sundance Institute has selected 8 fellows, including Indigenous directors Ciara Lacy(Native Hawaiian) and Billy Luther (Navajo, Hopi, Laguna Pueblo). The Fellows will participate in a full-year program tailored for each by Sundance Institute staffers, receiving access to unrestricted grant funding, as well as industry mentorship and meetings, a writing intensive, and professional coaching Additionally, as part of the Sundance Institute’s ongoing partnership with NBCUniversal, the studio will provide an opportunity for select Momentum fellows working on fiction projects to participate in the Universal Directors Initiative. The two-year, at-will initiative, led by Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion team, provides access to NBCUniversal’s creative executives and producers to build career momentum and exposure to potential directing opportunities across the company’s portfolio.

Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Sundance’s new Humanities Sustainability Fellowship is a year-long program providing 20 U.S.-based under-resourced nonfiction media makers whose work and livelihood have been grossly affected by the pandemic with direct, unrestricted stipends to supplement their income. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), each Fellow will receive $60,000 in installments over the course of 12 months, along with the support from paid humanities advisors who will guide through the granting term (April 2022–March 2023) with mentorship, project advice, and other tailored non-financial support to deepen the humanities content and approach of the work. Fellows will also be offered professional development opportunities throughout the term, including a Creator+ Collab membership. Indigenous Fellows selected are

Zack Khalil is a filmmaker and artist from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, currently based in Brooklyn, NY. His work centers indigenous narratives in the present—and looks towards the future—through the use of innovative nonfiction forms. He is a core contributor to New Red Order, a public-secret society dedicated to expanding Indigenous agency. Tsanavi Spoonhunter is a Northern Arapaho and Northern Paiute nonfiction film director, producer and writer. Spoonhunter holds a Master of Journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on documentary film. She is a 2022 Sundance Institute Humanities Sustainability Fellow, First People’s Fund Fellow and SFFilm FilmHouse Resident.

Screenwriters Intensive

Sundance has selected 13 creatives from historically marginalized communities to develop their first fiction features under the guidance of established writiers and the Institute’s Feature Film Program, led by Michelle Satter. Tommy Pico (Kumeyaay), writer (Reservation Dogs, Resident Alien, poetry collection Nature Poem), and Tazbah Rose Chavez (Bishop Paiute Tribe), director (Reservation Dogs, Rutherford Falls, Resident Alien), were selected with their project Sometimes. Tommy is a “sometimes” person: sometimes Brooklyn, sometimes rez, but never both. When his best friend becomes a punk singer, a dream Tommy wanted for himself, his identities begin to overlap against a backdrop of punk music, ceremony, and the ghost of an ex he killed on the rez.

Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellows

The eight recipients of the fellowship work across disciplines and stand out for their boundary-pushing work in fiction, documentary and episodic filmmaking. They will receive support throughout the year: mentorship from the Sundance Institute and Adobe executives, referrals to career development opportunities, coaching, and a cash grant. Each Fellow has already participated in a Sundance Institute Lab or program relevant to their career path. Among the fellows is Miciana Hutcherson (Tlingit) whose feature script, Nancy Girls, led to Sundance Institute Indigenous Program Fellowships in 2019 and 2021. Her second feature, Fancy Dance (co-writer) won awards and was featured on the 2021 Indigenous List hosted by The Black List and the 2022 Scripted Cannes Screenplay List.

New ICT logo