What’s on PBS? More Native programs

During the American Indian Movement, mothers and daughters like Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcy Gilbert fought for indigenous rights, protecting families and their way of life.

Vincent Schilling

Native American Heritage Month programming includes ‘Without a Whisper: Konnon:Kwe,’ ‘The Warrior Tradition,’ 'Warrior Women' ‘The People’s Protectors,’ and the KCET series ‘Tending Nature’

Vincent Schilling
Indian Country Today

PBS stations and the World Channel have both recently announced that KCET in Southern California (PBS SoCal) in partnership with Link TV, and the World Channel, in partnership with Vision Maker Media — have listed a specific series of programs honoring Native American Heritage Month in November.

Native programs starting this month on KCET will include “Without a Whisper: Konnon:Kwe,” “The Warrior Tradition,” “The People’s Protectors,” and the original series “Tending Nature.”

The World Channel will broadcast and stream more than 40 films showcasing a part of American culture that is often overlooked and real-life stories of Indigenous men and women, according to the joint news release.

Programming will also include a special Veterans Day presentation of the films “The People’s Protectors” and “Choctaw Code Talkers,” spotlighting the stories of Native American veterans. On Tuesday, November 17, the World Channel will host a special live panel discussion called, "Tribal Sovereignty and Home."

KCET

KCET’s “Tending Nature” is a series produced in partnership with the Autry Museum of the American Indian, and showcases the history of Indigenous peoples across the state of California, who have had a relationship with the land and animals for countless generations.

“Tending Nature” series trailer

Anna Rau, the producer and director of “Tending Nature,” told Indian Country Today in an email that she and fellow Emmy-winning producer Corbett Jones, felt “It was incredible to be welcomed so warmly into so many communities. We made many friends that we regularly keep in touch with still.”

Rau and Jones, traveled across the entire state, “just ourselves and our jeep on the road traveling across California from top to bottom,” said Rau.

“Indigenous people and stories are wildly underrepresented across the board today,” continued Rau. “It was an honor to be invited into so many communities to learn about their lives, traditions, and histories, and it was heartbreaking to have so many people respond to our tales from the road with disbelief that Indigenous people were still around. Revisionist history has forced false narratives upon Indigenous people since colonization and we are far past due to remedy this by prioritizing Indigenous voices.”

“The Indigenous presence throughout the Black Lives Matter movement is an excellent example of how profoundly the Indigenous community shows up for others. We owe them the same recognition, support, and amplification.”

Jones added to Rau’s sentiment. “There is a rich diversity of thought, perspective and history within Indian Country and that is absolutely missing from who, what, and how the media covers Indigenous peoples. Erasure has convinced society that the American Indian is all but gone and that those who remain are a homogenous group - which couldn’t be farther from the truth. When first peoples are talked about the conversation is often centered on the tragedy of colonization instead of the profound resilience and achievements of Indigenous communities.”

“Indigenous knowledge, and traditional ecological knowledge, are essential to the health of our planet and our continued survival,” says Rau. Understanding the fundamental interwoven relationship between all things - human, animal, or earth - is the only way out of our current crises. Understanding that our environment directly impacts our physical and mental health is the foundation of any possible future success.”

Jones said, “A more intimate understanding of our environment, and our connection to it, is crucial to building the necessary respect for both ourselves and others.”

The World Channel

World Channel

World Channel on PBS worked in partnership with Vision Maker Media to create November’s programming.

“In this time of racial reckoning, we want to acknowledge, embrace and raise up the many voices of Indigenous communities through story and celebrate the long history of a people who have overcome many struggles but who continue to fight for equality in America today,” said Chris Hastings, executive producer of WORLD Channel at GBH in Boston in a release.

“Together with our partners at Vision Maker Media, we want to remind America that the voices of Native Americans must be heard, as they are part of the fabric and the history of a transforming and diverse America.”

“We’re excited to combine efforts with WORLD to elevate Indigenous voices and stories in celebration of Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Now more than ever, we need our communities, and it’s through stories that we come together. November is an opportunity to educate the world about Native American history and culture, and bring Native storytellers to the forefront of the conversation,” said Francene Blythe-Lewis, executive director of Vision Maker Media on the World Channel website.

Programs for Native American Heritage Month on the World Channel:

(See program or local PBS affiliate websites for listings in your region)

Blood Memory (America Reframed)
Tuesday, November 17th, at 8:00 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel

Sandy White Hawk in 'Blood Memory' by Drew Nicholas (Courtesy image)
Sandy White Hawk in 'Blood Memory' by Drew Nicholas (Courtesy image)

For Sandy White Hawk, the story of America’s Indian Adoption Era is not one of saving children but of destroying families and tribes. As an adoption survivor, Sandy sets out to reclaim the missing pieces of her stolen past and discovers that hers was not an isolated case. Blood Memory explores the communal healing that is sparked by the return of this stolen generation, as Sandy helps organize the first annual Welcome Home Ceremony in the community from which she was removed more than 60 years ago.

The Blessing: (America Reframed)
Tuesday, November 24th, at 8:00 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel

Navajo coal miner, Lawrence, raises his secretive daughter as a single father, while struggling with his part in the irreversible destruction of his tribe’s sacred mountain. Meanwhile, his daughter Caitlin searches for her inner identity amidst the expectations of her traditional father. A character-driven film captured over the course of five years, The Blessing brings the search for acceptance through this poetic social and environmental story on the Navajo Nation.

Warrior Women:
Friday, November 13th, at 7:00 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel

During the American Indian Movement, mothers and daughters like Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcy Gilbert fought for indigenous rights, protecting families and their way of life. Warrior Women explores what it means to balance a movement with motherhood as the activist legacy is passed down from generation to generation in the face of a government that has continually met native resistance with violence.

Local, USA Mayors of Shiprock:
Airs Tuesday, November 3rd, at 9:00 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel

Meet THE MAYORS OF SHIPROCK – that’s what some people call The Northern Diné Youth Committee. These young Navajo leaders meet every week to learn about their Native culture, discuss community improvements, and work to bridge divides within their community. Some on the reservation say they don’t have the traditional knowledge and language needed to be real leaders…but the mayors are not stopping.

Code Talkers:

In 1918, not considered citizens of the U.S., Choctaw members of the U.S. American Expeditionary Forces were asked to use their native language as a powerful tool against the German Forces in World War I, setting a precedent for code talking as an effective military weapon and establishing them as America's original Code Talkers.

The People’s Protectors:

Four Native American veterans reflect on their experiences in the military during the controversial Vietnam War and how their communities helped them carry their warrior legacy proudly. From the Marine Corps to the Navy to the U.S. Army, veterans Valerie Barber, Art Owen, Sandy White Hawk, Vince Beyl and civilian eyapaha (announcer) Jerry Dearly recall their memories of one of the most contentious wars in United States history.

Programs for Native American Heritage Month on KCET:

(See program or local PBS affiliate websites for listings in your region - links added to tiles below - descriptions of programs provided by KCET)

Moroni for President” (America Reframed)
Fri., Nov. 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV

Every four years, the Navajo Nation elects its president, whom many consider the most powerful Native American in the country. Frustrated about the lack of progress in the reservation, Moroni Benally, a witty academic LGBTQ candidate with radical ideas, hopes to defeat the incumbent president. The film follows the political newcomer's grueling, lonely campaign.

Without a Whisper: Konnon:Kwe” (Independent Lens)
Sat. Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. on KCET, Mon., Nov. 23 at 11:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal)

The untold story of how Indigenous women influenced the early suffragists in their fight for freedom and equality. Mohawk Clan mother Louise Herne and professor Sally Roesch Wagner join forces on a journey to shed light on the influence Haudenosaunee Women had on the women’s rights movement, changing the historical narrative forever.

Conscience Point
Sat. Nov. 7 at 11 p.m. on KCET

A golf club built atop a sacred burial ground triggers a woman's relentless fight to protect her tribe from the onslaughts of develop.m.ent.

Tending Nature
Episode: “Guarding Ancestral Grounds with the Wiyot”
Sun., Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. PT on KCET, Mon., Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Wed., Nov. 11 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV nationwide

The Wiyot tribe from present-day Humboldt County has fought a long and hard battle for recognition and restored access to their land, including regaining ownership of traditional ceremonial grounds on Tululwat, an island in Arcata Bay. When leading energy developer, Terra-Gen, proposed a large wind project on a spiritual and gathering area, the Wiyot opposed the greater ecological disruption that the project would deliver and rallied the community to defeat it.

The Warrior Tradition
Tues., Nov. 10 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal

The Warrior Tradition

The astonishing, heartbreaking, inspiring, and largely-untold story of Native Americans in the United States military. The film relates the stories of Native American warriors from their own points of view – stories of service and pain, of courage and fear.

See related stories: 
‘Why did you fight in a white man’s war?’  
Native veterans talk about PBS's ‘The Warrior Tradition’ and their stories 

Dawnland” (Independent Lens)
Sat., Nov. 14 at 11 p.m. on KCET

See how a group of Native and non-Native leaders in Maine came together to acknowledge and address the abuses suffered by Native children in the hands of the child welfare system, illuminating the ongoing crisis of indigenous child removal.

Tending Nature
Episode: “Preserving the Desert with NALC”
Sun., Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. PT on KCET, Mon., Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Mon., Nov. 16 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV nationwide

Native peoples have long lived in the desert and their understanding of the desert’s fragility has made them one of the region’s most outspoken protectors. Today, a collaborative group of desert tribes, concerned citizens and funders have formed the Native American Land Conservancy whose central goal is to acquire, preserve and protect Native American sacred lands through protective land management, educational programs and scientific study.

The People’s Protectors
Tues., Nov. 17 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal

Four Native American veterans reflect on their experiences in the military during the divisive Vietnam War. From the Marine Corps to the Navy to the US Army, veterans Valerie Barber, Art Owen, Sandy White Hawk, Vince Beyl and civilian eyapaha (announcer) Jerry Dearly recall their memories of one of the most controversial wars in United States history.

Blood Memory” (America Reframed)
Fri., Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV

Battles over blood quantum and ‘best interests’ resurface the untold history of America’s Indian Adoption Era – a time when nearly one-third of children were removed from tribal communities nationwide. As political scrutiny over Indian child welfare intensifies, an adoption survivor helps others find their way home through song and ceremony.

“La Loche”
Sun., Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. PT on KCET and Tues., Nov. 24 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal

In January 2016, a school shooting in the remote Canadian aboriginal community of La Loche, Saskatchewan took the lives of four students and injured seven others. In the aftermath, a caring teacher, worried about eight boys directly affected by the shooting, contacted a TV celebrity the students admired (Survivorman star Les Stroud). The film follows Stroud, the eight young Dene men, and several community and school elders on a wilderness adventure, in which they canoe down a 100-mile river path that their ancestors used to traverse. With one camera, a paddle and a desire to help, Stroud uses this trek to encourage the young men to open up and tell their own stories.

Tending Nature
Episode: “Reclaiming Agriculture with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation”
Sun., Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. PT on KCET, Mon., Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Wed., Nov. 25 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV nationwide

For the Yocha Dehe people, who have lived in California’s Capay Valley for more than 15,000 years, local food production and deep knowledge of plant diversity sustained them for millennia. Using olives, a fruit of Spanish colonization, the Yocha Dehe people are combining ecological knowledge with modern science to rethink community-centered agri-business using sustainability practices that include high-efficiency irrigation.

The Blessing” (America Reframed)
Fri., Nov. 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV

The film follows a Navajo coal miner raising his secretive daughter as a single father, struggling with his part in the irreversible destruction of their sacred mountain at the hands of America's largest coal producer.

Tending Nature
Episode: “Cultivating Native Foodways with the Cultural Conservancy”
Sun., Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m. PT on KCET and Wed., Dec. 2 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV nationwide

The commodification of food has led to a bottom-line approach that has disconnected people from their food sources entirely, as modern, genetically modified foods put seed diversity at great risk. The Cultural Conservancy, an inter-tribal organization headquartered on Ohlone land in modern-day San Francisco, is revitalizing indigenous knowledge by inviting people to re-engage with the land, honor heirloom seeds, grow clean food and medicines, and decolonize their foodways.

Join KCET on social media using #TendingNature and #NAHM

Join the World Channel on social media using #MyHomeIsHere.

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Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is associate editor of Indian Country Today. He enjoys creating media, technology, computers, comics and movies. He is a film critic and writes the #NativeNerd column. Twitter @VinceSchilling. Email: vschilling@indiancountrytoday.com.

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