The Best Native Films (by or about Indigenous Peoples)

In best indigenous films, best Native American films, Native movies by Adrienne K.17 Comments

After my Dances with Wolves post, I held an informal poll over on the Native Appropriations Facebook page (are you a fan? you should be!) of the best Native films. I think the resulting list is a nice mix of documentary, comedy, and drama, and brings in some international perspectives as well. Let me know what you think. Here, in no particular order, are the films recommended by Facebook readers, with links, director, and year!

    I realize that some of these are made for TV movies, some are film festival picks, and some are just plain hard to track down. But try checking libraries, film institutes, etc. If anyone has resources, ways to get a hold of any of these films, or has any to add to the list, please put links in the comments.

    DISCLAIMER: I haven’t seen all of these films, so I can’t vouch for the whole list, but I trust my readers!

    • I would like to add “Turquoise Rose”, “Black Cloud”, “Blue Gap Boyz”, and “Skins” to your list.

    • Oh!…and “Christmas in the Clouds”. This was a cute romantic comedy.

    • As the twenty-year anniversary of the beginning of the Oka standoff in Quebec just passed, I’d like to add Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (you can view it online and in full at that link).

    • S

      I liked War Party. Also, Black Cloud should be added to this list. :)

    • The Necessities of Life, and the Journals of Knud Rasmussen are not about Lakota’s or plains people; as so many movies seem to be, but are films that should be seen.

    • Rob

      You should call the “Skinwalkers series” the “Tony Hillerman series” or “Leaphorn/Chee series” instead. “Skinwalkers” was merely one of the three films in the series.

      Also, you have “Follow Me Home” linked to “The Fast Runner’s” page.

    • As someone who doesn’t know much of Native American culture (nor other native cultures), it’s interesting to see a list of films such as this.
      Instead of showing only what’s WRONG, it’s great to see posts on how to make it RIGHT.
      Cheers from Brazil :)

    • Smoke Signals is my favorite movie by far. I watch it several times a year. I really enjoyed watching Dance Me Outside. And of course, I love Powwow Highway.

    • Thank you so much. I’ve only seen a handful of these. I look forward to watching more!

    • Ten Canoes
      Big Bear (if you can get over the bad wig worn by Gordon Tootoosis)

    • ‘Once Were Warriors’ has a sequel movie titled ‘What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted’.

      There is a totally offensive animated satirical show called ‘Bro-Town’. Imagine a Samoan Southpark based in New Zealand. Some of it is cringeworthy, some of it is hilarious. It takes the mickey out of several films with Maori casts (‘Once Were Warriors, ‘Whale Rider’ etc)I think they played it on the Indigenous network in Canada???

    • One of my favorite movies from Australia is titled ‘Radiance’. Orignally a play written by an Anglo-Australian, I really enjoyed that it was a movie about three interesting sister’s who just happened to be Indigenous, characters rather than carictures as I commonly express :) The director, an Indigenous sister, in the bonus features mentions that was the reason se was drawn to the film. The film does touch on the stolen generation amongst other issues but is ultimately about family.

      I also have on my pile to watch a road movie called ‘Beneath Clouds’ which tackles being cross-cultural (Indigenous and Irish) and ‘passing’. Australian Indigenous directors to google are Rachel Perkins, Tracy Moffat, Ivan Seth etc

    • Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, Ten Canoes, Reel Injun…

      Thanks for the list :)

    • Love Sherman Alexie’s books, loved Smoke Signals. The first time I felt native pride well up from the soles of my feet to my brain was when my grandparents took me to a PowWow at Chemawa, in Salem, Oregon. Until then, I only understood that my family were native, and my grandparents friends were natives, and they worked their whole lives in the native community. (what a stark contrast the summers I did not spend with my grandparents and lived around the world with my father who was in the Army, a graduate of West Point)

    • I’m late to this post but THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! This list is fantastic. <3 Smoke Signals haha

    • From Australia

      Samson and Delilah is the best movie I saw, bar none, in 2009.
      Ten Canoes is fantastic.
      Rabbit Proof Fence is also worth a look.
      Babakiueria is poorly made but a very funny inversion of colonialism.

    • Another one from NZ is Boy. It’s a crack up film, that came out quite recently.