Native American Heritage Month

Top Eight Native Film Picks

Not sure what to watch this November? These are Vision Maker Media's top picks for Native American Heritage Month 2019 with included educational resources. Check your local stations for playing times and streaming rights or visit visionmakermedia.org to rent/purchase.

Standing Bear's Footsteps

8. Standing Bear's Footsteps

In 1877, the Ponca people were exiled from their Nebraska homeland to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. To honor his dying son’s last wish to be buried in his homeland, Chief Standing Bear set-off on a grueling, 600-mile journey home. Captured en-route, Standing Bear sued a famous U.S. army general for his freedom.

Growing Native Series

7. Growing Native Series

Growing Native is a four-part series focusing on reclaiming traditional knowledge and food ways to address critical issues of health and wellness, the environment and human rights. Growing Native focuses on Tribes, stories and events from four geographic regions, including Alaska, Oklahoma, Northwest and Great Lakes. Across the country, Native people are regaining health and strength through the recovery and revitalization of traditional knowledge systems of land, language, traditional arts and health.

Racing the Rez

6. Racing the Rez

For Navajo and Hopi Tribes, running is more than a sport. The film moves beyond stereotypes of the past and present as two high school boys’ cross country teams--Tuba City and Chinle--compete for the state championship title.

Lake of Betrayal

5. Lake of Betrayal

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attempts to take their land to build Kinzua Dam, the Seneca people stand up to the government and prevailing political forces of the 1950s and 60s to save their culture, their sovereignty, and their way of life to preserve their future. This film explores the history of Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania and its impact on the Seneca Nation.



Wilma Mankiller was the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation,elected at a time when women faced considerable opposition to taking on leadership roles. During her time in office, she helped solidify the Cherokee Nation’s political structure, expanded economic opportunities, improved health care services, and reminded people of traditional roles for women that were more empowering than those that developed over many generations of involvement with colonialist and western societies.

Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian

3. Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian

This documentary follows Kate Beane, a young Dakota woman, as she examines the extraordinary life of her celebrated relative, Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa). Biography and journey come together as Kate traces Eastman’s path—from traditional Dakota boyhood, through education at Dartmouth College, and in later roles as physician, author, lecturer, and Native American advocate.

Medicine Woman

2. Medicine Woman

Medicine Woman interweaves the lives of Native American women healers of today with the story of America’s first Native doctor, Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915). The one-hour PBS documentary, produced by and about women, asks the pivotal question: What does it take to heal a people?

What Was Ours

1. What Was Ours

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.