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Native American Theme Movies

This list of movies somewhat presents  Native Americans and their culture.  While some of these movies provide an accurate account of the Native American lifestyle, some are horribly stereotyped. Suggestions to other films are welcome.

 

 

A Man Called Horse

A Man Called Horse

Made In 1970

In 1825 an English aristocrat is captured by Indians. He lives with them and begins to understand/accept their lifestyles. Eventually he is accepted as part of the tribe and becomes their leader.

Directed By 

Elliot Silverstein

 

 

Billy Jack

Billy Jack

Made In 1971

A half-Indian/half-white ex-Green Beret who is being more toward his Indian side. He hates violence, but can't get away from it in the white man's world. Pitting the the students of the peace-loving free-arts school in the desert vs. the conservative bad guys in the near-by town.

Directed By Tom Laughlin

 

 

Black Robe

Black Robe

Made In 1970

In the 17th century a Jesuit priest and young companion are escorted through the wilderness of Quebec by Algonquin Indians to find a mission in the dead of winter. The Jesuit experiences a spiritual journey while his young companion falls in love with the Algonquin chief's daughter underneath the imposing mountains. Dread and death follows them upriver.

Directed By

Bruce Beresford

 

Buffalo Bill and His Indians

Buffalo Bill and his Indians

Made In 1976

Buffalo Bill (Paul Newman) plans to put on his own Wild West sideshow, and Chief Sitting Bull has agreed to appear in it. However, Sitting Bull has his own hidden agenda, involving the President and General Custer.

Directed By

Robert Altman

 

 

Chato's Land

Chato's Land

Made In 1971

Indian Bronson plays noble savage, using extreme violence to protect himself and his property. 

 

Cheyenne Autumn

Cheyenne Autumn

Made In 1964

John Ford dramatized the plight of the Indian much more realistically and in a period when it was not popular to do so. In a class with Ulzana's Raid, this movie is a must. 

Directed By

John Ford

 

Cheyenne Warrior

Cheyenne Warrior

Made In 1994

During the Civil War, a pair of newlyweds travel west hoping to start their life together on unclaimed, fertile ground. En route, they face vicious outlaws and hostile Indians. When the young husband is murdered, his pregnant widow must brave life alone. Soon she discovers a dying Cheyenne warrior. Gentlewoman that she is, the mate-less woman takes him in and nurses him back to health. 

 

ClearCut

Clearcut

Made In 1991

A lawyer  loses an appeal to stop a logging company from clear-cutting Native American land, Arthur, an Indian militant drags him and the kidnapped logging mill manager into the forest. 

Directed By

Richard Bugajski

 

 

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse

Made In 1996

The true-story of Native American legend Crazy Horse is told in this made-for-cable movie. Michael Greyeyes stars as the Oglala Sioux warrior who battled for freedom against encroaching westward expansion and fought General Custer and his forces at Little Big Horn

Directed By

John Irvin

 

Cry Blood - Apache

Cry Blood - Apache

Made In 2001

A former prospector  looks back at his life and explains his brutal massacre of a tribe of Indians.

Directed By

Jack Starrett

 

Dance Me Outside

Dance Me Outside

Made In 1994

The lives of young Native Americans on a reservation are showcased in this often humorous youth-appeal drama about two teens and their thirst for revenge against a local hoodlum who murdered a native girl.

Directed By

Bruce McDonald (I)

 

Dances With Wolves

Dances With Wolves

Made In 1990

Lt. John Dunbar is dubbed a hero after he accidentally leads Union troops to a victory during the Civil War. He requests a position on the western frontier, but finds it deserted. He soon finds out he is not alone, but meets a wolf he dubs "Two-socks" and a curious Indian tribe. Dunbar quickly makes friends with the tribe, and discovers a white woman who was raised by the Indians. He gradually earns the respect of these native people, and sheds his white-man's ways.

Directed By

Kevin Costner

 

Geronimo

Geronimo

Made In 1993

An interesting perspective of how Geronimo, with 34 men, managed to elude 5000 U.S. cavalry men between 1885 and 1886 before his surrender at the Canyon of the Skeletons in September 1886.

Directed By

Walter Hill

 

Grand Avenue

Grand Avenue

Made In 1996

Three American Indian families attempt to retain their cultural heritage while trying to enter modern American society.
 

Directed By

Daniel Sackheim

 

Grayeagle

Grayeagle

Made In 1977

Directed by Charles Pierce

An adventure about a legendary Cheyenne Indian in 1848 Montana who kidnaps a trapper's daughter, triggering a relentless search and the revelation of unsuspected truths for both father and daughter.

 

Grey Owl

Grey Owl

Made In 1999

The true story of an aboriginal trapper and environmentalist in Canada in the 1930s.

 

I Will Fight No More Forever

I Will Fight No More Forever

Made In 1975

A chronicle of the war between the United States Army and the Nez Perce Indian Nation. Chief Joseph initially agrees to the terms offered by General Howard, and allows his tribe's land to be settled by white men. When Howard reneges, however, Joseph and his tribe go on the offensive, pursuing Howard's men all the way to Canada before the tribe can no longer stand the strains and horrors of war.

Directed By

Richard Heffron

 

Incident at Oglala - The Leonard Peltier Story

Incident at Oglala - The Leonard Peltier Story

Made In 1992

The controversial story of American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier, who in 1975 was convicted of the murder of two FBI agents and sentenced to life in prison. 

Directed By

Michael Apted

 

Lakota Woman - Siege at Wounded Knee

Lakota Woman

Made In 1994

Part of the television series "Native Americans," "Lakota Woman" is based on the memoirs of Mary Crow Dog. Mary grew up on an Indian reservation in South Dakota and was educated in a Catholic school without exposure to her cultural heritage. After a number of years drifting from one bad situation to another, Mary became an activist for Indian affairs and joined the American Indian Movement. The organization's (and Mary's) finest moment came with the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee, the site of Custer's slaughter of several hundred Native Americans in 1890. 

Directed By

Frank Pierson

 

Last Of His Tribe

The Last Of His Tribe

Made In 1992

This is a true story. It is more emotional than a soap opera and, yet, unflinchingly genuine.

Just as was depicted in this film, Ishii stumbled into a white man's barn near Oroville, California, in 1911. He later told Kroeber that he expected nothing but death. Graham Greene's portrayal of a soft-spoken primitive gentleman is delightful. Greene's Ishii speaks English only after a fashion.

If you have the time, look up Kroeber's story of Ishii in the "Handbook of California Indians".

Directed By

Harry Hook

 

Last Of The Dogmen

The Last Of The Dogmen

Made In 1995

A Montana bounty hunter is sent into the wilderness to track three escaped prisoners. Instead he sees something that puzzles him. Later with a female Native Indian history professor, he returns to find some answers.

Directed By

Tab Murphy

 

Last Of The Mohicans

The Last Of The Mohicans

Made In 1992

Three trappers protect a British Colonel's daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War.

 

Little Big Man

Little Big Man

Made In 1970

Jack Crabb is about 100 years old as the film begins. A collector of oral histories asks him about his past. He recounts being captured and raised by Indians, becoming a gunslinger, marrying an Indian, watching her killed by General George Armstrong Custer, and becoming a scout for him at Little Big Horn.

Directed By

Authur Penn

 

Medicine River

Medicine River

Made In 1993

When a Native American photojournalist returns to his reservation for his mother's funeral he discovers the strength of his background.

Directed By

Stuart Margolin

 

Naturally Native

Naturally Native

Made In 1998


Three Native American sisters decide to try to sell a line of cosmetics they call Naturally Native, based on old tribal remedies, only to have to fight an uphill battle with racist business people. 

Directed By

 

 

Powwow Highway

Pow Wow Highway

Made In 1989

"Pow Wow Highway" has the true spirit of independent film making as it pushes aside all the bells and whistles of Hollywood and cuts straight to the heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter in this film is a powerful narrative in the form of friendship and family.

Directed By

Johnathan Wacks

 

Shadow Of The Wolf

Shawdow Of The Wolf

Made In 1993

A young proud hunter flees the rigid code of tribal life with a young girl from his village. Tragedy strikes when he is accused of killing a white fur trader and must prove his innocence before he is killed by the white man

Directed By

Jacques Dorfman

 

Skins

Skins

Made In 2002

The story of Lakota Sioux tribal police officer Rudy Yellow Lodge (Schweig), and his older brother, Mogie (Greene), an alcoholic, and how their lives differ upon their return from serving in Vietnam.

Directed By

Chris Eyre

 

Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals

Made In 1998

Young Thomas is a nerd in his reservation, wearing oversize glasses and telling everyone stories no-one wants to here. His parents died in a fire in 1976, and Thomas was saved by Arnold. Arnold soon left his family (and his tough son Victor), and Victor hasn't seen his father for 10 years. When Victor hears Arnold has died, Thomas offers him funding for the trip to get Arnold's remains, but only if Thomas will also go with him. Thomas and Victor hit the road.

Directed By

Chris Eyre

 

Spirit Rider

Spirit Rider

Made In 1993

A 16-year-old Ojibway Indian boy goes to live with his grandfather on the reservation after being moved from one foster home to another. There he learns the value of family, community and friendship.

Directed By

Michael J.F. Scott

 

Tecumsch:  The Last Warrior

Tecumsch:  The Last Warrior

Made In 1995

The true story of the Shawnee warrior Tecumseh, who led several tribes of the Indian Nation into war with the U.S. government over land. Based on the book "Panther in the Sky" by James Alexander Thom.

Directed By

Larry Elikann

 

Tell Them Willie Boy Was Here

Tell Them Willie Boy Was Here

Made In 1969

A western classic based on the true story of a Pauite Indian, named Willie Boy, and his bride who become the objects of a manhunt after he kills his girlfriend's father in self defense, and the two go on the run, pursued by a search posse.

 

The Broken Chain

The Broken Chain

Made In 1993

While the Revolutionary War rages, two Iroquois brothers battle with settlers moving into new territory.

Directed By

Lamont Johnson

 

The Doe Boy

The Doe Boy

Made In 2001

Semi-autobiographical story of a boy caught between two cultures in rural Oklahoma. Hunter Kirk's mother is an Indian, and his father is white. If that isn't enough of a challenge, the boy is beset with hemophilia. But as he grows into manhood, Hunter refuses to let his handicap become a liability as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery and reaches out to his estranged father.

Directed By

Randy Redroad

 

The Education Of Little Tree

The Education Of Little Tree

Made In 1997

The story of 8-year-old Little Tree, an orphaned boy whose sojourn at his grandparents' backwoods Smoky Mountains cabin sparks a legacy of learning about his Cherokee roots and the oppressive government that seeks to assimilate him. Based on Forrest Carter's controversial novel.

 

The Fast Runner

The Fast Runner

Made In 2001

The telling of an Inuit legend of an evil spirit causing strife in the community and one warrior's endurance and battle of its menace.

 

The Song Of Hiawatha

The Song Of Hiawatha

Made In 1999

The Ojibway Indian leader faces many challenges in this adaptation of the epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

The Sunchaser

The Sunchaser

Made In 1996

A dying patient kidnaps a rich oncologist and takes him to a  legendary Navajo healing place while the manhunt closes in. Soon the men get closer in understanding and to the place that may save them both

Directed By

Michael Cimino

 

Thunderheart

Thunderheart

Made In 1992

An FBI man with Sioux background is sent to a reservation to help with a murder investigation, where he has to come to terms with his heritage. Slowly he rejects the intimidating tactics of his fellow FBI agents, who are not so interested in solving the crime as covering up an incriminating situation with the locals, and as he becomes more tuned to his heritage, the locals begin trusting him. Based on actual Reservation occurrences of the '70s.

Directed By

Michael Apted

 

 

War Party

War Party

Made In 1989

A group of re-enactors attempt to stage a hundred year anniversary battle between US Cavalry and Blackfeet Indians.

Directed By

Franc Roddam

 

 

Warrior Spirit

Warrior Spirit

Made In 1994

A wilderness adventure tale about a young man and his Native American friend who go on a search through the Yukon for a legendary gold treasure. When they encounter resistance from a hostile tribe, they must band together even closer to make it out alive.

 

Windtalkers

Windtalkers

Made In 2002

During WWII, the Navajo language was used for decoding top secret messages because it was a code that the Japanese did not have the resources to break. This movie plays upon the scenario that they might've tried to do something about that by kidnapping Navajo soldiers, . The military was aware of the danger to the Navajo soldiers, so they assigned a Marine to each as bodyguard, with the orders that if capture appears imminent, the Marine should kill the Navajo soldier as well. 

Directed By

John Woo

 

 

Windwalker

Windwalker

Made In 1980

American Indian life is depicted with careful attention paid to authenticity and detail in this fine film. A Cheyenne chief relates his life memories to his grandchildren.

 

Winterhawk

Windwalker

Made In 1976

Directed by Charles Pierce

A Blackfoot chief kidnaps two children after white men ignore his request for badly needed smallpox medicine.

 

 

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