Streaming Films for Indigenous Peoples Week

Indigenous Americans on the Big Screen

Champlain College is celebrating Indigenous People’s Week October 9-13, 2017. If you missed the screening of the documentary Reel Injun on Thursday, October 5, the film is available for Champlain students and employees to watch online via our Kanopy streaming service:

Reel Injun—On the Trail of the Hollywood “Indian”

With candid interviews with directors, writers, actors and activists, including Clint Eastwood, Jim Jarmusch, Robbie Robertson, Sacheen Littlefeather, John Trudell and Russell Means, clips from hundreds of classic and recent films, including Stagecoach, Little Big Man, The Outlaw Josey Wales, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Atanarjuat the Fast Runner, Reel Injun traces the evolution of cinema’s depiction of Native people from the silent film era to today. (description from Kanopy)


Dig Deeper—Additional Featured Titles

Kanopy is home to thousands of documentaries and independent films, including many focused on the diverse stories of indigenous peoples of North America. Just a few of the titles available include:

Barking Water

In his sophomore film, Sterlin Harjo takes viewers on a road trip through his own personal Oklahoma, which includes an eclectic mix of humanity. Irene and Frankie have a difficult past, but Frankie needs Irene to help him with one task. He needs to get out of the hospital and go home to his daughter and new grandbaby to make amends. Irene had been his one, true, on-again, off-again love until they parted ways for good. But to make up for the past, Irene agrees to help him in this trying time. Harjo wraps us in the charm and love of Oklahoma through the people and places Irene and Frankie visit along the way.  (description from film’s website via Wayback Machine)


The Cherokee Word for Water

Based on the true story of the Bell Waterline Project,  the feature film is set in the early 1980s in a rural Oklahoma Cherokee community where many houses lacked running water. Led by Wilma Mankiller (played by Kimberly Guerrero) and Cherokee organizer Charlie Soap (played by Mo Brings Plenty), the community of volunteers built nearly 20 miles of waterline to save their community. The successful completion of the waterline, using the traditional concept of gadugi — working together to solve a problem – led to Wilma’s election as Chief, Wilma and Charlie’s marriage and sparked a movement of similar self-help projects across the Cherokee Nation and in Indian Country that continues to this day. (description from the film’s website)


Our Spirits Don’t Speak English—Indian Boarding School

The film provides a candid look at the Indian Boarding School system starting in 1879 through the 1960s combining personal interviews with historical background. The philosophy of the Indian boarding school system was based on the concept of “kill the Indian and save the man”, as stated by Captain Richard Henry Pratt who was the founder of the Carlisle Indian School. The film combines a number of powerful personal interviews, including Andrew Windy Boy, along with historical narration to reflect the harrowing, and often untold, experience of so many. Grace Thorpe, daughter of Jim Thorpe, the famous Sauk and Fox athlete, closes the film with her last public interview. (description from Kanopy)


Language Healers—Native Americans Revitalizing Native Languages

Heenetiineyoo3eihiiho’ (Language Healers) is a documentary that tells the story of Native Americans who are striving to revitalize their languages. From Alaska to Oklahoma and Wisconsin to Montana, we witness stories about the importance of saving Native American languages and meet some of the people who are working hard to heal these national treasures. Language Healers is one of the first films to focus upon the work the broader Native community is doing now to revitalize their languages.


Sacred Stick — A History of Lacrosse and Native Americans

Sacred Stick examines the historical, cultural, and spiritual aspects of lacrosse. From the ancient Maya to the world famous Iroquois Nationals team, this program explores a uniquely Indigenous sport that, like Native peoples themselves, adapted and endured within the dominant culture. As lacrosse surges in popularity, it has now become the fastest growing sport in North America. But for Native peoples, it has always been and continues to be much more than a game. (description from Kanopy)


The Spirit of Annie Mae—A Native American Activist

Anna Marie Pictou-Aquash was a leading Native American political activist. A Mi’kmaw Indian born in Nova Scotia, she was killed execution-style on a desolate road in South Dakota in 1976, when she was only thirty years of age. The murderer(s) remain mystery. She was a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), a militant First Nations organization, and participated in the Wounded Knee uprising. This documentary chronicles the life of Pictou, including her efforts to obtain civil rights for aboriginal peoples and her poignant death. (description from Kanopy)


Up Heartbreak Hill

Up Heartbreak Hill chronicles the lives of three Native American teenagers in Navajo, New Mexico–Thomas, an elite runner; Tamara, an academic superstar; and Gabby, an aspiring photographer–as they navigate their senior year at a reservation high school. As graduation nears, they must decide whether or not to stay in their community-a place inextricably woven into the fiber of their beings-or leave in pursuit of opportunities elsewhere. (description from Kanopy)