Our recommendations for books, films and podcasts told from an Indigenous perspective

American history books are known to coat our nation’s past. (Think: The Thanksgiving Story.) Now, more and more Indigenous storytellers are sharing their experiences through books, movies and podcasts. They tell the stories of modern Indigenous communities still suffering from the effects of American colonialism.

The federal government officially recognizes 574 tribes. So our recs won’t give you all the details of each tribe’s experience. But they will offer a glimpse of a community that has been connected to the lands of the Americas for centuries – but rarely draws the attention of the general public to their views on that nation.

Psst…Parents: If you’re looking for a way to share the true story of Thanksgiving with your kids, This article might help.

Books

Amazon

“There there”

Tommy Orange – a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes – tells the story of 12 Native Americans from Oakland, California, who are caught in two cultural worlds. Each character is connected in a way that they know and don’t know. And struggle with issues like grief and sobriety, while dealing with the heavy tales of colonization. ($ 11.49 on Amazon)

Buy it

Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land Hardcover Toni JensenAmazon

“Carry: A memory of survival on a stolen land”

Métis author Toni Jensen’s memoir “Carry” shares her perspective of being an Indigenous woman through her experiences with gun violence. Jensen also examines the language used to talk about violence in the United States. She covers other topics such as opioids, fracking and trafficking, domestic and parental violence, and more. ($ 14.99 at Amazon)

Buy it

Dog Flowers: A Danielle Geller MemoryAmazon

“Dog flowers”

Another brief, but this one is from Danielle Geller, a member of the Navajo Nation. It starts with her mother, who dies of alcohol withdrawal in an attempt to get sober. Geller arrives at her mother’s house and begins to unpack her photos and diaries. Which leads her to the Navajo reservation to learn more about her family’s history. This dissertation analyzes mothering, care and the effects of colonization through the troubled past of the Geller family. ($ 18.89 on Amazon)

Buy it

Movies

“Adventurers of the night”

It is a dystopian science fiction film set in 2043. It is the first feature film by Cree / Métis director Danis Goulet. In the film, the post-war North American government forcibly separates Indigenous children from their parents. And places them in schools where they experience cultural genocide. Aka, they are brainwashed to forget their language and cultural norms. But a mother seeks to bring her daughter home and joins forces with the Night Raiders vigilante group. The film holds up a mirror to the recent discoveries of Indigenous bodies found in real North American schools across the continent.

How to watch: Youtube, Main video, itunes.

“The body remembers when the world opened up”

Blackfoot and Sami actress Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers made her directorial debut in this film about the chance meeting of two women. Inspired by a real encounter Tailfeathers had in Vancouver. In the film version, Áila, who has a stable and seemingly happy life, notices Rosie – a mom-to-be running away from her abusive boyfriend. Áila tries to help Rosie find refuge in a women’s shelter. They are both indigenous women from two different social classes. It is the story of the struggles that some young native people face today. And how difficult it can be to get help and overcome struggles reinforced by cultural stigmas and stories.

How to watch: Netflix

“Te Ata”

It’s a heartwarming family movie that can teach you something new too. “Te Ata” is based on the true story of Mary Thompson Fisher, an actress and citizen of the Chickasaw Nation in the 1930s. She is known for telling Native American stories. And played for President Franklin Roosevelt – twice. This is the true story of how she broke racial and cultural barriers to get there.

How to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

Psst… If you’re more into documentaries, here are a few recs you might want to check out.

Podcasts

Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo

In the show’s second season, investigative reporter Connie Walker follows the true story of the crime of Cleopatra Semaganis Nicotine. She is a young Cree girl who was taken away by child welfare workers in the 1970s. By making her a victim of the Sixties Scoop, a series of Canadian laws which allowed child welfare authorities to recover indigenous children and place them in foster homes for adoption by white families. Over time, Cleo’s family came to believe that she was raped and killed as she tried to hitchhike home in Saskatchewan, western Canada.

PS… Four in five Native American women have experienced violence in their lifetime. Learn more about this and what is being done to resolve the issue. here.

All my connections

Matika Wilbur (who is Swinomish and Tulalip) and Desi Small Rodriguez (who is Northern Cheyenne) explore what it means to be Indigenous. They talk about everything from food to sex and motherhood to the concept and story of Thanksgiving. And they bring in guests who offer a deeper insight into issues affecting Indigenous peoples. While getting rid of stereotypical ideas of Native Americans fixed by Hollywood. If you only have time for one episode, do it this one.

Métis in space

Métis hosts Molly Swain and Chelsea Vowel drink a bottle of wine and critique science fiction movies and TV shows from an Indigenous perspective. Including “Thor” and “Twin Peaks”. Those they examine present indigenous peoples or tropes and themes associated with them.

leSkimm

Thanksgiving reminds us that the story we have learned can be one-sided. Now we have the tools and access to information and stories that give a clearer picture of how the story actually unfolded. And how its effects have reverberated over time, leading to many modern struggles that don’t get enough attention.

Skimm’d by Kamini Ramdeen-Chowdhury and Maria McCallen


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