Native American Documentaries

nativeamNative American Heritage Month
Selection of the best Native American documentaries available to watch on Kanopy now.
(Or go to our Films on Demand collections to find more)

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.

Beyond Recognition - Women Preserving Native Culture

After decades struggling to protect her ancestors' burial places, now engulfed by San Francisco's sprawl, a Native woman from a federally unrecognized tribe and her allies occupy a development site to protect sacred ground. When this fails, they vow to follow a new path: establish the first women-led urban Indigenous land trust

Our Spirits Don't Speak English

Examines the educational system that was designed to "destroy Indian culture and tribal unity." Introduced by August Schellenberg, the film provides a candid look at the Indian Boarding School system 1879 through the1960s.
Reel Injun

An insightful look at the Hollywood Indian, exploring the portrayal of North American Natives through the history of cinema. Travelling through the heartland of America, filmmaker Neil Diamond looks at how the myth of “the Injun” has influenced the world’s understanding – and misunderstanding – of Natives.

The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy

The Trail of Tears Cherokee Legacy, narrated by James Earl Jones and featuring Wes Studi, explores one of America's darkest periods. After the Louisiana Territory was purchased in 1803, the US Government adopted a policy to move Indians west of the Mississippi to allow for white settlers to take over the eastern lands.

Power Paths: Native Americans fight for Green Power

An inspiring documentary about how Native American communities across the West are leading the transition to alternative energy sources. 10% of America’s energy comes from Native American lands, including a third of the U.S. coal deposits and hydroelectric dams. These coal mines and plants brought jobs, but they also brought pollution, and cancer.

Carved from the Heart

Carved from the Heart intertwines the process of carving and erecting the Healing Heart totem pole with the participants' stories of personal loss, grief, substance abuse, suicide and violence. This powerful film explores questions of death and dying, family relationships and parenting, and the impact of the war in Vietnam on veterans and their families.