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8 Films to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month

November marks National Native American Heritage Month! Join us in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of the original inhabitants of this land. According to the National Park Services, “the history, traditions, and culture of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians are part of every national park [and communities across the country] today.” This month, and every month, we celebrate these remarkable indigenous Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our Nation.

In celebration, here are a few films available at the J. Willard Marriott Library recommended by Joni Clayton.

Film recommendations:


This film documents the work of the first government-sanctioned truth and reconciliation commission in the US as members travel across Maine, gathering testimony on the impact of the state’s child welfare practices of removing children from Wabanaki families and placing them in white family foster home.

Full Circle

In the summer of 2001, under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a totem pole in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University was returned to its original owners’ ancestors, a Tlingit community in Southeast Alaska.  The journey of the pole began a hundred years ago when it was removed by the Harriman Expedition.

Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience

This compelling documentary invites viewers into the lives of contemporary Native Americans.  It dispels the myth that American Indians have disappeared from the American horizon and reveals how they continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make significant contributions to society.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

This revelatory documentary brings to light the profound and overlooked influence of Indigenous people on popular music in North America.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me

The directorial debut of Academy Award Winning director, Chloé Zhao. A compelling and complex portrait of modern day life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that explores the bond between a brother and his younger sister, who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the meaning of home.

True Whispers: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers

The stories of the young Navajo men who were recruited from harsh government boarding schools into the Marines during World War II.  The Code Talkers devised an unbreakable code in their native language and transmitted vital messages in the midst of combat against the Japanese.

Unconquered: Allan Houser and the Legacy of One Apache Family  

This program depicts Alan Houser’s tribal ancestry, his rise to regional and national acclaim, and the continuing success of his sons as they expand upon and depart from their father’s achievements.

Words from a Bear (N. Scott Momaday – American Masters)

When N. Scott Momaday won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize, it marked one of the first major acknowledgments of Native American Literature and culture.  Momaday’s words come to life in this biography of a celebrated Native American storyteller.

Statement on Native American Heritage Month from the University of Utah American Indian Resource Center

November is designated as Native American Heritage Month. This was formally designated in 1990 by President George W.H. Bush through joint resolution. The University of Utah and the American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) at the University of Utah honors the remarkable contributions made by Native Americans every month and have established an acknowledge of the original occupants of this precious land.

The University and AIRC also recognize the eight federally recognized tribal nations of Utah and the 574 federally recognized nations of the United States for the contributions they have made in the past and continue to make today.

Throughout the month of November the AIRC and partners across the University of Utah will collaborate to bring awareness and understanding around the historical and contemporary issues, rich culture, traditions, history and the many contributions Native American and Alaska Natives have provided to the world. We also wish to acknowledge the many exceptional Native American students and leaders on campus.

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