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The 10 Best Native American Movies That Everyone Should Watch

Crooked Arrows (2012): A story centered on a Native American lacrosse team making its way through a prep school league tournament.

Regarding films delving into Native American culture and history, many options exist for discerning viewers. The following compilation enumerates the ten most noteworthy cinematic portrayals of Native American narratives, offering essential insights that warrant the attention of all enthusiasts. From comedy to drama to historical epics, these movies have it all and are sure to leave a lasting impression.

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Smoke Signals (1998)

Adam Beach and Evan Adams play two Native American friends in Chris Eyre’s film Smoke Signals. Their voyage of self-exploration traverses from the Coeur d’Alene reservation in Idaho to the arid landscapes of Arizona. This cinematic masterpiece, an exemplary portrayal of the quotidian, delves into the intricate interplays between Native American settlements and the external milieu. It’s an honest and often humorous exploration of the modern Native American experience, full of wit and wisdom.

Powwow Highway (1989)

Powwow Highway is the first feature-length film directed by Native American director Jonathan Wacks. This road movie stars A Martinez, Gary Farmer, Joanelle Romero, and Amanda Wyss as they set off on a cross-country journey in search of adventure and to visit their relatives. Along the way, the main characters discover the beauty of the surroundings, the strength of Native American culture, and the resiliency of the human spirit.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

The Last of the Mohicans, helmed by the gifted Michael Mann and featuring the stellar ensemble of Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, and Russell Means, stands as an enduring and exhilarating magnum opus of the cinematic realm. This cinematic masterpiece unfolds during the epoch of the French and Indian War, chronicling the tale of two assimilated Mohicans who find themselves entangled in the conflict while endeavoring to safeguard the daughter of a British soldier. This historical tale is jam-packed with action, romance, and violent combat sequences.

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2002)

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is a Canadian production directed by Zacharias Kunuk and starring Pakkak Innukshuk, Natar Ungalluruq, and Sylvia Ivalu. This film tells the tale of a young man who escapes a curse that has been placed on him and is based on an old Inuit folklore. This epic movie is visually stunning and full of real emotion, and it’s one of the most powerful films about Native American culture and the landscape of the Arctic.

Windtalkers (2002)

John Woo and stars Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach, and Peter Stormare direct Windtalkers. In this riveting war epic, immersed in the backdrop of World War II, we trail an assemblage of adept Native American Marines, bestowed with exceptional training, entrusted with the formidable mission of deciphering intricate Japanese messages. This captivating drama and action movie is packed with thrilling fighting scenes, and it offers a novel perspective on the largely unexplored Native Americans’ contributions to the war effort.

Skins (2002)

Skins is directed by Chris Eyre and stars Eric Schweig, Graham Greene, and Clark Johnson. The narrative of a troubled youngster caught between two worlds is told in this film, set in a contemporary Native American tribe. This critically acclaimed documentary offers a thought-provoking insight into the hardships encountered by many contemporary Native Americans. It is packed with strong drama and true devotion.

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

Rabbit-Proof Fence is set in 1930s Australia and follows the story of three Aboriginal girls who were taken from their families to be part of the government’s assimilation policy. Directed by Phillip Noyce, this powerful drama stars Everlyn Sampi, Laura Monaghan, Tianna Sansbury, and Kenneth Branagh. This movie is full of emotion and provides an important look at the struggles faced by this culture during that era.

The New World (2005)

The New World is an epic historical drama directed by Terrence Malick and starring Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher, and Christian Bale. The battle between European colonists and the Powhatan people at Jamestown is the subject of this film. This beautifully shot film provides an evocative look into the clash of cultures and the tragedy of the clash between such diverse beliefs and values.

Barking Water (2009)

Barking Water is written and directed by Sterlin Harjo and stars Elaine Miles, Casey Camp-Horinek, and Richard Ray Whitman. This subtle and moving movie tells the tale of a dying dad who makes one last trip to see his daughter. This is a tale of the power of family and offers a window into the life of modern Native Americans living on an Oklahoman reservation.

Crooked Arrows (2012)

Crooked Arrows is a 2012 sports drama directed by Steve Rash and stars Brandon Routh, Chelsea Ricketts, and Crystal Allen. The movie follows a Native American lacrosse team from a reservation that is trying to break a long streak of losing. Under the coaching of an inexperienced but determined member of the tribe, the team begins to come together and come to realize the importance of tradition and culture. As they go through the playoffs, they are forced to face their past and the legacy of their tribe in order to find a way to win.

These are the ten best Native American movies that everyone should watch. From comedies to dramas to historical epics, these films explore various Native American narrative themes. These films are bound to engender an indelible impact and offer unparalleled and significant insight into Native American culture and history.

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