On December 14, 1915, Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, presented the White House with endorsements from 24 state governments for a day to honor Native Americans. It wasn’t until 1983, however, that the federal government took action, when President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 13 as American Indian Day. President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution declaring November as National American Indian Heritage Month in 1990. Now called National Native American Heritage Month, the month of November is spent commemorating Native Americans’ culture and history.
POV invites you to commemorate National Native American Heritage Month in your classroom or community with documentaries exploring Native American identity and culture. You can borrow full DVDs from our free Lending Library, or visit our Educators Page for access to standards-aligned lesson plans and streaming clips for use in the classroom. POV films span a range in topics from cultural preservation and tribal sovereignty to cultural taboos and exploring identity. Here are some recommended titles:
In the Light of Reverence is a beautifully rendered account of the struggles of the Lakota in the Black Hills, the Hopi in Arizona and the Wintu in California to protect their sacred site;
Standing Silent Nation, a film that explores what happens when federal agents raid a family’s industrial hemp farm, sweeping the Lakota Nation into a Byzantine struggle over tribal sovereignty, economic rights and common sense;
Sun Kissed, in which a Navajo couple uncovers a hidden link between their children’s rare genetic disorder and the American government’s conquest of their tribe, forever changing their lives; and
Up Heartbreak Hill, a sweeping story following two Native teens over the course of two years as they are torn between the lure of opportunities outside their remote reservation community and the cultural ties that bind them to home.