What to Watch: Indigenous Peoples' Day


Last updated October 5, 2022

Since 1934, the United States has celebrated Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of America, but the origins of the holiday, created by racial and religious politicking, have caused Americans to question why the explorer is honored while the Indigenous people who had been living on this land prior to his arrival are not.

As a result, many cities and states now recognize the former Columbus Day – the second Monday of October – as Indigenous Peoples' Day in order to rethink our perspective behind American holidays while celebrating Native American history and culture, paying tribute to Indigenous peoples and their contributions to our nation.

This Indigenous Peoples' Day, watch films about Native peoples and their unique experiences – exploring stories of life on and off the reservation, the healing powers of Native communities and the fight to preserve tribal lands.

In Their Element | Local, USA
Oct. 31 on TV, online & on the PBS app

IN THEIR ELEMENT spotlights Indigenous leaders rising up to meet the challenge of the climate crisis. The film features four communities across the United States, each working to protect a different natural resource: earth, air, fire, and water. For people whose existence is inseparable from their native land, climate change is not a tale of the future – it is the present.

Daughter of a Lost Bird | America ReFramed
Available on PBS Passport

Kendra, a Native adoptee, grew up assimilated in a loving, white family with little connection to her heritage. Now, as an adult with a family of her own, Kendra embarks on a seven year journey to find her biological mother, April, and return to her Lummi homeland. Together, Kendra and April, also a Native adoptee, navigate what it means to be Native and to belong to a tribe from the outside.

My Louisiana Love | America ReFramed
Available on PBS Passport

When Monique returns to southeast Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina to reunite with her Houma Indian family, she sees that their traditional way of life is threatened by a cycle of man-made environmental crises. Monique must redefine the meaning of home after losing her house, her father and her partner.

The Blessing | America ReFramed
Available on PBS Passport

Lawrence, a Navajo coal miner and single father, struggles with his part in the irreversible destruction of his tribe's sacred mountain in order to provide for his family. Meanwhile, his daughter Caitlin searches for her inner identity amidst the expectations of her traditional father. Winner of the Native American Journalists Association's Best TV Coverage of Native America 2021.

Good Kind of Trouble | Stories from the Stage
Available online, on Facebook, on YouTube & on the PBS app

In an episode inspired by the late John Lewis' pride in creating "good trouble" and standing up against unfairness, Maulian Dana fights to ban "Indian" mascots in Maine schools.

New Mexico | States of America
Available online, on YouTube & on the PBS app

Floyd Ashley is a retired educator who has spent his life dedicated to the Navajo people. During his years as an activist, teacher and community leader, Floyd has seen his share of struggles and dualities experienced by the Navajo Nation in the Land of Enchantment in New Mexico.

Circle of Life | Decolonizing Mental Health
Available online, on YouTube & on the PBS app

Drs. Dan and Rebecca Crawford Foster’s psychology practice discards Western psychology, embracing Native beliefs in the relational circle to help people heal so they can continue to be part of a joyful community bond that transcends generations.

Modern Warrior | Decolonizing Mental Health
Available online, on YouTube & on the PBS app

Dr. Rebecca Crawford Foster was concerned about what she would lose if she left her reservation to pursue higher education, but in fact, her elders encouraged her to go and seek that different wisdom, and bring it back to the reservation.

Shelby Rowe | Decolonizing Mental Health
Available online, on YouTube & on the PBS app

Shelby Rowe was 5 years old when her grandmother asked her to hide her Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood. Like her, many Native youth grow up trying to pass as white which, as Rowe knows as a suicide prevention advocate, has adverse effects on their mental health.

Tribal Sovereignty and Home: Celebrating Native American Heritage

A panel of Native activists discuss the Native foster care system, the environment, racial injustice, tribal sovereignty, women empowerment and native leadership, as well as what is happening in Indian country. Moderated by investigative journalist Jenni Monet (Laguna Pueblo).

Starting this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Vision Maker Media presents a slate of films that offer a better understanding of Native stories during the TOGETHER Film Festival. Learn more.

Coming in November, watch films celebrating Native American Heritage Month, including moving stories of history and home: the effects of America’s Indian Adoption Era are captured in intimate detail in BLOOD MEMORY; Native women reclaim their personal and tribal sovereignty in SISTERS RISING; and the reunification of family in DAUGHTER OF A LOST BIRD.

Discuss and engage with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by using the hashtag #IndigenousPeoplesDay and tagging us @worldchannel. Subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube for more features including events and interviews.


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