A sneak peek at Native American series and specials airing this fall and beyond

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Joseph Dominguez

The Native American rock band Redbone, featured in the film "Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World."

Public TV’s program pipeline for fall 2018 and beyond is bursting with documentaries and series that showcase Native American culture and history. With shows that celebrate traditional knowledge and cultural influences, and documentaries that examine dark chapters in American history, this summary updates and expands on productions listed in Current’s Pipeline 2018 survey.

Skindigenous, a Canadian-produced series, is distributed by APT.


Skindigenous — A 13-part Canadian-produced docuseries that explores Indigenous tattooing traditions. Vision Maker Media is presenting the series for national broadcast through APT. Producer/co-director: Jason Brennan.


Trail of Tears — A one-hour documentary examining new archeological evidence of the forced relocation of Native tribes from the Southeastern U.S. Presented for NETA distribution by Nine Network of St. Louis. EP: Monty Dobson.


Dawnland — A one-hour documentary debuting on Independent Lens during Native American Heritage Month, this film follows a truth and reconciliation commission in Maine that examined forced adoptions of Native American children. EP: Heather Rae, Cherokee. Producer/directors: Adam Mazo, Ben Pender-Cudlip.

Tending Nature — Four 30-minute episodes to be released for broadcast Nov. 7. KCETLink in Los Angeles is producing the series as spinoff of Tending the Wild, its one-hour broadcast special and webisode series. Distribution plans TBD. EP: Juan Devis.

Moroni for President — A one-hour documentary debuting on the World Channel’s America ReFramed, it covers a heated primary election for the presidency of the Navajo Nation, and explores LGBTQ rights and identity in the nation’s largest Native American tribe. EPs: Billy Luther, Pamela Hogan, Sally Jo Fifer.

Unspoken: America’s Native Boarding Schools — A KUED documentary debuting nationally on the World Channel, it examines the federal government’s attempt to assimilate Native American children through its Indian Boarding School program. Producer/director: John Howe.

TBD Fall

Vision Maker Media

Madonna Thunder Hawk and her daughter Marcella Gilbert are profiled in Warrior Women.

Warrior Women — A co-production of the Independent Television Service and Vision Maker, this film looks at the untold stories of women activists who fought for civil rights in the 1970s, focusing on Madonna Thunder Hawk, an outspoken Lakota leader in the American Indian Movement. Co-directors: Christina King (Creek/Seminole/Sac & Fox), Elizabeth Castle.

Growing Native — A four-part series from Vision Maker Media about tribes that are reclaiming traditional knowledge and food pathways. Vison Maker’s Charles “Boots” Kennedye, Kiowa, is leading this production.

Winter/Spring 2019

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World This documentary about Native American influence on American blues, jazz and rock music debuts on Independent Lens Jan. 28. Director: Catherine Bainbridge. Co-director: Alfonso Maiorana.

The Blackfeet Flood — A documentary that recounts a devastating flood in Montana that took the lives of more than two dozen on the Blackeet Reservation in Montana in 1964. Distribution plans TBD. Director/producer: Benjamin Shors. Director: Torsten Kjellstrand. Consulting producer: Brook Swaney, Blackfeet/Salish, a former Sundance Institute Time Warner Fellow.

Words from a Bear: The Enigmatic Life of N. Scott Momaday — This profile of Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Navarro Scott Momaday, one of Native America’s most celebrated authors, will debut on American Masters. Producer/director: Jeffrey Palmer, Kiowa. Supervising producer: Jhane Myers, Comanche/Blackfeet.

3 thoughts on “A sneak peek at Native American series and specials airing this fall and beyond

  1. I am looking forward to these programs. Some I am sure will be very difficult to see. The truth is way over due. Our history is full of terrible things that were covered up and beautiful things that have never been acknowledged.

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