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Native American Rhetorical Traditions

An introduction to Native American historical speeches and contemporary debates.


Aleut Story (2005), Marta Williams (dir.)

Narrated by Martin Sheen and original music score by Grammy winner Mary Youngblood, the program poses challenging questions of balance between civil liberties and national security.


Apache Indian Resistance - Geronimo

A short explanation of the Apache Native American Indian resistance that happened in the Southwestern United States around the 1860s.


Gifts from the Elders (2014)

Follows five Anishinaabe youth on a summer research project with their Elders, whose stories guide them on a journey back to proceeding generations that lived a healthy lifestyle off of the land.


Russell Means: Welcome to the American Reservation Prison Camp


From Alcatraz to Standing Rock and Beyond: On the Past 50 and Next 50 Years of Indigenous Activism (2019)

2019 commemorated the 50-year anniversary of the 19-month Native American student occupation of Alcatraz. This video presents Indigenous activists from three generations who were on the frontlines at Alcatraz, Standing Rock, and other Indigenous Rights struggles, as they discuss their visions for the next 50 years of Indigenous activism


100 Years: One Woman's Fight for Justice for Native Americans (2016)
Documents Elouise Cobell's courageous fight for justice for hundreds of thousands of Native Americans who were cheated out of billions of dollars by the United States Government.


Awake : A Dream from Standing Rock (2017)

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a controversial project that brings fracked crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and eventually to Illinois. The film documents the story of Native-led defiance that has forever changed the fight for clean water, our environment and the future of our planet.

Sonza, L. (2018). Decolonizing vision: Native Americans, film and video activism. Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy 3(1), 1-17.

This article considers traditional indigenous media in self-making processes, mainly through the importance of filmmaking. Furthermore, it emphasizes how resistance, resurgence and sovereignty are pursued with the utilization of digital Indigenous media.


Peterson, L. C. (2013). Reclaiming Diné Film: Visual Sovereignty and the Return of Navajo Film Themselves. Visual Anthropology Review, 29(1), 29–41.

In the summer of 1966, seven Navajo community members from Pine Springs, Arizona, were the subjects of the Navajo Film Project, resulting in Sol Worth and John Adair's seminal work Through Navajo Eyes, as well as seven short films produced by Navajo filmmakers. In 2011, the films were repaired and returned to the Navajo Nation for public screenings. The return of the films offers a unique opportunity to reexamine the meanings of the films and the project itself, reframing the discussion around issues of visual sovereignty, community reengagements, and 'reclaiming' Diné/ Navajo histories.


Pack, S. (2007). Watching Navajos Watch Themselves. Wicazo Sa Review, 111–127.

Studies how Navajo audiences navigate the conflicting representations from the dominant culture that contradict their own cultural identities and life experiences.


Peterson, L. C. (2011). ‘Reel Navajo’: The Linguistic Creation of Indigenous Screen Memories. American Indian Culture and Research Journal 35(2), 111–134.

Interrogates the ideologies and practices surrounding the production of Navajo-language films by Navajo directors.


Hearne, J. (2003). Telling and Retelling in the ‘Ink of Light’: Documentary Cinema, Oral Narratives, and Indigenous Identities. Screen 47(3), 307–326.

Raises questions about the cultural politics of images and about reclaiming of the images originally produced in a colonialist context.


Leuthold, S. M. (1997). Native American Documentary: An Emerging Genre? Film Criticism 22(1), 74–90.

The author observes increasingly genre-like patterns among Native American documentaries and seeks to find commonalities linking them beyond stylistic and formal characteristics.