In our latest watchlist, we celebrate Native American History Month by exploring films and TV shows that beautifully depict Indigenous and Two-Spirited characters and communities. From dramas to comedies, these selections offer a powerful glimpse into vibrant Indigenous storytelling. So we shine a spotlight on these impactful works, actors, and filmmakers that contribute to a more inclusive and authentic representation of Indigenous experiences in the world of entertainment.
Reservation Dogs (2021)
A dramatic comedy Created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, this show broke ground by becoming the first show to be completely created by Indigenous writers and directors. One is acclaimed Queer and Navajo filmmaker, Sydney Freeland. And it shows within its storytelling. Set in Oklahoma, four Native teenagers, Bear, Elora Danan, Cheese, and Willi Jack, dream of moving to California after the death of one of their best friends. The show stars Two- Spirit Actor Elva Guerra and queer Kahnawake Mohawk actress Devery Jacobs.”
The series is a poignant coming-of-age story that explores the challenges and their dreams as they navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood. As they yearn for opportunities beyond the reservation, they confront issues of identity, ambition, and their deep connection to their cultural roots.
“Reservation Dogs” is notable for its unapologetic portrayal of Indigenous culture, language, and traditions, offering a refreshing departure from the stereotypes and misconceptions that have plagued Indigenous representation in mainstream media. The show incorporates Indigenous languages, particularly Muscogee (Creek). The series is a captivating blend of humor, drama, and surrealism, providing an authentic and relatable look into the lives of its characters while making a significant impact in reshaping the narrative of Indigenous and LGBTQ+ representation in the world of television.
You can watch its third season on Hulu now!
Dark Winds (2022)
“Dark Winds” is a gripping television series based on the renowned Navajo Mystery novels by author Tony Hillerman. Set in the vast and mystic landscapes of the American Southwest, the show revolves around the enigmatic world of Navajo Tribal Police Officer Joe Leaphorn, played by Zahn McClarnon, and his earnest partner, Officer Jim Chee, portrayed by Kiowa Gordon and stars two-spirit actor, Elva Guerra.
The series unfolds as the duo investigates a series of complex and mystifying crimes, blurring the lines between traditional Navajo beliefs and modern law enforcement techniques. With a deep respect for Navajo culture and traditions, the show delves into the rich tapestry of Indigenous beliefs, ceremonies, and values, allowing viewers a unique glimpse into a world rarely explored on screen.
The cases Leaphorn and Chee tackle are deeply entwined with local folklore, tribal customs, and a profound connection to the natural world. Each episode weaves a narrative that combines traditional detective work with a respectful approach to Indigenous spirituality.
The series masterfully combines crime-solving with cultural enlightenment, making it a must-watch for those who appreciate multifaceted storytelling and diverse representation in television.
You can watch now on Peacock!
Rutherford Falls (2021)
“Rutherford Falls” is a delightful and thought-provoking comedy series that revolves around the quirky and charming small town of Rutherford Falls, where history, heritage, and humor collide in a refreshingly unique way.
At its heart, the show follows the lives of Nathan Rutherford (played by Ed Helms), a lovable and somewhat stubborn descendant of the town’s founder, and his best friend, Reagan Wells (played by Jana Schmieding), a proud member of the Minishonka Nation. Together, they navigate the challenges of modernity clashing with tradition, as their lives become intertwined with the fate of a controversial statue of Nathan’s ancestor that stands in the middle of town.
As Nathan grapples with his historical legacy, Reagan works to preserve her people’s history and heritage, and the two explore their own identities, friendships, and cultural backgrounds in a town that’s resistant to change. It stars non-binary actor Jesse Leigh playing, Bobbie, Nathan Rutherford’s assistant with their fashion sense and witty comebacks.
The series offers a humorous and heartwarming commentary on the intersections of Native American and settler history, cultural misunderstandings, and the importance of respecting one another’s perspectives.
You can watch it now on Peacock!
In the tender coming-of-age tale “Wildhood,” Link (Phillip Lewitski) is a young man of Mi’kmaq heritage who journeys across rural areas in search of the mother he hardly knew. The movie was written and directed by the Nova Scotian filmmaker Bretten Hannam, who is Two-Spirit and nonbinary, and their camera intimately observes Link as he slowly casts off the protective shield he once needed to survive.
You can stream it now on Hulu!
Certain Women (2016)
“Certain Women” is a 2016 American drama film directed by Kelly Reichardt. The film is based on short stories by Maile Meloy and features three interconnected narratives that focus on the lives of women in a small town in Montana. The characters, played by a talented ensemble cast including Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Lily Gladstone, playing an indigenous queer rancher, navigate their relationships, work, and personal challenges. The film explores themes of loneliness, communication, and the complexities of human connections. Each story unfolds with a quiet and observational tone, capturing the subtleties of everyday life in a rural setting. “Certain Women” received critical acclaim for its understated performances, nuanced storytelling, and its portrayal of the quiet struggles of its female protagonists.
You can stream it on Youtube, Tube, Pluto TV, and AMC+!
Drunktown’s Finest (2014)
“Drunktown’s Finest” is a 2014 independent drama film written and directed by Sydney Freeland, a queer Navajo filmmaker. The film explores the lives of three young Native Americans living on a reservation in New Mexico. The characters grapple with identity, cultural challenges, and the complexities of life in a small, often marginalized community. The narrative weaves together the stories of a transgender woman, a devout Christian, and a young man searching for his birth parents. Through their experiences, the film addresses issues such as cultural assimilation, acceptance, and the pursuit of one’s true self. “Drunktown’s Finest” offers a nuanced and authentic portrayal of the Native American experience, shedding light on the struggles and triumphs of its characters.
You can find it on Amazon Prime and Youtube to watch!