Native Americans and American Film: 100 Years

No better introduction to this topic exists than Cree-descended Neil Diamond‘s 2009 documentary Reel Injun: On the Trial of the Hollywood Indian.

Many films have portrayed Native and First Nations peoples but few have been written from their perspective or performed by Native-born performers. An early exception to this is The Silent Enemy (1930) which features an all-Ojibway cast recreating nomadic tribal ways in a silent film. The enemy of the title is hunger.

Cecil B. DeMille made three film versions of The Squaw Man (1914, 1918, 1931) about a western rancher who marries a Native bride and faces social ostracization and prejudice. The library’s collection includes a DVD containing the 1914 original and the 1931 talking versions.

Native portrayals 1914-1970 (click on titles for location and availability)

The Squaw Man (1914)
Nanook of the North (1922)
The Silent Enemy (1930)
The Squaw Man (1931)
Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)
Stagecoach (1939)
The Searchers (1956)
Walk the Proud Land (1956)
The Exiles (1961)
Cheyenne Autumn (1964)
End of the Trail (1965)
Little Big Man (1970)
A Man called Horse (1970)


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