What to Watch: Indigenous Peoples' Day


Last updated August 8, 2023

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.

Generations Stolen | Local, USA
Available on PBS Passport

As the Supreme Court rules on the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, Native American communities grapple with the lingering fallout resulting from a history of government policies aimed at stripping them of traditions and assimilating them into white culture. For decades, Native children were forcibly separated from their families – today, communities are working to overcome generations of trauma. A co-production with Retro Report. Watch a Meet the Makers converstion with filmmaker Sarah Weiser.

In Their Element | Local, USA
Available 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 and on the FacebookYouTube & PBS apps

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.


In recognition of Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month, join Sandy White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota), Anitra Warrior (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma) and BLOOD MEMORY director Drew Nicholas for a panel discussion exploring the effects of historical trauma endured by the Native American community in boarding schools and through adoption and repatriation with excerpts from America ReFramed films. Moderated by journalist and media critic Jenni Monet (Laguna Pueblo) and presented in partnership by WORLD Channel, America ReFramed and Vision Maker Media.

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).

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Related Content

The Case of ICWA, Native Adoption & Tribal Sovereignty

On Nov. 9, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that directly challenged the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. This month, during Native American Heritage Month, watch films that tell of the long-standing effects of U.S. policy and non-Native adoption, and what healing and cultural reconciliation mean to these communities.