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What to watch for Native American Heritage Month

Native history, voices and perspectives are tightly woven into the American story. Celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November 2023 with this KERA TV guide to must-see documentaries, film shorts, and show episodes.

Many of these programs will air on KERA TV and can be streamed online at Tap the title of each program to click through. Some full episodes and films are free to watch. Some require Passport, the KERA member benefit available for as little as $5/month or $60/year. Learn more about Passport. All trailers and clips are free to watch.

Native America

Plus, on KERA TV:
Tuesdays through November 14 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, November 12, from 2 – 6 p.m.
Sunday, November 19, from 2 – 6 p.m.

Explore this groundbreaking portrait of contemporary Indian Country. A four-part Native-directed series, each episode reveals the beauty and power of today’s Indigenous world. Smashing stereotypes, it follows the brilliant engineers, bold politicians, and cutting-edge artists who draw upon Native tradition to build a better 21st century.

Little Bird

Plus: Thursdays at 9 p.m. through November 16 on KERA TV

In 1968, five-year-old Bezhig Little Bird was forcibly removed from Long Pine Reserve and adopted into a Jewish family in Montreal, and renamed Esther Rosenblum. Eighteen years later, she embarks on a journey to unravel her history.

Awakening in Taos: The Mabel Dodge Luhan Story

Plus: Thursday, November 2, at 11 p.m. on KERA TV

Mabel Dodge Luhan was a trailblazing feminist 100 years ahead of her time. She was a champion for women and Native American rights. In 1917 she moved from Greenwich Village to Taos, New Mexico. There she married Tony Lujan, a Tiwa Indian from Taos Pueblo.

Native Ball: Legacy of a Trailblazer

Plus, on KERA TV:
Friday, November 3, at 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 19, at 6 p.m.

Each year in the U.S., nearly 5,000 high-school girls’ basketball players earn a full-ride Division I scholarship. In 1992, only one was Native American: Blackfeet Nation’s Malia Kipp.

Living in two worlds presented challenges, but Kipp carried the burden with grace and grit. Described by her chief as “a warrior,” she blazed a heroic and inspiring trail for other Native girls to follow.

The American Buffalo: A Film by Ken Burns

This new two-part, four-hour series takes viewers on a journey through more than 10,000 years of North American history and across some of the continent’s most iconic landscapes, tracing the animal’s evolution, significance to the Great Plains, near demise, and relationship to the Indigenous People of North America.

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On | American Masters

Plus, on KERA TV:
Sunday, November 5, at 4 p.m.
Monday, November 6, at 10 p.m.

Experience the story of the Oscar-winning Indigenous artist from her rise to prominence in New York’s Greenwich Village folk music scene through her six-decade groundbreaking career as a singer-songwriter, social activist, educator and artist.

A Gift of Corn to the Choctaw | Native America

Across the eastern United States and Canada there are over 10,000 sacred mounds. Choctaw traditions link their mounds with their ancestors, corn, and the sky. One story tells of two hunters who feed a poor woman. She turns out to have magical powers and rewards the hunters and their people with corn. From Native America‘s Sacred Stories Shorts collection.

Bring Her Home

Three Indigenous women – an artist, an activist, and a politician – fight to vindicate and honor their missing and murdered relatives who have fallen victims to a growing epidemic across Indian country. Despite the lasting effects from historical trauma, each woman must search for healing while navigating racist systems that brought about this very crisis.

The Warrior Tradition

Plus: Thursday, November 9, at 11 p.m. on KERA TV

Why would Indian men and women put their lives on the line for the very government that took their homelands? The Warrior Tradition tells the astonishing, heartbreaking, inspiring, and largely-untold story of Native Americans in the United States military. The film relates the stories of Native American warriors from their own points of view – stories of service and pain, of courage and fear.

Home from School: The Children of Carlisle | Independent Lens

Plus: Thursday, November 16, at 11 p.m. on KERA TV

“Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.” This was the guiding principle that removed thousands of Native American children and placed them in Indian boarding schools. Among the many who died at Carlisle Indian Industrial School were three Northern Arapaho boys. Now, more than a century later, tribal members journey from Wyoming to Pennsylvania to help them finally come home.

The Shape of Texas: Seminole Canyon State Park | KERA

Layer by layer, Seminole Canyon provides some of the oldest indigenous rock paintings in the United States. And one of the deepest glimpses into the history of human life that is found anywhere in Texas. From the KERA Shape of Texas video series.

Historian’s Take: What We Can Learn From These Native American Comedies | PBS Digital Studios

Native American representation in film and TV used to be confined to Westerns and storylines of defeat. Today, a new wave of Native American comedies, written and created by Native peoples, are taking back their narratives. Shows like Reservation Dogs and Rutherford Falls challenge stereotypes and address big political movements like #LandBack.

Indie Alaska: How kayaks (qayaqs) are rejuvenating Alaskan Sugpiaq culture

Jonathon Sawden normally works in HR but sees the importance to tell the world that his people, the Sugpiaq (Sookh-pee-ahk), and other Native peoples are still here. Here, Jonathon and another young apprentice artist are working with a Master Kayak Builder to learn the techniques to build traditional boats and be the next generation to keep the craft and culture alive.

Indigi-Genius | NM PBS

Learn about the scientific and cultural impact of Indigenous creations and knowledge of the past and present with this series of three episodes.

Sound Field: What Does Electric Pow Wow Sound Like? | PBS Digital Studios

LA Buckner meets with Iron Boy drum circle in Minnesota to watch a live performance and learn about their sound.