10 Movies and Books by Indigenous Creators to Add to Your List

This Native American Heritage Month, queue up these Indigenous stories.



This November marks Native American Heritage Month in the United States. The month, officially designated in 1990 by former President George H. W. Bush, recognizes the significant contributions of Native Americans toward the establishment and growth of the U.S. Despite these vast contributions, Native American voices and narratives have been historically marginalized. So, engaging with art and media created by Indigenous writers, producers, and directors is one way to connect with these stories—and enjoy a great book or movie at the same time. While there are countless options to choose from, this list surveys our favorite creative works from a diverse range of Native American and Indigenous voices throughout North America. 

The Tao of Raven: An Alaska Native Memoir

The Tao of Raven

Ernestine Hayes

In her first book, Blonde Indian, Ernestine Hayes, recounts her journey of returning to her Tlingit home in Juneau, Alaska after many years away. In The Tao of Raven, Hayes digs deeper into this experience, combining elements of memoir and fiction to express frustration at the prejudices still facing Alaskan Natives on their own land. Connecting time and space in the Indigenous worldview, Hayes reflects on her own life—graduating from college in her fifties and becoming a professor and writer—and the legacy she will leave behind to future generations.

The Whale Child

The Whale Child


This middle-grade chapter book was written by novelist Keith Egawa (Lummi Nation) and medicine woman, illustrator, and teacher Chenoa Egawa (Lummi and S'Klallam Nations of Washington). The book follows a whale named Shiny. After learning about the dangers facing the world’s oceans because of human carelessness, Shiny agrees to be transformed into a boy. Then, he meets Alex, a Salish girl, to warn her and teach her about the world’s waters. For children aged 7 to 8, this book introduces Pacific Northwest Indigenous cultures, and shares messages of hope, environmental protection, and personal responsibility. 

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (2019)

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is a Canadian drama written and directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn. It follows a chance encounter between two Indigenous women navigating intimate partner violence. Filmed as one continuous take, this movie was well-received by critics. Domestic violence in native communities in the U.S. is a pressing issue, and films like this foreground how widespread and harmful it truly is. 


Whereas Poems


This reflective poetry collection focuses on the language used in the United States government’s interactions with Native American peoples and tribes, from treaties to apologies. Ogala Lakota poet Layli Long Soldier employs short lyrics, prose poems, narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers to examine histories and her own identity. 

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World (2017)

This musical documentary highlights Native American involvement in the evolution of the rock industry across North America. The film profiles U.S. and Canadian figures with native ancestry, like Robbie Robertson, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Jimi Hendrix, as well as non-native artists who promoted Indigenous musicians in the rock scene. Stevie Salas, a Native American guitarist who's worked with artists like Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, George Clinton, and more—is one of the producers of Rumble. Long overdue, this film is perfect for music enthusiasts looking to learn more about the foundations of the genre. 

Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes through Indigenous Science

Fresh Banana Leaves


Jessica Hernandez is a Maya Ch'orti' and Zapotec environmental scientist and founder of the environmental agency Piña Soul. In this book, she examines ideas of western conservationism, highlights why they are ineffective, and proposes Indigenous models as alternatives. She foregrounds Indigenous environmental knowledge that has been continually pushed aside. In light of recent concerns over the immediacy of climate change activism, this book offers case studies, historical overviews, and anecdotes on ways to recover and revitalize our planet. 

Blood Quantum (2019)

Horror buffs need to look no further. This Canadian zombie flick blends scare tactics with sociopolitical messages. This movie depicts a zombie apocalypse on the Red Crow Indian Reservation in Quebec. The people on the First Nations reserve, played by actors likes Michael Greyeyes (Muskeg Lake Cree Nation), Forrest Goodluck (Navajo), Kiowa Gordon (Haulapai), are immune to the contagious zombie-fying disease. Thanks to their heritage, the Indigenous characters don’t succumb to illness, but they still have to survive the world around them. Both a commentary on colonialism and a contemporary thriller, this movie is a fresh take on the zombie genre.  

Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems

Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings


Muscogee (Creek) Nation poet Joy Harjo is the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States. In her poetry collection, she highlights the tensions between the joys and struggles of daily life against a background of the politics of what it means to be human. Incorporating elements of travel, memory, and music, this collection provides readers with important reflections and opportunities for hope. 

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Fry Bread


This award-winning picture book is perfect to show the diversity and pride of Native America.  Written in verse, debut author Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma) explores family tradition, community, and history. Using the staple food of fry bread as a narrative thread, Maillard shares a heartwarming and affirming story that is a wonderful gift or collector’s item. 

Black Indian

Black Indian


Raised a Black woman with American Indian roots, Shonda Buchanan explores the complexities of identity and multi-racial heritage in her memoir Black Indian. This inspiring and thought-provoking narrative tells the story of Buchanan’s Michigan tribe. She navigates societal ostracization while straddling multiple races and cultures. Digging deep into her background, this award-winning writer offers a moving story that doesn't shy away from the uncomfortable and dives far down into family truths.

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