What to stream: Films, TV shows by Native creators to watch this Thanksgiving weekend

Katie Walsh | (TNS) Tribune News Service

Thanksgiving has become a holiday all about the turkey and all the fixings, but let’s not forget the roots of the holiday as well. November is Native American Heritage Month, and thankfully, there are more opportunities than ever to experience Native stories told from a Native point of view. Here’s a list of some of the best films and TV shows by Native American creators to stream this Thanksgiving weekend.

First up, the new dramedy “Frybread Face and Me,” a coming-of-age story by writer/director Billy Luther, streams on Netflix Friday, Nov. 24. The story follows a young boy from San Diego who is sent to spend the summer with his grandmother on a Navajo reservation in Arizona, where he connects with his cousin. Luther also directed the documentary “Miss Navajo,” about a young woman competing in the Miss Navajo pageant. Stream it on WOW Presents Plus or rent it elsewhere.

Don’t miss “Reservation Dogs,” streaming on Hulu. This three-season comedy series, created by Sterlin Harjo, a citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, follows a group of teen friends on an Oklahoma Muscogee reservation and the high jinks they get up to. It’s a charming and funny series that also never shies away from the reality of more serious issues on the res, and the series is largely created by a Native cast and crew. Stream it on Hulu.

You can also check out Harjo’s two feature films, which both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. “Four Sheets to the Wind” (2007) is streaming on Hoopla, Vudu, Tubi and Freevee, and “Barking Water” (2009) is on Kanopy or available to rent.

Lily Gladstone as Tana, a woman searching for her grandmother’s roots, in “The Unknown Country.” (Music Box Films/TNS)

Lily Gladstone is currently starring in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the new Martin Scorsese film about the reign of terror in the Osage Nation of Oklahoma in the early 20th century, but she also recently collaborated with filmmaker Morrisa Maltz on “The Unknown Country,” a road movie about a young woman connecting with her family across the nation while grieving an immense loss. Gladstone co-wrote the film with Maltz and Lainey Bearkiller Shangreux, a story that blends reality and fiction to weave a truly moving and beautiful tale. Rent it on all platforms.

For something a bit darker and more dramatic, check out “Wild Indian” (2021), a thriller by Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. Starring Michael Greyeyes and Chaske Spencer, “Wild Indian” follows two Ojibwe men as they try to reconcile their past traumas in different ways. Stream it on Starz, Kanopy or rent it elsewhere.

One of the best documentaries of the year is “Lakota Nation vs. United States,” directed by Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli. The film depicts the illegal 1876 seizure of the Black Hills in South Dakota by the United States government, nullifying the Treaty of Fort Laramie, and the Lakota people’s fight to reclaim control of the land. Stream it on AMC+ or rent it on other digital platforms.

There are also some fun genre movies featuring Indigenous creators and stars, including “Blood Quantum” (2020) a Canadian zombie horror movie directed by the late Mi’kmaq and Canadian filmmaker Jeff Barnaby and starring Greyeyes and Forrest Goodluck (who also stars in “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” on Hulu). “Blood Quantum” takes place on a First Nations reserve where the Indigenous residents are immune to the zombie outbreak thanks to their heritage, but have to cope with the consequences and the white refugees. Stream it on Shudder or rent it elsewhere.

Finally, check out the action-horror movie “Prey” on Hulu. This inventive “Predator” prequel takes an Indigenous twist on the familiar material, setting the Predator down in the Northern Great Plains in 1719 where the alien faces off with a young Comanche hunter played by Amber Midthunder. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, the film is produced by Comanche and Blackfeet producer Jhane Myers, and parts of it are shot in the Comanche language.

Give thanks and be sure to add these Native American-made movies to your watchlist for Thanksgiving weekend.


(Katie Walsh is the Tribune News Service film critic and co-host of the “Miami Nice” podcast.)

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