9 Best Native American Movies and Shows On Netflix (April 2024)

Image Credit: Juan Pablo Gutiérrez/Netflix

A large number of movies are made every year, but there is a very small percentage that centers around the stories of Native Americans. This gaping difference has been acknowledged by Native American writers, actors, and filmmakers, and while there has been a slight uptick in the creation of movies and TV shows that have a Native American character and their story at heart, it’s still not good enough. Due to this, there isn’t enough content on streaming services that cater to the audience looking for such stories. Still, a handful of titles on Netflix will quench your appetite for stories that focus on Native Americans and other indigenous cultures.

9. Frybread Face and Me (2023)

Directed by Billy Luther, this humorous, heartfelt, and coming-of-age drama is set in the Navajo Reservation in Arizona in 1990 and follows young Benny (Keir Tallman), who arrives there to spend the summer with his grandmother Lorraine (Sarah H. Natani). Benny, who arrives from San Diego, experiences a dramatic shift in culture and surroundings. But as he gets to know his native family, especially his cousin Dawn, aka Frybread Face (Charley Hogan), he undergoes a cultural awakening that results from coming face to face with his culture and heritage. As for us, we get to see the budding relationship between the distanced siblings Benny and Dawn, underscored by the Navajo ways. A must-watch drama about the significance of one’s roots, ‘Frybread Face and Me’ can be streamed here.

8. Love and Fury (2020)

Directed by Sterlin Harjo, this documentary offers an in-depth exploration into the creative minds of Native artists and follows their careers in America and abroad. Their identities, their uniqueness, their commonality, and how they are trying to put forward their culture in a post-colonial world using art are what we see in ‘Love and Fury.’ You can stream the documentary here.

7. Frontera Verde (2019)

‘Frontera Verde,’ a Colombian crime thriller co-created by Diego Ramírez Schrempp and Mauricio Leiva-Cock, explores the mystical and ecological aspects of the Amazon rainforest. While the primary focus is on unraveling a murder mystery, the series delves into indigenous cultures and environmental concerns, touching upon themes that resonate with Native narratives. The show skillfully incorporates mystical elements and indigenous perspectives, portraying a complex web of interconnectedness between the characters and the rainforest. Through its compelling storytelling and atmospheric cinematography, ‘Frontera Verde’ subtly addresses and incorporates Native themes, adding depth and cultural richness to the narrative. You can watch the show here.

6. Lorena, Light-footed Woman (2019)

‘Lorena, Light-footed Woman’ stands out as a profound Native American film for its authentic portrayal of indigenous culture and the resilience of its titular character. Directed by Isaac Artenstein, the movie artfully weaves traditional storytelling with contemporary elements, offering a nuanced exploration of identity and heritage. The film’s strength lies in its commitment to showcasing the richness of Native American storytelling and the complexities of modern Native life. With a captivating narrative and strong cultural representation, ‘Lorena, Light-footed Woman’ is a testament to Indigenous storytelling’s power in cinema. You can watch it here.

5. The Last Forest (2021)

‘The Last Forest’ is a visually stunning documentary directed by Luiz Bolognesi that transports viewers to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. This immersive film documents the lives of the indigenous Yanomami people and their struggle against encroaching threats like mining and deforestation. Through breathtaking cinematography and intimate storytelling, the documentary captures the Yanomami’s deep connection with the land and the urgent need to protect this vital ecosystem. ‘The Last Forest’ serves as a powerful call to action, drawing attention to the environmental and cultural preservation challenges faced by indigenous communities in the face of modernization and environmental exploitation. You can watch it here.

4. The Old Ways (2020)

The Old Ways‘ is a horror movie directed by Christopher Alender that follows Cristina Lopez, a Mexican-American reporter. Cristina finds herself trapped in a dangerous supernatural game during her visit to her hometown near Veracruz. Cristina arrives in her hometown in search of a news story of witchcraft. However, she is captured by a bruja (witch doctor) who believes a demon possesses Cristina. The movie highlights the culture of the Nahuas tribe, who are indigenous people of Mexico and other Central American countries. You can watch it here.

3. The Grizzlies (2018)

Based on a true story, the Canadian sports film ‘The Grizzlies’ revolves around Russ Sheppard, a history teacher who accepts a job at a school in the Arctic town of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, to pay off his student debt while waiting to hear back from a prep school named St. Andrews. It doesn’t take long for Russ to realize that he has an uphill battle ahead of him. Most of his students don’t attend classes. Among those who do, some are downright hostile toward him. However, what truly unsettles Russ is the alarming suicide rates among his students. As a desperate measure, he begins teaching his students lacrosse with the hopes of forming a school team and giving them a purpose. You can watch the movie here.

2. Finding ʻOhana (2021)

Finding ʻOhana‘ is an adventure movie directed by Jude Weng that follows two New York-raised siblings who travel to Oahu, Hawaii, with their mother. On the island, the siblings learn more about their ancestry and the native culture of Oahu. Soon, the children connect with their new surroundings and embark on an adventure to find a lost treasure. The film has received positive reviews from critics and presents a family-friendly experience that emphasizes the importance of learning about one’s culture and heritage. You can watch the film here.

1. Gather (2020)

The documentary ‘Gather’ intricately weaves a poignant narrative that explores the revitalization of Native American food traditions and the profound impact on indigenous communities. Directed by Sanjay Rawal, the film showcases the resilience and strength of Native American chefs, activists, and farmers who strive to reclaim their cultural heritage through sustainable food practices. The documentary sheds light on the culinary aspect and delves into the broader themes of identity, community, and healing. With a compelling blend of personal stories and breathtaking cinematography, ‘Gather’ stands out as a powerful Native American documentary, emphasizing the crucial connection between food, culture, and empowerment. The film’s authenticity and depth make it a must-watch, offering a unique perspective on the ongoing journey of indigenous communities. You can watch it here.

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