Native American Movies

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, have often been the "bad guys" in movies. The good cowboys go out and slaughter the bad Indians. Alternately, in movies that feature a Native American character, that character is often either a stereotypical "silent tracker" type or a heavy drinker who needs help. It's only a few movies that portray a more balanced look at the intricate life of the Native American.


Savage Journey - 1982
Savage Journey details how Mormon church founders Brigham Young and Joseph Smith were driven from town to town - and finally out to Utah. Apparently Brigham first fought with the native americans then - but was responsible for saving Chief Walker and his followers when they became cornered. Only a tiny few scenes with the "locals" and all were quite stereotypical.

The Searchers - 1956
A classic tale of John Wayne trying to track down his niece (Natalie Wood) who was taken by Comanches.

Shadow of the Wolf - 1993
Conflict comes in all forms in this tale.

Shadowheart - 2009
This movie heavily pushes its Native American roots, and features a brother-sister pair of Navaho who help out a man seeking revenge.

Sitting Bull - 1954

Skins - 2002
The Lakota Sioux are the tribe involved here, and the Vietnam War is the backdrop.

Smoke Signals - 1998
A modern trail of Native American nerds and tragedies.

Soldier Blue - 1970

The Song of Hiawatha - 1999
Based on the classic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, this tale is about a Ojibway member.

Spirit Rider - 1993
An Ojibway youth moves to the reservation to live with his grandfather, and learn about his traditions.

Stagecoach - 1939
The classic one that began them all. This classic "group of different people stuck together" stars John Wayne as the outlaw with a heart of gold. The group is attacked by Indians along their way to a new life. The Indians are barely mentioned - in fact the female Sioux with the Mexican trader in this version is more Mexican than Indian. The Indians are barely shown as speeding blurs that ride past the stagecoach.

Stagecoach - 1966
Starring Ann-Margret and Bing Crosby, this remake of the John Wayne classic has a group of stereotypical travelers on a stagecoach to Cheyenne. A Sioux war party, led by Crazy Horse, is the danger element. The Sioux have no "personality" at all - you pretty much never see one stationary, close up. They are always riding at top speed, yelling out war whoops and throwing spears. The most you can see of their outfits is that they are tan. The only Sioux you see close up is a female Sioux that the Chinese trader has taken as a wife. She, of course, does not speak. She just stands beside him as he proudly states that with her as his wife, he now is safer in this territory. It's interesting because this is in fact what many traders in the west did - take on local Native American wives in order to get through the land more safely and to use their wives' social contacts.

The Sunchaser - 1996
A man who is dying seeks out the Navajo healers to get better.

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