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7 Best American Indian Movies On Netflix Right Now

March 4, 2019
8 min read

Native Americans are the indigenous people of America. While the white settlers came to the continent about 500 years ago, Native American tribes had been living there for what can be traced back to 15,000 years. So, when you think about the number of people who remain, you are forced to consider the situations that lead to such a massive decline in their numbers. However, we will not go into further details of this discussion. If we begin discussing the history of America, then we’ll be here forever. This isn’t a history lesson, but knowing the things of the past is very important to understand the present and the future.

A large number of movies are made every year, but there is a very small percentage, if any at all, that centres around the stories of the American Indians. They had struggled when the Europeans arrived, and even now, they have struggles that are rarely paid any attention. Hollywood isn’t helping either. With very few numbers of films and series that come out about them, there is an even smaller number of them on Netflix. Here is the list of really good Native American movies on Netflix.

7. The Red Road (2014-15)

The show revolves around a local cop struggling to keep his family together while simultaneously policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up and the neighboring mountains, home of a Native American tribe. After a terrible tragedy and coverup occurs involving the cop’s wife, an unholy alliance is forged between the cop and Phillip Kopus, a dangerous member of the tribe that will come back to haunt all involved. The TV show, which was canceled after two seasons, stars Martin Henderson and Jason “Aquaman” Momoa.

6. The Lone Ranger (2013)

Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp have made some good films together, but ‘The Lone Ranger’ is not one of them. Had it not been the lack of better choices on Netflix, this film probably wouldn’t have been on the list. Anyway, it looks like we’ll have to deal with this. It stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer as the dynamic duo of Tonto and John Reid. Set in the late 1800s, it starts with John Reid coming back to his hometown in Texas on a train that, unbeknownst to him, is also carrying a ruthless outlaw and a mysterious Comanche. The outlaw escapes with the help of his gang, and in order to recapture him, John’s brother, who is a ranger and the one who caught Cavendish in the first place, goes after the gang along with his team. However, all the rangers are killed, being ambushed by the outlaws. In order to exact justice for his brother’s death, John Reid takes up the mantel of the Lone Ranger.

5. Pocahontas (1995)

The story of Pocahontas is one that has been revised by filmmakers in one form or other. She is best known for saving an Englishman named John Smith from the wrath of her father and her tribe. How much and how much fiction there is in her story will be difficult to know, but the story of her and Captain Smith has now stuck with the audience, especially after Disney made a film out of it. Set in the earliest years of the 1600s, this film starts with Captain John Smith trying to save himself and his crew members as a sea-storm endangers their journey from London to the New World. The settlers arrive on the lands of the Powhatan tribe, the chief of whom is Pocahontas’ father. Pocahontas wonders about what will become of her life, especially concerned about her arranged marriage with Kocoum, a brave warrior of the tribe. When she meets Captain Smith, she falls in love with him and the rest of the story follows her to make her father accept Smith as her suitor while she has to face a choice between her people and his.

4. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Based on the novel of the same name by James Fenimore Cooper, this film is set in the 1750s. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye, the adopted son a Mohican chief. The lands are surrounded by the tense atmosphere of war, with French and British engaged with each other. In this difficult condition, Major Duncan Heyward is tasked with the responsibility of safely transporting the colonel’s daughter to him. The man who is sent with them to guide the way turns out to be a mole and leads them to an ambush where they would have been if it hadn’t been for the timely interruption by the Mohicans. Hawkeye and his people offer the group safety and accompany them the rest of the way. However, troubles and attacks are far from over. While Hawkeye is enchanted by one of the daughters, he also wonders if she is the source of the danger.

3. The American West (2016)

This docu-series focuses on the event after the Civil War and its episodes are centred around the stories of the names have mostly been forgotten over time. After the Civil War, American society went through a drastic measure of change. In the world that was constantly changing and where everything was mercurial, there was also a chance at endless possibilities. These changing times also brought some people to attend, a couple of whom become the focal point of the story told in this series. Apart from characters like Jesse James (who was portrayed by Brad Pitt in the critically acclaimed ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’), and Billy the Kid, the show also turns attention towards the stories of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, both of whom rose against the government to fight for their tribes and lands, to prevent the white settlers from taking everything away. The one thing that you can be sure of from this series is that you’ll get a true picture of what it was really like for these people. There’ll be no dramatization, only reality.

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2. Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)

Geronimo is a name that is held in high regard when talking about the history of the Apache tribe. The most notable thing that he is known for is bringing together the people of his tribe to create a resistance against the US government that tries to subdue them at every turn while taking their lands away. The film follows a slightly fictionalised version of the events that happened in 1886. The U.S government had approved a reservation to the Apache Indians and they were forced to leave their lands and settle somewhere else. Being in a new environment, the Indians face difficulties and further tension arises between them and the government when the latter doesn’t make efforts to fulfil the promises that they had made while making the deal. This leads Geronimo to find a way other than pleading and reminding. He rounds up 30 best warriors of his tribe and carries out raids on the government posts, and successfully evades capture when people are sent after them. Thus, this leads to the growth of a resistance which the government intends to crush. And they assign this task to one of their best men, Charles Gatewood.

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1. The West (1996)

This documentary miniseries focuses on the time from the 1500s to the early 1800s, the time when the explorers from Europe had begun to explore the lands of America. As their knowledge of the New World grew, the settlers began to find themselves in increasing conflict with the natives who just wanted to protect their lands from foreign invaders. Each episode covers a certain length of time, focusing on the problems that the natives had to face with the increasing incursions of the white settlers and how, eventually, they were forced to comply with the new force on the continent. Major Native Indian figures are brought into the focus, discussing their contributions in the upliftment of their people. A discussion of the growing culture of the Wild West also finds the preference in the later episodes of this series. Some notable actors have been a part of it, but more importantly, famous historians have given their input into the making of this show, so you can keep your worries at bay about the authenticity of the events depicted in it.

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