Indigenous Movie Mondays: Upcoming film events for Native American Heritage Month

The railroad unites the east and west coasts in this cartoon printed in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1869. [Courtesy image | U.S. Library of Congress | Florentine Films 'The American Buffalo']

As November heralds Native American Heritage Month, Central Michigan University offers various events throughout the month to celebrate and education students on the cultures, traditions and history of Indigenous people. 

One of the events is Indigenous Movie Monday, a weekly recurring event happening from Nov. 6 through Nov. 27 in Pearce Hall room 128. There will be three movies shown across a four week span, all started at 5 p.m on their respective nights. 

CM Life spoke with Colleen Green, the director of the Office of Indigenous Affairs and the person who helped organize the event. She worked directly with PBS to select the three movies being shown.

William T. Hornaday's bison exhibit is displayed at the Smithsonian in this 1902 photo. [Courtesy image | Smithsonian Institution Archives | Florentine Films]

"American Buffalo," the first movie, is being shown in two parts on Nov. 6 and Nov. 13. The total runtime is four hours.  

The documentary is about the history of the American buffalo species and its significance to the land and indigenous people. It also discusses how the species always went extinct and the conservation efforts to preserve them. 

“For 'American Buffalo', PBS actually reached out to me,” Green said. “They wanted to know if I’d promote it, and I told them 'Better yet, we have a movie event coming up, we can show it there.’”  

The other films she requested from PBS were "The Traditional Warrior" and "Nokomis Josephine Mandamin – Anishinaabe Water-Walker, Elder, Teacher, and Leader."

She chose "The Traditional Warrior" as it's about Native Americans in the United States military, and she thought it coincided well with Veteran's Day. 

The final film about Josephine Mandamin was chosen due to its proximity to CMU. 

"It’s going back to how we preserve the water in the Great Lakes," Green said. “I have met Josephine before, so it’s nice to tie that in and make that connection.”  

She says that the goal of the event is to educate the CMU community and local community about indigenous culture, much like the rest of Indigenous Heritage Month.  

"I think it adds a tool to who (students) are as professionals," she said. "It helps them further their education overall. You never stop learning." 

To learn more about the films being shown and the dates they are being shown, visit the CMU Events page here. Admission to each movie is free.

Bison graze in South Dakota in this September 2019 photo. [Courtesy photo | Craig Mellish | Florentine Films]