Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

by Emily Walsh

What is Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

Do you remember the words: “In fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue”? Mythology about Columbus and the “discovery” of the Americas continues to be many American children’s first lesson about encountering different Indigenous cultures. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October. This year Indigenous Peoples’ Day is today, October 12th.

The holiday originated in 1977 as a counter-celebration of Columbus Day, which honors Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes that Native American people are the first inhabitants of the Americas, including the lands that later became the United States of America. Ultimately, the holiday urges Americans to rethink history by learning about Indigenous cultures in the United States.

In 1977 participants at the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas suggested that Indigenous Peoples’ Day replace Columbus Day. Today more than 10 states across the United States recognize the holiday.

How Can You Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

Teaching more accurate and complete narratives and differing perspectives is key to our society’s rethinking of history and is important in celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Watching films with Indigenous actors, directors, and plots that highlight Indigenous issues is another great way to celebrate the holiday. The AU Library’s Indigenous Peoples of America streaming guide is a great resource and a great place to start looking.

What to Watch on Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, consider learning more about Native American cultures through movies at the AU Library. These lists of documentaries and feature films created by Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers that discuss Indigenous issues are a great resource and excellent place to start. If you’re interested in learning more about Indigenous experiences outside of the United States, the National Film Board of Canada has a collection of over 200 films created by Indigenous filmmakers that can be accessed for free online.

Feature Films and Documentaries Made by Indigenous Filmmakers Available via the AU Library

Reel Injun, Directed by Neil Diamond (Cree)

Documentary, DVD available at the Library through curbside pickup

“Hollywood has an impressive track record, one that spans more than 4,000 films, of blatantly misrepresenting Native people and their cultures. Featuring interviews with filmmakers and activists such as Clint Eastwood, Jim Jarmusch and Russell Means, Reel Injun delves into the fascinating history of the Hollywood Indian with razor-sharp insight and humor, tracing its checkered cinematic evolution from the silent film era to today.”

This May Be the Last Time, Directed by Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Creek)

Documentary, streaming via the Library website

This May Be the Last Time traces the heartfelt journey of award-winning filmmaker Sterlin Harjo as he interweaves the tale of a mysterious death in 1962 with the rich history of the powerful hymns that have united Native American communities in times of worship, joy, tragedy, and hope. Investigating the stories of these songs, this illuminating film takes us on an epic tour as we travel with the power of the music through Southwest America, slavery in the deep South, and as far away as the Scottish Highlands.”

Drunktown’s Finest, Directed by Sydney Freeland (Navajo)

Feature Film, DVD available at the Library through curbside pickup

“On a beautifully desolate Navajo reservation in New Mexico, three young people, a college-bound, devout Christian woman; a rebellious and angry father-to-be; and a promiscuous but gorgeous transsexual woman, search for love and acceptance. As the three find their lives becoming more complicated and their troubles growing, their paths begin to intersect.”

On the Ice, Directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq)

Short Film, DVD available at the Library through curbside pickup

“In Barrow, Alaska, teenagers Qalli and Aivaaq find their bond tested when a seal-hunting trip goes wrong, resulting in the death of their friend.”

Miss Navajo, Directed by Billy Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo)

Documentary, DVD available at the Library through curbside pickup

“Reveals the inner beauty of the young women who compete in the Miss Navajo Nation beauty pageant. Not only must contestants exhibit poise and grace as those in typical pageants, they must also answer tough questions in Navajo and demonstrate proficiency in skills essential to daily tribal life: fry-bread making, rug weaving and sheep butchering. The film follows the path of 21-year-old Crystal Frazier, a not-so-fluent Navajo speaker and self-professed introvert, as she undertakes the challenges of the pageant.”

Kanehsatake: 270 years of resistance, Directed by Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki)

Documentary, streaming via the Library website

“On a hot July day in 1990, an historic confrontation propelled Native issues in Kanehsatake and the village of Oka, Québec, into the international spotlight and into the Canadian conscience. A powerful feature-documentary emerges that takes you right into the action of an age-old aboriginal struggle. The result is a portrait of the people behind the barricades, providing insight into the Mohawks’ unyielding determination to protect their land.”

Smoke Signals, Written by author Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene)

Feature Film, DVD available at the Library through curbside pickup

“Story of the journey of two Coeur d’Alene Indian boys from Idaho to Arizona. Victor is the stoic, handsome son of an alcoholic father who has abandoned his family. Thomas is a gregarious, goofy young man orphaned as an infant by a fire which Victor’s father accidentally started while drunk. Thomas is a storyteller who makes every effort to connect with the people around him; Victor, in contrast, uses his quiet demeanor to gain strength and confidence. When Victor’s estranged father dies in Arizona the two young men embark on a journey to recover his ashes.”

Feature Films and Documentaries About Indigenous Life, History, and Issues Streaming via the AU Library

Amá, Directed by Lorna Tucker

Documentary, streaming via the Library website

“Amá is a feature length documentary which tells an important and untold story: the abuses committed against Native American women by the United States Government during the 1960’s and 70’s: removed from their families and sent to boarding schools, forced relocation away from their traditional lands and involuntary sterilization.”

Spirits for Sale, Directed by Folke Johansson

Documentary, streaming via the Library website

“When Annika is given an eagle feather by a Native American visiting Sweden, she realizes it is a sacred object which should probably not be in her hands. These days Native American ceremonies are being commercialized for “outsiders,” arousing resentment in the Native community. Annika sets out to find the feather’s rightful owner, a quest which takes her to American Indian communities in Albuquerque, San Antonio and to Bear Butte in South Dakota. She meets many Native Americans who are bitter, believing they are “the forgotten people.” But others are fighting to preserve their culture and their faith as well as to protect their land.”

The First People: The Last Word, Produced by Torsten Jansen and Hanne Ruzou for the Danish Broadcasting Service

Documentary, streaming via the Library website

“For the first time since their land was taken, many Native American tribes have the opportunity to take over the rights to the land they live on and create a cultural consciousness. The filmmakers travel around the United States, talking to an Indian attorney, a movie director, an artist, a nurse, and others. The question remains – will Native Americans be able to maintain their unique culture now that they are participating in the American dream?”

Roma, Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Feature Film, streaming via Netflix and DVD available at the Library through curbside pickup

“With his eighth and most personal film, Alfonso Cuarón recreated the early 1970s Mexico City of his childhood, narrating a tumultuous period in the life of a middle-class family through the experiences of Cleo, the indigenous domestic worker who keeps the household running. Charged with the care of four small children abandoned by their father, Cleo tends to the family even as her own life is shaken by personal and political upheavals.”

Standing on Sacred Ground, Directed by Christopher McLeod

Documentary, streaming via the Library website

“Native Hawaiians and Aboriginal Australians resist threats to their sacred places in a growing international movement to defend human rights and protect the environment. In Australia’s Northern Territory, Aboriginal clans maintain Indigenous Protected Areas and resist the destructive effects of a mining boom. In Hawaii, Indigenous ecological and spiritual practices are used to restore the sacred island of Kahoolawe after 50 years of military use as a bombing range.”

Honorable Mention:

 También la Lluvia (Even in the Rain), Directed by Icíar Bollaín Pérez-Mínguez

Feature Film, DVD available at the Library through curbside pickup

“In the year of our Lord 2000, Spanish director Sebastián and his executive producer Costa are shooting a motion picture about Christopher Columbus, his first explorations, and the way the Spaniards treated the Indians. To get the film made within the limitations of their modest budget, Costa has chosen the Cochabamba area of Bolivia, the cheapest and most Indian of Latin American countries as the location. They hire many supernumeraries, local actors, and extras, and things go more or less smoothly until a conflict erupts over the privatization of the water supply, sold to a multinational. The trouble is that one of the local actors is a leading activist in the protest movement. 500 years after Columbus, a David vs. Goliath conflict erupts into the infamous Bolivian Water War, catching the filmmakers firmly in the middle.”

In Spanish or Gallego (Galician) with optional subtitles in English

Why We Buy DVDs

Yes, I know it’s 2020, but when I’m looking to buy a movie, I opt to buy the DVD, even if it’s slightly more expensive than a digital copy. This is primarily because I’m paranoid — my computer may crash, the file type may be phased out, a company’s server may crash, the company may … Continue reading “Why We Buy DVDs”

Yes, I know it’s 2020, but when I’m looking to buy a movie, I opt to buy the DVD, even if it’s slightly more expensive than a digital copy. This is primarily because I’m paranoid — my computer may crash, the file type may be phased out, a company’s server may crash, the company may revoke my purchase at an undetermined future point, or the company/platform I bought the video through may shut down, leaving me no way to access my purchases. With DVDs, they can’t disappear unless I lend them out to a careless friend, or lose them myself.

I, like many millennials (and honestly most of the entertainment-consuming public) love a good rewatch. I buy DVDs because I want to watch my favorite movies and TV shows again and again, without following the shows to various streaming services. If I want to watch Ten and Donna meet Agatha Christie, I just have to pull my Doctor Who box set off the shelf, not pay for the HBO Max streaming service. Maybe I’m feeling like crap and just want to binge the BBC’s 2009 Emma starring Romola Garai (it’s the best adaptation, fight me). I have it on DVD, so I don’t need to buy a Hulu subscription.

Certain people in my life used to roll their eyes at my DVD collection, but I’m happy to report that society seems to be coming round to my point of view, just look at this op-ed in the New York Times.

Veronica Walsingham makes the argument that DVD box sets are the most economic option for nostalgia viewing, and we here at Media Services agree. In fact, you can rent everything from Friends to Grey’s Anatomy to Spongebob from us… so why not give DVDs a try?

New Acquisitions!

We have a bunch of new home use DVDs this week! They’re all tv shows, and they’re all tv shows with women in the starring roles. You can now check out: The Handmaid’s Tale: Season Two (DVD 16241) Janet King (Series 1): The Enemy Within (DVD 16243 The Patty Duke Show: The Complete First Season … Continue reading “New Acquisitions!”

We have a bunch of new home use DVDs this week! They’re all tv shows, and they’re all tv shows with women in the starring roles. You can now check out:

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season Two (DVD 16241)

Janet King (Series 1): The Enemy Within (DVD 16243

The Patty Duke Show: The Complete First Season (DVD 16244)

Anne of Green Gables: The Collection (DVD 16267)

The Bechdel What?

What’s the theme of this week’s whiteboard? Why, the Bechdel Test, of course! The Bechdel Test originated in a 1985 strip of Dykes to Watch Out For, a comic by renowned cartoonist (and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient) Alison Bechdel.  In order for a movie to pass her test, it must: Feature two or more named … Continue reading “The Bechdel What?”

What’s the theme of this week’s whiteboard? Why, the Bechdel Test, of course!

The Bechdel Test originated in a 1985 strip of Dykes to Watch Out For, a comic by renowned cartoonist (and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient) Alison Bechdel.  In order for a movie to pass her test, it must:

  1. Feature two or more named female characters
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man

This test is admittedly a low bar—a movie can pass with just one line of dialogue between two women. However, it’s frustrating that so many movies made today fail to pass, more than twenty years after the test’s inception. It’s also an incomplete measurement. Star Wars: A New Hope really, really fails the Bechdel Test, but it introduced the world to Princess Leia, who takes over her own rescue operation after Luke, Han, and Chewie start floundering. Four decades later, most recent addition to the main Star Wars films, Star Wars: The Last Jedi barely passes the Bechdel test, but characters like Rey, Rose, Leia, and Admiral Holdo are essential to the plot.

So, what’s a girl to do? Is there any good, uniform way to tell if a movie is sexist or not? Well, when I’m evaluating a movie, I like to add Kelly Sue DeConnick’s “Sexy Lamp Test,” in with the Bechdel for a more complete picture.

But what’s the Sexy Lamp Test? If you can replace a female character with a sexy lamp, and the main plot of the movie is unimpacted, then it fails the Sexy Lamp Test. Essentially, it’s a measure of how relevant a woman is to a story.

Unfortunately, there was no good way to highlight the Bechdel and Sexy Lamp tests on one small whiteboard. Still, we were dissatisfied with giving the movies we highlight a simple pass/fail grade. So we came up with the report card. We awarded movies that passed the Bechdel Test with flying colors (like Persepolis, Legally Blonde, Hidden Figures, and Thelma and Louise) an A+. Movies that passed by the skin of their teeth (like Rogue One) we gave Cs. Other movies that did a better job, but didn’t feature multiple Bechdel Conversations, we awarded Bs.

And if they failed the Bechdel Test? Then they straight up failed. No grey areas there. Because really. Women make up 50% of the world’s population. We talk about waaay more than mediocre men. We deserve to see ourselves in the movies we watch.

Random Movie Tuesday

Our random movie comes on a Tuesday this week, since your beloved admin was out with a migraine yesterday. This week’s random movie is DVD 13046– Border Radio. Here’s our summary: A low-key, semi-improvised postpunk diary, Border Radio features rocker Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters as a singer/songwriter who has stolen loot from a … Continue reading “Random Movie Tuesday”

Our random movie comes on a Tuesday this week, since your beloved admin was out with a migraine yesterday. This week’s random movie is DVD 13046– Border Radio. Here’s our summary:

A low-key, semi-improvised postpunk diary, Border Radio features rocker Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters as a singer/songwriter who has stolen loot from a club and gone missing, leaving his wife to track him down with the help of his friends.


This movie captures the essence of the DIY branch of postpunk pretty well, plus it has an amazing soundtrack. Make sure to check it out!

New DVDs

Home Use America Inside Out with Katie Couric: Season 1 (DVD 16110) Norman:The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (DVD 16111) Molly’s Game (DVD 16112) The Durrells in Corfu: The Complete First Season (DVD 16113) Kedi (DVD 16114) Last Men in Aleppo (DVD 16115) The Chinese Exclusion Act (DVD 16116) Jane … Continue reading “New DVDs”

Home Use

  • America Inside Out with Katie Couric: Season 1 (DVD 16110)
  • Norman:The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (DVD 16111)
  • Molly’s Game (DVD 16112)
  • The Durrells in Corfu: The Complete First Season (DVD 16113)
  • Kedi (DVD 16114)
  • Last Men in Aleppo (DVD 16115)
  • The Chinese Exclusion Act (DVD 16116)
  • Jane Austen’s Mafia! (DVD 16117)
  • The Real Mad Men of Advertising (DVD 16118)
  • A Raisin in the Sun (DVD 424)

Kedi is the award-winning (and heartwarming!) documentary film about the street cats of Istanbul. Look at this adorable kitty named Psikopat!

Five Movies Featuring… Death by TB

I don’t cry very often at movies, except for one, glaring reason. If someone snuffs it due to tuberculosis (aka Consumption), I will ugly cry. Not a couple of poignant tears, but full-on weeping. It doesn’t matter how bad the movie is, I will bawl my eyes out. Unfortunately for me, TB is a popular … Continue reading “Five Movies Featuring… Death by TB”

I don’t cry very often at movies, except for one, glaring reason. If someone snuffs it due to tuberculosis (aka Consumption), I will ugly cry. Not a couple of poignant tears, but full-on weeping. It doesn’t matter how bad the movie is, I will bawl my eyes out.

Unfortunately for me, TB is a popular disease to die of in movies, especially in the period dramas I love so much. I’m doomed to an eternity of tears because of movies like these.

The Wind Rises (DVD 11597)

This one messed me up good. I cried in the movie theater, I cried in the lobby, and I cried into my hot chocolate at the café we retreated to afterward. It’s one of my favorite films.

Moulin Rouge (DVD 297)

Is there any movie scene more sad than consumptive Nicole Kidman dying in Ewan Mcgregor’s arms? I don’t think so.

Bright Star (DVD 7070)

In which the waifish John Keats dies of TB in Rome, forever separated from his beloved Fanny.

Tombstone (DVD 2812)

Doc Holliday battles tuberculosis…. And outlaws. I haven’t seen this one yet, but now I have to.

Les Miserables (DVD 254)

Anne Hathaway’s Oscar-winning performance as the long-suffering Fantine left me in tears.

Bonus:

The Forgotten Plague (DVD 12023)

Just in case you want to learn more about tuberculosis, the good people at PBS have you covered.

New Movies!

Looking for something new to watch? Check out these new titles in Media Services: Feature Films: American Animals — DVD 16068 Book Club — DVD 16065 Happy End — BLU 16064 First Reformed — DVD 16062 Testament of Youth — DVD 16053 Gold — DVD 16052 Alanis — DVD 16051 And Then I Go — DVD 16058 … Continue reading “New Movies!”

Looking for something new to watch? Check out these new titles in Media Services:

Feature Films:

  • American Animals — DVD 16068
  • Book Club — DVD 16065
  • Happy End — BLU 16064
  • First Reformed — DVD 16062
  • Testament of Youth — DVD 16053
  • Gold — DVD 16052
  • Alanis — DVD 16051
  • And Then I Go — DVD 16058
  • Coherence — DVD 16059

Documentaries:

  • American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs — DVD 16067
  • Finding Joseph I — DVD 16066
  • War on the EPA — DVD 16063
  • GI Jews — DVD 16057
  • The Bombing of Wall Street — DVD 16055
  • Blackout in Puerto Rico — DVD 16060
  • Capitalism — DVD 16061

You can check all of these out from the Media Services Desk… except Testament of Youth. I’m checking that one out for a weekend movie night.

Movies At Random: The Bad Seed

For the last random movie of May, we have the classic horror film The Bad Seed (HU DVD 4910). The plot summary on Wikipedia is too spoiler-y for my taste. But there’s a ton of interesting facts on the IMDB page, including one that is probably of interest only to me: Paul Henreid tried to buy … Continue reading “Movies At Random: The Bad Seed”

For the last random movie of May, we have the classic horror film The Bad Seed (HU DVD 4910). The plot summary on Wikipedia is too spoiler-y for my taste. But there’s a ton of interesting facts on the IMDB page, including one that is probably of interest only to me:

Paul Henreid tried to buy the rights to the play. He wanted to direct and was planning to cast Bette Davis in the role of the mother. (see IMDB)

Also intriguing, this film is what inspired the band name Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

If you somehow don’t know what this movie is about, here’s our summary:

A mother makes the tortuous discovery that her cherubic eight year old daughter harbors an innate desire to kill.

And here’s the trailer:
Happy viewing!

Movies At Random: The War Lover

Today’s random movie is The War Lover (HU DVD 10437) starring Steve McQueen. This black and white 1962 war film got kind of meh reviews, according to Wikipedia. Based on the trailer below, it’s…uh…”of its time,” shall we say. (Check out that font though.) This film was also at some point subjected to the bizarre process … Continue reading “Movies At Random: The War Lover”

Today’s random movie is The War Lover (HU DVD 10437) starring Steve McQueen. This black and white 1962 war film got kind of meh reviews, according to Wikipedia. Based on the trailer below, it’s…uh…”of its time,” shall we say. (Check out that font though.) This film was also at some point subjected to the bizarre process of colorizing old movies, though our version is black and white. But, hey, Steve McQueen playing a daredevil pilot so maybe it’s ok.

Here’s our summary:

Stationed in England during World War II, Buzz Rickson is the bravest air force pilot in his squadron. His maniacal quest for aerial thrills prompts his many daredevil heroics. His rebellious attitude, however, threatens to alienate him from everyone around him.

And here’s the absolutely amazing trailer:
Happy viewing!