10 Must See Native American Movies Based on True Stories

These are our top Native American Movies based on true stories or events that we highly recommend that you watch.

Native American Movies

Now most Hollywood movies don’t necessary portray the naked truth of Native American Stories. 

Windtalkers | Native American Movies

In World War 2, the Navajo Wind Talkers helped win the war using their Navajo Dine language. The Movie Created by John Woo with a production budget of 115 Million but only grossed 77 million in the box office.

One notable Native American Star in this movie is Adam Beach who also stars in a great Native American movie called Smoke Signals. 

The Navajo Windtalkers formulated their own code within their own language as well. For example they would use different names for birds to talk about different planes in the sky.

Their code was so well developed that even other Navajo people couldn’t decipher their code because they used words that meant certain things pertaining to the war. They were the ones to provide communications for the US Marine Corps stationed in the South Pacific.

Although the movie is really “White Washed”, it highlights the fact that the unbreakable code of the Navajo Language Code was crucial in success in the War.

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Indian Horse | Native American Movies

The Movie Indian Horse tells one of the stories of attending Residential Schools and Surviving. It was said that you were more likely to die in Residential schools then going to World War 2.

In this movie it follows a Native American boy named Saul Indian Horse, who becomes a star hockey player. It was from his talents and skills as a hockey player that helps him navigate through a lot of the dark things that happened during this time.

Many Children of the Parents who went to residential schools feel the Inter-Generational trauma. There are a lot of drugs and alcohol present in homes, broken families, roller coaster of emotions, chaos, and much more.

The Residential Schools were made after the Indian Act was formed after the signing of Treaties between First Nations and Settlers of Canada.

The Indian Act wanted to take the “Indian” out of the children.

One way to do this was to control the situation with Schools.

The Schools took a Native American Child and robbed them of their identity. They cut their braids off, forbid them to speak their Native Language, dressed them differently, they could not sing their songs, and abused them in unspeakable ways.

As many as 6,000 students died in Residential schools that ran from 1876 to 1996. Every year on September 30th, people in Canada celebrate Orange Shirt day to Honour the children who have attended Residential Schools across the Country.

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The Last of the Mohicans | Native American Movies

The film talks about time during the war of French and Native Americans in 1757 during the time of the “Indian Wars”. The film is about main Character “Hawk Eye” who is raised in the forest by his Native American Brothers of the Mohican Tribe.

It’s a way to look into the past about how it was when North America was forming and how the Settlers came in and wanted to take dominance of the land.

The Movie starred a famous Native American Activist by the name of Russell Means. He is known for his fight of Native American rights and an advocate for Native American People. Russell since passed away at the age of 72 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Although the Hollywood Production is based on Fictional Stories, the movie itself shows how the conflicts were in the year of the 1700s.

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The Revenant | Native American Movies

The Revenant takes us back into time during the Fur Trade. The movie was based from the story of Hugh Glass who was a frontiersman, explorer, American frontiersman, fur trapper in the early 19th Century.

In the story you will find the Pawnee people who Hugh Glass had a son who was half Pawnee. 

Although the movie is not focused on Native American people, you can find many notable scenes with the Native American people in it and how they played major roles during the fur trade time. 

The story has shown the Pawnee people in this movie. 

The Pawnee tribe now reside in Oklahoma but before this it was said they resided in the Nebraska and Kansas area.

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Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) | Native American Movies

The film starred famous Native American actor Wes Studi. It tells a story of how Geronimo decides to lead an armed resistance against the US government after it fails to deliver on the promises concerning the well-being of his people.

Geronimo is an Apache warrior who is legend for many Native American People. He was a medicine man and prominent leader from the Bedonkohe band of Apache tribes.

Geronimo lived during 1800s and passed away in 1909 in present day Oklahoma. He was well known for being a brave warrior who fought for his people and his way of life.

There are many books written about the Apache Leader and this movie dives into a little bit of who he was for his people.

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Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)

According to the Fourth Addition of Canada’s Top 10 List, Atanarjuat was voted as Canada’s Number 1 Film of All Time.

The movie is about the Inuit People in Canada’s Artic. It shows the crime that happens and how it effects the tight knit group of people surviving together.

he Film was shot in Nunavut and it is entirely in the Inuktitut language.

The story in the film is from Oral Stories that have been passed down for many generations and shares how it was like about 2,000 years ago. They wore authentic clothing that they would wear back in the day as well.

Take a dive into the past and learn about how the Inuit people lived years ago and how they survived.

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Wind River | Native American Movies

In the movie a rookie FBI agent is sent to investigate the murder of an Indigenous Woman on the American Reservation of Wind River in Wyoming.

Wind River movie is not fully a true story but based on many true stories of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It has been documented that there is a link between MMIW and the oilfield industry.

Wind River shows insights in some of the stories about how the oil industry is linked to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

It’s a tough movie to watch and makes you realize the violence that Indigenous woman face, not just with oilfield people but throughout North America.

Native American Women are 4 times more likely to be raped than other Americans and 10 times more likely to be murdered.

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Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse Movie based on the Lakota Warrior Crazy Horse. 

Crazy Horse fought for his people, his land, and his way of life. As settlers moved into the land they started to force them out. They had many agreements to have peace but that quickly went out the window and escalated into the Indian Wars and into famous battles such as The Battle of Little Bighorn.


Crazy Horse had a vision in dream of this warrior floating into battle on a horse which got struck by lightning and left certain marks and dots on the warrior.

That had been interpreted to a way Crazy Horse should present himself in battles and if he did that, he would not be hurt in battle. 

Crazy Horse fought right through till the end, even when his fellow Lakota people were taking agreements and given Agencies/Reservations to be taken care of by the White Man, he didn’t want to do it and depend on the White man for survival.

After becoming out manned and out gunned, he decided to surrender which lead to his murder.

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Running Brave

Running Brave movie shares the epic story of Billy Mills who left his reserve to go win Gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in the 10,000 meter race.

Billy Mills is a Lakota man born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Billy talked about how in the Olympic in Tokyo, the United States didn’t want to help him get home.

So he talked with the organizers in Tokyo and they were in disbelief that USA would not take care of one of their biggest stars at the Olympics who just won a Gold Medal.

They took care of Billy and set him up in a big limousine and organized his flight home back to America.

Billy Mills started to date a Caucasian lady and a lot of things came out of that. The parents of the lady didn’t approve of her being with an Indian.

These are the days were the relationship between Settlers and Native American people were not so great….I guess it is still the case.

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

This movie shares the story of Native American people during the time of 1860 and 1870s. It shares details about how they were treated during the time of being forced into Reservations.

There are notable people in this movie such as the Famous Sitting bull and also Red Cloud. This was the time after the Battle of Little Bighorn that had the famous warrior, Crazy Horse involved in those famous battles.

The movie was adapted by the book with the same title and was written by Dee Brown. 

Honourable Mention – Avatar

Obviously Avatar is not Native American people but it clearly shows a metaphor of what happened in North America.

Here you have a story of people who come into a new land and want to take the resources of the new world.

During the time of 1491, explorers started to come into America. Their land was becoming depleted of resources and they found this land full of great abundance and came in and started to ravish the land.

This movie shares a lot of the things that the Native American people faced and are still facing till this day. Native American people are still fighting for their land and their resources because they think 7 generations ahead when making crucial decisions about the land.

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Pocahontas 1995

Pocahontas Movie by Disney is actually based on a True Story. Although Disney released a version of the story to cater to their following.

The true story is very dark and gloomy. 

Pocahontas was a real person who took on her name of her Mother after she had passed away. She started to resemble her mom, and so her father Chief Powhatan gifted her the name that her mother had.

John Smith was a real person, although his real name was John Rolfe. The real story is a lot more about kidnapping, rape, forced marriage, impregnating, and lies.

You can check out the Pocahontas and John Smith The Real Story here. 

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Black Robe

Black Robe came out in 1991 directed by Bruce Beresford and starring Lothaire Bluteau, Aden Young, Sandrine Holt, August Schellenberg and Tantoo Cardinal.

This film was set in the early 1600s following Priest LaForgue who is working to bring Christ to the Algonquin natives.

Many critics shared the same feelings about how the movie did portray a good take on how Cultural Genocide happened, but painted the Native Americans with many inaccuracies such as how the puzzling behavior of the Iroquois captors” who “would never have gratuitously killed a young prisoner who could have been adopted into a family to replace a fallen kinsman,”

What Are your Favourite Native American Movies?

Comment below what your favourite movies are.

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