Posted by: CJ | February 16, 2009

Old Native American Movies

I’ve been slowly reading through some books on native american stories and art, and they made occasional references to old (as in 1910’s and 1920’s) films of native americans. The stories in the films were, predictably, not particularly not very representative of normal life. BUT, the art, tools, clothing, buildings, and other mundane things were completely authentic (it was movies of native americans after all, not actors playing native americans).

I became curious about the movies, but didn’t want to spend the money to see them if I could avoid it. Fortunately, the modern age came to the rescue. Wikipedia had information on Edwart Curtis, the maker of the pseudo-documentry¬† “In the Land of the Headhunters” about Northwestern tribes. A few clicks of link surfing later I found a similar movie called “Nanook of the North” about Eskimos.

The truly wonderous thing is that youtube has a lot of clips from both movies. For example, this is a clip of canoes rowing into a potlatch from Land of the Headhunters and here are a bunch of clips from Nanook of the North.

I’m trying to remember how life was possible before wikipedia and youtube, but I can’t find a wikipedia article on it or a youtube clip. My conclusion is it wasn’t.



  1. And cell phones. That’s what I have a hard time remembering Life Before. High school and college would have been so much easier with cell phones. And texting and the ability to send pix & video.

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