“Sometimes they have to kill us. They have to kill us, because they can’t kill our spirit. We choose the right to be who we are. We the know the difference between reality of freedom and the illusion of freedom. There is a way to live with the earth and a way not to live with the earth. We choose the way of earth.”–john trudell

In 1990, November was officially recognized as National American Indian Heritage Month.  The years since have proven to be both a political and artistic resurgence for Native Peoples. 

The Native American and Indigenous program became a formal addition to Sundance Institute in 1994, and as we reflect on the last 25 years of honoring Native American Heritage Month, we also want to recognize the contributions of Native filmmakers supported by the Native American and Indigenous program.

Smoke Signals (above)
Directed by Chris Eyre
1995 Directors Lab
1998 Sundance Film Festival

Directed by Heather Rae
2005 Sundance Film Festival

On the Ice
Directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean
2009 Directors Lab
2011 Sundance Film Festival

Directed by Billy Luther
2011 Sundance Film Festival

Find out more about these films and more here.

Film stills by Cybelle Codish (Grab) and Sebastian Mlynarski (On the Ice)

I burned the American flag in protest of the way the American government treats the indigenous Indian people of the United States of America. I burned the American flag as an act of protest against the injustice that is being extended against all of the people. We burned the American flag because it has been desecrated, and the only proper way to dispose of the American flag after desecration is to burn it. We feel that racism, sexism, and class separation, that these are desecrations. And we feel that the American flag does not represent integrity, honor, justice, or truth.
—  John Trudell
See, when they got off the boat, they didn’t recognize us. They said who are you and we said we’re the people, we’re the human beings. And they said, oh, Indians, because they didn’t recognize what it was to be a human being.
I’m a human being, this is the name of my tribe. This is the name of my people. But I’m a human being.
But then the predatory mentality shows up and starts calling us Indians and committing genocide against us as a vehicle of erasing the memory of being a human being. So they used war textbooks, history books, and when film came along, they used film.
You go in our own communities, how many of us are fighting to protect our identity of being an Indian. And 600 years ago, that word Indian, that sound was NEVER made on this hemisphere. That sound, that noise, was never ever made, ever. We’re trying to protect that as an identity, see, so it affects all of us. It’s reached the point evolutionarily speaking, we’re starting to not recognize ourselves as human beings.
We’re too busy trying to protect the idea of a Native American or an Indian, but we’re not Indians and we’re not Native Americans. We’re older than both concepts. We’re the people. We’re the human beings.

–John Trudell, Lakota Activist/Poet

From the incredible documentary “Reel Injun.”
John Trudell, American Indian activist, poet and actor, dies in California at 69
LOS ANGELES (AP) — John Trudell, who was a spokesman for American Indian protesters during their 1969 occupation of Alcatraz Island and later headed the American Indian Movement, died Tuesday. He was 69.

Many of you may not know him, but the man was a legend.

He was the spokesperson/rep for the Alcatraz occupation back in the day.
Guy was one of the leading indigenous activists, writers and poets.
He’s done a lot to advance the lives of the indigenous.

RIP John.

We have power… Our power isn’t in a political system, or a religious system, or in an economic system, or in a military system; these are authoritarian systems… they have power… but it’s not reality. The power of our intelligence, individually or collectively IS the power; this is the power that any industrial ruling class truly fears: clear coherent human beings. ~ John Trudell

The great lie is that it is ‘civilization’. It’s not civilized, it has been literally the most bloodthirsty brutalizing system ever imposed upon this planet. That is not civilization that’s “the great lie.” The great lie is that it represents ‘civilization.’ That’s the great lie, or if it does represent civilization and it’s truly what civilization is; then the great lie is that civilization is good for us.
—  John Trudell