Watchworthy

The Best Native American Movies 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated October 15, 2019 29.7k votes 4.9k voters 344.6k views 116 items

List Rules Only movies featuring native Americans.

Looking for the best Native American movies and films with Native American themes? This list ranks all the good Native American movies so you know what to watch first if you are looking to learn more about the culture and history of Native people. These are films that focus on American Indians and their cultures as part of the story's central theme - famous films like Dances with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans are widely known, but this list also includes lesser-known films like Smoke Signals and Skins. Some of these rank among the best war movies ever produced while others are heartfelt dramas who also have a place with the best costume drama films. Still others are love stories and great Native American romance movies. 

Once referred to as "Indians," Native Americans have an incredibly rich culture and history. While they may have originally only been used in Westerns as "the bad guys" (often played by white guys in red-face), today, Native Americans are just as often the heroes. Their braves, teepees, art, tomahawks, and skill with hunting buffalo are all veritable icons in American Indian movies. It's no small wonder then that they continue to be featured in Hollywood.

This is meant to be a list of all the greatest movies about Native Americans of all time, but if you feel we've left out any of the best Native American movies, please feel free to add them to the list yourself in the hope that they will receive enough votes to become the top Native American films of all time.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Smoke Signals is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Perrey Reeves, Cynthia Geary, Adam Beach

Released: 1998

Directed by: Chris Eyre

Smoke Signals is an independent film directed and co-produced by Chris Eyre and with a screenplay by Sherman Alexie, based on the short story "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, ...more

More Smoke Signals 

#394 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #863 of 1,030 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #32 of 50 The Best Movies Based on Short Stories

2
The Last of the Mohicans... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

Released: 1992

Directed by: Michael Mann

The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 and produced by Morgan Creek Pictures. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James Fenimore Cooper's novel of the same ...more

More The Last of the Mohicans 

#31 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #728 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Dances with Wolves is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

Released: 1990

Directed by: Kevin Costner

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells ...more

More Dances with Wolves 

#50 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #107 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Powwow Highway is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Powwow Highway A Martinez, Amanda Wyss, Wes Studi

Released: 1989

Directed by: Jonathan Wacks

Powwow Highway is a 1989 comedy-drama road movie based on the novel of the same name by David Seals. It features A Martinez, Gary Farmer, Joanelle Romero and Amanda Wyss. Wes Studi and Graham ...more
5
Dance Me Outside is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Sandrine Holt, Hugh Dillon, Adam Beach

Released: 1994

Directed by: Bruce McDonald

Dance Me Outside is a 1994 drama film directed and co-written by Bruce McDonald. It was based on a book by W.P. Kinsella.
6
Bury My Heart at Wounded... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Anna Paquin, J.K. Simmons, Aidan Quinn

Released: 2007

Directed by: Yves Simoneau

This film is a 2007 television film adapted from the book of the same name by Dee Brown. The film was written by Daniel Giat, directed by Yves Simoneau and produced by HBO Films. The book on ...more

More Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee 

#76 of 153 The Most Utterly Depressing Movies Ever Made #8 of 59 The Best Western Movies of the 21st Century #165 of 322 The Best Political Films Ever Made

7
Little Big Man is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Carole Androsky, Robert Little Star, Dustin Hoffman

Released: 1970

Directed by: Arthur Penn

Little Big Man (Lakota: Wičháša Tȟáŋkala), or Charging Bear, was an Oglala Lakota, or Oglala Sioux, who was a fearless and respected warrior who fought under, and was rivals with, ...more

More Little Big Man 

#201 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #278 of 1,030 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #71 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made

8
Windtalkers is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Nicolas Cage, Mark Ruffalo, Christian Slater

Released: 2002

Directed by: John Woo

Windtalkers is a 2002 American film directed and produced by John Woo, and starring Nicolas Cage and Adam Beach. The film was released in the United States on June 14, 2002.

More Windtalkers 

#55 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #374 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #3 of 12 The 12 Most Inaccurate War Movies Ever Made

9
Thunderheart is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Val Kilmer, David Crosby, Sam Shepard

Released: 1992

Directed by: Michael Apted

Thunderheart is a 1992 contemporary western mystery film directed by Michael Apted from an original screenplay by John Fusco. The film is a loosely based fictional portrayal of events relating ...more

More Thunderheart 

#165 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #49 of 106 The Best Detective Fiction Movies #9 of 80 The Best Val Kilmer Movies

10
Skins is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Skins Graham Greene, Winona LaDuke, Tina Keeper

Released: 2002

Directed by: Chris Eyre

Skins is a 2002 feature film by Chris Eyre and based upon the novel of the same name by Adrian C. Louis. The film is set on the fictional Beaver Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota near the ...more
11
Dreamkeeper is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Native American Movies
PanyEconomidou added August Schellenberg, Nathaniel Arcand, Alex Rice

Released: 2003

Directed by: Steve Barron

Dreamkeeper is a 2003 film written by John Fusco and directed by Steve Barron. The main plot of the film is the conflict between a Lakota elder and storyteller named Pete Chasing Horse and his ...more
12
Last of the Dogmen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Tom Berenger, Barbara Hershey, Wilford Brimley

Released: 1995

Directed by: Tab Murphy

Last of the Dogmen is a 1995 American Western adventure film written and directed by Tab Murphy and starring Tom Berenger and Barbara Hershey. Set in the mountains of northwest Montana near the ...more
13
A Man Called Horse is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Richard Harris, Judith Anderson, James Gammon

Released: 1970

Directed by: Elliot Silverstein

A Man Called Horse is a 1970 American Western film starring Richard Harris and directed by Elliot Silverstein. Based on a short story by Dorothy M. Johnson, "A Man Called Horse", ...more

More A Man Called Horse 

#82 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #14 of 45 The Best Western Movies of the '70s #67 of 162 The Best Western Movies on Amazon Prime

14
Windwalker is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Trevor Howard, James Remar, Billy Drago

Released: 1980

Directed by: Kieth Merrill

Windwalker is a 1981 western adventure film, based on a novel by Blaine M. Yorgason, starring Trevor Howard and Nick Ramus. It was shot in various outdoor locations in Utah. To maintain ...more

More Windwalker 

#28 of 40 The Best '80s Western Movies #166 of 222 The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked

15
Incident at Oglala is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Norman Zigrossi, Robert Sikma, Darelle Butler

Released: 1992

Directed by: Michael Apted

On June 26, 1975, during a period of high tensions on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, two FBI agents were killed in a shootout with a group of Indians. Although several men were ...more

More Incident at Oglala 

#112 of 358 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time #7 of 16 The Best Movies Based In South Dakota

16
Black Robe is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Sandrine Holt, August Schellenberg, Raoul Trujillo

Released: 1991

Directed by: Bruce Beresford

Black Robe is a 1991 film directed by Bruce Beresford. The screenplay was written by Irish Canadian author Brian Moore, who adapted it from his novel of the same name. The film's main character, ...more

More Black Robe 

#485 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #50 of 62 The 30+ Best Modern Western Movies #10 of 58 The Best '90s Western Movies

17
Billy Jack is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Tom Laughlin, Howard Hesseman, Johnny Otis

Released: 1971

Directed by: Tom Laughlin

Billy Jack is a 1971 action/drama independent film; the second of four films centering on a character of the same name which began with the movie The Born Losers, played by Tom Laughlin, who ...more

More Billy Jack 

#346 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #167 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #29 of 41 The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s

18
Into the West is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Native American Movies
k-kelly added Into the West
Into the West is a 2005 miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks, with six two-hour episodes. The series was first broadcast in the U.S. on Turner Network Television on six Fridays ...more
19
Grand Avenue is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Irene Bedard, Tantoo Cardinal, Eloy Casados

Released: 1996

Directed by: Daniel Sackheim

Grand Avenue is a 1996 drama written by Greg Sarris and directed by Daniel Sackheim.
20
Legends of the Fall is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Native American Movies
matt24a added Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Julia Ormond

Released: 1994

Directed by: Edward Zwick

Legends of the Fall is a 1994 American epic drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, and Henry Thomas. Based on the 1979 novella of ...more

More Legends of the Fall 

#221 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #557 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

21
Lakota Woman: Siege at W... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Peter Weller, Irene Bedard

Released: 1994

Directed by: Frank Pierson

Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee is a 1994 TNT original movie starring Irene Bedard, Tantoo Cardinal, Pato Hoffmann, Joseph Runningfox, Lawrence Bayne, and Michael Horse and August ...more
22
Atanarjuat: The Fast Run... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Madeline Piujuq Ivalu

Released: 2001

Directed by: Zacharias Kunuk

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is a 2001 Canadian film directed by Zacharias Kunuk. It was the first feature film ever to be written, directed and acted entirely in Inuktitut. Set in the ancient ...more
23
The New World is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Native American Movies
Christian Bale, Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer

Released: 2005

Directed by: Terrence Malick

The New World is a 2005 British-American romantic historical drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick, depicting the founding of the Jamestown, Virginia settlement and inspired by the ...more

More The New World 

#791 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #280 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time #433 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

24
The Cherokee Word for Wa... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Native American Movies
kristina-kiehl added Zahn McClarnon, Deanna Dunagan, Moses Brings Plenty

Released: 2013

Directed by: Tim Kelly, Charlie Soap

The Cherokee Word for Water is a 2013 drama film directed by Tim Kelly and Charlie Soup.
25
Clearcut is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Native American Movies
wiabux added Graham Greene, Tom Jackson

Directed by: Ryszard Bugajski

Clearcut is a 1991 Canadian drama film about clearcutting in a Canadian province. This motion picture stars Graham Greene, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Tom Jackson, and Raoul Trujillo. It is ...more