The Best Native American Movies

Over 5.5K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Native American Movies
Voting Rules
Only movies featuring native Americans.
Latest additions: War Pony
Most divisive: Big Eden

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, some are even . 

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, a few of them are even based on true stories. Vote up your  favorites to see which ones become the top Native American films of all time.

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  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

    Aidan Quinn, Adam Beach, Anna Paquin
    1,156 votes
    • Released: 2007
    • Directed by: Yves Simoneau

    A haunting and thought-provoking film that delves into the tragic events surrounding the infamous Wounded Knee Massacre. Viewers will be deeply moved by its heart-wrenching portrayal of the physical, emotional, and cultural devastation endured by the Native American people during this time. With a strong emphasis on historical accuracy and genuine performances, it's no wonder that this film continues to resonate with audiences.

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  • The Last of the Mohicans
    Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means
    2,162 votes
    • Released: 1992
    • Directed by: Michael Mann

    A sweeping historical epic that transports viewers back to the French and Indian War, following the adventures of a white man raised by the Mohican tribe. This film masterfully balances breathtaking action sequences with riveting storytelling, all the while providing a unique glimpse into Native American life and culture. Exceptional performances by Daniel Day-Lewis and Russell Means only add to the allure of this cinematic masterpiece.

  • Dances with Wolves
    Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene
    2,233 votes
    • Released: 1990
    • Directed by: Kevin Costner

    An unforgettable exploration of friendship, culture, and humanity, this film chronicles the journey of a disillusioned Civil War soldier as he forms an unexpected bond with the Sioux tribe. Kevin Costner's visionary direction and stunning cinematography capture the beauty of the Great Plains and pay homage to the spirit of the Native American people. A must-watch film that transcends its time and continues to captivate audiences.

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  • Smoke Signals
    Adam Beach, Evan Adams, Irene Bedard
    1,569 votes
    • Released: 1998
    • Directed by: Chris Eyre

    A poignant and humorous take on the Native American experience, this critically-acclaimed indie gem follows two young men on a road trip across America. Their journey is marked by deep introspection, self-discovery, and an exploration of family ties, all of which are showcased through a uniquely Indigenous lens. The film's wit and warmth make it an enduring favorite among viewers.

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  • Thunderheart
    Val Kilmer, Graham Greene, Sam Shepard
    1,132 votes
    • Released: 1992
    • Directed by: Michael Apted

    A gripping political thriller that centers around the murder investigation of a Native American leader. Set on a reservation in South Dakota, this film showcases the complexities of tribal politics and the struggle for independence, all while maintaining a pulse-pounding sense of suspense. With its impressive performances and unforgettable story, it's easy to see why Thunderheart is hailed as a classic.

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  • Into the West

    Into the West

    Keri Russell, Gary Busey, Tom Berenger
    424 votes
    • Released: 2005
    • Directed by: Simon Wincer

    An epic miniseries that follows the intertwining lives of two families, one Irish-American and one Native American, over several generations. Through this ambitious undertaking, viewers are treated to an expansive look at the history of America's westward expansion and its impact on Indigenous populations. With its moving story and stellar cast, Into the West offers an unparalleled viewing experience.