American Indian Top Movie ShowDown-Round III

Voting Rules
American Indian Films
Editor's Note: Voting and Reranking have been closed.

The American Indian Film Institute has been bringing you authentic, significant, and compelling films since our beginning in 1975. In honor of our 40th Anniversary we ask you to vote which American Indian Movie is the best of our time (1970-2014). All films included here have been screened at the American Indian Film Festival with many directors, producers, actresses and actors in attendance. Many of these films offer inquisitive realism, profound joy and frustration, and a strong narrative bridge to contemporary Native life-ways. Cast your VOTE and help AIFI identify OUR Top 10 American Indian Movies!!  

AIFI would like to remind you that votes are cumulative and only “thumbs up” votes are accounted for. 

Round 3 will run September 5 -18 and will decide (Top 10)  

The #2 Film will be shown at the AMC Metreon 16 in San Francisco, CA in October Date and Time TBA  

The #1 Film will be shown at the 40th annual American Indian Film Festival running November 6-14, 2015 In San Francisco, CA  

So, cast your vote and stay tuned for AIFI’s Top 10 American Indian Movie Show Down! 

Photo: Metaweb / GNU Free Documentation License

  • The Cherokee Word for Water (2013)
    138 votes

    The Cherokee Word for Water (2013)

    A feature-length motion picture that tells the story of the work that led Wilma Mankiller to become the first modern female Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

  • West of Thunder (2012)
    58 votes

    West of Thunder (2012)

    A stranger named Henry Seed shows up in a South Dakota village in the year 1899, on the outskirts of the Lakota Pine Ridge Preservation. When horrific events begin to occur, the residents, still traumatized by the Massacre of Wounded Knee nine years earlier, begin to point fingers at the new guy in town, but the truth could be even darker.

  • Unbowed (1999)
    182 votes

    Unbowed (1999)

    In the late 1890s, a generation after the Civil War, Cleola (Tembi Locke), a high spirited student at Beckwourth College, appears to be in step with the rigid society of the American South. She has just become engaged to the most affluent of the students (Richard -played by Chuma Hunter-Gault), when three young Lakota prisoners-of-war are dragged to the College - among them the defiant Warrior, Waka Mani (Jay Tavare).

  • Smoke Signals (1998)
    61 votes

    Smoke Signals (1998)

    Arnold (Gary Farmer) rescued Thomas (Evan Adams) from a fire when he was a child. Thomas thinks of Arnold as a hero, while Arnold's son Victor (Adam Beach) resents his father's alcoholism, violence and abandonment of his family. Uneasy rivals and friends, Thomas and Victor spend their days killing time on a Coeur d'Alene reservation in Idaho and arguing about their cultural identities. When Arnold dies, the duo set out on a cross-country journey to Phoenix to retrieve Arnold's ashes.

  • Powwow Highway (1981)
    40 votes

    Powwow Highway (1981)

    Two Cheyenne Indian friends with very different outlooks on life set off on a road trip. Philbert Bono (Gary Farmer) is a spiritual seeker trying to find the answers to life's questions; his pal, Buddy Red Bow (A Martinez), is a realist who sees the world in black-and-white terms. When Buddy's sister is jailed in Santa Fe, N.M., the mismatched duo hit the highway in Philbert's dilapidated 1964 Buick and experience wild twists and turns on their journey of self-discovery.

  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)
    38 votes

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)

    In the 1880s, after the U. S. Army's defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the government continues to push Sioux Indians off their land. In Washington, D.C., Senator Henry Dawes (Aidan Quinn) introduces legislation to protect Native Americans rights. In South Dakota, schoolteacher Elaine Goodale (Anna Paquin) joins Sioux native and Western-educated Dr. Charles Eastman in working with tribe members. Meanwhile, Lakota Chief Sitting Bull refuses to give into mounting government pressures.