10 Films About Indigenous People & Struggles You Need to Watch

Looking for some film inspiration? Get educated and enraged by your movie entertainment with these películas centered on Indigenous communities in Latin America, the U.S. and around the globe.

Tackling colonialism, wars, gender-based violence and so much more, these films share real-life stories of oppression, resistance and survival.

MORE: 9 Films that Tackle Race Relations Head-On

1. Chiapas: The Fight for Land and Liberty

The 1994 film “Chiapas: The Fight for Land and Liberty” offers a glimpse into the early months of the Zapatista uprising, showing the women and men from the Chiapas region of southern Mexico who risk their lives to defend their land. Through personal narratives, the film illustrates why these Indigenous people are fighting for themselves and their children.

2. The Sixth Sun: Mayan Uprising in Chiapas

For more on the Zapatistas, watch the 1995 film "The Sixth Sun: Mayan Uprising in Chiapas," where viewers get an unsensationalized view of who the Zapatistas are, what they're fighting for and the many ways U.S. corporations, The North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization are behind the violence that started the uprising.

3. Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee

Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee” is based on the true story of Mary Crow Dog, a Lakota girl who wants to assimilate into dominant U.S. culture until she learns of the injustices that society has and continues to inflict on her people, moving her to protest.

4. Paraiso for Sale

This 2011 film looks at the land conflict occurring in Bocas del Toro, Panama, a cluster of small islands on the Caribbean coast, where Indigenous Panamanians and Afro-Panamanians are fighting to reclaim the land from the wealthy white-Americans buying a “slice of paradise.” 

5. When the Mountains Tremble

This 1983 documentary looks at the war between the Guatemalan Military and the Mayan Indigenous population in the country, centering on the experiences of Rigoberta Menchú, a Quiché Indigenous woman who is now a Nobel Prize Winner.

6. Granito: How to Nail a Dictator

"Granito" shares the story of how Guatemalan Indigenous leaders and human rights activists were able to bring down Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, a tyrant who led a genocide against Indigenous Mayans in the region in the early 1980s.

7. Rabbit-Proof Fence

This 2002 film tells the story of three aboriginal girls in 1931 Western Australia who were taken a thousand miles away from their homes to be indentured servants. The girls escape and embark on a journey home.

8. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" is a 2007 film adapted from a book of the same name that shares the history and endeavors Native Americans of the U.S.' West, who in the 1860s and 1870s were forced to move from their traditional ways to living on reservations.

9. We Women Warriors

We Women Warriors” is a documentary that follows three women in Colombia’s war-torn Indigenous villages who use nonviolent resistance to defend themselves, their families and their land.

10. Seed Spirits

Seed Spirits” portrays the lives of Otomí (Hnahnu, Indigenous peoples of Mexico) in different regions. An impoverished and marginalized people, women and children live on their traditional lands in the central altiplano of Mexico, while many of the men have migrated to cities, including Durham, North Carolina.