Public Media Honors ‘The Warrior Tradition’ This Native American Heritage Month

November 5, 2019

The Warrior Tradition

'The Warrior Tradition' explores the history of Native Americans in the military, including scouts at Fort Apache circa 1884. The man seated in the center is 'Cut-Mouth,' the first sergeant of Company A. Photo by Christian Barthelmess, courtesy of  the National Archives

The PBS premiere of a documentary exploring Native American warrior tradition highlights public media programming airing in November, Native American Heritage Month.

“‘The Warrior Tradition’ is a story like no other. It reminds us that there are extraordinary men and women who are quiet heroes and heroines, who came from many tribes, over a long period of time, committed to serving our country – guided by a code based on tradition, honor, service, courage and dignity,” said CPB President and CEO Pat Harrison, at a panel and preview screening of the film held recently at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. “They are proud of their heritage, and our country is stronger for their service.”


“The Warrior Tradition” explores the ways the culture and traditions of Native Americans have affected their participation in the United States military. The one-hour documentary, co-produced by WNED-TV Buffalo Toronto and Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc., airs as a Veterans Day special at 9 pm November 11, on PBS (check local listings). Additional essays, classroom resources and bonus videos created by Native American filmmakers on their military service can be found at


PBS also features back-to-back Native American themed premieres on November 18. “N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear,” examines the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Navarro Scott Momaday, a formative voice of the Native American Renaissance in art and literature and best known for the novel “House Made of Dawn.” The documentary, by fellow Kiowa Jeffrey Palmer, airs on American Masters at 9 pm (check local listings). “Conscience Point” explores the tensions over the building boom in Long Island’s wealthy Hamptons, where Shinnecock Indian Nation protesters seek to preserve their heritage. Treva Wurmfeld directed the film, airing on Independent Lens at 10:30 p.m. (check local listings).


“Return to Rainy Mountain,” a companion piece to “Words From a Bear,” is an account of Momaday’s life and legacy told in the voices of Momaday and his daughter Jill. The Vision Maker Media production is premiering on PBS stations this month (check local listings).

Other public media Native American Heritage Month programs include:

The broadcast premiere of “The Blackfeet Flood,” tracking the lives of two families after the devastating 1964 flood of the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, will air on WORLD Channel, the public television multicast channel airing in two-thirds of U.S. households. The  documentary, directed and produced by Benjamin Shors and funded by Vision Maker Media, is part of a larger narrative on the enduring impact of the flood, which killed 31 people when two dams collapsed. The broadcast airs on Monday, November 25, at 9 pm ET/8 CT on WORLD Channel’s “Local USA” and streams at Online oral histories with flood survivors can be found at, and at the “Blackfeet 1964” app for Android and iPhone.

“Molly of Denali,” the first nationally distributed children’s series to feature a Native American character, premiered in July and airs regularly on PBS stations (check local listings), the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and PBS KIDS digital platforms. The program features Molly Mabray, a contemporary Gwich’in/Koyukon/Dena’ina Athabascan girl who uses a variety of resources to solve problems, demonstrating foundational literacy skills needed by today’s young learners. The series is developed and produced by WGBH in partnership with CBC Kids, with support from CPB. It is also funded through the CPB-PBS Ready To Learn Initiative.

On public radio, Anchorage-based Koahnic Broadcast Corporation distributes programming focused on Indigenous life and values through Native Voice One, the Native American radio network that broadcasts in 39 states and streams online. CPB-supported programming includes the five-minute weekday newscast “National Native News,” the weekday national call-in show “Native America Calling” and the daily music mix program “UnderCurrents.” This November, “UnderCurrents” is producing a one-hour “Native Music Special” on contemporary artists with rare live recordings of Ulali and Bill Miller, plus interviews with Buffy Sainte Marie and Raye Zaragoza. The special, hosted by Gregg McVicar & Gabriela Castelán, is distributed by PRX  (check local radio listings).

Additional Native American Heritage Month programming can be found on local PBS stations, WORLD Channel and Native Voice One. Check local and online listings and streaming apps. In addition, a special collection of Vision Maker Media Documentaries is available for free streaming through the American Archive for Public Broadcasting and the Library of Congress.  

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