An Earth Month Playlist: Centering Indigenous Voices

Documentaries and programs that show environmental stewardship from Indigenous perspectives.
Published on April 13, 2022 by Beatrice Alvarez

Earth Day was created in 1970 as a way to support environmentalism and raise awareness of the ways in which we can prevent further environmental damage. Every year April 22 serves as a day to learn more and do more to be good stewards of the Earth. What better way to do that than to listen to Indigenous voices and learn from their traditions of caring for the land, air, and water.

In this collection of films and programs,
Indigenous people of the North American continent share their environmental knowledge and experiences, whether it's about minimizing damage from wildfires, keeping water clean, preserving lands, or connecting with familial places and traditions, the key is listening to the original stewards of this little spot of Earth we call home.

Indigenous Land Stewardship

From PBS SoCal:

This "Tending Nature" special features multiple perspectives and voices from Indigenous communities across California who are striving to keep the practices of their heritage alive. From coming-of-age rituals, seasonal food harvests, basket weaving and jewelry making, the documentary shares how traditional practices can be protected and maintained as a way of life for future generations.

Water Warriors

From POV Shorts:

When an energy company begins searching for natural gas in New Brunswick, Canada, indigenous and white families unite to drive out the company in a campaign to protect their water and way of life.

Climate Change and Indigenous People

From Hot Mess:

As the world figures out how to live with a rapidly changing climate, traditional knowledge from indigenous cultures could help us understand just how things are transforming.

We Can't Stop Wildfires—But Here's How We Live With Them

From Weathered:

The 2020 fire season is devastating communities, forcing thousands to evacuate, and choking the air with smoke. In this episode of Weathered, scientists and Native leaders tell us what we can do to reduce the harm fires can cause through design, building materials, and listening to the land. We’ll even watch researchers burn a home in their lab to identify weak points and make them stronger.

Standing Above the Clouds

From the PBS Short Film Festival:

Standing Above the Clouds follows Native Hawaiian mother-daughter activists as they stand to protect their sacred mountain Mauna Kea from the building of the world’s largest telescope.

Listening to Earth: Indigenous Wisdom and Climate Futures

From Cutline:

Hosted by NPR Science Friday’s Diana Montano, hear from a panel of Native environmental justice activists Eriel Deranger and Kyle Whyte on the climate knowledge that has existed in indigenous communities for generations, and the practical solutions that can spur a better collective attempt at caring for our planet.

The Indigenous Garden Project at Olbrich Garden

From University Place:

Rita Peters, Facilitator of the Indigenous Garden, and Erin Presley, Horticulturist, at Olbrich Botanical Gardens highlight the development of the indigenous garden from planning to planting to harvesting foods important to the Midwestern indigenous culture.

Land Back: The Indigenous Fight to Reclaim Stolen Lands

From KQED's Above the Noise:

Indigenous communities across the globe are experts at managing and protecting land. Is it time the U.S. finally returned STOLEN parklands back to them?

In Passport: My Louisiana Love

From America ReFramed:

Tracing Monique Verdin’s quest to find a place in her Native American community as it suffers from decades of environmental degradation. When she returns to Louisiana to reunite with family, she sees that the traditional way of life is threatened by a cycle of man-made environmental crises. Monique must overcome the loss of her house, her father and her partner, and redefine the meaning of home.