Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian

Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian (

Watch Reel Injun – Trailer on PBS.


“What does it mean to have your identity defined by the movies?”  This question is posed during the Trailer of the movie.  I identified with this question because of the topic in our course concerning whether or not you need to understand your own culture before you can identify with another.  I suspect it is the same with your “identity”.

The movie is a documentary film by Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond.  Diamond takes a journey through the Americas to see how “the myth of “the Injun” has influenced the world’s understanding — and misunderstanding — of Natives.”  It has won several awards including the 2011 Peabody Award for excellence in electronic media.  I have to admit I have not seen the movie.  Only 3 or 4, 2-3 minute clips but I am exploring ways to see it.  What I have seen is both interesting and humorous.    I say humorous because one clip shows a montage of Hollywood actors that have portrayed Indians in films and they were all “white”.  Maybe it is insensitive to laugh but I was laughing because of the “patheticness” of Hollywood’s attempts – not that I think it was funny.  If anyone has access to this movie I would love to see it in its entirety.

~ Ryan


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