The best American Indian movies of all time involve portraying the Native Americans in a positive light while remaining entertaining and thought provoking films. Some of the movies went on to win awards while others are remembered as curiosities but all live in the history of cinema as some of the best movies of all time.




  1. “Dances with Wolves” – Kevin Costner directed this movie, which was nominated for twelve Oscars, winning seven of them, making it one of the best American Indian movies of all time. The movie has one of the most realistic portrayals of American Indian life, stretching over three hours of running time.


  2. “Last of the Mohicans”Daniel Day-Lewis stars in this, one of the best American Indian movies of all time. Day-Lewis is Hawkeye, an adopted son of a Mohican Indian family called upon to fight in the French and Indian War. While the Michael Mann directed film was widely lauded, it only received one Oscar nomination, which it won for Best Sound..


  3. “Little Big Man”Dustin Hoffman plays Jack Crabbe in this, one of the best American Indian movies of all time. Jack was a child when his family was murdered by the Pawnees but he was taken in and raised by the Cheyenne. The movie shows Jack as he splits is between his Cheyenne family and the white men.


  4. “Fort Apache” – John Wayne stars in this western, which is one of the best American Indian movies of all time. The film, directed by legendary director John Ford, presents Wayne as a military captain who tries to warn his troupe of the power of the Apaches. The movie paints the Indians in a positive light but is also a message about revisionist history as written by the winners.


  5. “Nanook of the North” – Nanook of the North is one of the earliest known documentary films, created in 1922 and one of the best American Indian movies of all time. While the movie is not a true documentary, much of the events taking place were staged by filmmakers, it is a great look at the Inuit people in their natural environment.


  6. “The New World” – Oscar nominated filmmaker Terrence Malick directs this look at Pocahontas, one of the best American Indian movies of all time. Colin Farrell stars as Captain Smith while Christopher Plummer and Christian Bale co-star in this clash between Native Americans and English settlers.


  7. “The Fast Runner” – This movie is about the life and rituals of the Inuit, one of the best American Indian movies of all time. The movie is over three hours long and leisurely paced, not everyone’s cup of tea but worth it to anyone with the patience to sit through it.


  8. “Smoke Signals” – Chris Eyre directs this 1998 independent film, one of the best American Indian movies of all time. The movie is a story of a group of young Native American men who take a road trip when one of their father’s die.


  9. “Apache” – “Apache” follows the true story of an Apache warrior in the days following Geronimo’s final surrender, one of the best American Indian movies of all time. Burt Lancaster stars as Massai with themes of racism and individual freedom in the face of adversity.


  10. “Apocalypto” – “Apocalypto” tells the story of the South American Indians during the Mayan civilization, one of the best American Indian movies of all time. Mel Gibson directs the movie, in which all the actors speak in the dead language of the ancient Mayans.