Save the date: On November 6, PBS Distribution releases Native America, a new series from Providence Pictures, that weaves history and science with living indigenous traditions. The series brings to life a land of massive cities connected by social networks spanning two continents, with unique and sophisticated systems of science, art and writing. Made with the active participation of Native American communities and filmed in some of the most spectacular locations in the hemisphere, the program illuminates the splendor of a past whose story has for too long remained untold.
Narrated by Robbie Robertson (Mohawk and member of the famed rock group The Band), each part of Native America explores Great Nations and reveals cities, sacred stories and history long hidden in plain sight. In what is now America’s Southwest, indigenous people built stone skyscrapers with untold spiritual power and transformed deserts into fertile fields. In upstate New York, warriors renounced war and formed America’s first democracy 500 years before the Declaration of Independence, later inspiring Benjamin Franklin. Just outside of Mexico City, the ancient city of Teotihuacan is home to massive pyramids built to align with the sun and moon. On the banks of the Mississippi, rulers also raised a metropolis of pyramids and drew thousands to their new city to worship the sky. And in the American West, nomadic tribes transformed a weapon of conquest—the horse—into a new way of life, turning the tables on European invaders and building a mobile empire.
The producers of the program were given remarkable access to Native American communities, going behind the scenes at special events, including a pilgrimage to ancestral ruins at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, a trek across lost territories in the American West and an investiture ceremony for a chief in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by cedar totem poles and centuries of tradition. Numerous Native American musicians provided music for the series and tribal members and descendant communities, whose ancestors built this world, share their stories, revealing long-held oral traditions as the thread that runs through the past to these living cultures today.