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NATIVE AMERICA

Stream now or tune in Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 from Noon - 4 p.m. on KPBS TV

Comanche tribe riders at annual fair. Morgan Tosee has kept the Comanche peop...

Credit: Courtesy of Providence Pictures

Above: Comanche tribe riders at annual fair. Morgan Tosee has kept the Comanche people's special connection to the horse alive for generations.

Available to stream on demand with KPBS Passport!

NATIVE AMERICA, a four-part series, 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, NATIVE AMERICA illuminates the splendor of a past whose story has for too long remained untold.

NATIVE AMERICA: Official Trailer

NATIVE AMERICA explores the world created by America’s First Peoples. The four-part series reaches back 15,000 years to reveal massive cities aligned to the stars, unique systems of science and spirituality, and 100 million people connected by social networks spanning two continents.

Recent discoveries informed by Native American oral histories have led to a bold new perspective on North and South America – that through social networks spanning two continents ancient people shared a foundational belief system with a diversity of cultural expressions.

Ancient Amazon Peoples

Ancient Amazon art suggests people have been in the Americas much longer than previously thought.

This and other research is leading to revelations that will forever change how we understand Native America.

Extended Interview: The Earliest Cave Paintings in America

Archaeologist Anna Roosevelt dates the cave paintings in Brazil's Amazon jungle to 13,000 years ago. Her discovery rewrites the traditional history of the peopling of the America and who those people were - not just big game hunters but also artists and scientists.

The series highlights intimate Native American traditions and follows field archaeologists using 21st century tools such as multispectral imaging and DNA analysis to uncover incredible narratives of America’s past; venturing into Amazonian caves containing the Americas’ earliest art and interactive solar calendar; exploring a massive tunnel beneath a pyramid at the center of one of ancient America’s largest cities; and mapping the heavens in celestially aligned cities.

Extended Interview: David Carrasco on Shared Beliefs

David Carrasco illuminates the similarities of the religious beliefs shared by indigenous peoples across the Americas. These similarities include sky worship including the sun and moon, the power of water, sacrality of trees, and human relationships to animal spirits.

Narrated by Robbie Robertson (Mohawk and member of the famed rock group The Band).

Each episode 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 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.
  • 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 Comanche and the Horse

Today the image of Indians on horseback is iconic. But Native Americans never set eyes on a horse before the 15th century when Europeans bring them to America as a weapon of conquest. The Comanche and other native peoples adapt the horse as a powerful ally in the fight to protect their land and way of life. The Comanche consider the horse a relative and a gift from the Creator.

The producers of NATIVE AMERICA 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.

Chaco Chocolate

Archaeology reveals long distance trade with Chaco, including chocolate and precious metals.

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.

“I can no longer look at this land without thinking of the millions of Native Americans who created a world in which people lived as family with all living things, and that their way of life still has the power to make a more just and sustainable future,” said executive producer and director Gary Glassman.

Hopi Origin Story

Many Native American peoples share a belief that they emerged from the earth. For the Hopi and other Pueblo peoples, after they emerge they meet the caretaker of the earth who instructs them to honor Mother Earth by taking care of her. They are instructed to walk to the world’s farthest corners, to learn the earth with their feet and to find their Center Place.

Inventive animations by Academy Award-nominated artists and 3D computer modeling bring ancient ruins to life, enabling viewers to experience the pre-Columbian world in an immersive way.

The result is a new window into a 15,000-year-old story that unifies North and South America and resonates to this day.

Haudenosaunee’s Legendary Founding

The Hiawatha wampum belt tells the story of the Haudenosaunee’s legendary founding and wampum’s power to heal. It tells of a warrior named Hiawatha who meets a prophet known as the Peacemaker. Together, with the help of Jigonsaseh, the first Clan Mother, they bring an end to war and create America’s first democracy.

Numerous Native American musicians provided music for the series:

EPISODE GUIDE:

“From Caves To Cosmos” - Combine ancient wisdom and modern science to answer a 15,000-year-old question: who were America’s First Peoples? The answer hides in Amazonian cave paintings, Mexican burial chambers, New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon and waves off California’s coast.

Episode 1 Preview | From Caves to Cosmos

Combine ancient wisdom and modern science to answer a 15,000-year-old question: who were America’s First Peoples? The answer hides in Amazonian cave paintings, Mexican burial chambers, New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon and waves off California’s coast.

“Nature To Nations” - Explore the rise of great American nations, from monarchies to democracies. Investigate lost cities in Mexico, a temple in Peru, a potlatch ceremony in the Pacific Northwest and a tapestry of shell beads in upstate New York whose story inspired our own democracy.

Episode 2 Preview | Nature to Nations

Explore the rise of great American nations, from monarchies to democracies. Investigate lost cities in Mexico, a temple in Peru, a potlatch ceremony in the Pacific Northwest and a tapestry of shell beads in upstate New York whose story inspired our own democracy.

“Cities Of The Sky” - Discover the cosmological secrets behind America’s ancient cities. Scientists explore some of the world’s largest pyramids and 3D-scan a lost city of monumental mounds on the Mississippi River; native elders reveal ancient powers of the sky.

Episode 3 Preview | Cities of the Sky

Discover the cosmological secrets behind America’s ancient cities. Scientists explore some of the world’s largest pyramids and 3D-scan a lost city of monumental mounds on the Mississippi River; native elders reveal ancient powers of the sky.

“New World Rising” - Discover how resistance, survival and revival are revealed through an empire of horse-mounted Comanche warriors, secret messages encoded in an Aztec manuscript and a grass bridge in the Andes that spans mountains and centuries.

Episode 4 Preview | New World Rising

Discover how resistance, survival and revival are revealed through an empire of horse-mounted Comanche warriors, secret messages encoded in an Aztec manuscript and a grass bridge in the Andes that spans mountains and centuries.

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

The series is currently available to stream on demand with KPBS Passport.

The series was available to stream for free following each broadcast for a limited time. Extend your viewing window with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members supporting KPBS at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

The DVD will be available at ShopPBS.org. The series will also be available on Digital HD.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

PBS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @PBS on Twitter. #NativeAmericaPBS

CREDITS:

Executive produced and directed by Gary Glassman for Providence Pictures. Julianna Brannum (Comanche) is series producer and talent liaison. Producers/directors: Joseph C. Sousa and Scott Tiffany. Producer/editor: Rob Tinworth. Edited by Sean Sandefur, with music by Ed Tomney. Coordinating producers: Maureen Barden Lynch and Ben Sweeney. Animation by Handcranked Productions. Sacred Story animations by Daniel Sousa, with 3D animation by Mitch Butler.

Inside Look | Making NATIVE AMERICA

The producers and featured participants of Native America discuss making the series.

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