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NATIVE AMERICA Season 2 Premieres on WPBS-TV Tuesdays at 9 PM Starting October 24

WATERTOWN, NY (October 16, 2023) – NATIVE AMERICA returns this October to WPBS with four new hour-long episodes that present a groundbreaking portrait of contemporary Native America. Building on the first season’s success, Season 2 of the Native-directed series reveals the beauty and power of today’s Indigenous communities.

Smashing stereotypes, it follows the brilliant engineers, bold politicians and cutting-edge artists who draw upon Native tradition to build a better 21st century. The series is narrated by Joy Harjo of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the internationally renowned poet, performer and writer who served three terms as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States. NATIVE AMERICA premieres Tuesdays, October 24 through November 14, 2023, 9:00-10:00 PM on WPBS-TV, wpbstv.org and the PBS App.

Each hour explores a core tenet of Native American heritage: the power of Indigenous design, how language and artistry fuel the soul, the diverse ways Native women lead, and the resilience of the warrior spirit. Brought to life with dynamic stories of the here and now, the series launches an active dialogue between past and present, revealing how foundational beliefs and traditions are shaping and transforming modern Native life.

“We are excited for the return of NATIVE AMERICA and to continue partnering with Native American filmmakers to tell their own stories,” said Bill Gardner, Vice President, Multiplatform Programming & Head of Development at PBS. “Audiences are in for a captivating, multiplatform experience crafted by a collective of talented storytellers that highlights contemporary experiences and ongoing traditions from communities across the country.”

NATIVE AMERICA was created with active input from Native American participants and communities and filmed by Emmy Award-winning cinematographers. This collaboration created a depth of access and a sense of up-close intimacy and authenticity rarely seen on television.

NATIVE AMERICA is built on trust — trust that comes from the unspoken understanding of shared experiences between Native producers and the people in tribal communities whose stories we are telling,” said Dan Golding, series producer and enrolled member of the Quechan Indian Nation. “What follows is the freedom to express ourselves in a way that is truly representative. As a Passamaquoddy Elder says in the series, ‘Language is who I am.’ As a producer/director on this series, I can say NATIVE AMERICA is who we are!”

“Native people share their wisdom and knowledge by the telling and retelling of stories,” said Francene Blythe-Lewis, Executive Director of Vision Maker Media. “The stories mark histories, express relationships to climates and environments, and instill humanity, as well as lessons learned and joys. NATIVE AMERICA portrays this generation’s Native stories to further reveal who and where we are in this world.”

EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS:

Episode 1: “New Worlds” – Tuesday, October 24 at 9:00 PM

Native innovators including NASA engineer Aaron Yazzie (Navajo), sustainable builder Henry Red Cloud (Lakota), and First Nations electronic music group The Halluci Nation are leading a revolution in space exploration, architecture and music. Their work is impacting lives across the globe — and even in outer space. Their revolutionary approach to their work combines deeply held traditions with modern innovation to transform and improve their communities. From designing key instruments used by NASA’s Perseverance rover as it searches for life on Mars, to developing new forms of energy-efficient housing inspired by Plains Indian traditions, to applying principles of electronic music and hip-hop to bring a contemporary powwow beat to the masses, Native people are playing a significant part in every aspect of the modern world.

Episode 2: “Warrior Spirit” – Tuesday, October 31 at 9:00 PM

Within Native communities across America, warrior traditions inspire incredible athletes and connect people to combat, games and glory. “Warrior Spirit” reveals Native men and women who live and breathe this legacy today, including teen boxer Mariah Bahe (Navajo), ultrarunner Christian Gering (Katishtya), and Indian Horse Relay riders from the Flathead National Reservation in Montana. Today’s Native warriors are connected by an incredible history and drive to strengthen and empower themselves, their cultures, communities, and their Nations.

This tradition of reaching within oneself to serve has deep roots in Native American communities. It is told in the proud history of horsemen on the plains fighting to protect their homelands and the Navajo Code Talkers, who transmitted secret messages in World War II. And it lives on across Native America today, where nearly one in five serves in the American armed forces —the highest rate of any group. “Warrior Spirit” uncovers how this legacy is carried forward on the sports field.

Episode 3: “Women Rule” – Tuesday, November 7 at 9:00 PM

From the corridors of power to the fashion runway, from superheroes in comic books to real-life champions protecting the planet, Native women are continuing their traditional roles as leaders to make a better future. “Women Rule” explores how they are building on deep traditions to improve their communities, their lands and the world. Political trailblazer Ruth Buffalo (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation) fights to protect vulnerable people across North Dakota as a state representative. Arigon Starr (Kickapoo) employs music, theater and comic books to revolutionize how Native people are portrayed in the media. Betty Osceola (Miccosukee Nation) is saving the Everglades through headline-grabbing activism. And Jamie Okuma (Luiseño) designs award- winning works of wearable art that are rewriting the story of Native fashion.

Episode 4: “Language Is Life” – Tuesday, November 14 at 9:00 PM

From Hollywood films on the big screen to sacred writing deep within the Earth, from long-lost voices captured in wax cylinders, Native people are fighting to keep their languages and ways of life alive. Though many of the approximately 170 Native languages spoken across the United States remain at risk today, it is a time of hope. A revolutionary effort to revitalize traditional languages is unfolding across Native America; and Native innovators are applying 21st-century technologies to save a core element of their culture and inspire future generations. “Language Is Life” highlights how Native heroes are using every tool to recover, revitalize and restore their linguistic traditions. For example, this episode explores the recovery of Passamaquoddy songs recorded over a century ago using a laser-assisted needle, and digital scans of Cherokee writing hidden under graffiti in a Georgia cave. In addition, Manny Wheeler (Navajo) shares his mission to dub Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars into Navajo. Their successes are changing Native America and the world at large.

The second season of NATIVE AMERICA is produced by Providence Pictures with Daniel Golding (Quechan) and Jennifer Johns (Diné) as series producers, Charles “Boots” Kennedye (Kiowa) and Paige Bethmann (Mohawk/Oneida) as producer/directors, Pam Belgarde (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) as producer, Mandolin Rainsong (Taos Pueblo) as segment producer, Jeffrey Dobereiner as supervising producer, Rob Tinworth as post-production producer and lead editor, Maureen Lynch and Ben Sweeney as coordinating producers, and Gary Glassman as executive producer.

Animation by Handcranked Productions with artists Kaylene J. Big Knife (Chippewa Cree), Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo), Rìo Castañeda-Guthreau, Derick Wycherly (Chippewa Cree). Sound design and mix by Heartpunch, with the score composed by Ed Tomney, featuring music by The Halluci Nation, Eastern Medicine Singers and Arigon Starr (Kickapoo). Community outreach and engagement are supported by Francene Blythe-Lewis (Diné, Sisseton-Wahpeton, Eastern Cherokee), Executive Director of Vision Maker Media.

Funding for NATIVE AMERICA was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a grant from Anne Ray Foundation.

NATIVE AMERICA will stream simultaneously with broadcast and be available on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. In addition to the broadcast series, PBS Digital Studios will also stream a digital companion web series exploring more Native American cultures and histories.

 

About Providence Pictures

Providence Pictures believes television has the power to change the world. For 25 years, Providence Pictures has produced programs for the most prestigious international broadcasters—PBS, Discovery, History, National Geographic, BBC and Arte. Through stunning photography, dramatic narrative, meticulous research, innovative animation and elegant cinematic re-enactments, Providence Pictures crafts complex ideas into compelling, intelligent stories. Their films have won and been honored with nominations for television’s most prestigious awards—seven Emmys, two Writers Guild Awards, the AAA Science Journalism Prize, International Archaeological Film Festival, the CINE Golden Eagle Special Jury Award and many more.

About PBS

PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature, and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math, and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps, and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS PressRoom on Twitter.

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