Secret Life of Canada

Why you should know the Indian Film Crew

In the late 60s the National Film Board decided it was time that First Nations got to be behind the camera and in charge of how they were seen. Although short lived, the Indian Film Crew would create films that changed how the NFB operated, as well as the face of Indigenous filmmaking in this country.

All-Indigenous crew made groundbreaking documentaries

A scene from 'You Are On Indian Land,' the classic 1969 NFB doc that puts the audience in the middle of conflict between First Nations and police. (NFB)

What does it mean to be seen? In this episode Falen and Leah look into the history of the National Film Board and Indigenous filmmaking in Canada. For over 70 years the NFB had been filming and documenting Indigenous lives in its films, but in the late 60s a massive change happened at the cultural institution: the creation of the Indian Film Crew. 

Today's episode — "You should know the Indian Film Crew" — explores how the Indian Film Crew opened doors with their groundbreaking works, and helped shifted minds and hearts.

Listen For

  • A brief history of the NFB: From Exhibits and Publicity Bureau to the The Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau to the National Film Board
  • Some clips of early NFB films and their evolving representations of Indigenous people on screen
  • How government policy like the Indian Act played out in the world of film
  • Some ways in which artists like Jeremey Dutcher and Tanya Tagaq are reclaiming the archives
  • The story behind the first Canadian music video. (Spoiler: it isn't Shawn Mendez.)
  • Interviews with three members of the Indian Film Crew. (Spoiler: Falen fangirls.)
  • A reflection on the lasting impact of the Indian Film Crew, and why more people should know about this trailblazing team.

Key Resources