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Home > Teen Books (& DVDs) > Native Spirit and the Sun Dance Way (DVD)

cover of Native Spirit & The Sun Dance Way DVD
This DVD can be bought on the site of our parent company, World Wisdom.

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Native Spirit and The Sun Dance Way
(2-disc DVD set)
directed by: Jennifer Casey
produced by: Michael O. Fitzgerald
Subject(s): Age range:

American Indian

middle school and above

Format: Run Time / # of Disks:

DVD / NTSC all Regions

3 hours 15 minutes / 2 Disks

ASIN: Date available:


Available now




Native Spirit & The Sun Dance Way are two unique, feature-length documentaries contained in a 2-Disc DVD with an additional 90 minutes of rich special features.

In Native Spirit, Cree Indian actress Tantoo Cardinal (Dances with Wolves), transports the viewer to the days of Red Cloud when, "Our old men talked with spirits and made good medicine. Our young men herded the horses and made love to the girls. In this way we lived and were happy". The voices of Plenty Coup, Fools Crow, Black Elk and other great leaders of their day, convey the heartbreaking story of their people’s oppression and their ultimate triumph of the spirit.

In The Sun Dance Way the words of Thomas Yellowtail, a revered Sun Dance chief of the Crow Indian tribe, are brought to life by the internationally known Cree Indian actor, Gordon Tootoosis (Legends of the Fall). Unique photographs and video footage of sun dances, from as far back as 1903, reveal the symbolism and mystical beauty of the ancient ceremony which remains at the center of the Plains Indians’ lives today.

“Once you know about these things, you will also love them, because you will see that without a sense of the sacred, you are less than a man.” — Thomas Yellowtail


  • Official Selections for Montreal's First Peoples Film Festival
  • Official Selections for The American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco

Reviews (hide/show)

Native Spirit & The Sun Dance Way will be a valuable addition to the materials used in my World Religions class. It is a beautifully crafted documentary, which is both accurate in its content and respectful of the underlying meaning of Native American religious traditions.”
James S. Cutsinger, Professor of Theology and Religious Thought at the University of South Carolina
Native Spirit & The Sun Dance Way is an informative and moving documentary which treats its subject with the appropriate sensitivity and respect. It communicates a real sense of the grandeur, beauty and nobility of the spiritual heritage of the Plains Indians. Drawing heavily on the words of the late Sun Dance Chief, Thomas Yellowtail, it gives an authentic account not only of the Sun Dance rite but of the whole spiritual economy of which it is the central expression. Native Spirit brings this traditional wisdom to the attention of Indians and non-Indians alike, and will contribute to the preservation of modes of experience and understanding which are so urgently needed in the modern world.”
Harry Oldmeadow, La Trobe University, Australia
“The Crow-Shoshone Sundance film conveys great dignity and spiritual power.”
James Alexander Thom, author of Follow the River; The Long Knife; and The Red Heart
“The films can serve as a comprehensible way to help students understand some of the most central yet difficult concepts in Native American life. The movies help students truly understand Native Americans’ deepest ideas about their religion and culture. By seeing the rituals carried out in the films, students see with their own eyes how those traditions have functioned within plains indian culture and are alive in America today. By hearing the powerful words of Native Americans and the clear interpretations of a strong narrator’s voice, students hear many of the central messages of Native American oral traditions. The movies also prompt students to reflect on Native American traditions and want to learn more. Many of my students, who were from around the country and world, found the film to be helpful and very interesting.”
Dr. John Buggeln, American Studies Coordinator, Culver Academies
“The two-disc DVD set, Native Spirit and the Sun Dance Way, will appeal to those broadly interested in American Indian spiritual life as well as those with more specific questions about the history of religious change among First Peoples on the Missouri River Plains of North America. This is a beautifully and lovingly photographed statement of American Indian life in the late 20th and early 21st century which brings Native American voices to the fore. My personal entry into this rich collection of material is through the Sundance disc which I use in my classes at Yale University. In courses on religion and ecology I attempt to bring students into extended reflection on the integral connections of religious life with economic, social, ecological, and political realities. This excellent overview in Native Spirit and the Sun Dance Way assists students in Native American Studies to understand those relationships without reducing or exploiting the diverse spiritual visions of living communities.”
John Grim, Yale University, series editor of World Religions and Ecology

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