Weaving history and science with living Indigenous traditions, “Native America” is a four-part miniseries beginning Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 8 p.m. on Arizona PBS.
The show 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.
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 belief system with a diversity of cultural expressions. This and other research is leading to revelations that will forever change how we understand Native America. The series highlights intimate Native American traditions and follows field archaeologists using 21st century tools such as multi-spectral 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.
Narrated by musician Robbie Robertson, each hour of “Native America” 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.
Inventive animations by Academy Award-nominated artists and 3D computer modelling 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.
Numerous Native American musicians provided music for the series. Clark Tenakhongva (Hopi) performs traditional singing with drum and rattle during “From Caves to Cosmos.” “Nature to Nations,” is the music of Grammy Award winner Joanne Shenandoah of the Oneida Nation, part of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. Timothy Nevaquaya (Comanche) created original flute music for “New World Rising,” along with songs performed by the Comanche Native Tribal Chanters, Wild Band of Comanches and Northern Cree group.
Oct. 23: “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.
Oct. 30: “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.
Nov. 13: “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.
Nov. 13: “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.