Short Documentary Films About Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Knowledge

Our short documentary films about indigenous peoples, their traditions and their knowledge offer unique insights into these ancient societies. They are available for online viewing on our YouTube channel, where you can subscribe to receive notification each time we publish new content. Most of these short films can be viewed in up to HD (1280x720), 60 fps and High Dynamic Range (HDR) format.

Click/tap on any photo below to watch each film.

Southeast Asia was originally populated at different times and in different ways. Although many of the first settlers came by way of the Tibetan Plateau, their journey took them to different parts of the region by many different means. Examine the timelines and the many ways in which the whole region came to be populated. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: Southeast Asia.

The Payatas garbage dump in Manila was officially closed in 2017. But that did not solve Manila's refuse problem. Travel to the Philippines and witness the inhumane conditions under which people once lived by making a living from scavenging garbage. There are still many places in the world where people do this kind of work and live in very similar conditions. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: Southeast Asia.

World leaders constantly argue about who caused the climate crisis and who should fix it. It is unlikely to be any different at COP26. Travel to Iceland and learn how that country is already addressing climate change instead of waiting for consensus among world leaders.

The United States is seeing record numbers of migrants at its southern border. Some are indigenous Ixil Maya from the highlands of Guatemala. Travel through that region and visit small Ixil Maya communities to see what daily life is like and to understand the conditions that motivate these migrants to risk all to take the hazardous journey north toward a better life. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Maya.

San Pedro La Laguna is an indigenous Tz'utujil Maya community in southern Guatemala. Each year it honors the town's patron, Saint Peter, in a festival highlighting the coronation of a new queen. It is attended by locals as well as visitors from surrounding Maya communities. This film documents the 2013 festival. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Maya.

Mongolia's national sport, wrestling, is so widespread that it is practiced by all ethnic groups. Witness a wrestling competition held in a small, rural Kazakh community in western Mongolia. Read our travel story, Kazakh Tours. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Altai Kazakh.

The indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia have had their customs for thousands of years. Examine the origins of these customs and how they led to a religious belief system known as Animism. See examples of how Animism is still practiced today. Musical tradition, alcohol, clothing and jewelry/adormnent all play a role in relationships between a people and their culture through these customs. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: Southeast Asia.

The opposite of literate can be preliterate. A people are preliterate if no writing system has been invented for their language, which is true for many indigenous people. A few years ago, a team of specialists was assigned the task of creating new writing systems for Cambodia's indigenous languages. We were among the first to document that effort in this film. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: Southeast Asia.

Daily life for indigenous people in Southeast Asia is changing. From religion in the Philippines to corporate sports sponsorship in Laos, today's generation is experiencing a cultural revolution. Explore some of the ways in which these changes are being brought about and the impacts this is having on indigenous culture. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: Southeast Asia.

The Maya are portrayed as a single people. Yet their empire comprised multiple peoples across multiple timelines living in geographically diverse areas. They were often at war with each other. Watch a historical overview of their timeline, areas of dominance and eventual decline. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Maya.

Ruk'u'x (from the Mayan Kaqchikel language, meaning heart) is an indigenous art festival held in Guatemala. Watch live performances from the festival, including indigenous musicians as well as actors in an ancient Maya ritual. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Maya.

Contains footage you may find disturbing; viewer discretion is advised. In rural Kazakh communities, wealth is measured by livestock. Horses are prized. Watch a horse being slaughtered and butchered according to halal tradition in preparation for a boy's coming-of-age ritual. (Some Muslims consider horse meat to be haram.) Read our travel story, Kazakh Tours. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Altai Kazakh.

Kazakh people train golden eagles for hunting. In the winter they roam the Altai Mountains hunting for animals such as foxes and rabbits, from whose fur they make winter clothes. Spend a day hunting with two hunters and their eagles. Read our travel story, Kazakh Tours. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Altai Kazakh.

Using timelapse videography, we view daily life in three different Guatemalan Maya communities. On Lake Peten, we see the Itza people. In San Cristobal Verapaz we visit the Poqomchi people. Daily life of the Kaqchikel and Tzutujil peoples is observed in Panajachel. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Maya.

Many Kazakh people are nomads. For most of the year they live in tents called gers (or yurts). They must erect these gers very quickly. Using timelapse videography, we see them erect a ger in just 4 minutes. Read our travel story, Kazakh Tours. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Altai Kazakh.

Until the Spanish arrived, Mesoamerican history mostly concerns the Maya. But they weren't the only ancient people to flourish there. This film, chronicles the rise and fall of the other ancient Mesoamerican peoples. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Maya.

Before the Inca and the Spanish, the Andes had a thriving indigenous population. After centuries of human migration it is not possible to distinguish indigenous from non-indigenous people. But the region's indigenous music has survived. See how modern musicians preserve the traditional style, blending it with modern influences.

Maya knowledge of astronomy/cosmology, mathematics and engineering was far in advance of Europe. This film explains their calendars and the counting systems behind them to reveal their ancient wisdom. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Maya.

In 2017 the Mongolian Alma Kuk Golden Eagle Association held its first festival, which is now a regular fixture of the Kazakh cultural calendar. Watch this festival during a freezing day. Read our travel story, Kazakh Tours. Watch our feature-length documentary, Peoples of the World: The Altai Kazakh.

West Africa is rich in the tradition of 'tribal dancing.' The music, chanting, movement and costumes all have indigenous knowledge embedded within them. Visit Mali and Gambia to see dances performances by the Dogon, Mandinka and Jola peoples.

Gandhi used salt to defeat the British Empire and win India's independence. Visit the indigenous Afar salt miners of the Danakil Depression — a desert region in the Horn of Africa and the hottest inhabited place on Earth. They mine the salt using hand tools and bring it to market by spectacular camel caravans.

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