The AIFG presently contains over 450 non-fiction films that document Native lifeways from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego, with a large concentration on peoples of the Southwest. The films range from a 1922 silent newsreel to recent footage of pow-wows and political meetings in 2011. The majority of the films date to the golden age of U.S. educational and sponsored filmmaking, after World War II up to the advent of portable video. Interestingly, the video age marks a shift in the collection from films about Native peoples to films by Native peoples. This historical span, then, allows for study of Native representation from outside and inside indigenous communities across the Americas over nearly a century. As such, it is an incomparable teaching and research tool for examining historical attitudes, representations, and understandings of indigenous populations across the Americas.
In its fully-realized state, the American Indian Film Gallery will establish UA as a center for study of image and representation of Native peoples of the Americas, and will support on-going research in Southwestern and Borderlands interdisciplinary studies—serving the outreach and research missions of the University.
The American Indian Film Gallery (AIFG) is an online collection of films by and about Native peoples of the Americas, compiled and digitized by historian J. Fred MacDonald. In July 2011, this collection was awarded to the University of Arizona, edging out prestigious institutions across the hemisphere. The original films are preserved by the Library of Congress; this digital resource now resides at the University of Arizona.