Spirit of the Dawn

Dramatic changes in Native American education
Year Released
Film Length(s)
29 mins
Remote video URL


"Education is your most powerful weapon. With it, you are the whiteman's equal, without it, you are his victim." Chief Plentycoups, last Crow Chief

Spirit of the Dawn explores the dramatic changes in Indian education from the boarding schools of the past, where children were beaten for speaking their language in school, to the more culturally-sensitive classrooms of today.

Featured review

This video challenges racist stereotypes prevalent in mainstream U.S. culture. It is a valuable resource for teaching race/ethnic relations, education as a social institution, and sociology of culture.
Marcia Hood-Brown
Brandeis University, Teaching Sociology


On the Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana, we meet two sixth graders, Bruce Big Hail and Heywood Big Day III, as they participate in an innovative poetry class that encourages them to create beautiful poems celebrating Crow culture and history. Through the children, their parents and their teachers we see the strength and resiliency of a community fighting the constraints of the past to secure a future for its children.


Brief, sweet, and affirming...this film's quiet message, reversing the notion that Native Americans need to be 'made over' to be accepted in a white world, is of value to students of both education and cultural diversity.
Video Librarian
Video Librarian
A sensitive depiction of the struggle of Native American youth...invaluable and helpful to all Indian and non-lndian people.
Simon Ortiz Acoma
Poet and Storyteller
The great love of the Crow people for their cultural heritage shows brightly in this film. The emergence of this video is especially important now...our country needs to find its way to appreciation of cultural diversity, an attitude that is vital to our future.
Leanne Hinton
Chair, Department of Linguistics, University of California at Berkeley

Awards and Screenings

American Indian Film and Video Festival

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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