Press Releases

‘Native America’ four-part series premieres Oct. 23

WCNY, Central New York’s flagship public broadcaster, presents a new four-part series weaving history and science with living Indigenous traditions. “Native America” 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, the series illuminates the splendor of a past whose story has for too long remained untold.

The four-part series airs at 9 p.m. Oct. 23 and 30, and Nov. 13 on WCNY-TV. For viewing information visit wcny.org/wheretowatch. “Native America” will stream for free following each broadcast and be available for four weeks at PBS.org and PBS apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. Following the four weeks, PBS station members can view all episodes via WCNY Passport.

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 foundational 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 multispectral 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 Robbie Robertson (Mohawk and member of the famed rock group The Band), each hour of the program explores Great Nations and 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. In upstate New York, warriors renounced war and formed America’s first democracy 500 years before the Declaration of Independence, later inspiring Benjamin Franklin. Just outside Mexico City, the ancient city of Teotihuacan is home to massive pyramids built to align with the sun and moon. On the banks of the Mississippi, rulers also raised a metropolis of pyramids and drew thousands to their new city to worship the sky. And in the American West, nomadic tribes transformed a weapon of conquest — the horse — into a new way of life, turning the tables on European invaders and building a mobile empire.

The producers of “Native America” were given access to Native American communities, going behind the scenes at special events, including a pilgrimage to ancestral ruins at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, a trek across lost territories in the American West and an investiture ceremony for a chief in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by cedar totem poles and centuries of tradition. Tribal members and descendant communities, whose ancestors built this world, share their stories, revealing long-held oral traditions as the thread that runs through the past to these living cultures today.

Numerous Native American musicians provided music for the series. Clark Tenakhongva (Hopi) performs traditional singing with drum and rattle in Episode One: “From Caves to Cosmos.” Featured in Episode Two, “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), son of the legendary artist and musician Doc Tate Nevaquaya, created original flute music for Episode Four, “New World Rising.” Other songs in “New World Rising” are performed by the Comanche Native Tribal Chanters, Wild Band of Comanches and Northern Cree group.

Episode One

“From Caves to Cosmos” – Tuesday, Oct. 23, 9-10p.m.

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.

Episode Two

“Nature to Nations” – Tuesday, Oct. 30, 9-10 p.m.

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.

Episode Three

“Cities of the Sky” Tuesday, Nov.13,  9-10 p.m.

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.

Episode Four

“New World Rising” Tuesday, Nov. 13, 10-11 p.m.

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.

Haley Dubnoff
Director, Marketing, Communications & Creative Services
WCNY
415 W. Fayette St.
Syracuse, NY 13204
(315) 385-7317
haley.dubnoff@wcny.org
www.wcny.org

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