Much like Columbus Day, Thanksgiving day, celebrated by many North Americans today, is considered by many others to be a “national day of mourning,” as a celebration of the cultural genocide and conquest of Native Americans by colonists. Thanksgiving has long carried a distinct resonance for Native Americans, who see the holiday as an embellished story of “Pilgrims and Natives looking past their differences” to break bread, condemning the cultural and political amnesia of Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving.

Since 1970, the United American Indians of New England, a protest group, has accused the United States and European settlers of fabricating the Thanksgiving story and of whitewashing a gross injustice against Native Americans, and it has led to a National Day of Mourning protest that takes place on Thanksgiving day annually at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the name of social equality.

Some Native Americans hold “UNthanksgiving Day” celebrations in which they mourn the deaths of their ancestors, as well as fast, dance, and pray.

And as many of us sit down with family to eat, drink and be thankful today, Native Americans are being tear-gassed, hosed in freezing temperatures, and fired upon (rubber bullets) as they protest the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota – the construction of a crude-oil pipeline slated to pass through sacred ground and under the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation; a situation that gets uglier by the day and has been well-documented and covered by the independent press mainly, as the mainstream press (as well as our nation’s politicians – including our current and incoming president) have mostly ignored it. But you’ll find several articles and video footage on the protest with a simple Google search, if you’re not already familiar.

As this is a film and TV blog specifically, my small contribution today to the ongoing plight of Native Americans is Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond’s documentary “Reel Injun” which takes a look at the “Hollywood Indian,” exploring the portrayal of North American Natives through a century of cinema. Traveling through the heartland of America, and into the Canadian North, director Diamond looks at how the myth of “the Injun” has influenced the world’s understanding – and misunderstanding – of Natives.

“Reel Injun” traces the evolution of cinema’s depiction of Native people from the silent film era to today, with clips from hundreds of classic and recent Hollywood movies, and candid interviews with celebrated Native and non-Native film celebrities, activists, film critics, and historians.

Diamond meets with Clint Eastwood at his studios in Burbank, California, where the veteran actor and filmmaker discusses the evolution of the image of Indians in Westerns and what cowboy-and-Indian myths mean to America. We also hear from legendary Native American activists John Trudell, Russell Means, and Sacheen Littlefeather.

Celebrities featured in “Reel Injun” include Robbie Robertson, the half-Jewish, half-Mohawk musician and soundtrack composer (“Raging Bull,” “Casino,” “Gangs of New York”); Cherokee actor Wes Studi (“Last of the Mohicans,” “Geronimo”); filmmakers Jim Jarmusch and Chris Eyre (“Smoke Signals”); and acclaimed Native actors Graham Greene (“Dances with Wolves,” “Thunderheart”) and Adam Beach (“Smoke Signals,” “Flags of our Fathers”).

Diamond also travels North to the remote Nunavut town of Igloolik (population: 1,500) to interview Zacharias Kunuk, director of the 2002 Caméra d’or-winning film “The Fast Runner.”

In addition, the film takes the audience on a journey across America to some of cinema’s most iconic landscapes, including Monument Valley, the setting for some of Hollywood’s greatest Westerns, and the Black Hills of South Dakota, home to Crazy Horse and countless movie legends. It’s a loving but also critical look at cinema through the eyes of the people who appeared in its very first images, and have survived to tell their stories their own way.

The 90-minute documentary premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009, screened at the SXSW Film Festival the next year, and would eventually premiere on PBS in November 2010. The full film is online, courtesy of TubiTV, although you’ll have to endure many commercial breaks as you watch it embedded below: