Little Chief

Films by Genre


Availability ended 15/11/2020 BST
(now-15 Nov worldwide) Against the landscape of a rural reservation in Oklahoma, the lives of a Native woman and nine-year-old boy intersect over the course of a school day. Exhausted and burned out, Sharon struggles to provide stability to her fifth grade students. Bear is having a particularly hard time, enduring challenges both at home and in the classroom. He is desperate to escape it all, and Sharon is left chasing a little boy who is running to nowhere. **Little Chief is supported by the Sundance Native Lab 2018 Program**

Included with

Director Bio

Erica Tremblay is a Native American documentary filmmaker and activist currently studying her Indigenous language at Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve in Ontario. Her projects have screened at 60+ film festivals and her work has been featured on PBS, CNN and the Independent Film Channel. Erica’s films explore topics including violence against Indigenous women, restorative justice and issues impacting the two-spirit community. She has worked with many grassroots organizations, including the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the Alaska Native Women’s Coalition and the Monument Quilt Project. Erica was recently honored as a 40 Under 40 Native American and received a 2018 Sundance Native Film Lab Fellowship.

Director Statement

Building off of my own experience as an Indigenous child growing up in Northeastern Oklahoma, and drawing from the true stories of my mother’s classroom on the reservation, “Little Chief” offers an intimate moment of modern indigeneity. Initially focused on my mother’s particularly stoic ‘tough love’ teaching style, the screenplay ultimately evolved to simultaneously tell the story of a boy, a region, a nation, and the teachers working tirelessly to build a safer future. 

In urban spaces I am often asked what it’s like growing up in rural Indian Country. It’s difficult to sum up an include joy, culture, ceremony, grief, terror and racism. With an open-ended approach, “Little Chief” lands on two characters experiencing all of the above. We meet a young boy whose traumatic homelife has become too much to bear and a teacher who must work past her own trauma enough to carry her student through his. Like most resolutions of conflict in Indian Country nothing gets wrapped up in a nice bow and this community will wake again faced with the same problems. Within the context of national conversations about race, poverty, and the role of educating our youth, “Little Chief” is set to expose oppressive systems while simultaneously celebrating the survival of Indigenous people. 

Generations upon generations of my family were removed from their homes and sent to boarding schools where our language and our way of life was stolen from us. Thus, the very act of casting Haudenosaunee children to represent themselves in a modern classroom is revolutionary. As a story produced and shot on Seneca-Cayuga land in collaboration with my Nation and with the support of the Sundance Native Lab, “Little Chief” is ultimately about and for my community, while still providing moment in time reflection on the universal theme of survival and compassion. This is the story of oppression, racism, bigotry, and violence - but through the narratives of hope and survival, as this is how I experience these realities as a Native person.


Directed by Erica Tremblay

Production Company Homespun Pictures

Produced by Sterlin Harjo
Deidre Backs
Kasia Chmielinski

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