alter-NATIVE: Kitchen

Purveyors of America’s indigenous foods are forging a resurgence of native dishes that satisfy a new generation hungering for insight and culinary delight.

headshot of kala, kealoha and domingo
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
November 19, 2019
37 minutes
Funding Initiative
Short-Form Series and Special Projects

William Luther

Billy Luther (Navajo, Hopi and Laguna Pueblo) director/producer of the award winning documentary, Miss Navajo, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and aired nationally on PBS' Independent Lens that same year. He studied film at Hampshire College and worked on various projects for the New York City based Smithsonian National Museum of the Show more American Indian's Film & Video Center. His second documentary feature Grab premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and aired nationally on Public Television that same year. He co-directed the Native America episode for the MTV documentary series Rebel Music– which was MTV’s highest viewed/shared content in their history of online programming. His latest short documentary film Red Lake had its world premiere at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary Short at the 2016 International Documentary Association Awards. Luther's films have also screened with the American Documentary Showcase, a collaborative program with The State Department and US Embassies around the world. He served on the Sundance Institute Alumni Advisory Board and the International Documentary Association Board of Directors. In 2018, Luther will launch his web-series alter-NATIVE for PBS’ IndieLens StoryCast exploring the world of Native Fashion designer, Bethany Yellowtail. Show less

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Miss Navajo

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The Film

Food can do so much more than nourish the body and delight the taste buds. A meal can spark curiosity and conversations, and bring culture to life. But crafting something so multilayered can be a tall order in our fast food world. Purveyors of America’s indigenous foods are up for the task, enthusiastically forging a resurgence of dishes that satisfy a new generation hungering for insight and a connection to native culinary delights. In this second season of alter-NATIVE, we meet Navajo/Diné, Brian Yazzie; Hawaiian, Kala Domingo; and Pawnee - Athabaskian, Hillel Echo-Hawk – three chefs preparing foods from their native cultures that sustained their communities for generations. Viewers learn how Yazzie brings indigenous cuisine back to his reservation, while in Seattle we spend time with caterer Echo-Hawk, where her focus is pre-colonial Native dishes. Across the Pacific, in Hawaii, Domingo delves into the intrinsic connection between family and food through the traditional art of Imu cooking - preparing a meal in an underground oven. Their work in and out of the kitchen explores how the process of cooking connects each of these chefs, personally, to their own histories, and what they in turn teach others by introducing us to dishes inspired by their people.