30 Days: Life on an Indian Reservation

by July 19, 2008

Growing up in the US, the documentarian Morgan Spurlock wasn't any different from most Americans (and Canadians); knowing very little about indigenous people, their history, or the problems they face today.

And so, for the season finale of his television series 30 Days, Morgan decided to "leave America as he knows it, without ever actually leaving US soil, to live with a people who many see as refugees in their own country:" the Navajo.

Hulu.com has the full 30 Days episode, "Life on an Indian Reservation", available on their website. You can watch it below, however, only if you're in the US. Hulu is a US-only video service.

If you're outside the states and really want to watch it, you can download and install Hotspot Shield, then come back here (or go to hulu.)

Incidentally, Canada's CPAC is currently running a related, multi-part documentary called Our Home on Native Land, which examines life on a few reservations in Canada. If you can figure out the timezone issue, you can watch it online aswell (no matter your location). The next part will be shown on Sunday, July 20 at 8PM ET / 5PM PT.

Thoughts on the Episode

I heard Morgan was heading to "Indian Country" about a month ago. Honestly, I hoped he was going to spend the time at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, which is said to be the most impoverished place in North America (right next to Haiti).

Morgan's stay on Navajoland is still somewhat revealing, however, as Chris Monfette points out, the episode was in many respects a soft-peddled, made-for-tv look at what's really going on. There are tonnes of issues that we're not mentioned, such as the uranium contamination - and the issues that were mentioned were not examined in any real depth.

Nevertheless, with there being so few opportunities for people to see what indigenous people really face, it's good Morgan decided to go to Navajo Country... to try and see the world through their eyes, and understand it with their voice. If only more people had the courage to follow his example.

  • Susan
    November 24, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    This was a very touching and interesting documentary on the Navajo Indians. I truly cried with Morgan at the end. Grandma Dennison seemed to be a true sweetheart. Morgan seemed changed by the whole experience. It would be an honor to experience something so sacred and special.


  • Dianna
    June 18, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    25 bucks a day? Try surviving on that America. I'm glad Spurlock has provided an opportunity for non Indians to relate to reservation life. I can't believe he made such an attempt to to learn the language! Thank you for exposing the water crisis and "Uncle Sam"'s greed. And to think you were mad when you had to cut back on watering your lawn. Let's all remember the importance of our grandmothers.


  • Kaffeevollautomaten
    April 4, 2010 at 5:46 am

    thanks !! very helpful post!


  • Justice B.
    January 5, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I can not beleive that any american indians live impoverished in the 2000's. I was under the impression the american government paid indians monthly. And allowed all indians free schooling. Boy was i wrong.....


  • January 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    It really varies, J. Some are doing better than others. But yeah, the reality is a pretty far cry from what most people have been taught. Pine Ridge has it pretty bad too, but there are others.


Leave a Response