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1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus

Maple Leaf This item is only available for Canadian orders.

Catalogue Number:  149100
Producer:  1491 Productions Inc.
Subject:  Anthropology, Archaeology, Architecture, Arts, Astronomy, Canadian Social Studies, Canadian World Studies, Documentary, Drama, First Nations Studies, History, Indigenous Issues, Indigenous Peoples, Science, Social Studies, Tech/Voc
Language:  English
Grade Level:  9 - 12, Post Secondary
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2018
Running Time:  8 x 45:00
Closed Captions:  Yes

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"The Western Hemisphere before 1492... was a thriving, stunningly diverse place, a tumult of languages, trade, and culture, a region where tens of millions of people loved and hated and worshipped as people do everywhere." Charles C. Mann

1491: The Untold Story of the Americas is a docu-drama mini-series that brings to life the complexity, diversity and interconnectedness of Indigenous peoples in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. Presented from an Indigenous-perspective through a blend of documentary and scripted drama, the series takes its audience on a journey along a timeline that dates from 20,000 years ago to 1491.

Over the course of eight hours, the origins and history of ancient Indigenous societies in North, Central and South America will be interpreted by leading Indigenous scholars and cultural leaders in the fields of archaeology, art history, ethnology, genetics, geology, linguistics, etc.

Each episode features a short scripted dramatic scene that portrays a significant moment in the history of one Indigenous nation. These theatrical-style scenes will establish the episode's theme and provide the audience with a deeper understanding of convergence of the human and natural worlds of Indigenous peoples.

The narrator for the series is Dr. Evan Adams, a First Nations actor and medical doctor. Dr. Adams introduces each episode and provides voice over narration throughout the program.

Each episode will feature eight distinct documentary segments presented through a combination of interviews with prominent Indigenous interpreters and dramatic re-creations that expand on the theme of the episode that include Origins, Environment, Agriculture and Hunting, Architecture, Governance & Trade, Science & Technology, Art & Culture and Continuance.

The series is based on the book “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus” by Charles C. Mann (Knopf, 2005).

2018 Leo Award - Best Music Composition in a Documentary Series (Russell Wallace)

2018 Leo Award - Best Screenwriting in a Documentary Series (Barbara Hager) 

2018 Leo Award - Best Documentary Series (Producers Barbara Hager, Pat Ferns, Desiree Single and Vanessa Loewen)

Nominated for Best History Documentary Program or Series – 2019 Canadian Screen Awards

Métis Director Barbara Hager is receiving the 2019 INDSPIRE AWARD. Recipients provide inspiration for our young people and serve to educate all Canadians about the tremendous contributions that Indigenous people are making across the country.

“1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus is a crash-course in First Nations history that should be taught and broadcast in Canadian schools. I took history all through high school and didn’t learn anything close to what was revealed to me in the first hour of this new series. 1491 boasts 20 dramatic scenes and an Indigenous cast that provide context and blows away long-held theories that prior to European contact, Indigenous peoples were largely nomadic, did not alter the natural landscape and were not as advanced as other civilizations in the world at the time.” - TV, eh? What’s Up in Canadian Television

“The first episode of ‘1491’ is an incredible introduction to what is sure to be the most-watched series of the year...will become an important and integral learning resource for all North American educational organizations and the public at large. Congratulations on an incredibly informing, engaging, educational, enlightening and validating series!” - Lou-ann Neel, Kwakwaka’wakw artist, writer, arts administrator and advocate of authenticity in Indigneous art

“The series is produced, directed and written by Indigenous Canadians and features an Indigenous cast of actors and cultural leaders who provide context. Bolstered by input from historians, archeologists, cultural experts and scholars, most of whom have Indigenous ancestry, the series dispels long-held theories - for instance, that before contact with Europeans, Indigenous peoples were largely nomadic, and not as advanced as other civilizations at the time.” - Times Colonist

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