One needs to look no further than the TV listings to know that history looks great on screen. From the Civil War to the Titanic, today’s viewers have their pick of riveting historical documentaries to choose from.

But history and television can be an uneasy mix, with accuracy sometimes at odds with the flair required to keep viewers glued. Few are as familiar with this balancing act as Robert Warrior, director of the American Indian Studies Program at the U of I who has appeared as an expert in about a dozen historical documentaries regarding Native Americans.

His most recent appearance came in The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents, an eight-part series on the History Channel that aired in January. He has also appeared in other prominent documentaries, including another History Channel miniseries, America: The Story of Us, and We Shall Remain, a miniseries on Native American history produced by the PBS series American Experience.

The professor of English, history, and American Indian studies is not exactly sure how this interesting aside to his academic career came to be, but it’s fair to say that television producers have been pleased enough with his interviews that his name has made the rounds.

Being a documentary “expert” typically starts when you’re quoted in a news story, or when you write something, Warrior says (he co-authored Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee, which earned him his role in We Shall Remain), and a film company comes across your name.

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