Mar 26, 2024 - Sports

New film honors Warroad hockey icon who blazed trails for Native athletes

An older man with brown skin in a khaki jacket and a hat with an Indian head logo on it stands and smiles for a photograph in the center of an ice rink as the blurred figures of two younger hockey players skate circles around him.

Henry Boucha played for, among other teams, the Minnesota North Stars, Warroad High School, and the 1972 U.S. Olympic hockey squad. Photo courtesy of Jaida Grey Eagle/Twin Cities PBS

Twin Cities PBS will debut a documentary Tuesday night on Henry Boucha, the Warroad-born hockey star who died last fall at age 72.

Why it matters: Boucha, a member of the Ojibwe Nation, blazed trails for Native Americans in sports — hence the film's name, "The Electric Indian."

Catch up quick: In 1969, he led his small-town high school team to the state championship game before going pro.

  • The headband he wore on the ice for the Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings was more than a trademark; it was a statement of pride in his Native heritage.
  • In 1975, an on-ice attack by an opposing player damaged his vision, effectively ending a promising NHL career at age 23. The player who attacked him was later charged with aggravated assault but wasn't convicted.

What to expect: The film explores how Boucha overcame post-hockey struggles, reconnected with his family and hometown, and ultimately "reclaimed his true identity," said director Leya Hale.

What they're saying: "He made a place for Native people in this predominantly white town so that Native people could feel comfortable to come play there and excel in a sport that they probably wouldn't have before," Hale told Axios.

How to watch: "The Electric Indian" debuts at 8pm on TPT Ch. 2 and will be available for streaming on the Twin Cities PBS website.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the correct title of the documentary "The Electric Indian."

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