The biography of Douglas Grant (c.1885–1951) has been publicly and popularly told in media since 1916. Interestingly, Grant’s unusual life-story has consistently been deployed to serve various political agendas. This essay examines the role of popular-media biographies of Douglas Grant and the emotions embedded in them, and utilises a documentary-film production as a case study to examine relations between these emotions, activist agendas and documentary-film storytelling. Additionally, given the consistent use of tragedy as a formal narrative structure employed in tellings of Douglas Grant’s story, this essay also describes how narrative structures are not culturally neutral, but are themselves emotionally suggestive cultural productions. Analysing a century of tellings of the Douglas Grant biography, this essay also offers insights into how conquest-colonial ideology is manifest in these often ‘tragic’ tales. As an attempt at decolonising scholarship, this essay also responds to insights by Indigenous commentators within the case-study text to reflect on Indigenous ontologies and the role of Country and Indigenous futurism as places/sites/histories of hope.