Celebrating Warrior Women

Warrior Women, a film directed by Christina King (Seminole) and Elizabeth Castle (Pekowi Band of Shawnee), provides an intimate look into the struggle for Native rights during the American Indian Movement and beyond. Weaving together narratives provided by the powerful mother-daughter duo Madonna Thunderhawk and Marcella Gilbert, Warrior Women documents the key role that Native women have played—and continue to play—in Indigenous-led activist movements.

On March 1, 2019, Warrior Women premiered in Minneapolis as part of INDIgenesis: GEN2, a four-week Native film series, which was held by The Walker Art Center in partnership with director/producer Missy Whiteman (Northern Arapaho and Kickapoo). Missy curated the series with the goal of supporting Native directors and reshaping Native representations in film. She explains, “We specifically want to support Native directors. And tell stories that really show what our successes are in Indian Country. Because film can also tell this story, this narrative, of, you know, you’re desolate, you’re drunk, you’re all of these negative things. And there’s a savior that at some point comes in. Instead of us saving ourselves. That’s really the narrative we need to start telling.”

As part of her curation, Missy worked to make INDIgenesis accessible to the Minneapolis American Indian community. To illustrate, she arranged free childcare and shuttle busses from the American Indian corridor during the Warrior Women screening. Native Governance Center first developed a partnership with Missy Whiteman back in fall 2018: we collaborated with her to produce a series of shorts for broadcast on TPT – Twin Cities PBS. This partnership led us to host a reception prior to the Warrior Women screening to honor Marcella Gilbert, Madonna Thunderhawk, and other Native women activists featured in the film. The reception held special significance to us because Marcella is a Cohort 5 Native Nation Rebuilder.

Missy said the following about the Warrior Women reception and screening: “That night to me was so powerful—it was so successful. I look back, and that’s really where I thought people felt included. It felt like, this is for Native women. And for women. And families. Everyone walked away feeling like they learned something, and now they belonged to something.”

The women of Warrior Women have made incredible contributions to the nation building movement, and we are honored to help celebrate them.


This article was originally published in our Spring 2019 print newsletter. Sign up to receive the print newsletter in your mailbox twice a year!