‘Warrior Women’, documentary on activism and motherhood | Culture & Leisure
Posted on October 2, 2021
UCSB Arts & Lectures presents “Warrior Women”, featuring Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcella Gilbert, at 7:30 pm on November 3 at Campbell Hall at UCSB. “Warrior Women” chronicles the lifelong work of Madonna Thunder Hawk, a leader of the American Indian movement; and Marcella Gilbert, a mother and daughter Lakota whose struggle for indigenous rights began in the late 1960s and continues today.
Through their history, the award-winning documentary explores what it means to balance a movement with motherhood and how militant legacies are passed down from generation to generation. The hour-long film will be followed by a moderated conversation with Thunder Hawk, Gilbert and director / producer Elizabeth Castle.
In the 1970s, the organizers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) fought for the liberation and survival of Indigenous people as a community of extended families. Madonna Thunder Hawk was one of those AIM leaders who formed a group of child activists, including her daughter Marcy, in We Will Remember Survival School as an Indigenous alternative to education run by the government.
Together, Thunder Hawk and Marcy fought for Indigenous rights in an environment that made them more comrades than mother-daughter. Today, with Marcy being a mother herself, the two are still at the forefront of Indigenous issues, fighting the environmental devastation of the Dakota Access Pipeline and for Indigenous cultural values.
Through a circular Indigenous storytelling style, the film explores what it means to navigate movement and motherhood and how militant legacies are passed down and transformed from generation to generation in the context of a colonizing government meeting Indigenous resistance through violence.
Thunder Hawk is an Oohenumpa Lakota, a veteran of all modern Native occupations from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee in 1973 and more recently to the NODAPL protest at Standing Rock.
Born and raised in the homelands of Oceti Sakowin, she first became active in the late 1960s as a member and leader of the American Indian movement and co-founded Women of All Red Nations and the Black Hills Alliance. In 1974, she founded the We Will Remember Survival School as an act of cultural reconquest for indigenous youth driven out of public schools.
An eloquent voice of Indigenous resistance and sovereignty, Thunder Hawk has spoken across the United States, Central America, Europe and the Middle East, and has served as a delegate to the United Nations in Geneva.
Over the past three decades, at his home on the Cheyenne River, Thunder Hawk has brought the ideals of self-determination to life on the reserves. She is currently working as a tribal liaison for the Lakota People’s Law Project in the fight against the illegal removal of indigenous children from tribal nations into the state foster care system.
She created the Wasagiya Najin Grandmothers Group on the Cheyenne River Reserve to help rebuild kinship networks and support the nation in its efforts to end child withdrawal and create local resources to manage them- same.
Gilbert is the daughter of Madonna Thunder Hawk and a Lakota and Dakota community organizer focused on food sovereignty and cultural revitalization. She received a master’s degree in nutrition from South Dakota State University. Gilbert was a 2014 cohort of the Bush Foundation’s Native Nations Rebuilders program.
His formative years were influenced by the leadership activism of his extended family in the American Indian movement. She was a 17-year-old delegate to the newly established International Indian Treaty Council in Geneva in 1977 and a graduate of the We Will Remember Survival Group.
This alternative school run by and for Indigenous people has been a remarkable tool in decolonizing and healing the intergenerational damage caused by boarding school. Its goal is to reintroduce sustainable traditional foods and organic farming to its reserve as an expression of the most basic form of survival and empowerment.
She is working on the pilot project launch of her own survival school Waniyetu Iyawapi (Winter Count) Mobile Learning Experience. Gilbert currently works for Simply Smiles, Inc., a nonprofit organization that locates a project on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. She manages the garden project which includes the identification, harvesting and processing of wild foods.
Warrior Women is presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures. The performance is part of the Justice For All series, featured in the CREATING HOPE 2021-2022 programming initiative.
Ticket prices are $ 20, general public; free for UCSB students, current student ID required. For tickets and more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805-893-3535 or visit www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.
Proof of full vaccination must be presented for entry to the event, and masks must be worn at all times inside the venue. Visit https://artsandlectures.ucsb.edu/SeasonFAQs/ for updates and more details.
UCSB Arts & Lectures would like to thank our community partners, the Natalie Orfalea and Lou Buglioli Foundation, for their generous support for the 2021-22 season.