“Warrior Women” is the story of mothers and daughters fighting for civil rights in the American Indian Movement of the 1970s. The film unveils not only a female perspective of history, but also examines the impact political struggles have on the children who bear witness.
In the 1970s, with the swagger of unapologetic Indianness, organizers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) fought for Native liberation as a community of extended families.
Warrior Women is the story Madonna Thunder Hawk, one such AIM leader who cultivated a rag-tag gang of activist children - including her daughter Marcy - into a group called the "We Will Remember" survival school. Together, Madonna and Marcy fought for Native rights in an environment that made them more comrades than mother-daughter. Today, with Marcy now a mother herself, both women are still at the forefront of Native issues, fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
Through their story, the film explores what it means to balance a movement with motherhood and how activist legacies are passed down from generation to generation in the face of a government that has continually met native resistance with mass violence.
CHRISTINA D. KING | Director & Producer
An enrolled member of the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma, Christina’s work spans commercials, documentary, film, and television with a focus on human rights issues, civic engagement through storytelling, and democratizing filmmaker opportunities for minority voices.
King most recently debuted the narrative feature film We The Animals at Sundance 2018 to critical success. The film was awarded the NEXT Innovator Award. King’s other producing credits include This May Be The Last Time (Sundance 2014), which explores the origins of Native Mvskogee worship songs in Oklahoma, as well as the POV documentary Up Heartbreak Hil. Warrior Women is King’s directorial debut.
ELIZABETH A. CASTLE | Director & Producer
Dr. Castle brings almost 20 years of experience as a scholar, activist, and media maker working in collaboration with Native Nations and underrepresented communities. Warrior Women is based on the research done for her book Women were the Backbone, Men were the Jawbone: Native Women’s Activism in the Red Power Movement.
While completing her Ph.D. at Cambridge University, she worked as a policy associate for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race and in 2001 she served as a delegate for the Indigenous World Association at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. While working as an academic specialist for UC Berkeley’s Oral History Office, she received the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Santa Cruz under the supervision of Professors Angela Davis and Bettina Aptheker. Dr. Castle was a professor in the Native Studies Department at the University of South Dakota and is the founder and Executive Director of The Warrior Women Oral History Project. Castle has numerous publications including “The Original Gangster: The Life and Times of Red Power Activist Madonna Thunder Hawk.” Warrior Women is Castle’s directorial debut.
MADONNA THUNDER HAWK
Madonna Thunderhawk is an Oohenumpa Lakota, is a veteran of every modern Native occupation from Alcatraz, to Wounded Knee in 1973 and more recently the NODAPL protest at Standing Rock. Born and raised across the Oceti Sakowin homelands, she first became active in the late 1960s as a member and leader in the American Indian Movement and co-founded Women of All Red Nations and the Black Hills Alliance. In 1974, she established the We Will Remember Survival School as act of cultural reclamation for young Native people pushed out of the public schools. An eloquent voice for Native resistance and sovereignty, Thunder Hawk has spoken throughout the United States, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East and served as a delegate to the United Nations in Geneva.
In the last three decades at home on Cheyenne River, Thunder Hawk has been implementing the ideals of self-determination into reservation life. She currently works as the tribal liaison for the Lakota People's Law Project in fighting the illegal removal of Native children from tribal nations into the state foster care system. She established the Wasagiya Najin "Grandmothers' Group" on Cheyenne River Reservation to assist in rebuilding kinship networks and supporting the Nation in its efforts to stop the removal of children and build local resources to handle it themselves.
Marcella Gilbert is the daughter of Madonna Thunder Hawk and a Lakota and Dakota community organizer with a focus on food sovereignty and cultural revitalization. She earned a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and currently works as a Community Development Field Specialist for South Dakota State University Extension on Cheyenne River reservation. Before moving home to Cheyenne River reservation, she was the director of Common Grounds Garden for Little Priest Tribal College where she served as the Primary Prevention Coordinator of Whirling Thunder Wellness Program for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Gilbert was a 2014 Cohort of the Bush Foundation's Native Nations Rebuilders Program.
Her formative years were influenced by the activism of her extended family’s leadership in the American Indian Movement. She was a seventeen-year old delegate to the newly established International Indian Treaty Council to Geneva in 1977 and a graduate of the We Will Remember Survival Group. This alternative school run by and for Native people, was a remarkable tool for decolonizing and healing the intergenerational damage caused by boarding school. Her goal is to reintroduce sustainable traditional foods and organic farming to her reservation as an expression of the most fundamental form of survival and empowerment. Her current work is the launching of the pilot project of her own survival school Waniyetu Iyawapi (Winter Count) Mobile learning experience.