Native American Films Screen at the Walker

Thrillers, mysteries, and virtual reality dissect the past, present, and future of Native American stories

Shot taken from Older Than America, by Georgina Lightning and Christine Kunewa Walker

The INDIgenesis: GEN2 film series kicks off its second year at the Walker Art Center February 15, showing movies by Native directors through March 9.

Filmmakers examine their history, mine the present, and imagine the future of indigenous traditions, lands, and languages. Rich narratives include a vigilante police officer who runs into trickster spirit Iktomi, visions haunted by children of a Native American boarding school, and women fighting for Native rights in the ’70s. For four weeks, you have your pick of 10-plus feature-length movies and documentaries, plus short films and a virtual-reality experience.

For a full lineup, click here. Here are three to check out.

Older Than America

Saturday, February 16, 1 p.m.

A Catholic priest will prevent a woman from speaking out about abuses committed at a Native American boarding school—unless that woman’s daughter, aided by visions that expose the priest’s plot, can stop him first. This thriller, featuring Bradley Cooper, delves into the lingering effects of cultural genocide. “The phrase ‘older than America’ refers to who we were as a nation before mandatory assimilation transformed our identity,” directors Georgina Lightning and Christine Kunewa Walker said in a press release. Learn more.

Biidaaban: First Light

Thursday, February 21, 5-9 p.m.

Imagine a world that has circled back to its beginnings. For this seven-minute virtual-reality project, step up to one of three VR stations. Emerge in artist Lisa Jackson’s vision of a drastically transformed Toronto. In the future, nature has reclaimed the Ontario capital, and indigenous traditions and languages resume dominance. According to a press release, “An Anishinaabemowin word that means ‘the first light before dawn,’ Biidaaban also refers to the concept of nonlinear time, where past and future collapse in on the present.” Learn more.


Friday, February 22, 7 p.m.

Director Chris Eyre’s 1998 Sundance-darling movie Smoke Signals was the first film by a Native American director to see national distribution. “The only thing you get in making period pieces about Indians is guilt,” he said at a screening of his 2002 film Skins. “I’m interested in doing what non-Indian filmmakers can’t do, which is portray contemporary Indians.” Skins follows bosom brothers on a South Dakota reservation—one a cop named Rudy, the other a Vietnam vet and alcoholic. When Lakota trickster spirit Iktomi appears, Rudy turns to undercover vigilantism, hell bent on taking down the nearby alcohol trade. Learn more.

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