In the News

Warrior Women premiered to a sold out crowd on April 28, 2018 at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Check below for links to online reviews and articles about the film, the filmmakers and the Warrior Women behind the movement. | by Jessica Saval • Published October 22, 2019

Madonna Thunder Hawk: "There is always something to do! "

Heroines of an extraordinary day, Madonna Thunder Hawk and her daughter Marcella are the stars of a shocking documentary,  Warrior Women, dedicated to their fight for the cause of the American Indians. Read more…

In the 1970s, Madonna Thunder Hawk started the “We Will Remember” Survival School for Lakota children in South Dakota. Her aim was to teach them to respect the earth, know their rights, and return to the ways and spirituality of their people. In this thoughtful program, Madonna and her daughter, Marcy, reminisce about their protests for native rights (occasionally with laughter) with the activist’s niece and sister. Caught up in the cause, Madonna admits that she was often more involved in her activism than her family, and Marcy remembers missing her mother as the woman traveled. Using archival footage and photos, the two women recall American Indian Movement protests including those at Mt. Rushmore, Alcatraz Island, and Wounded Knee. Now in her seventies, Madonna continues her activist ways, often accompanied by her daughter. Together they remain committed to retaining their culture and preserving their rights. This inspiring program is a reminder that Civil Rights battles were fought on many fronts and often by grassroots activists.
— Candace Smith, Booklist Online

A powerful and visually stunning film, Warrior Women tells the story of the Red Power era and the American Indian Movement as they have never been told before on screen. Interconnecting past and present, from the 1969-1971 occupation of Alcatraz Island to the 1973 Wounded Knee stand-off to the 1980 Black Hills Survival Gathering to the water protectors at Standing Rock in 2016, this film is an indispensable lesson on the violence of United States colonialism and the central role of women in the making of Indigenous liberation. Warrior Women is an intimate portrait of Madonna Thunder Hawk and her daughter Marcella Gilbert and a vital historical document that brings to life the intergenerational work of collective freedom. Meticulously researched with extraordinary archival footage, Warrior Women is a uniquely compelling and inspiring film for teaching about the contemporary struggle for Indigenous liberation.
— Alyosha Goldstein, Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico

Warrior Women profoundly changes our understanding of the Red Power movement. From Alcatraz to Standing Rock, the film charts a familiar yet wonderfully unfamiliar course by telling the story of Indigenous women’s activism. While a compelling story of a mother and a daughter, it is also a story of a movement’s impact on generations of Native people. Clearly indispensable, without Indigenous women’s leadership there would have been no Indigenous movement yesterday, today, or tomorrow. It could not have come at a better time. Moving, inspiring, and hilarious, Warrior Women is a film that stirs us to action in an era when so much is at stake. The urgency and relevance is masterfully told through the full range of the Indigenous experience, a truly human experience—history, humor, violence, and the desire for freedom. An instant classic.
— Nick Estes, Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico Kul Wicasa, author of Our History is the Future | by Ruth Hopkins • Published March 7, 2019

How Alcatraz Island Was Reclaimed by Native Peoples

For thousands of years, my people have practiced the oral tradition of storytelling. Wintertime was especially perfect for gathering around the fire to hear animated accounts of myth, legend, and history. Well, here is a story for the ages. Read more… | by Tina House • Published March 6, 2019

Dakota access pipeline documentary opens at Women in Film Festival in Vancouver

A documentary about mother and daughter activists who have dedicated their lives to continuing traditional ways of life is making its premier at the Women in Film Festival in Vancouver. Read more… | by Adrian Mack • Published February 27, 2019

Indigenous Warriors come to Women in Film fest

In 1975, a BBC reporter visited South Dakota’s We Will Remember Survival School, created by the American Indian Movement (AIM) to reacquaint Indigenous youths with a culture that was erased in the state education system.

Interviewing founder Madonna Thunder Hawk about the Survival School curriculum of “natural resources, legal rights, and spirituality”, the skeptical Brit journalist protested: “But aren’t you making these children more Indian? Aren’t you making them less able to fit in?”

With a withering glance, Thunder Hawk snapped back: “Yeah, you bet!” Read more… | by Kathy Beem • Published February 8, 2019

Warrior Women

A scene in Warrior Women follows Madonna Thunder Hawk, well into her 70s, sprinting up aluminum bleachers at a sunny outdoor stadium in Eagle Butte. “I do this mainly for myself,” says Thunder Hawk, catching her breath but always in motion. “If you’re not physically able to do community work – hey, get on the couch, grab the remote. Then complain and whine about politics and stuff. That’s why I do it. The only thing I’m running against is myself.” Read more… | by Ben van Raaij • Published October 25, 2018

Madonna Thunder Hawk is in the Netherlands for the battle against oil pipeline: 'Indians always have to fight against racism and greed'

The American-Indian activist Madonna Thunder Hawk, the oldest of the Lakota Sioux, is in the Netherlands this week to seek support for the struggle of her people against the violation of their rights and tribal areas. "We will survive because we are connected to the land." Read more… | by Nicole Miller-Coleman • Published October 27, 2018

“Native American film festival elevates the voices of women this year”

“As a Ph.D. in Political Science, and as a native woman, I know well the role the media can play in influencing how others see us,” said California’s American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival(CAIIFF) founder and director Joely Proudfit. “Film and media offer a way in which to elevate the voices and issues of native peoples to large audiences.”

In its sixth year, the annual film festival features screenings of full-length films and shorts, Q&A sessions, an afternoon of youth activities and several live performances over the course of the three-day event at Pechanga Resort & Casino. Read more… | by Sezin Koehler • Published September 23, 2018

“BGN Film: ‘Warrior Women’ is the Story of Indigenous Activist Madonna Thunder Hawk’s Lifelong Struggle”

Meet Madonna Thunder Hawk: the lifelong Indigenous human rights activist most recently in the news for her work organizing the NODAPL protests in South Dakota. When I say Madonna has seen it all, it’s no hyperbole. She grew up in a pastoral Lakota setting as a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe back when the water was clean and the children foraged for wild berries and sweet onions on the Missouri River’s banks. Until the government flooded out their land, forcibly relocated the tribe, and changed their lives for the worse, a phenomenon that has only intensified in the decades since. Read more… | by Jim Kent • Published September 20, 2018

“Warrior Women: Film to Premiere in Seven Council Fires Homelands”

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Warrior women have been a part of Indigenous cultures for millennia, dating back to when female members of a tribe would accompany war parties into battle either to assist in the actual fighting or to rescue men who were injured.

But Beth Castle has produced a documentary that examines the term from a modern-day perspective. “Warrior Women” is scheduled to premiere here later this month. Read more… | by Sophie Willard  • Published April 27, 2018

Hot Docs 2018 Women Directors: Meet Christina D. King and Elizabeth A. Castle — “Warrior Women”

Christina D. King is a member of the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma whose work across commercials, documentary, film, and television focuses on human rights issues, civic engagement through storytelling, and democratizing filmmaker opportunities for minority voices. She has produced “We The Animals,” “This May Be The Last Time,” “Capitalism: A Love Story,” and more. “Warrior Women” is her directorial debut.

Elizabeth A. Castle is a scholar, activist, and media maker, and the author of the book “Women were the Backbone, Men were the Jawbone: Native Women’s Activism in the Red Power Movement,” the research for which inspired “Warrior Women,” which is Castle’s directorial debut. Read more... | by Sameer Rao • Published April 26, 2018 12:56PM EDT

"New Documentary Chronicles Indigenous Activist History"

“Warrior Women” follows Madonna Thunder Hawk and her daughter, Marcy Gilbert, as they engage with major Native American liberation movements. Read more... | by Chelsea Phillips-Carr • Published April 26th, 2018

Review: ‘Warrior Women’

In Warrior Women, history is told by the women who made it. Centered on Madonna Thunder Hawk, a Lakota activist with a decades-long career, the film shares discussions she has with her peers and her daughter as they reminisce on community organizing, politics, culture, and family. Their words, supplemented by archival footage, create the story of Indigenous activism by women. Read more...