What do we carry within us and pass along through our family and community bonds? Connect with stories of origin, self, and culture through the work of visiting filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki) and a reading of the new children’s book Where We Come From with the authors.
In Where We Come From, authors Diane Wilson, Sun Yung Shin, Shannon Gibney, and John Coy explore personal histories and what unites all of us as humans.
A program in the Walker Cinema honors Obomsawin, an artist and prolific filmmaker whose career has continually celebrated and advocated for Indigenous life, children, and future generations. Obomsawin will introduce a special selection of her short films presented onstage at 1 pm. More of the artist’s documentary portraits preserving Indigenous cultures will be on view in the Mediatheque throughout the day.
Free First Saturday features free gallery admission on the first Saturday of every month. Gallery admission tickets are available in advance online and on-site on the event day from the Main Lobby desk; quantities are limited. Free admission 10 am–5 pm; activities 10 am–3 pm.
To help us promote future events and programs, this event will be documented with photography. By attending, you consent to appear in this documentation and its future use by the museum.
Where We Come From Storybook Reading with the Authors, 11 am
Join authors Diane Wilson, Sun Yung Shin, Shannon Gibney, and John Coy in the Walker Cinema as they read their newest book for children, Where We Come From. In this unique collaboration, the four authors explore where they each come from—literally and metaphorically—as well as what unites all of us as humans. A Q&A and book signing follows the reading. A limited number of books will be available for purchase in the Walker Shop and online.
Wathéča Records DJ Sets, 12 pm and 2 pm
DJ sets with Wathéča Records feature vintage rock, folk, and country albums by North American indigenous artists. This project by Justis Brokenrope (Sičháŋǧu Lakȟóta) aims to present the music of underrepresented artists to a wider audience, ideally family members of the artists and other individuals from their respective tribes.
Film Screening with Alanis Obomsawin, 1 pm
In honor of Abenaki filmmaker and artist Obomsawin’s lifelong dedication to education, see a special selection of her short films that uplift Indigenous children. Obomsawin will introduce the screening in the Walker Cinema at 1 pm. More of the artist’s documentary portraits preserving Indigenous cultures will be on view in the Bentson Mediatheque throughout the day.
Art-making Activity: Messenger Tree, 10 am–3 pm
What message would you like to pass on to future generations? Write or draw your message on a paper leaf to add to a collective tree that will fill throughout the day.
Art-making Activity: Mini Books, 10 am–3 pm
Create a miniature book honoring and reflecting on your own story and response to the question “Where do I come from?”
Tour for Families, 11:30 am
Tour for General Audiences, 1 pm
Join a Walker educator for a family-friendly guided tour of artworks on view in the galleries at 11:30 am (40 min.) or take a guided tour for general audiences at 1 pm (60 min.). Tours meet at the Main Lobby desk, five minutes before the tour start time. Tours explore a selection of artworks across current exhibitions and include interactive discussion.
Visit the Walker Art Center Library, 10 am–3 pm
The Walker’s library is open! Explore the stacks and find inspiration in the library’s collection of artful books. The library entrance is through the Art Lab.
About the Films
ALANIS OBOMSAWIN FILMS IN THE WALKER CINEMA
Walker Cinema, 1 pm
All ages, 35 min.; including an introduction by Alanis Obomsawin
Mount Currie Summer Camp, 1975, 5 min.
In a series of playful portraits, Stl’atl’imx (Líl̓wat) children and youth go about their daily duties at the community’s summer camp outside Mount Currie, British Columbia. Infused with a sense of love, togetherness, and pride, this short documentary is a remarkable visual archive of a Stl’atl’imx (Líl̓wat) community through the beautiful faces of their young people.
Partridge, 1972, 2 min.
François Néwashish was the only one in his family from the Atikamekw community of Manawan not to go to residential school. He recollects a story of hunting with his father and how the spirit of the partridge protects children.
Nbaw (Hush, Sleep), 1977, 2 min.
Alanis Obomsawin sings a traditional lullaby for children onstage at a concert for Indigenous unity and solidarity.
Sigwan, 2005, 12 min.
Sigwan tells the touching story of a young girl who is comforted and counseled by the animals of the forest. The film addresses issues of exclusion and prejudice that exist within many communities worldwide. Visually breathtaking, Sigwan is a simple, transformative parable of acceptance.
Walking is Medicine, 2017, 5 min.
Walking is Medicine is the story of the Nishiyuu walkers. Six young Cree men decided to trek 1600km from Whapmagoostui, Quebec, to Ottawa, in the spirit of their ancestors, whose traditions were to travel long distances in the winter when the rivers and lakes are frozen. This was an effort to meet with many different nations from across the country and to be part of a new beginning.
ALANIS OBOMSAWIN DOCUMENTARY PORTRAITS IN THE MEDIATHEQUE
Mediatheque (looping), 10 am–3 pm
All ages, 35 mins.
Made in the 1970s, these documentary portraits preserve oral histories, songs, and traditions of Indigenous peoples of Manawan and the Líl̓wat Nation for future generations.
Children, 1972, 1 min.
Through a series of still images, the bright, inquisitive and beautiful faces of the children from the Atikamekw community of Manawan are seen at play and at rest.
The Canoe, 1972, 5 min.
Using centuries-old engineering ingenuity, Atikamekw elders Agatha and Cézar Néwashish build a small-scale version of a birch bark canoe. With their expert hands, a stunning work of art is created.
Snowshoes, 1972, 7 min.
The remarkable construction of the venerable snowshoe is demonstrated from start to finish. Atikamekw Elders Mariane and Athanas Jacob take us into the forest to select the tree that will become a fresh new pair of snowshoes.
Farming – Lep’cál, 1975, 1 min.
The farming practices of residents of the Líl̓wat Nation near Mount Currie, British Columbia, are presented in a series of snapshots that illustrate the fertility of their territory and the people’s deep connection to their land.
Basket, 1975, 7 min.
A series of still images follows master Stl’atl’imx (Líl̓wat) basket maker Mathilda Jim, from the harvesting of materials to the creation of a functional work of art. Told in the Lil̓wat7úl language, this short documentary evokes the powerful connection between language, knowledge and culture.
Salmon, 1975, 4 min.
Expert fishers for their entire lives, Líl̓wat Elders Cora and Daniel Wells share their deep knowledge of salmon fishing, cleaning and smoking.
Xúsum, 1975, 4 min.
Accompanied by a song in the Lil̓wat7úl language, we follow a woman as she makes gwùshum, a Stl’atl’imx (Líl̓wat) dessert and a very special treat. From the harvesting of the xúsum (soapberries or salmonberries) to the construction of the corn-husk whisk, a dish is created that is equal measures mouthwatering and awe-inspiring.
Wild Rice Harvest Kenora, 1979, 1 min.
Wild rice is an important source of food and revenue for many Anishinaabe people, who sometimes travel hundreds of kilometers to harvest the grain in the region around Kenora, Ontario.
June in Povungnituk – Quebec Arctic, 1980, 1 min.
On a beautiful summer’s day in Nunavik, a family enjoys the pleasures of berry picking and fishing as the sound of two Elders’ throat-singing fills the environment.
Thank you to the National Film Board of Canada.
ASL interpretation will be provided for the author reading.
The short film will be captioned.
To request accommodations for this program or for more information about accessibility, call 612-375-7564 or email
For more information about accessibility at the Walker, visit our Access page.
Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki, b. 1932) is one of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers. She began her career as a professional singer and storyteller before joining the National Film Board in 1967. Her award-winning films address the struggles of Indigenous peoples in Canada from their perspective, giving prominence to voices that have long been ignored or dismissed. A Companion of the Order of Canada and a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, she has received the Prix Albert-Tessier and the Canadian Screen Awards’ Humanitarian Award as well as multiple Governor General’s Awards, lifetime achievement awards, and honorary degrees.
Diane Wilson is an award-winning writer, speaker, and educator. Her books include Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life, and The Seed Keeper. Wilson is a Mdewakanton descendent, enrolled on the Rosebud Reservation.
John Coy is the author of numerous picture books, including Night Driving, Hoop Genius, Game Changer, If We Were Gone, Dads, and Their Great Gift. He lives in Minneapolis and visits schools around the world.
Shannon Gibney is an award-winning author of books of all kinds—from novels to anthologies to essays to picture books. She writes for adults, children, and everyone in between. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.
Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, South Korea, and is the author of the bilingual picture book Cooper’s Lesson. She is also an award-winning poet and collaborative artist. Her fourth book of poems, The Wet Hex, won the Society of Midland Authors Award in Poetry. She has edited three collections of essays. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.
Wathéča Records is an archival project founded by Justis Brokenrope (Sičháŋǧu Lakȟóta) that focuses on Indigenous music that was, and still is, overlooked in the canons of rock, country, and folk music. From your lekší’s moldy record stack to forgotten rez radio hits, Brokenrope strives to curate a wide mix of tunes from all across NDN country. Anáǧoptaŋ po!