Walker Art Center celebrates Indigenous film tonight with a new series


When Indigenous filmmaker Missy Whiteman was in high school, she found herself faced with two different paths. One was unhealthy while the other was more positive.

Walker Art Center
$8-$10; some screenings are free

“I was doing things that you shouldn’t do as a young person,” she says. She was drawn to art-making, however, which ultimately led her down the best road. “I found healing through my art,” she says.

The main character in The Coyote Way: Going Back Home similarly faces two different paths. Played by her 13-year-old son, he must choose between joining a Native street gang or going on an epic, sci-fi pilgrimage. Whiteman’s father, the child’s grandfather, is also in the cast.

As a young person, Whiteman was involved with a Native performance troupe led by Sharon Day. After graduating from the Perpich Center for Arts Education, she acted in local plays. She couldn’t relate to the roles, however. She was typecast as the “evil Indian” one too many times. Eventually, she decided to go into filmmaking so she could have more control over her own community’s story.

As a Native, Whiteman says the way she tells stories, with far less linear progression and narrative order, is different than the structure most often used in Hollywood movies.

“We’re creating an entirely new way of making films,” she says.


In 2014, Whiteman participated in a filmmaking program for Native filmmakers through the Sundance institute. There she was mentored by Bird Runningwater and other experienced filmmakers, who helped her develop her voice as a filmmaker.

For The Coyote Way, Whiteman was able to secure funding through the Tiwahe Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, Sundance, and a Kickstarter. The films will screen tonight at the Walker Art Center as part of INDIgenesis: Indigenous Filmmakers, Past and Present.

Whiteman, who helped put the series together, says the series picks up where a similar series from the ‘80s and ‘90s, Two Rivers Film and Video Festival, left off.

Attendees are invited to arrive at 5 p.m. to make buttons with the Little Earth Youth Arts Collective, and watch animation aimed for younger folks. After the screening, there’ll be a question and answer session with the Whiteman.


The Coyote Way: Going Back Home
7:30 p.m.
Walker Art Center