Guardians of the Waters
Native youth explore cultural and ecological health

This video was collectively directed by the young Native participants of The Guardians of the Waters youth leadership internship, a program of The Cultural Conservancy. The poetic documentary explores eco-cultural health through submersion in Native water traditions—building tule boat canoes, carving paddles and encountering water spirituality—and through artists’ and scholars’ reflections on trauma, struggle and transformation.

The Guardians of the Waters youth internship steeps participants in traditional ecological, indigenous watercraft, and foodways knowledge. Native artists and scholars facilitate discussions, group processing, and audiovisual documenting of eco-cultural health, personal/collective identities, and traditional/new media.


Native Artists and Tribal Scholars

Diana Almendariz (Maidu/Wintun/Hupa/Yurok/Cherokee

Holly A. Calica (Pilipina/Ilocano/Pangasinan)

Ethan Castro (Wailaki)

Wikuki Kingi (Maori/Hawaiian)

L. Frank Manriquez (Tongva/Ajachmem/Raramuri)

Melissa K. Nelson (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)

Anne Marie Sayers (Ohlone)

Kanyon Sayers (Ohlone, Chumash)

Kathy Wallace (Karuk/Yurok/Hupa)

Edward Willie (Pomo/Walaiki/Wintu)

Original Compositions

Bodhran and Tar Percussion - Colin Farish

Canyon Chumash Grandmother Song - Kanyon Sayers

Extra Pacific - Art Vandelay

Music and Sound Mixing

Art Vandelay

Music Recording


Additional Sound Recording

Farida Jhabvala Romero, Radio Bilingüe

Water Animation and Slow-Motion Footage Courtesy of


One Day on Earth

Thank You

Jamie A. Beck

Heidi Coffer

Kaylena Bray

Ras K’dee

Monica Wadsworth Stafford

Naomi LeBeau

Gerardo Marin

A.S.I. Legal Resource Center, SFSU

Richard Oakes Multicultural Center, SFSU

Bangka Journey

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Video and Sound by Program Participants

Stay Aori (Kenyan/Kikuyu/Luhya)

Natalie Contreras (Purepecha/Tarahumara/Nahuatl)

Mateo Hinojosa (Bolivian-American)

Napaquetzalli Martinez (Yaqui/Apache/Purépecha/Xicana)

Kiva McGahan (German/Irish/Salvadorean/Apache/Calo/Mayan)

Valerie Perez Ordoñez (Mexican/Salvadorean)

Monserrat Rueda-Hernandez (Mexican-American)

Nícola Wagenberg (Colombian)


Media Director and Editor

Mateo Hinojosa

Project Director

Nícola Wagenberg

Program Facilitators

Mateo Hinojosa

Valerie Perez Ordoñez

Nícola Wagenberg

Special Thanks

Brock Dolman

Susannah Schroll

Sonoma Mountain Institute

Grover Stock

Lindsay Dailey

Peter Olson and Ilan Vitemberg

Levana Saxon

Melissa Elgin

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center

Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

Practicing Freedom

Supported in Part By

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

The San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Grants Program through a Native American Arts & Cultural Traditions grant

The Christensen Fund

Kalliopeia Foundation