What Was Always Yours and Never Lost
Children of the Setting Sun Productions
Two related but separate exhibitions are presented during the Winter Quarter.
Curated by the celebrated film maker Sky Hopinka (Luiseño), What Was Always Yours and Never Lost focuses on experimental cinema by Indigenous film and video makers from throughout North America. The works traverse a wide range of topics and formal strategies dealing directly and indirectly with Indigeneity – assertions of Identity and presence in the face of and regardless of colonial history and outdated traditions of anthropology and ethnography. They make space for poetry, for beauty, and speak to the joys of preserving the past, establishing community, and seeing the future differently.
The documentaries produced by Children of the Setting Sun Productions follow the Lummi family tradition of Native Storytelling. They are a part of the Salmon People Stories, a collection of films made to accelerate the work of Indigenous-led movements by highlighting Tribal community’s advocacy through their history, culture, and values. "Storytelling lies at the heart of who we are as a community, and it is crucial for us to tell our stories to reshape the narrative."
Curatorial Statement - What Was Always Yours and Never Lost
It’s a lonely thought that outside of the safe harbors of reservations, reserves, towns, circles of friends, and remembrances of what was and what could be, are whole other worlds that are familiar, yet at the same time still foreign. The moniker of the Indigenous is vast, and is often centered on those of us affected by Western colonialism. We don’t just walk in two worlds– it’s never that easy– we dip in and out of so many. Our accents change, our dialects shift, our bodies become larger or smaller, our voices become meeker or louder, and our jokes become softer and more benign– yet teasing in a way that can be harsh, mean, and morbid. It can be lonely, but there’s a freedom in being alone. Within that freedom you can find others who have already said what you’ve said, have thought the ideas you’ve thought, and are doing things you didn’t know could be done. It’s a relief and a beginning.
This program began in 2016 with a number of films from a number of filmmakers. Over the years the lineup has changed, and some films have been in it since that beginning. Each iteration offered something new, from these filmmakers that come from different backgrounds, different countries, different homelands, and different nations. Each artist makes works that traverse a wide range of topics dealing directly and indirectly with Indigeneity: assertions of identity and presence in the face of–and regardless of–colonial history and outdated traditions of anthropology, ethnography, and representation. For me, they fit together so well because of how different they are, and how they state and assert their individuality, their humor, their deliberations, and their love.
It was difficult to choose which works by each of these artists to include here. They all have expansive practices and processes that are hard to keep up with. But the films here are both ones that I’ve been watching for years, and that are brand new to me. I love and respect all of the filmmakers in this program, and they have all challenged and transformed the way that I look at the world and how I exist in it. They’ve been generous and kind; I’ve laughed with them and they let me cry. They make space for poetry, for beauty, for movement between cosmological and visceral worlds, sometimes blurring the lines between both. They’ll teach you things that you didn’t know you needed to learn; they claim what was always theirs, and celebrate what was never lost. -- Sky Hopinka, curator
Children of the Setting Sun Productions - Statement
These documentaries are a part of the Salmon People Stories, a collection of films that will help accelerate the work of Indigenous-led movements by highlighting Tribal community’s advocacy through their history, culture, and values.
Inspired by the visionary spirit of my great grandfather, Haeteluk, our journey began over a century ago. Haeteluk recognized the influx of people into our area who were unaware of our rich heritage, and he took it upon himself to educate them. Thus, he formed the dance group known as Children of the Setting Sun, and today, we carry forward the legacy he started.
Storytelling lies at the heart of who we are as a community, and it is crucial for us to tell our stories to reshape the narrative. Through storytelling, we find healing, power, and even medicine. Our aim is to bridge the gap between non-native and native perspectives, fostering understanding and unity. Together, we can create a better future for our children and grandchildren, passing on a legacy of unity, respect, and cultural appreciation. - Darrell Hillaire, Executive Director, Founder
Theo Cuthand, Colectivo Los Ingrávidos, Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, Caroline Monnet, Jackson Polys, James Luna
Featured Image: Colectivo Los Ingrávidos, Itzcóatl