Tuhaymani'chi Pal Waniqa Film Festival Screenings


Assistant Director Gina Milanovich (Cahuilla, Cupeno)
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Film “Tuhaymani'chi Pal Waniqa” (The Water Flows Always) to Screen at Four International Film Festivals in April

April 4, 2024

In the film from the Wayfinders Circle, water and culture bring together a father and daughter as they fight to protect their Indigenous homelands in Southern California.

“Tuhaymani’chi Pal Waniqa” (The Water Flows Always) is being screened at four international film festivals throughout April 2024.  

In the film, water and culture bring together a father and daughter as they fight to protect their Indigenous homelands in Southern California. It follows a Cahuilla, Cupeño father and daughter attempting to reconnect in a journey through their Indigenous roots in the ancient springs of the Mojave Desert, just as a new water-mining project threatens their very existence.  

This is the first release in an upcoming series of films created by the Wayfinders Circle – a global network of Indigenous guardians who protect their lands, waters, and territories, and are dedicated to sharing the transformative potential of Indigenous lifeways. 

Directed by Gina Milanovich (Cahuilla, Cupeño) and Nils Cowan, “Tuhaymani’chi Pal Waniqa” (The Water Flows Always) represents the power of collective filmmaking between Indigenous communities and creative storytellers, influenced by Indigenous guardianship since time immemorial of the region now known as Southern California, United States.  

Since its premiere in May 2023 as an official selection in the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), the film has been screened in six other festivals for global audiences in the United States and Japan. 

It has now been selected for four more festivals happening over April 2024 – three in the United States and one in Argentina. More information about the next screenings is below.  

“Tuhaymani’chi Pal Waniqa” addresses the efforts of protecting water resources and the sacred places of Indigenous nations. It seeks to raise awareness of the problems faced by Indigenous tribes in Southern California regarding the water mining project from the Cadiz company. 

Co-director Gina Milanovich takes part in the production, behind and in front of the camera, generously allowing the audience to follow her journey connecting with her ancestral lands.  

“The part of the story where we focus on the relationship between my dad and I was an opportunity for us to reunite, and I hope we can inspire anyone who recognizes the importance of exchanging and learning with these important figures in our lives, who are guiding us and are still here with us today,” said Gina Milanovich. 

The film was produced as a partnership between the Wayfinders Circle conveners (Nia Tero, Pawanka Fund, the World Union of Indigenous Spiritual Practitioners) and the Native American Land Conservancy (NALC). 

“Our connection to water is really profound. We know our water, we know the land. It’s very healing. Healing to the soul, healing to our spirit. It does wonders for our wellbeing. And that’s why we go out there. The Western world has treated water as a commodity, but we know in our Indigenous communities it’s not. And it’s so much more than that water is we treat water as our relative,” shared Sean Milanovich, Ph.D. (Cahuilla), Vice President of the NALC, and one of the producers of the film.  

Screenings in April 2024:  

About the Directors: 

  • Gina Milanovich (Cahuilla, Cupeño) is a filmmaker who explores stories about the Mojave Desert ecosystem and the efforts of Tribal Nations in Southern California and Arizona to protect their land and water rights. 
  • Nils Cowan is a documentary producer/writer with twenty years of experience working on award-winning original features and shorts. His work has focused on uplifting and amplifying underrepresented stories and perspectives. 

About Native American Land Conservancy: 

The Native American Land Conservancy (NALC) is a US-based nonprofit organization that purchases and owns land collectively, as a land trust, governed by local Native American leaders who have a historical, cultural, and spiritual connection to their ancestral lands and are seen as the legal/practical “owners” and stewards of their lands. The NALC works with tribes and advocates for tribes at all levels to protect the gifts of the Creator to the people. The NALC combines Traditional Environmental Knowledge of the local Tribes with the Western scientific paradigm to protect and restore fragile desert ecosystems, Native communities, Native plants, endangered animals, and critical water resources. The NALC strongly advocates for the protection of water in the Mojave Desert and has successfully protected many endangered and sacred springs. Visit Website / Visit Wayfinders Circle Website NALC Page 

About Wayfinders Circle:

The Wayfinders Circle is a new collaborative initiative and platform convened by the Pawanka Fund and Nia Tero, with the guidance of the Council of Elders of the World Union of Indigenous Spiritual Practitioners (WUISP). The Wayfinders Circle supports and gathers Indigenous guardians from around the world who protect their lands, waters, and territories. It is also a learning network dedicated to investing in Indigenous Wayfinders and sharing possible pathways for human societies to achieve ecological, social, cultural and spiritual harmony.  Visit Website 

About Pawanka Fund:

The Pawanka Fund—which is an Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Learning Initiative—is committed to the concept of intercultural philanthropy, based on ancestral practices of solidarity and reciprocity of Indigenous Peoples. Intercultural Philanthropy builds from the knowledge that Indigenous Peoples have our own learning processes, systems of knowledge and ways to integrate new information, values, and interpretations and to share them with younger generations. Visit Website 

About the World Union of Indigenous Spiritual Practitioners (WUISP): 

World Union of Indigenous Spiritual Practitioners (WUISP) is an open voluntary alliance of Indigenous spiritual practitioners, shamans, healers, sacred sites guardians, cultural activists, holders of traditional Indigenous knowledge and values, Indigenous organizations and clans committed to working together with the common goal of achieving the mission and vision for protection of Mother Earth and strengthening of pristine ties human-nature- culture for the survival and wellbeing of generations to come.