Private Project

Tamal-liwa: Welcoming Our Relative Home

Tamal-liwa: Welcoming Our Relative Home tells the story of the Felix family, a Támal-ko/Coast Miwok family, returning to deeper connection with their ancestral lands by inviting local people to form a community for the purpose of building a tule canoe. In the process, they honor their own ancestors and other Támal-ko families whose homelands are now called Point Reyes National Seashore.

  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 5 seconds
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography

This film was created by a director whose name is not listed anywhere in the film or on this site. The names listed in the credits are the people and organizations who came together to build the tule boat. The Chrome browser does not display video colors accurately. It is suggested to use Firefox or Safari for best results.

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Director Statement

Tamal-liwa: Welcoming Our Relative Home is a story of healing through re-indigenizing the areas that are are now called Tomales Bay and San Francisco Bay. It was made in partnership with the Alliance for Felix Cove. Their mission is to to protect, restore and rematriate the ancestral Coast Miwok/Tamal-ko homelands of the Felix Family at Point Reyes National Seashore. In the film, the Alliance brings together a community of people to build a series of tule reed boats. Many of the people involved have ancestors who used this type of boat on a daily basis. For some builders, it was the first time they had ever touched a boat made from tules. For most of them, it was the first time they had participated in building such a boat. Through reliance on the strength of the community, they successfully built and launched several of these ancestral watercraft and welcomed them back to their home waters.

Connection with and respect for coastal ecologies is a major theme in my life and artwork, as is a respectful relationship with my ancestors and ancestral ways of living. For most of my adult life I have been learning to de-colonize my personal stories and re-connect with my indigenous ancestors, many of whom were erased from the history I received when I was growing up. It has been a journey of sadness, frustration, joy and hope for me.

Making this film was an opportunity to participate in the act of creation and reconnection with a group of people who have a multi-generational relationship with the local land and waterways that are why I have chosen to make my home in this area. Due to colonial practices, they are often prevented from living and carrying out their cultural activities where their ancestors lived for over 10,000 years. It has been beautiful for me to able to participate in events where some of these people and practices return to their homeland.

It was very important for this project to remove the barriers between filmmaker and subject as much as possible because in the cultural context where the events of the film happen, there are no spectators. When a tule boat is being built, everyone present is participating. I wanted the film to be a vehicle for sharing stories about a community and a collective practice.

I used a Canon R5 capturing 4K DCI in Canon Log 3 and a set of vintage Olympus Zuiko lenses. The small size and high quality of this combination allowed me to be a respectful part of the activity I was supporting through making the film. They also let me attain the production value that I was looking for. What happens in the film is deeply meaningful and important. I wanted the visual quality of the images to reflect this.

It is my wish that this project will help viewers understand that those who are most qualified to make decisions about the land and the water are the people with the deepest loving relationships with these mothers without whom none of us can sustain life.