Tuhaymani'chi Pal Waniqa (The Water Flows Always)

A father seeks to reconnect his daughter with her indigenous roots and with the ancient springs of the Mojave Desert, just as a new water-mining project threatens their very existence.

  • Tracy Rector
    Executive Producer
  • Bryan Gunnar Cole
    Senior Producer
  • Nils Cowan
  • Gina Milanovich
  • Nils Cowan
  • Sean Milanovich
  • Matthew Leivas Sr.
  • Nils Cowan
  • Gabe Bienczycki
    Director of Photography
  • Jacob Bearchum
    Associate Producer
  • Eleni Ledesma
    Associate Producer
  • Felipe Contreras
    Associate Producer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes 15 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 27, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    Cahuilla, English, Ute-Southern Paiute-Chemehuevi
  • Shooting Format:
    4K UHD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)
    United States
    May 20, 2023
Director Biography - Nils Cowan, Gina Milanovich

Gina Milanovich (Cahuilla, Cupeño) is a first time filmmaker, exploring 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.

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Director Statement

Nils Cowan and Gina Milanovich

As a collaboration between communities and creative storytellers, this film represents months of collective effort built on many centuries of work by the Indigenous Ancestors of the region now known as Southern California. When we first learned of the illegal efforts to mine the water underneath the Mojave Desert, we were more dismayed than surprised. But those feelings soon turned to creative energy as we witnessed the galvanizing force this threat was having among Indigenous Peoples’ of the area. With both of us deeply motivated to tell stories about underrepresented viewpoints that can have a real impact on environmental issues, we quickly bonded over an approach that would weave together two storylines: An investigative look at the Cadiz water mining project; and the experiences of a father and daughter reconnecting with their traditional homelands and practices. We have been blessed many times over by the relationships and memories made while co-creating this story, and can only hope that by bringing it to the Indigenous communities of the Mojave and to international audiences, we can make a difference in protecting sacred lands and waters everywhere.

‘Tuhaymani’chi Pal Waniqua’ is the first in an upcoming series of films created as part of the Wayfinders Circle, an Indigenous-led program of global exchange and dreaming among many of the world’s most critical land guardians.