Stourwater Pictures

Films

Honor Thy Mother, a 31-minute documentary short, has just been completed and is currently being submitted to film festivals. Inquiries can be made to: Lucy Ostrander, 206.780.6928, lucy@stourwater.com


"Honor thy Mother is a moving tribute to the many Indigenous women who labored and raised families on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The film explores how Indigenous and Asian American immigrant families forged relationships of work, love, loss, and survival. Telling the stories of the Indipino elders (Indigenous and Philipino), who were witness to the emergence of a unique Indigenous and Asian American community, is significant and necessary. Through this film, we examine how labor shapes Indigenous land and experience, and learn of the pain of discrimination within and across race. Bringing together narratives along with beautiful archival research, Honor thy Mother offers a path for all viewers to understand the complexity of Indigeneity, gender, and race through processes of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism in both the United States and Canada. It is a remarkable documentary that demonstrates the power, too, of memory and the courage to survive, build community, and form new relationships that honor mixed heritage in the face of debilitating racism."

-Ahalya Satkunaratnam
Associate Professor of Humanities
Oakton Community College


"The impact of hearing these stories told by members of the Kitsap community is profound. Many of us read about the atrocities committed against Indigenous Peoples and may have watched a documentary or two, but Honor Thy Mother gives these stories another dimension of reality. The pain, heartbreak, and resilience of the Indipino Community of Bainbridge Island is told through the voices of those who experienced it firsthand. Poignant interviews lay bare a system of inequality and colonial ideals that has caused intergenerational trauma to Indigenous communities. Their stories are critical in the historical narrative of Kitsap County, Washington State, and the U.S. I feel that everyone should watch this film for a deeper understanding of the continued harms of colonialism and the resilience and strength of the Indipino Community."

-Jeanine Greco
Director of Exhibits & Engagement
Kitsap History Museum


Honor Thy Mother

 

Honor Thy Mother is the untold story of over 35 Aboriginal women from Canada and Native women from tribes in Washington and Alaska who migrated to Bainbridge Island, the traditional territory of the Suquamish people, in the early 1940s. They came, some still in their teens, to pick berries for Japanese American farmers. Many, just released from the Indian Residential Schools, fell in love in the berry fields and married Filipino immigrants. Despite having left their homeland and possible disenfranchisement from their tribes, they settled on the Island to raise their mixed heritage (Indipino) children. The voices of the Indipinos, now elders, are integral in the storytelling of their mother’s experiences marrying Asian men and settling in a foreign land. They share their confusion of growing up with no sense of belonging in either culture, growing up in poverty as the children of berry farmers, some with no running water, electricity or indoor plumbing, growing up in a post-World War II racist society and educational system. Many grew up in homes burdened with their father and mother’s memory of the 227 Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes after President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, 1942.  Brought to light, in the oral history interviews of the adult Indipinos, is the effect that historical trauma has on children, more specifically children whose mothers grew up in Indian Residential Schools.

“So everything for us was Filipino. And we didn’t even know that we were Indigenous children as well. Because when my dad had berry pickers come down from Canada, we thought they were Indians, and we were Filipinos. And my sister, one time said, Let’s go play with the Indians. And I said, Okay, let’s go. I think the chief is there. And we laughed because one little boy said, I’m an ancestral chief. We didn’t know anything about our culture. We didn’t know we were Indigenous. We thought that was funny that he said that he was an ancestral chief. So it wasn’t until we were adults that we started seeking out who our mother was, who our relatives were in Canada, and we started constructing our own identity.”

-Gina Corpuz
Daughter of Evelyn Williams
Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw Squamish Nation,
British Columbia

“I think from my, my mother just from finding out about her life, what a strong young woman she was, you know. For her to leave a country not know anybody and come to a foreign country and then survive you know. She was seeking something more than, rather than less than, she was seeking a place that wouldn’t damage her anymore, hurt her, harm her, and that she was looking to be free.”

-yetaxwelwet, Anna Rinonos Hansen
Daughter of Grace Augustine Rinonos
shίshάlh Nation, British Columbia

“My mother told us and taught us, you know, don’t show that you’re Native. Don’t tell anyone this or that. And we were, we were taught to try and stay away from identifying that. So, in fact, when I was in high school, my mom told me don’t ever marry a Native girl. Those teachings just were bred into her because she attended the residential school in Sechelt, British Columbia and was brainwashed to think that.”

-Xamth’eenux, Andrew Pascua
Son of Mary Jane Cunningham Pascua
Kwikwetlem Nation, British Columbia