Léopold Lambert met with Indigenous Lakota activists Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcella Gilbert during their passage in France to present Christina D. King and Elizabeth A. Castle’s film Warrior Women that portrays their struggle over two generation — Madonna is Marcella’s mother. In this conversation, we talked about four episodes of Indigenous resistance in Turtle Island (North America): the occupations of Alcatraz (1969), Mount Rushmore (1971), Wounded Knee (1973) and Standing Rock (2016), all of which were experienced by Madonna.
Madonna Thunderhawk is an Oohenumpa Lakota. Born and raised across the Oceti Sakowin homelands, she first became active in the late 1960s as a member and leader in the American Indian Movement and co-founded Women of All Red Nations and the Black Hills Alliance. In 1974, she established the We Will Remember Survival School as act of cultural reclamation for young Native people pushed out of the public schools.
Marcella Gilbert is the daughter of Madonna Thunder Hawk and a Lakota and Dakota community organizer with a focus on food sovereignty and cultural revitalization. Her formative years were influenced by the activism of her extended family’s leadership in the American Indian Movement. She was a seventeen-year old delegate to the newly established International Indian Treaty Council to Geneva in 1977 and a graduate of the We Will Remember Survival Group. This alternative school run by and for Native people, was a remarkable tool for decolonizing and healing the intergenerational damage caused by boarding school.