Through decades of filmmaking and music, the Abenaki artist shines a light on indigenous life in North America.
Born in 1931 in New Hampshire on Abenaki Territory, Alanis Obomsawin is a filmmaker and musician of Abenaki Native American and First Nation Canadian heritage. Growing up on a reservation in Quebec, she was surrounded by Abenaki languages, chants and stories. Her roots have deeply informed her creative work, making documentary films about First Nation peoples and the social, economic and political injustices that they face. Since the early ‘60s, Obomsawin has also been a performing musician, primarily of Abenaki folk songs, and has worked as a printmaker and engraver. In recent years, her work has been locally and internationally recognized: In 2016, she received the Technicolour Clyde Gilmour Award from the Toronto Film Critics Association, which called Obomsawin “a significant architect of Canadian cinema and culture.” Also in 2016, she received two of Quebec’s highest honors, the Prix Albert-Tessier, for contributions to the cinema of Quebec, and she was named a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec.