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Blood Memory

February 19, 2020

Blood Memory

The title “Blood Memory” is derived from the concept that the experiences of one generation are passed onto the next through DNA. Future generations live with the shared knowledge of their ancestors – meaning there is a foundation of survival instinct and cultural identity that exists within us prior to learned experience. In many ways, this is a beautiful and poetic concept, but trauma and abuse can also be transferred intergenerationally, sometimes unknown to the carrier. This film is about acknowledging and honoring all aspects of blood memory, and how we as individuals and community members heal our collective traumas and learn to pass positive ancestral knowledge to the next generation–Director’s Statement (Blood Memory, Official Film Site)


Welcome of Adoptees

Join Sandy White Hawk for a special screening of Blood Memory, the untold story of the experiences she and many other Native children experienced during the American Indian Adoption Era. The era was a time when nearly “one-third of children were removed from tribal communities nationwide” based on arguments of blood quantum and ‘best interests’ (Blood Memory official film site). The film, directed and produced by Drew Nicholas, bears witness to Sandy’s journey and her work to bring home survivors of the adoption out process. Intertwined with her story is that of Mark Fiddler, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who sided against the Indian Child Welfare Act as a lead attorney in the 2013 Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.  A compelling and complex film, Blood Memory grapples with issues of “blood quantum” and “best interests”,tribal and Native children’s sovereignty rights, and Indigenous activism.


About the People Involved


Sandra White Hawk is a Sicangu Lakota adoptee from the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota. She is the founder and Director of First Nations Repatriation (FNRI), the first organization of its kind whose goal it is to create a resource for First Nations people impacted by foster care or adoption to return home, reconnect, and reclaim their identity. The Institute also serves as a resource to enhance the knowledge and skills of practitioners who serve First Nations people.

She is an Indian Child Welfare Consultant for Hennepin County, Minneapolis, MN Indian Child Welfare Unit and the National Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for Tribes.

Sandra is a contributing author to: The Kinship Parenting Toolbox, edited by Kim Phagan-Hansel; Truth Healing Reconciliation CW 360, a comprehensive look at prevalent child welfare issue, March 2015 issue; Outsiders Within, J. J. Trenka, J. C. Oparah & S. Y. Shin (Eds.); Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption Cambridge, MA, South End Press; and Parenting as Adoptees, Adam Chau, Kevin Ost-Vollmers (Editors).

Sandra served as a Commissioner for the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She also serves as an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools in Canada.

Sandra was awarded the Women in Wellbriety Dana Tiger Award for Creating Change in Nations, named one of the Innovators in Color Lines Magazine, named one of the 50 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World, Utne Reader, named Outstanding Native Women Award from the University of Minnesota 2003 and was named 50 Most Influential and Cool People of Madison, WI, in Madison Magazine, November 2002 –National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition


Directors, Producers and Sandy White Hawk 

DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Drew Nicholas co-founded the film collective In Medias Res, for which he performs many tasks from concept to completion, including co-producing the micro-budget feature “I’m A Stranger Here Myself” and producing video content that helped raise over $420,000 to preserve the Pittsburgh community landmark Kraynick’s Bike Shop. Drew’s films have been recognized by Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Minneapolis-St.Paul International Film Festival, New Filmmakers: New York, the Sprout Fund, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. In addition to independent filmmaking Drew also works as a Location Scout/Manager on industry productions such as the Netflix Original Series “Mindhunter” and AnnaPurna’s “Foxcatcher”. He earned a B.A. in Cinema and Digital Arts from Point Park University and studied creative writing/poetry at Naropa University. “Blood Memory” is Drew’s feature film debut. (Blood Memory official film site)

PRODUCER Megan Whitmer specializes in events and media production for nonprofit and community enterprises and is currently producing the 2019 documentary feature “Blood Memory” with support from Vision Maker Media and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Her nonprofit development work includes donor management and outreach initiatives for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, media production and a fundraising gala for the Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh, and the execution of national conferences for member-organizations including the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition. Megan holds an M.A. in Rhetoric & Philosophy of Communication from Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit and a B.A. in Communication from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. (Blood Memory official film site)

PRODUCER Elizabeth Day (Ojibwe) was born on the Leech Lake Reservation and raised in the Twin Cities. Elizabeth blends her Native American heritage with her urban upbringing to create films that employ traditional Ojibwe-style storytelling while using contemporary filmmaking techniques. Her work often explores the tension between traditional Native teachings and the life of a modern, urban Indian. Elizabeth was an Associate Producer on the PBS Documentary Black Gold Boom, and her short directorial work has been recognized by the Tribeca All Access Connects program, Minnesota State Artist Board, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Bush Artist Fellowship. Elizabeth currently works as a Community Organizer for the Native American Community Development Institute, as well as a Project Manager and Video Director for Wiigwaas Press in Minneapolis, MN. (Blood Memory official film site)

CO-PRODUCER Olivia Vaughn is a staff producer for the Sundance award-winning production company, Animal, where she helps to cultivate award-winning commercial and documentary projects. In 2016, she produced the documentary feature Fursonas, a humanistic exploration of the Furry subculture, which won the Spirit of Slamdance award, and was distributed to notable streaming channels worldwide. Olivia also produced four Vimeo Staff Pick shorts (The John Show – 2017, Voices – 2017, Echo Torch – 2016, Alone – 2016), and served as VFX coordinator for the ABC sitcom Downward Dog. Through her production experience, she has gained the support and trust of regional nonprofits, including The Sprout Fund and Steeltown Entertainment. (Blood Memory official film site)


Location and Time

Augsburg University
Sateren Auditorium, Music Hall, 715 22nd Ave South
Reception 6:15-6:45
Screening begins at 7:00
Discussion with participants follows
This event is free to the public

For parking directions visit: You will need a parking permit. For parking permits contact M. Elise Marubbio at Permits are limited in number.

Thank you to our sponsors: Augsburg University, American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous Studies Department, American Indian Student Services, Augsburg Indigenous Student Association, Center for Global Education at the University of Minnesota, Blood Memory Project, LLC .