Disrupted Waterways: A Call to Action

Tahila Mintz

May& June. 2023.

This solo exhibition features a video installation by Tahila Mintz, a photographer, Medicine Carrier and Founder / Executive Director of OJI:SDA’ Sustainable Indigenous Futures. Mintz works across multiple platforms and organizations to amplify the voices of Indigenous people and the natural world. For this exhibition, a segment of her current film project, Women of the Water, will play on loop within a video installation set up in the gallery. Other objects that comprise the installation include photographs and an alter like plinth holding candles, flowers, and vessels of water. A Special Screening Event will take place May 5, 2023, from 6-7pm in COOP Gallery In observance of National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, we have partnered with COOP Gallery to present the video as a projection followed by an activation of Mintz’s video installation inside of Unrequited Leisure’s gallery space with refreshments to follow. Please join us for this powerful start to the exhibition, as we come together to support, learn, and raise awareness about this important issue.

We will host an additional public reception in our gallery space on May 6, 2023, during the First Saturday Wedgewood-Houston Arts Crawl from 5-8pm at the Packing Plant.

About the work

Woman of the Water is a feature length film project in process directed and produced by Tahila Mintz. It focuses on the reality of the treatment of the water, women, and of indigenous people, through interviews and site documentation. The film follows community member Logis and her family, Mario Luna- Speaker for one of the tribal communities, Dr. Raquel Padilla Ramos- Historian and honorary community member and her daughter Raquilita Padilla after her mother’s murder.

From the artist:
“The Patriarchal system of capitalism IS the dominant global reality, whereby Water, Women and Indigenous People, are to be possessed, controlled or eliminated. Instead of being respected, honored, and revered they were abused, muted, violated, and murdered systematically. The Yaqui’s of the Rio Yaqui have had their river stolen. It has been rerouted by the capitol city of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico to serve the needs of corporate headquarters for international business which is in the city. WITHOUT WATER is the focus of this film segment within the series, and asks, What does life look like without water for crops, animal, drinking, washing, medicine cultivation and spiritual and cultural relationship?”

About the artist:

Tahila Mintz is a Photographer, Medicine Carrier and Founder / Executive Director of OJI:SDA’
Sustainable Indigenous Futures, an Indigenous women founded and led, non-profit organization that focuses on a vision where Indigenous people are seen, heard, healthy and thriving. Its programs create ancestral knowledge land-based curriculum for youth populations within formal and informal education systems; summer camp experiences for Indigenous Youth; disaster relief and other models of community support. Mintz works across multiple platforms and organizations to amplify the voices of Indigenous people and the natural world. Her work focuses on ancestral matriarchies and gender equilibrium, contemporary Indigenous issues, and recuperating knowledge that has been unraveled by colonialism. She is a Water Protector and a Land Guardian whose home is in her Yaqui community of Sonora and in upstate, NY, and has been photographing for over 20 years around the world living and working throughout the Americas, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She received her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas, followed by being a faculty member at Texas State University and Central Texas College. Tahila is also a National Geographic Fellow, and her work has been published in National Geographic Magazine and is held in museum collections.

MMIW, MMIWG, No More Stolen Sisters, No More Stolen Relatives

“It is essential to recognize that similar assimilation policies have deeply impacted Indigenous Peoples across borders. Indigenous Peoples are not just marginalized or vulnerable; all borders aside, we have been targeted by policy and legislation that was designed to eradicate us. Working together through our shared struggles and love for our people unites us. These shared struggles add layers to the healing that is needed on an individual, family, and community level. We can see these similarities in epidemics like the MMIWG movement, which affects Indigenous people all across Turtle Island. The approach to eliminating violence against Indigenous women should be done in a decolonized way that centers each community ceremony and beliefs.” – MMIWG2 & MMIP Organizing Toolkit 

“Despite this ongoing crisis, there is a lack of data and an inaccurate understanding of MMIWG, creating a false perception that the issue does not affect off-reservation/ village American Indian and Alaska Native communities. However, according to an analysis of 2016 Census data, 50.2% of the urban Indian population identified as female.vi The data in this report also includes LGBTQ, non-binary, and Two Spirit individuals. The majority of American Indian and Alaska Native people now live in urban communities due to a variety of reasons for migration, from forced relocation due to 1950s federal relocation and termination policies, to current barriers to obtaining quality educational, employment, and housing opportunities on tribal lands. Because of this, urban American Indian and Alaska Native people experience MMIWG-related violence in two ways—through losses experienced by extended family and community ties on reservations, in villages, and in urban communities themselves. Though there are critical issues regarding jurisdiction of MMIWG cases on reservation and village lands, lack of prosecution, lack of proper data collection, prejudice, and institutional racism are factors that also occur in urban areas.” MMIWG Report

“Indigenous women are disproportionately victimized by gender-based violence, and these high rates are contributing to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In the U.S. overall, four out of five Indigenous women–or 80 percent–of all Native women have been victimized by violence in their lifetime. Half of Indigenous women have been sexually abused, assaulted, or raped in their lifetime. Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found that the violence “amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, which especially targets women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.” CWGL’s Journalism Initiative on Gender-Based Violence in collaboration with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

Reports & Resources: 


mmiwhoismissing resources



Restoration of Native Sovereignty and Safety for Native Women 

231 Calls to Justice for MMIW

When a Loved One Goes Missing – Understanding and Responding to the Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

This artist’s work has been important to the MMIW movement: The Red Dress Project