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painting of a frog woman and a coyote man

Welgatim’s Song, 2001

Judith Lowry

Maidu/Pit River, born 1948, Acrylic on canvas, Gift of the Artist, Crocker Art Museum, 2009.113 (Photograph by Jesse A. Bravo)

This painting depicts a traditional California Indian story. Welgatim is Frog-Woman, wife of Weh-pom, or Coyote. Weh-pom plots to kill his wife because he has fallen in love with Suh-mim, the Deer Woman. Weh-pom’s disloyalty prompts Welgatim to summon rain, flooding the earth. Because of Welgatim’s power, only fire from Mount Tehama, seen erupting in the background, holds the potential to stop the flood. Judith Lowry uses traditional stories to blend environmental and feminist messages, demonstrating the continuing relevance of these narratives to Native peoples today. 

artist bio

First Light

Women play a central role in many Native American stories and traditions. Women serve as knowledge keepers, leaders, and as the bedrock of family and community. Their power is often depicted as a force of nature—changing and transforming the world around them. They are our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. 

Traditions among contemporary California tribes have not wavered and women continue to play a vital role. They are honored for the gifts they bring to the community, including the sacred power to create life. Although Native men were often the prominent public voice in Native activism, women also played a significant role. Several Native women were the first occupiers of Alcatraz—a pivotal act during the Native American Civil Rights Movement in California. That experience inspired many to pursue their goals of becoming leaders within their community. Today, Native women are advocates, teachers, change makers, and more. Their light remains resilient. 


When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism in California was organized by the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA, with support from the United Auburn Indian Community. This presentation at the Autry has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Land Acknowledgment

The Autry Museum of the American West acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). We recognize that the Autry Museum and its campuses are located on the traditional lands of Gabrielino/Tongva peoples and we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.

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