Published April 11, 2019
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Indian Land Tenure Foundation, a national, community-based organization serving American Indian nations and people in the recovery and control of their rightful homelands, is excited to announce the release of a new educational video game that teaches about the impact of allotment acts on Indigenous peoples in the 1890s. Available on PC/MAC, iPads, Android tablets and Chromebooks, When Rivers Were Trails is an accessible, educational 2D adventure game that will help teach young people about an important and often-overlooked period of time in United States history.
When Rivers Were Trails was developed by ILTF in collaboration with Michigan State University’s Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab thanks to support from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The game follows an Anishinaabeg in the 1890’s who is displaced from Fond du Lac in Minnesota to California due to the impact of allotment acts on Indigenous communities. More than 20 indigenous writers were tapped in the development of When Rivers Were Trails, bringing their valuable experience to the project.
When Rivers Were Trails Trailer from Elizabeth LaPensée on Vimeo.
Download When Rivers Were Trails on PC/Mac, iPad, Android/Chromebook
Players are challenged to balance their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being with foods and medicines while making choices about contributing to resistances as well as trading with, fishing with, hunting with, gifting, and honoring the people they meet as they travel through Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and eventually must find a place to call home in California.
The journey can change from game to game as players randomly come across Indigenous people, animals, plants, and run-ins with Indian Agents. Gameplay speaks to sovereignty, nationhood, and being reciprocal with land. When Rivers Were Trails is available for download on PC and Mac, Apple’s AppStore and the Google Play Store.
The game features creative directing by Nichlas Emmons, creative directing and design by Elizabeth LaPensée, art by Weshoyot Alvitre, and music by Supaman and Michael Charette.
Indigenous writers include Weshoyot Alvitre, Li Boyd, Trevino Brings Plenty, Tyrone Cawston, Richard Crowsong, Eve Cuevas, Samuel Jaxin Enemy-Hunter, Lee Francis IV, Carl Gawboy, Elaine Gomez, Ronnie Dean Harris, Tashia Hart, Renee Holt, Sterling HolyWhiteMountain, Adrian Jawort, Kris Knigge, E. M. Knowles, Elizabeth LaPensée, Annette S. Lee, David Gene Lewis, Korii Northrup, Nokomis Paiz, Carl Petersen, Manny Redbear, Travis McKay Roberts, Sheena Louise Roetman, Sara Siestreem, Joel Southall, Jo Tallchief, Allen Turner, and William Wilson, alongside guest writers Toiya K. Finley and Cat Wendt who contribute African American and Chinese experiences.