Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) was born and raised in Washington and spent a number of years in California and Oregon. In Portland he studied and taught Chinuk Wawa, a language indigenous to the Columbia River Basin. He received his BA from Portland State University in liberal arts and his MFA in film, video, animation, and new genres from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He currently teaches at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. His feature length debut maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.