Film series grounds itself in sacred lands
Condensed by Native Village
“Standing on Sacred Ground”
is a four-part documentary
project about eight
indigenous cultures resisting external threats to their
lands. Director Christopher (Toby) McLeod is critical of
about indigenous people filmed by a white male perspective.
been a lot of films about indigenous people where you have
this National Geographic narrator talking right over the
ritual and shaman,” he said.
Scientists say that a significantly higher
percentage of biodiversity exists in sacred areas, partially
due to indigenous groups’ efforts.
While Westerners often dismiss indigenous practices
and rituals as superstitious, the techniques they use for
preserving their lands can help protect other
ecosystems around the world.
McLeod notes that
“if you can show scientifically that sacred places preserve
biodiversity, you have a scientific argument on why sacred
places have value to the modern world.”
Republic of Altai
Episode 1 follows the
indigenous people of the Republic of Altai and the Winnemem
Wintu tribe of Northern California. While each indigenous
community has it's own culture and rituals:
Both share similar values in their connections
to nature and the land
Both face similar threats from industrial
Both are battling government projects that plan
to build over
consecrated areas such as ancient burial sites and natural
The film shows an ecosystem that has remained
intact for thousands of years because of the Altaians
safeguarding practices. “Sacred
places are not dead places where humans are forbidden to
tread. Instead, sacred places require human visitation — or
pilgrimage,” says Altaian activist, Danil Mamyev.
While human visitation is integral to the Altaians’
sacred land, tourism brings sightseers who disrespect the land and customs.
energy corporation Gazprom plans to run a pipeline through
the Ukok Plateau.
Erased from the federal list
of recognized tribes, the Winnemem tribe is fighting
government expansion of the Shasta Dam, which would
submerge their lands. They, like the Altaians, have
established a network of indigenous groups working to help
them protect their land and culture.
Tourists" is narrated by Graham Greene (Oneida), with the
voices of Tantoo Cardinal (Metis), Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe),
Q’orianka Kilcher (Quechua), Rhoda Roberts (Bundjalung) and
Luana Busby-Neff (Hawai‘i)
2 Profit and Loss
tar sands of Alberta, Canada, native people
fight the loss of land, water and health to
mining and oil industries.
3: Fire and Ice
the to the Andes of Peru, indigenous communities
protect their sacred lands from development,
competing religions and climate change.
Narrated by Graham Greene (Oneida), with
storytelling by Q’orianka Kilcher
4: Islands of Sanctuary
Native Hawaiian Homelands
Aboriginal Australians and Native Hawaiians
reclaim land and resist the erosion of culture
and the environment.
Featuring Patrick Dobson (Yawuru), Davianna
McGregor (Hawaiian), Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe),
Oren Lyons (Onondaga), philosopher Satish Kumar
and author Barry Lopez. Narrated by Graham
Greene (Oneida), with storytelling by Rhoda
Roberts (Bundjalung) and Luana Busby-Neff
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