9 Examples of Indigenous Sense in a Nonsensical Time
By Rucha Chitnis / buzzfeed.com

Sometimes it seems like we live in nonsensical times. Do you ever wonder what happened to good old common sense? Indigenous voices from around the world who are fighting for cultural survival and protection of nature in their homelands offer simple wisdom in the face of climate change, mining and other development projects. These voices are highlighted in Standing On Sacred Ground, a four-part film series airing on the PBS World Channel through May and June.

1. Water is life—and oil is not hydrating.

 
Water is life—and oil is not hydrating.
 

The first episode of the film series, Pilgrims and Tourists, shows the Winnemem Wintu Tribe in California resisting U.S. government plans to raise the height of Shasta Dam, which threatens their sacred sites and the ceremonies that have taken place on the McCloud RIver for over a thousand years. Winnemem Chief Caleen Sisk has been advocating for water as a human right for all—including the salmon, a source of spiritual inspiration and an important traditional food, which has disappeared from their homeland because of Shasta Dam.

2. Capitalism is not native to the continent.

 
Capitalism is not native to the continent.
 

In the film series, Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons, reflects on the values in life that matter more than money and markets: a sacred relationship to land, reciprocity and our obligation to give back to the Earth, a commitment to equity and peace for seven generations. Chief Lyons recognizes that inherently humans are not separate from nature.

3. If mega-mining projects can be seen on satellite photos, then climate change is winning.

 
If mega-mining projects can be seen on satellite photos, then climate change is winning.
 

In episode two of the film series, Profit and Loss, First Nations in Alberta, Canada, fight threats from a mega-mining invasion—the tar sands—dubbed as the world’s largest development project. Indigenous advocates have raised concerns about the impact of tar sands on their traditional livelihoods and the foodways of native communities, who are affected by the toxic contaminants pouring into air and water. Tar sands also have a significant carbon footprint: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that that greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands crude are approximately 82% greater than the average crude oil refined in the United States, on a well-to-tank basis.

4. Deformed fish are the “Deadliest Catch.”

 
Deformed fish are the "Deadliest Catch."
 

The tar sands segment of the film Profit and Loss reveals how cancer rates are soaring in First Nations communities that have subsisted on fish from Lake Athabasca for millennia. With contamination of the waterways and environment, consuming traditional foods and drinking water from the lake pose a lethal threat to the peoples’ health. “They ask pregnant women here not to eat more than a couple of fish. In my granny’s time, that was not heard of, because that’s all she lived off,” says pregnant Cree mother, Cherie Wanderingspirit.

5. Humans are treating nature like a Black Friday sale.

 
Humans are treating nature like a Black Friday sale.
 

Around the world, many indigenous communities are striving to maintain an Earth-based spirituality where a connection to land kindles reverence for nature and moderates human behavior. Our consumerism is devouring the Earth. Satish Kumar sums up these sentiments in the film series in a powerful quote about transforming the human bond with nature from ownership to relationship.

6. Conservationists need to pay attention to data.

 
Conservationists need to pay attention to data.
 

Long before national parks became places of inspiration—and strategies for protecting wildlife and biodiversity—indigenous peoples were stewarding their lands and territories with effective ecological and spiritual management practices.

7. What if heaven is on earth?

 
What if heaven is on earth?
 

Standing on Sacred Ground’s episode three, Fire and Ice, visits Ethiopia and Peru, where the filmmakers captured scenes of Christian harassment of indigenous ceremonies on sacred land. The footage is very disturbing and it reveals a story we hear a lot about but rarely see. It enables us to ask the question: What are the environmental consequences of believing that Earth is just a way station?

8. Bombing a sacred island is wrong.

 
Bombing a sacred island is wrong.
 

The final episode, Islands of Sanctuary, brings hope and renewal as Aboriginal Australians and Native Hawaiians launch powerful resistance movements to reclaim sacred lands from governments and the military. The film has moving scenes of Native Hawaiians restoring their sacred island of Kaho’olawe after being pummeled for 50 years of U.S. Navy bombing. “Kaho’olawe gave us a spiritual connection to our ancestors and to our spiritual beliefs, and we were able to call back our gods,” says Davianna McGregor, a leader of the Protect Kaho’olawe ‘Ohana.

9. Survival is deeply political.

 
Survival is deeply political.
 

Beloved elder Florence Jones of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe was a top doctor and healer who successfully fought and stopped a proposed ski resort on her sacred Mt. Shasta. Florence’s descendents continue her legacy and carry her spirit in Standing on Sacred Ground —the award-winning four-part series airing on the PBS World Channel in May and June 2015. Check broadcast schedule here.

If you are inspired to take action, here are some steps you can take:
• Host film screenings and have a dialogue with your family and community. You canbuy the DVD set here.
* Download a free Teacher’s Guide or free Discussion Guides.
* Check out the Take Action page on the film’s website.

 

4.6 ·
5
What's Next
Trending Today
93 Documentaries to Expand Your Consciousness
Films For Action · 9,040 views today · There are over 800 documentaries now cataloged in our library of social change films. That's probably way too many for any mortal to ever watch in a lifetime, let alone a few...
Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited 'Fake News' Blacklist?
Adam Johnson · 6,622 views today · The Washington Post (11/24/16) last week published a front-page blockbuster that quickly went viral: Russia-promoted “fake news” had infiltrated the newsfeeds of 213 million...
The Orwellian War on Skepticism
Robert Parry · 5,137 views today · Official Washington’s rush into an Orwellian future is well underway as political and media bigwigs move to silence Internet voices of independence and dissent, reports Robert...
Where Do You Draw the Line? (2016)
60 min · 4,028 views today · Why is the Ecuadorian government proposing to extract oil in an area frequently classified by ecologists as one of the most bio-diverse rainforest regions left intact on earth?...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 3,494 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
Projext X: Using Leaked Documents to Reveal the NSA's New York Spy Hub, Hidden in Plain Sight
10 min · 3,311 views today · A top-secret handbook takes viewers on an undercover journey to Titanpointe, the site of a hidden partnership. Narrated by Rami Malek and Michelle Williams, and based on...
Social Media Echo Chambers: Here's How Most of Us are Living in One
2 min · 2,615 views today · Americans are blocking out the friends and news sites that won't confirm their views.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,328 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,799 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Twelve Things To Remember After The US Election, From Front Line Organizers
Bill Quigley · 1,691 views today · When you find yourself in a suddenly darkened room, what do you do?   Some rush blindly to where they think the door might be.  Others stand still, let their eyes get...
Law Professor's Epic Response to Black Lives Matter Shirt Complaint
Social Design Notes · 1,305 views today · A first year law school student wrote a complaint about her professor having worn a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during class. The professor’s response is priceless. Scans of...
This Short Film Plays Out Like an Epic Movie That Will Shake Your Soul - But the Movie Is Real, and We are The Actors
6 min · 1,135 views today · For next year, we need a resolution capable of confronting the crisis we face, and making a future worth fighting for. This short film looks back on the crisis and confusion...
Why We Need Big Picture Activism
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 978 views today · Despite the countless grassroots projects already under way, the global economic juggernaut can seem too powerful to stop. But because more and more of us are becoming aware of...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 960 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 899 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
How a Land High in the Western Himalayas Can Help Us Understand The Crisis of The Modern World
9 min · 551 views today · This is a clip from The Economics of Happiness. Watch it here. It's a brilliant film that was easy to put at the top of our list of the top 100 documentaries we can use to...
The 6 Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved
Sigmund Fraud · 427 views today · For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 399 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 379 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
The Daily Show's Trevor Noah Talks With Conservative Host Tomi Lahren
14 min · 367 views today · "Tomi" host Tomi Lahren gives her take on the Black Lives Matter movement and explains why she lashed out against Colin Kaepernick for his national anthem protest.
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
9 Examples of Indigenous Sense in a Nonsensical Time