Films can have an impact to protect biodiversity and cultural diversity! This is the challenge that the Sacred Land Film Project team has taken up.
Based in Berkeley, California, Sacred Land Film Project produces documentary films in collaboration with indigenous communities. They then use these films at the local level to protect land, water, sacred sites and biodiversity.
These documentary films produced for public television are also shared on YouTube. Each of the films is supported by a strong educational campaign, including resources, teacher guides. They are accompanied by an educational website, a social media presence, and audio archives to tell the stories of indigenous people fighting to protect their sacred sites from environmental harm.
Standing on Sacred Ground (2013), included eight half-hour segments on cultures around the world. In the Light of Reverence (2001) told the stories of three Native American communities (Lakota, Hopi, Wintu) protecting sacred lands, biodiversity and cultural traditions. Sacred Land Film Project are currently producing a film about local indigenous struggles at the West Berkeley Shellmound in Berkeley and around Mt. Shasta in northern California.
These films are widely distributed and help to raise awareness of the importance of sacred site for indigenous communities. They have contributed to some major environmental victories. The coal slurry line that was depleting groundwater at Black Mesa in Arizona was shut down along with the Peabody stripmine. Zuni Salt Lake in New Mexico was threatened by a coal mine and their short film helped protect the sacred site. Uranium tailings have been cleaned up in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and the Navajo Nation. Shasta Dam has not been raised higher. The proposed Gazprom gas pipeline across the Ukok Plateau in the Altai Republic of Russia (World Heritage Site) has been abandoned.
The team is currently working with the local Lisjan Ohlone and Winnemem Wintu on environmental education, land back and sacred site protection educational campaigns.
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