March 1 & 2 at Wesleyan University featured the “Standing on Sacred Ground” Film Series with director Christopher “Toby” McLeod (featured at the far left) who has been doing this project since the early 1990’s now sharing his films with the world by touring, screening, and conversing with various audiences. Filmmaker Angelo Baca was invited to participate on the panel commentating on the film and talking with the audiences during Q & A. Of course, we mentioned “Into America” as another film associated with indigenous peoples fighting for and trying to protect our traditional lands. This film series goes around the globe from the indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea fighting to protect their waters to the tar sands of Alberta, from Russian shamans protecting their lands to the Winnemem Wintu fighting a dam project by the government, to Native Peruvians trying to keep their foods alive in the face of climate change and the Ethiopian tribal peoples attempting to keep their traditional ways and lands, to Aboriginal Australians and Native Hawaiians reclaiming traditional land and resisting the government and the military.
He is also known for his highly acclaimed film “In the Light of Reverence” also dealing with sacred site protection but specifically in the United States. Christopher traveled to many native communities and was willing to share his experiences with the audiences at Wesleyan and the panel of academics, traditional native people, and other filmmakers. It was an honor to participate with a great group of people on an excellent project. Now, more than ever, is the time for all of humanity to unite against the destruction of our sacred places, the natural world, and indigenous communities.
The discussions from the panel was fantastic and ranged on many topics from traditional native views, teachings, and culture of the land to academic perspectives of theory, philosophy, and modernity. The wide experiences and background made for interesting and rich conversation which included great input and feedback from the audience with their questions and comments. Our hosts were gracious, generous, and welcoming.
We want to thank the Wesleyan Film Studies Department, Department of Religion, Department of Anthropology, and everyone else who put this together whom I am sure are far too many to mention, including Toby and his supporters who helped fund his project and see it to fruition. Keep watch out for the film series as it will be shown on PBS some time in the near future.