“Standing on Sacred Ground” Film Series at Wesleyan University


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.

 www.http://standingonsacredground.org/            www.http://www.sacredland.org/home/films/in-production/


“Utah Dine Bikeyah”: Eastern Lands Bill Position of Local Navajos

Utah-Arizona Border

Help keep the lands intact and free from exploitation from outsiders

This short letter comes from some local Utah Navajos who are taking a side in the discussion about the new hotly debated contested use of Southeastern Utah lands bill which encompasses the area which is discussed in the “Into America: The Ancestor’s Land” documentary film. San Juan County, is taking comments from all sides by allowing stakeholders, whoever they may be, to state their position and tell the government what they think should be done with the lands. Of course, we as Navajos, are limited to only one position to take although we know that there are far more opposing parties looking to exploit, harvest, and allocate the lands for non-Navajos and other outsiders, especially businesses and land-owners. For more informationhttp://www.sanjuancounty.org/lands_bill.htm

“The Navajo Nation in cooperation with the Utah Diné Bikéyah, is proposing the creation of the Diné Bikéyah National Conservation Area within Navajo ancestral land in southeastern Utah. The 1.9 million acre conservation area includes wilderness designations, as well as a co-management relationship to ensure the sustainable continuation of culturally important activities. Protection of the rich cultural heritage sites within San Juan County is a top priority for the Navajo. Diné Elders speak clearly and consistently about their desires for a voice in determining land management in San Juan County. Development, recreation, and grazing impacts are negatively affecting cultural sites and land uses of the Diné people. Federal agencies have not been able to protect these resources alone. Therefore, stronger policies, and the means by which the Navajo can assist with monitoring and enforcement activities are needed.

The goals proposed for the Diné Bikéyah National Conservation Area are: 1) provide clear management prioritization toward the protection of cultural and biological resources over other land-uses; 2) increase funding allocation to improve management of resources for this region; 3) create a process that recognizes the legitimate interests of the Navajo on federal land; and 4) provide a means of incorporating the extensive and valuable knowledge of the Navajo into land management decisions.” – Mark Maryboy, former Navajo Nation Council Delegate for the Utah Navajo Section of the Navajo Tribe.

For more information about the proposed mapped plan of this group, click Dine Bikeyah Proposal and the official website: http://utahdinebikeyah.org/

The Navajo Reservation

The Navajo Reservation

Situated in the northeastern portion of Arizona and in the northwestern part of New Mexico bordering on Colorado and Utah is the Navajo reservation.

Now the largest Indian reservation in the United States, comprising as it does nearly ten million acres, or nearly fifteen thousand square miles.

Being equal in size to the combined areas of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

The home of the Navajo Indians has always been considered one of the most arid and barren portions of the Great American Desert.

San Juan County, the Southeastern region of Utah state, is the highly contested land area (The Ancestor's Land) focused upon in this film.

San Juan County, the Southeastern region of Utah state, is the highly contested land area (The Ancestor’s Land) focused upon in this film.

This land area is the central focus of land issue contention between several entities. Among them, the Navajo Nation, Bureau of Land ManagementSan Juan County, Utah Land Trust, the Aneth Chapter, and Montezuma Creek. The rapid development of natural resource exploitation facilitated the removal of the Yellowman family and pressured others to concede their lands to many of these outside entities. Now, the development continues literally today in the discussions proposed by Rep. Rob Bishop (R) of Utah to further develop natural resources in these very areas. For more information, click here.

The link to the San Juan County official website regarding the information available to the public here. It is also known as the Eastern Utah Lands Bill on the same site with additional information available for the public including options to comment here.

Please speak out against the continued resource exploitation and destruction of traditional Navajo lands and natural landscapes of the Utah desert country. Join us in our effort to make our voices heard. Wilderness is not currency and we don’t want Rob Bishop to sale our lands or San Juan County to dissolve the Antiquities Law. Our environment, our Mother Earth, and our cultural, traditional, and spiritual ways of life are not for sale.

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