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Standing on sacred ground


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  • Documents how indigenous peoples stand up for their traditional sacred lands in defense of cultural survival, human rights and the environment. Volume 1: Pilgrims and tourists: "Around the world, indigenous communities stand in the way of government megaprojects. In the Russian republic of Altai, people create their own mountain parks to rein in tourism and resist a gas pipeline that would cut through a World Heritage Site. In Northern California, Winnemem Wintu girls grind herbs on a sacred rock, as elders protest government plans to enlarge one of the West's biggest dams and forever submerge this touchstone of a tribe." Volume 2: Profit and loss: From Papua New Guinea rainforests to Canada's tar sands, Profit and Loss exposes industrial threats to native peoples' health, livelihood and cultural survival. In Papua New Guinea, a Chinese government owned nickel mine has violently relocated villagers to a taboo sacred mountain, built a new pipeline and refinery on contested clan land, and is dumping mining waste into the sea. In Alberta, Canada, First nations people are facing rare cancers as their hunting grounds are stripmined. Volume 3: Fire and ice: : "From Ethiopia to Peru, indigenous customs protect biodiversity on sacred lands under pressure from religious conflicts and climate change. In the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia, scientists confirm the benefits of traditional stewardship/indigenous customs that protect biodiversity, even as elders witness the decline of spiritual practices that have long protected trees, meadows and mountains. Tensions with evangelical Christians over a sacred meadow erupt into a riot. In the Peruvian Andes, the Q'eros, on a pilgrimage to a revered glacier, are driven from their ritual site by intolerant Catholics. Q'eros potato farmers face a more ominous foe: global warming is melting glaciers, their water source. Andes farmers, scientists and visiting Ethiopians struggle to adapt indigenous agriculture to the changing climate." Volume 4: Islands of sanctuary: "Native Hawaiians and Aboriginal Australians resist threats to their sacred places in a growing international movement to defend human rights and protect the environment. In Australia's Northern Territory, Aboriginal clans maintain Indigenous Protected Areas and resist the temptation and destructive effects of a mining boom. In Hawaii, indigenous ecological and spiritual practices are used to restore the sacred island of Kahoolawe after 50 years of military use as a bombing range." http://standingonsacredground.org/learn-more/synopses


  • "A Sacred Land Film Project"--at head of title.
  • Teacher's guide available as .PDF from publisher and producer websites.
  • Originally released as motion pictures in 2013.
  • Special features for v. 2 Profit and Loss: Guardians of Ramu River ; Tar sands map rap with Mike Mercredi and Lionel Lepine ; Winona LaDuke on colonization ; Oren Lyons on Profit and loss.
  • Special features: for v. 3 Fire and Ice: Special features: Indigenous reflections on Christanity ; Satish Kumar on global warming ; Oren Lyons on the Wizard of Oz ; The backstory: filming the riot in Dorbo Meadow.
  • Special features: for v. 4. Islands of Sanctuary: Extended Kūkākūkā ("Talk story") beach scene ; deleted scene: The legacy of Kahoʻolawe protecting the ancestors at Honokahua ; Winona LaDuke's Kahoʻolawe story ; Satish Kumar on the origins of the problem ; Oren Lyons on rights and responsibilities ; Barry Lopez on storytelling ; What good is an apology?
  • DVD, NTSC; widescreen; Dolby digital 2.0.
  • Volume 1 in English and Russian with English subtitles; volumes 2-4 in English and native languages with English subtitles; optional English SDH subtitles.


  • Volume 1: Pilgrims and tourists / produced and directed by Christopher McLeod ; written and co-produced by Jessica Abbe (57 min.) -- Volume 2: Profit and loss / produced and directed by Christopher McLeod ; written and co-produced by Jennifer Huang Volume 3: Fire and ice / Volume 4: Islands of sanctuary / produced and directed by Christopher McLeod ; written and co-produced by Jessica Abbe ; co-produced by Jennifer Huang (57 min.)
  • v. 1. Pilgrims and tourists: From ownership to relationship -- Altai is alive -- Pilgrimage to Uch Enmek -- Gazprom's pipeline -- Shamans, scientists and Stalin -- Spiritual tourism -- The Ukok princess -- Awaken Altai! -- From Russia to California -- The sacred spring -- The Winnemem and Shasta Dam -- We dance for the land -- Altaians visit the Winnemem -- War dance -- Mapping sacred sites -- Puberty ceremony -- One heart, one mind -- Credits
  • v. 1. Pilgrims and tourists: Individual stories. Altai, Russia (27 min.) -- California, U.S.A. (33 min.)
  • v. 2. Profit and Loss: A sacred relationship with the Earth -- Bosmun village canoe ceremony -- Spirit of the land -- Ramu Nico mine -- Bulldozing a cemetery -- Waste into the sea -- Corruption -- We will fight -- From PNG to Canada -- A dirty job -- Treaty eight -- Warning signs -- Government PR -- Deformed fish -- We see and we feel -- Cancer -- Oil for US -- Two worlds -- Cleaning up the mess they made -- Credits
  • v. 2. Profit and Loss: Individual stories. Papua New Guinea (27 min.) -- Alberta, Canada (31 min.)
  • v. 3. Fire and Ice: Places of connection and spirituality -- Gamo's Masqala fertility ceremony -- Natural law called woga -- Ritual sacrifice -- Orthodox vs. evangelical -- The attack on tradition -- The Christians have come to take Dorbo -- Sacred sites protect biodiversity -- Elders lament -- From Ethiopia to Peru -- Pilgrimage to Qoyllur Rit'i -- Changes in Pachamama -- Climate change and Q'eros potatoes -- Coca ceremony -- The glacier is thinking of disappearing -- Despacho offering interrupted -- The potato park -- Nature flourishes where culture thrives -- Credits
  • v. 3 Fire and Ice: Individual stories. Gamo highlands of Ethiopia (29 min.) -- Andes of Peru (29 min.)
  • v. 4 Island of Sanctuary: Spirituality linked to land -- 50,000 years -- Taking care of country -- Terra Nullius -- The Rainbow Serpent -- The McArthur River mine -- Don't sell us to the mine! -- Journey to Darwin -- Garma Festival -- From Australia to Hawaiʻi -- What is sacred about an island? -- U.S. control over Hawaiʻi -- George Helm -- Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana -- Unexploded ordnance -- Restoring a people -- Rain ceremony -- A worldwide effort -- Credits
  • v. 4. Island of Sanctuary: Individual stories. Australia (27 min.) -- Kahoʻolawe, Hawaiʻi (32 min.)
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