Indigenous artisans, cooks and farmers tell us this story (in Spanish and in their own languages) about the origins of indigenous corn and how their ancestors have guided the evolution of seeds from the dawn of agriculture to the 21st century; a collective effort that spans more than 350 generations.
To their voices are added those of community leaders, scientists, cooks and many others whose knowledge and activism are committed not only to the defense of food sovereignty and genetic integrity, diversity and the collective property of indigenous seeds, but also for the defense of an enduring cultural legacy and way of life.
Filmmaker and Chair of the FIlm & Digital Media Department at UC Santa Cruz , Gustavo Vazquez, brings us to Oaxaca to experience the wisdom of various indigenous communities, as they explain that “Corn was not domesticated by man – Man was domesticated by corn.”
Professors Ignacio Chapela (UC Berkeley) and Alan Bennett (UC Davis) discuss the merits and dangers of genetically modified organisms, and the characteristics of different landraces of corn that have co-evolved with the people of Oaxaca – continuing co-evolution vs. exploitation for patenting and profit.
Susana Harp, Senator from Oaxaca, works to protect the heritage and health of her region, and to respect the validity of their approach. “Corn & its surrounding rituals are tied to the cosmology of the indigenous people – by extension, the essence of being Mexican, linking our lives to corn.”
Ethnographer John Peabody Harrington spent 50 years recording and documenting over 150 different, dying Native American languages. He left between 1 to 3 million pages of notes and extensive recordings, all of which are now being used by California tribes to revitalize and restore their Native languages.
As the dominant European American culture organized to destroy Indian language and culture, Harrington dedicated his life to recording and transcribing their languages before the elder native speakers died.
Dan Golding’s film, CHASING VOICES, chronicles Harrington’s work, and that of his long time assistant, Jack Marr, as well as those who seek to revive lost languages using his archived notations, such as UC Berkeley’s Breath of Life Worshop/Conferences.
Chasing Voices will be followed by Native Cinema Short Films and Conversation at the Mendocino Film Festival 2022.
You can join this series of shorts for Native perspectives and visionary discussion afterwards with the filmmakers and local Tribal Pomo Leaders.
The short films include AWAKEN, CHISHKALE: BLESSING OF THE ACORN, FOREST GRANDMOTHERS, and POMO LAND BACK: A PRAYER FROM THE FOREST.
The Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people have seen their population dwindle and their culture threatened since coming into contact with non-Native Brazilians in the 1980s. Though promised dominion over their own rain forest territory, they have faced illegal incursions from environmentally destructive logging and mining, and, most recently, land-grabbing invasions spurred on by right-wing politicians like President Jair Bolsonaro. With deforestation escalating as a result, the stakes have become global.
Screen shots from THE TERRITORY of remaining Uru-eu-wau-wau territory surrounded on 3 sides by man made desert.
Filmmaker, Alex Pritz, gained incredible access to the Uru-eu-wau-wau people, and environmentalists dedicated to protecting them and their Amazonian rain forest, as well as Brazilian settlers, filming as the groups come into conflict. From stone age technology to e-technology in only a couple of generations, The Uru-eu-wau-wau understand that the struggle for their survival is also the struggle for humanity’s survival. Protecting the rain forest is crucial to minimizing the catastrophic effects of climate change.
eu-wau-wau people protect their land from invaders & illegal deforestation: