Now playing at DocLands Film Festival (May 7-16, 2021), is the climate crisis documentary, Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective.
There has been a lot of talk about climate change over the years. Many people believe there is a climate crisis, whereas (sadly), some people honestly don’t think our planet is in trouble. With the uptick in hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, forest fires and a decreasing winter and melting snow caps… I say there is a lot to be concerned about.
There is a documentary that is currently playing at the DocLands Film Festival that addresses climate changes from the perspective of the people who have been in this country the longest – the indigenous people known as Native Americans.
Here is the official synopsis;
For millennia Native Americans successfully stewarded and shaped their landscapes, but centuries of colonization have disrupted their ability to maintain their traditional land management practices. From deserts, coastlines, forests, mountains, and prairies, Native communities across the US are restoring their ancient relationships with the land. The five stories include sustaining traditions of Hopi dryland farming in Arizona; restoring buffalo to the
Blackfeet reservation in Montana; maintaining sustainable forestry on the Menominee reservation in Wisconsin; reviving native food forests in Hawaii; and returning prescribed fire to the landscape by the Karuk Tribe of California.
As the climate crisis escalates these time-tested practices of North America’s original inhabitants are becoming increasingly essential in a rapidly changing world.
The film interviews several people from various Native American tribes and communities. They discuss how their people utilized the land and it’s creatures, compared to how its used and abused nowadays.
Here is a breakdown of the various peoples that are visited and the people interviewed in this important film.
For thousands of years the Hopi Tribe has been fostering resilience in their homelands of Northern Arizona. They are considered “the world’s best dry farmers” and have subsisted using agricultural conservation techniques that predate western science. Time-honed agricultural practices of the Hopi have naturally cultivated over forty unique corn varieties that are well-suited to harsh semi-arid environments.
Traditional Hopi Farmer Michael Kotutwa Johnson continues the traditions of his ancestors while also working toward gaining recognition for his people in the academic realms.
The Karuk Tribe have used prescribed fire for millennia to manage their homelands of Northern California for millennia for food production and wildfire mitigation. Intentional burning was outlawed by the Federal government a little more than a century ago — a ban that was especially enforced against Native Americans. This century of fire exclusion has created very dry conditions that are fueling the massive wildfires that continue to devastate the west coast. The fire management wisdom of the Karuk Tribe is returning to the landscape at a particularly important time as wildfires break records in size and severity every year and communities and wildlife habitats are increasingly
Karuk fire lighters like Vikki Preston, a Cultural Resources Technician and a member of the Karuk Fire Crew are working every season towards bringing their homelands back into balance.
The Blackfeet Tribe of Northwest Montana has lived in relationship with the buffalo since time immemorial. Ervin Carlson, the Director of the Blackfeet Buffalo Program and President of the ITBC (Intertribal Buffalo Council), works to bring the Blackfeet buffalo herd back to their ancestral lands. Along with bringing a locally available healthy meat back to the tribe, creating jobs for tribal members and returning culturally significant animals, the buffalo herd is also proving to be a resilient option for dealing with the struggles of cattle ranching brought on by climate change.
The Menominee ‘forest keepers’ remain in a portion of their ancestral homelands in Northern Wisconsin. Approximately 95% of the Menominee reservation is covered by trees. In the heart of the forest lives the Menominee Tribal Enterprises (MTE), a community-based sawmill owned and operated by the Tribe. MTE is the backbone of the Tribe’s economy and provides jobs for its members.
Forest Manager Marshall Pecore helps run the Menominee Tribal Enterprises (MTE), a community-based sawmill owned that is the backbone of the Tribe’s economy and is guided by environmental stewardship and traditional practices that are proving resilient in a changing climate.
Global warming and sea level rise are increasing the severity of natural disasters and rural Hawaiian communities are some of the most vulnerable populations to these devastating effects of climate change. Kalani Souza uses traditional Native Hawaiian edible food forests as a post-disaster recovery strategy. His work involves improving the capacity of “frontline” indigenous and non-indigenous communities across Hawaii by setting up edible food forests
that are able to sustain communities in periods following disasters.
I am pretty impressed by a lot of the techniques utilized by the various tribes that not only help protect the environment, but also help with their survival.
I found the intentional fire starting done by the Karuk people to be especially interesting. I never knew that INTENTIONALLY setting fires to the forests were a GOOD thing. When you think about forest fires, you think about devastation and the loss of homes and businesses. While that is the case, the Karuk people have established a way to harness forest forest first that actually PREVENT large scale fires, as well as provides food and supplies (such as straw for basket weaving). Sadly, their practice was banned and made illegal. I find that crazy!
I was also very impressed that the Hopi people can grow crops in very dry conditions, with little water and no irrigation. That is amazing!
I think we all can learn a lot from the indigenous people of this country. Their practices have sustained them for hundreds of years. Maybe it’s time that we step back and learn some life lessons from them. We should do so ASAP before their climate gets so messed up that it can never be repaired.
This film has a run time of 76 minutes. It is unrated (there is nothing questionable in this film).
If you are interested in learning more about this film, visit InhabitantsFilm.com. You can also check the film our on social media – Facebook (@InhabitantsFilm) and Instagram (@InhabitantsFilm).
Below is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.
*I received a free screener link in order to review this film. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influence in any way.