Sustainable Film Series concludes 10th anniversary season
The final film of the season on Tuesday at Riverwalk Theater explores indigenous solutions to climate change
The Sustainable Community Film Series from the Walking Mountains Science Center concludes this week with a final screening at the Riverwalk Theater in Edwards at 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5.
The final title in the series is “Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective,” a feature-length documentary film that delves into indigenous solutions to climate change. The film follows five Native American Tribes across deserts, coastlines, forests and prairies as they restore their traditional land management practices.
“Inhabitants” was created in collaboration with a Tribal Advisory Board, a six-person board comprised of representatives from each of the tribes highlighted in the film. Representatives from the Hopi Tribe, the Blackfeet Tribe, the Karuk Tribe, the Menominee Tribe and Native Hawaii worked closely with the filmmakers to ensure that the film is accurate, culturally appropriate and meets the needs of their communities.
The goal of the film is to take an in-depth look at how we can begin to heal our relationship with the environment through a return to traditional knowledge, with Native people leading the way. “Inhabitants” was only recently released for public viewing in January after completing an exclusive film tour through various indigenous communities in the United States.
Long before fire was seen as a public enemy, the native Karuk people of Northern California used fire as a tool for fertilization, religious expression and risk mitigation. Great measures are taken across the United States to suppress fires and applaud firefighting as a heroic activity, but all of this effort may actually be fanning the flames.
Melissa Kirr is the Senior Programs Director of Sustainability and the founder of the Sustainable Community Film Series. Kirr said that she has been excited to share this film with the community, as its messages and directives are essential for realizing how best to mitigate the impacts of climate change that are being felt in our valley.
“Indigenous people are the ones who were here before us, so they’ve been practicing these types of management on the land for many, many more years,” Kirr said. “Looking to their knowledge and understanding how they work with the land is definitely something that we should be including. Not just taking the western world and our ideas, but really understanding these past practices.”
As climate change threatens conventional agriculture, the film demonstrates how we can look toward ancient Hopi farming methods for wisdom. In Arizona, Michael Kotutwa Johnson is a Hopi farmer who grows plants in the arid Arizona soil without using any irrigation. Conventional seeds require a planting depth of about once inch, whereas Hopi seeds can be planted up to 24 inches below the surface to utilize the moisture present deep in the soil.
“We’ve been in this part of the country for thousands of years, and we know how to manage natural resources,” Johnson says in the film.
Another segment of the film follows the Blackfeet Tribe, comparing the indigenous use of bison over the western use of cows. In the late 1800s, bison were hunted almost to extinction in favor of cattle, but cows tend to overgraze on a single area of land while bison sustain the environment by migrating from place to place. Buffalo are more resilient to extreme temperatures because they can grow or shed hair in response to the weather, and they require much less water than cattle.
As part of the series, Walking Mountains shares a “Next Steps” document that helps viewers convert the knowledge they have gained in the film into tangible actions in our local community.
“We encourage people to support the native land stewardship efforts in our area by advocating for indigenous people to be consulted before land management decisions are made,” Kirr said. “We encourage people to visit the Ute Indian Museum in Montrose to learn more about the older residents of Colorado and the techniques that they used.”
This is the final film in the six-month series, which screens films that cover topics related to environmental sustainability on the first Tuesday of each month. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the series, which will return in November.
Following the conclusion of the series, Kirr will begin planning for the next season and said that any community members who would like to recommend a film should reach out to her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re always looking for films that meet our criteria, and are always looking for recommendations from community members,” Kirr said. “If anyone has interest in films or sees a film that they think might be cool to see on the big screen or might be great to share with our community, then they can definitely reach out to me.”
What: Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective, a part of Walking Mountains Science Center’s Sustainable Film Series
When: Tuesday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Riverwalk Theater in Edwards
Cost: Free ($5 suggested donation)
More Information: Email email@example.com or call 970-827-9725