By Aji, June 24, 2013, for New Day
Who Are My People?, documentary by Robert Lundahl, premiered on Saturday in San Diego, California. The film explores the disconnect that occurs when non-Indians assume that using sacred ground for renewable energy is an automatic benefit that must outweigh the rights of the land’s indigenous peoples to their ancestors’ history and ongoing traditional practices.
At the heart of the dispute is a contest between Native American traditions and developers and government officials who contend benefits from the projects such as greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy production outweigh their disturbance of cultural resources in the bleak desert terrain.Some of those resources, Lundahl said, seem “downright strange to Anglo-European eyes – like enormous geoglyphs, or earth drawings, visible from space, including giant human-like forms and complex geometries.”
“Stranger still,” he added, “international energy companies want to build their facilities right on top of these sacred communications from the distant past. In the process, they are tearing apart the social and cultural fabric of indigenous descendants.”
Mr. Lundahl is white. He has a history of making documentary films about Native subjects and issues, for which he has received a number of industry and academic awards. Those awards, however, are bestowed by the dominant culture, and are not themselves an indicator of whether he gets it right from an Indian perspective. That said, it appears that he makes an effort to showcase actual Native voices in his films, and this one appears to be no exception.
For those who wish to view the film, the release dates are listed on the film’s official Web site as “Coming Soon.” The site does, however, make it possible to view a trailer and read about Mr. Lundahl’s artistic vision and intent. Since the premiere occurred only two days ago, it’s worthwhile to keep tabs on future showings, particularly to see how it’s received in the portions of Indian Country that the film covers.