Indigenous communities around the world resist threats to their sacred places — the original protected lands — in a growing movement to defend human rights and restore the environment.

In this four-part series — a global sequel to In the Light of Reverence — native people share ecological wisdom and spiritual reverence while battling a utilitarian view of land that manifests as government megaprojects, consumer culture, resource extraction, competing religions and climate change.

Standing on Sacred Ground  exposes threats to native peoples’ health, livelihood and cultural survival in eight communities around the world. Rare verité scenes of ceremonies and elders and youth in action enable indigenous people to tell their own stories — and confront us with the ethical consequences of our culture of consumption.

Note that Standing on Sacred Ground  has its own website, but you can learn more about the series below, watch the trailer above, and view eight sample scenes here.

The four hour-long films in the series are:

Pilgrims and Tourists — In the Altai Republic of Russia and in northern California, indigenous shamans resist massive government projects that threaten nature and culture. Altaians oppose Gazprom’s natural gas pipeline across the sacred Ukok Plateau and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe fights plans to raise the height of Shasta Dam.

Profit and Loss — From Papua New Guinea to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, native people fight the loss of their land, water and health to mining and oil industries.

Fire and Ice — From the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia to the Andes of Peru, indigenous highland communities battle threats to their forests, farms and faith — as evangelical Christians disrupt sacred sites, and glaciers melt away.

Islands of Sanctuary — Aboriginal Australians and Native Hawaiians reclaim land from government and military and successfully resist the erosion of culture and environment. The series concludes with the extraordinary story of Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana’s restoration of the Hawaiian island of Kaho‘olawe after 50 years of bomb tests by the US Navy.

Produced and Directed by Christopher McLeod. Written and Co-Produced by Jessica Abbe and Jennifer Huang. Edited by Quinn Costello and Marta Wohl. Narrated by Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, Q’orianka Kilcher, Rhoda Roberts and Luana Busby-Neff. Educational Distributor: Bullfrog Films.

Standing on Sacred Ground  beautifully illuminates indigenous peoples’
resistance to environmental devastation and their
determination to protect our common future.”
— Robert Redford