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.
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.
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.
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.
The indigenous U’wa who live in the foothills and forests of northeast Colombia’s Andes perpetuate all life by protecting it. The U’wa believe that their homeland is where the world began, and that everything—land, trees, river and sky—is alive and therefore sacred.
The Lascaux Cave is one of 25 caves from the Palaeolithic period located in the Vézère Valley—part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in southwestern France. Inside the cave, Upper Palaeolithic occupation (dated between 28,000 BC and 10,000 BC) is evidenced by the presence of 6,000 painted figures—of which animals are the main focus—as well as hundreds of stone tools, and small holes along the cave interior that archaeologists suspect may have reinforced tree-limb scaffolding used by painters to reach the upper surfaces.
On the Ramu River in Papua New Guinea, the Songnor have thrived for 6,000 years. Indigenous people living along the Ramu River fear that runoff from the ongoing construction of the massive Chinese government-owned Ramu NiCo mine will poison their water, fish and gardens, and destroy their environment. Those along the coast worry about about the mine waste being dumped at sea and its effect on their health and fisheries.
The greater Bears Ears area encompasses more than 1.9 million acres and is saturated with geological, cultural, spiritual, ecological, and archaeological diversity. Located in the southeastern corner of the land commonly known as the state of Utah, the region is defined by two 8,000-foot mountain buttes that rise above the landscape, twin plateaus resembling the ears of a large bear peeking over the northern horizon. The Hopi Tribe calls this land Hoon’Naqvut; for the Navajo, it is known as Shash Jaa’. For the Ute Tribe it is Kwiyagatu Nukavachiand for the Pueblo of Zuni, Ansh An Lashokdiwe. In each language it is “Bears Ears.”
After a two-year battle, developers have withdrawn their plans to build a 5-story condo complex at the West Berkeley Shellmound. We are not calling this a “victory” because the land owners say they’ll try to move ahead—but now is the time to advance another vision for the site.
An expensive public relations campaign cannot obscure the fact that an important cultural landscape and designated historic landmark — a sacred site — still graces Berkeley where Strawberry Creek once flowed into the bay and a 5,000 year-old Ohlone village built a massive mound of shells and revered ancestors.