There’s a story that has has played out all over the world. First come the missionaries doing good. Indigenous communities split apart and connections to land, ancestors and spirits of place weaken—not everywhere, but almost everywhere. Then come, in some order or another, government agents, land speculators, mining companies, the military. Some get rich. Some feel saved. But land and culture suffer. Sacred places are targeted at the same time as political and spiritual leaders are taken down. The connections have to be weakened for the colonizer to win.
We all know about this history but we rarely talk about it in any depth, or assess the relationship to our planet’s environmental crisis. And we rarely listen to what indigenous historians have to say about this—their analysis. Here it is. Onondaga Faithkeeper Oren Lyons, Native Hawaiian historian Davianna McGregor, Australian Aboriginal elder and former Catholic priest Patrick Dodson, and Anishinaabe author and activist Winona LaDuke offer their insights into the history of Christianity in relation to indigenous peoples and ecosystems around the world.
While filming Standing on Sacred Ground: Fire and Ice—in both Ethiopia and Peru—our cameras captured scenes of Christian harassment of indigenous ceremonies on sacred land. These interview bites in this YouTube clip are outtakes from some of the profound interviews we were fortunate to conduct during the making of Standing on Sacred Ground. While our four-hour series does include key sound bites that you will hear in these longer comments, some important thought sequences take a while to unfold. This needs to be a long, long conversation—so let’s have it!