Standing on Sacred Ground
Indigenous communities around the world and in the U.S. resist threats to their sacred places—the original protected lands—in a growing movement to defend human rights and restore the environment.
In this 4-part documentary series, native people share ecological wisdom and spiritual reverence while battling a utilitarian view of land in the form of government mega-projects, consumer culture, and resource extraction as well as competing religions and climate change.
The series exposes threats to native peoples’ health, livelihood, and cultural survival in 8 communities around the world. Rare scenes of tribal life allow indigenous people to tell their own stories—and confront us with the ethical consequences of our culture of consumption.
Pilgrims and Tourists
In the Russian Republic of Altai, traditional native people create their own mountain parks to rein in tourism and resist a gas pipeline that would cut through a World Heritage Site.
In northern California, Winnemem Wintu girls grind herbs on a sacred medicine rock, as elders protest U.S. government plans to enlarge one of the West’s biggest dams and forever submerge this touchstone of a tribe.
Profit and Loss
From Papua New Guinea rainforests to Canada’s tar sands, Profit and Loss exposes industrial threats to native peoples’ health, livelihood and cultural survival.
In Papua New Guinea, a Chinese government owned nickel mine has violently relocated villagers to a taboo sacred mountain, built a new pipeline and refinery on contested clan land, and is dumping mining waste into the sea.
In Alberta, First Nations people suffer from rare cancers as their traditional hunting grounds are strip-mined to unearth the world’s third-largest oil reserve.
Fire and Ice
From Ethiopia to Peru, indigenous customs protect biodiversity on sacred lands under pressure from religious conflicts and climate change.
In the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia, scientists confirm the benefits of traditional stewardship even as elders witness the decline of spiritual practices that have long protected trees, meadows and mountains. Tensions with evangelical Christians over a sacred meadow erupt into a riot.
In the Peruvian Andes, the Q’eros, on a pilgrimage to a revered glacier, are driven from their ritual site by intolerant Catholics. Q’eros potato farmers face a more ominous foe: global warming is melting glaciers, their water source. Andes farmers, scientists and visiting Ethiopians struggle to adapt indigenous agriculture to the changing climate.
Islands of Sanctuary
Native Hawaiians and Aboriginal Australians resist threats to their sacred places in a growing international movement to defend human rights and protect the environment.
In Australia’s Northern Territory, Aboriginal clans maintain Indigenous Protected Areas and resist the destructive effects of a mining boom.
In Hawaii, indigenous ecological and spiritual practices are used to restore the sacred island of Kaho`olawe after 50 years of military use as a bombing range.
- Narrator - Graham Greene (Oneida)
Luana Busby-Neff - voiceover
Tantoo Cardinal - voiceover
Graham Greene - voiceover
Q'orianka Kilcher - voiceover
- PG - Parental guidance
- Bullfrog Films
Watch now or find a DVD/BlueRay copy
- Try also
- National Library of Australia,
- SBS on Demand
Browse a list of Aboriginal film suppliers and distributors
Use the Aboriginal film timeline to discover films you never heard of.
Take the quiz: Are you an Aboriginal movie buff?