Who Are My People
Who Are My People
format: documentary, trailer
A desert oasis surrounded by a battleground, where the push for renewable energy threatens to destroy Native American ancient sacred sites.
Robert Lundahl was asked to write, file, and support a legal brief on Native American cultural preservation. This became the basis for a global campaign advocating urban rooftop solar.
I had thought of the deserts of Southern California as a grand “backyard” to the polluted environs where I was raised, in Pasadena, Los Angeles County. The deserts provided “breathing room” for an emerging connected metropolis of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties, where population had grown exponentially.
With industrial development now threatening the more remote desert regions, I questioned whether and how such large scale development might be managed, and whether there would be anything left of the deserts which had stimulated my curiosity as a youth.
A film changed the world
The campaign is based on personal stories from 4 Native American elders. A press release and white paper ensured the story was delivered by 150 global outlets. Blog posts, articles and rapid response videos captured traffic, helping a small non-profit achieve over 50 pages of high quality search results in 3 months. Documentary film screenings catalyzed support in 5 states.
The LA Times indicates, we are at a flashpoint between competing value-systems. Bodies have been exhumed and geoglyphs destroyed in an area that is a long-term indigenous settlement.
For the fragile Indian nations, wily and lucky survivors of ancestral generations’ traumas, time was running out. How could Kit Fox, Desert Tortoise, and Raven, traditional lands, and cultural practices provide sufficient distraction to Investment bankers, Tech titans and the world’s energy companies.
The Final Bullet: Harm and the Removal of Indian Peoples from Traditional Lands and Land Based Practices was a response in the form of a white paper followed by a lawsuit, a global outreach campaign, and a documentary film, all when least expected.
The world’s energy companies and markets were sent reeling, stunned and in shock; tribal voices would be heard after all.
I think we’ve taken enough. -Reverend Ron Van Fleet, Mojave Hereditary Chief
Who Are My People? depicts how the world’s energy firms like Solar Millennium, have met their match in a small group of Native American elders, in the hottest desert on the planet.
The film takes us behind the scenes of two of the largest solar projects in the world, fast tracked by US renewable energy policies.
The film follows four Native American elders, Alfredo Figueroa (Chemehuevi/Yaqui), Reverend Ron Van Fleet (Mojave Hereditary Chief), Phillip Smith (Chemehuevi), and Preston Arrow-Weed (Quechan), as they seek to preserve cultural resources, including large geoglyphs, some over 200 feet long, popularized by author Erich Von Daniken in Chariots of the Gods.
With Bill Powers, P.E., solar expert, Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Lowell Bean Ph.D. Anthropologist, James Andre, Ph.D., Botanist, U.C. Riverside, V. John White, Executive Director, CEERT, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, Poet Ruth Nolan.
Narrated by filmmaker Robert Lundahl. Written by Robert Lundahl and John Boyd.
Watch the full documentary on YouTube here.