Beautifully illuminates indigenous peoples' resistance to environmental devastation and their determination to protect our common future.
Dr. Melissa K. Nelson (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)
Associate Professor of American Indian Studies, San Francisco State University; President, Cultural Conservancy
Standing on Sacred Ground is an extraordinary film series highlighting the struggles, losses and strengths of indigenous peoples working today to protect their sacred places in an industrialized world.
Through beautifully filmed case studies where indigenous leaders speak for themselves, this series illustrates how history, law, science and religion converge in the indigenous world, and how critical these struggles are for the well-being of the planet as a whole.
Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim
Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
Standing on Sacred Ground is a tour de force! This is one of the most powerful documentary series ever made on indigenous peoples and their resistance to environmental exploitation. Toby McLeod has woven stories of first nations peoples’ resilience amidst images of searing beauty and unimagined destruction. An awakening call indeed that should be heard around the world.
Author; Activist; Professor, Middlebury College
Some of the finest minds on the planet are featured in this documentary—and they're talking about the biggest problems our planet has ever faced!
Anthropologist; Professor, UCLA; Author, Where the Lightning Strikes: The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places
Nothing like this riveting series of four desperately-urgent films about the fate of our planet has ever been seen on television. Patiently, lucidly and devastatingly, director Toby McLeod and his team have traveled the globe and painstakingly tracked eight stories of struggles by indigenous peoples to save the ancestral landscapes that have given them sustenance and spiritual anchoring for thousands of years. Standing on Sacred Ground is a magnificent, one-of-a-kind achievement.
With astonishing reportorial skill and scenes of heart-crushing reality, McLeod’s years of follow-through allow us to witness at first hand the actual confrontations between long-established native enclaves and the overwhelming odds against them and their ancient ways of life—mammoth dams that poison rivers, immense mining operations that contaminate habitats, animals and humans alike, huge land takeovers for squeezing non-renewable oil and gas that leave dead zones in their wake. In each case these David and Goliath struggles are personified by dramatic confrontations between tribespeople and villagers and the bureaucrats and developers attempting to seize their sacred lands, which are hallowed by a host of pre-Christian belief-systems and worldviews.
In each profile we witness stories that are stand-ins for hundreds if not thousands of similar ecological nightmares that are dooming our planet. Nor are these narratives from Siberia, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia and elsewhere nostalgic studies of bygone worldviews. The calm knowledge, profound despair yet persistent resilience exhibited by the lonely grassroots fighters for environmental justice who are the spokespeople in these accounts exemplify the vital point made by one of the film’s commentators, prize-winning author Barry Lopez: they are as much concerned about the future of the planet at large as they are about being proper custodians of their separate spiritual heritages. Each is a miner’s canary whose mournful but militant cry we fail to heed at our peril.
Containing face-offs at strategic sites, incontrovertible visual documentation of environmental wastelands, poignant voices of clarity and appeal that speak with the grave, quiet wisdom of cultures that have survived centuries of crusades to convert, exterminate, or assimilate them—these four dramatic films keep us on the edge of our seat and at the edge of tears. They absolutely must be seen by every citizen on earth.
Dr. Leslie E. Sponsel
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Author, Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution
This monumental film series is superb in every respect, including the cases, indigenous and other authorities interviewed, historical and political contextualization, and beautiful photography. The films document the fact that throughout the world many sacred places as arenas of peace, power, and reverence for indigenous cultures and their religion and identity are under attack, recklessly transforming them into a focus of conflict, power struggles, desecration, and the violation of human rights. Underlying the cases depicted is a clash of competing spiritual and materialistic worldviews, values, attitudes, and uses of nature.
The films will prove to be of special interest to a wide range of scientific and academic disciplines, government and NGO personnel, and the general public. The series is most relevant for instructors and students in universities, colleges, and high schools for a diversity of subjects such as anthropology, ecology, economic development, environmental studies, globalization, government, history, human rights, indigenous studies, law, social justice, sociology, political science, and religion.
San Francisco Chronicle
Host, KALW Radio's "Your Call"
You should check out these incredible films. They do a great job of telling the stories we rarely hear about the indigenous people who are standing up to environmental degradation and multinational gas, oil and mining companies. They’re also beautifully shot.
Rhoda Roberts (a Bundjalung woman of the Wiyebal clan)
Head of Indigenous Programming, Sydney Opera House, Australia
I have talked this series up so much. I think it is brilliant and quite incredible. Congratulations to all. It is simply a sublime series that opens the global discussion of our first peoples.
So much good work you've done!