"WHO ARE MY PEOPLE?" NEW FILM DOCUMENTS SACRED NATIVE AMERICAN SITES THREATENED BY DESERT SOLAR

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By Miriam Raftery

September 21, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – A new documentary directed by Robert Lundahl provides an unprecedented look at how fast-tracking of federal energy projects is having devastating impacts on Native American cultural sites, destroying sacred landscapes and geoglyphs thousands of years old. View film trailer: http://planet-rla.com/who-are-my-people-film-trailer/

The film has enjoyed the support of Native American elders, including Sr. Alfredo Figueroa (Yaqui/Chemehuevi), Rev. Ron Van Fleet (Mohave), Phil Smith (Chemehuevi), and Preston Arrow-Weed (Kumeyaay/Quechan), who appear in the film.

Lundahl has provided the following commentary about his film, which is now available for video screenings:

The CEC, California Energy Commission, and BLM, Bureau of Land Management, have acted without proper due diligence in siting energy projects on sacred lands. Because this is 2012, a time of transition and learning in ancient Aztec and Mayan indigenous cultures, which are connected to Southern California tribes today, it is noteworthy to point out that the National Congress of American Indians representing 566 sovereign Indian Nations oppose Department of Interior fast-track policies of renewable energy projects on ancestral homelands.. http://www.ncai.org/resources/resolutions/opposing-the-department-of-int...

The CEC and BLM have issued records of decision in favor of development in these areas because of "Overriding considerations." By that they mean climate change and California policies related to climate change, explained in the film.

However the impacts of industrial buildout of the deserts on atmospheric CO2 were not included in any Environmental Impact Statements so far. It's not a carbon-free operation to ship hundreds of thousands of solar panels around the globe, nor to destroy old growth desert, which sinks as much carbon as a northern grassland or temperate forest, IN PERPETUITY.

By contrast the CO2 benefits of remote solar and wind as minimal if any and short lived. Panels have a life-span of 25 years. Unfortunately, someone's desert junk is another person's cultural destruction.

And incredibly, this article, only days old, discusses of a Significant Find in Natural History: The Discovery of Mammoth Remains on a Proposed Solar Energy Site. http://www.mydesert.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012209090303&nclick_c... 

This fine article by Kay Kauffman of the Desert Sun states: Experts say the desert areas were undoubtedly wetter and cooler than they are today. “The dry lakes were still filled with water,” said Lipps. “The valleys were filled with water, certainly the Salton Sea was filled with water at much higher levels. That was a previous, big fresh water lake.” “It was an environment that was able to support big animals, lots of herbivores,” Abigt said. “You have grasses and bushes and shrubbery and trees. “The things being found are an indicator of how the climate has changed,” she said. Studying the fossils could reveal just how much the climate changed then — as the ice ages ended and temperatures warmed and stabilized — and its impact on animals. That in turn could provide important clues for how animals and people may have to adapt to climate change now, Scott said.

The end of the ice ages saw a die-off of many large mammals, including mammoths and prehistoric horses. Scientists have a range of theories — loss of habitat due to climate change, hunting by humans — but have yet to find definitive evidence showing exactly what happened, he said. He believes the extinction was caused in part by climate change and part by the spread of bison across the country at the end of the ice ages. Food became scarcer and animals such as mammoths and horses couldn't compete with the large, aggressive herds of bison for dwindling amounts of food. Adapting to climate change today could be harder for animals who survived the previous cold and hot cycles simply by moving, he said.

“Living desert animals, like big horn sheep, their movement is limited by highways and cities and state boundaries,” he said. “What they would have been able to do during the Ice Age, they may not be able to do (now). “Understanding what animals did during the Ice Age can better inform how we use land out in the desert today.”

THE FILM IS MY STORY

In the winter of 2010, I journeyed to Blythe, California at the invitation of Sr. Alfredo Figueroa to see the Blythe Intaglios. Sr. Figueroa showed me numerous mountain images, petroglyphs and geoglyphs, which are the footprints of ancient peoples of California. I learned also that a large number of these sites are endangered due to the proposed construction of large solar facilities by utility wholesalers from as far away as Florida and Germany.

As a native Californian I grew up with trips to the desert. I was aware from an early age of the presence of Native American culture there, and that there is far more than is officially acknowledged. I have said in the past that the presence of world class archeology and cultural resources here is California  is like having the pyramids in your backyard. I was aware also that Native American communities keep it quiet. Silence is the only way to protect what remains of the past.

Sr. Figueroa told me that the situation is so dire for Native peoples that his family, friends and traditional tribal elders would come forward to describe these sites for the first time, their meaning, and importance. They also told me that while Native Elders are in favor of Solar Power, they are not in favor of it being placed on Native American Sacred Sites and pristine desert.

I was invited to make the film, "Who Are My People?," which tells this story. The film will be released to festivals in 2012. For more information contact Robert Lundahl Producer/Director at 415.205.3481, or email robert@studio-rla.com. Visit our website at http://planet-rla.com.

This has been long and winding journey for our team.

DVD video screeners are available for $29.94 from robert@studio-rla.com.  The film producer also seeks underwriters for a public television production.