By: Judy Shields
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/31/17 -“We are thrilled to partner with KCETLink on this initiative to amplify voices and perspectives from within California’s Native communities,” said W. Richard West, Jr., the Autry’s President and CEO.
“It is wonderful to be here tonight at the Autry Museum of the America West along with the Los Angeles Magazine to present this exciting original documentary TENDING THE WILD. We thank both of the teams for your tremendous partnership in helping to host this evenings event. Michael Riley, President and CEO of KCETLink Media Group told the audience that gathered last week at the Wells Fargo Theatre at the Autry Museum of the America West.
Michael Riley said that the one-hour documentary would run throughout the month of February, so we will all have time to see it. This is a great film to share with your children, to get them interested in the Native culture and their struggle to live in these changing times.
Mr. Riley also said that KVIE and FNX, will be broadcasting in April. FNX is the leading broadcast for Native American and world indigenous communities. https://fnx.org/
TENDING THE WILD, aligns with the mission of KCETLink to offer great storytelling that promotes a deeper understanding of the cultures, customs and complex issues in our own backyard in Southern California and around the world. The documentary is a combination of a month’s long unique partnership between KCETLink and the Autry.
It is really great to be able to watch informative programs on KCET and especially the one-hour documentary TENDING THE WILD, coming up next Tuesday, February 7TH , check your local listing for times in your area. It truly is an informative documentary, which will make you want to get involved and to find out more about our lands here in this great state of California. Gather the kids and grandkids, make the time to see this documentary and then watch all the other episodes online or click on the link to start watching them all. https://www.kcet.org/shows/tending-the-wild
“The web series, documentary special and exhibition galleries work together beautifully to illustrate traditional practices that can inform current environmental thinking.” “TENDING THE WILD will highlight the impressive collection of cultural materials and influential voices from the Autry’s innovative exhibition and help,” said Juan Devis, Vice President, Content Development and Production of KCETLink Media Group
KCETLink Media Group, a leading national independent nonprofit public broadcast and digital network, announced today a new multiplatform environmental series, TENDING THE WILD, produced in partnership with the Autry Museum of the American West. The series explores how the traditional practices of Native California communities can help address current environmental challenges. Launching today on both KCET.org and LinkTV.org, an extensive web hub will feature resources, videos, articles and first-hand perspectives of Native California cultures revolving around the concept of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). The TENDING THE WILD six-part web series premiered online on KCET.org and LinkTV.org October 3, 2016. New episodes rolled out every two weeks and culminating in a one-hour television documentary airing next Tuesday, February 7, 2017.
The partnership is connected to the Autry’s new, groundbreaking “California Continued” exhibition that marks the most significant renovation to the museum since the organization’s founding in 1988. With nearly 20,000 square feet of redesigned gallery and garden spaces opened to the public last October 9, 2016.
The exhibition explores the ongoing and interdependent relationships between people and the California environment. Drawing on a combination of Native cultural materials and contemporary artwork, this project connects Native California history, traditional ecological knowledge, and cultural practice to address environmental issues facing Californians today.
KCETLink Media Group has collaborated with the curatorial and creative teams at the Autry to produce media for the exhibition and create an online destination that will extend these important stories beyond the exhibition walls. By shining a light on the environmental knowledge of indigenous peoples across California and exploring how they have actively shaped the land for millennia, TENDING THE WILD examines how we live in balance with nature and how traditional practices can inspire a new generation of Californians.
The desert is a unique and highly fragile environment that is culturally valuable to Native communities. Despite appearing barren, the desert supports a wide swath of life: plants, animals, humans, and cultural practices. But the desert has also been seen as a location prime for urban development and large-scale extractive industries such as mining, wind, and solar energy development. In the past few years, these industries have expanded in the Mojave desert and had devastating impacts on the delicate environment and the Native cultures dependent on them. In this video, we explore how Native peoples continue to live in the desert and how they are confronting threats to their environment.
Native Californians interviewed describe their home, the desert, as a fragile, yet largely intact ecosystem with scattered sources of water, salt and herbs. “Living Desert” will interview key members of the Mohave and Cahuilla tribes to discuss threats that the desert is facing. Features an interview with Gerald Clarke, Jr., Artist/Educator.
The Hollywood Times had to opportunity to speak to Gerald L. Clarke Jr, who was featured in the one-hour documentary. He is a member of the Cahuilla band of Indians, which is Riverside County and he is an assistant professor of ethics studies at UC Riverside. He presently has on exhibit, at the Autry Museum of America History, one of his art cultures, which he used aluminum cans to form a basket weaving pattern. This art piece was originally made in 2002 and the museum contacted him in 2016 to make one for the exhibit. He said they wanted to put it next to original Cahuilla made baskets, and he could not pass up that chance. Gerald Clarke that he is currently teaching a California Indian history, and he is teaching it not as an historian or as an anthropologist, but as humanitarian, so I cooked acorn this morning and provided it to his students. They don’t just learn about it they taste it, they feel the texture and they smell it, it is real. Sounds like a great class to take and learn about the native culture. Mr. Clarke went on to say “everyone is born with a talent or an ability and for me, I am an artist, I’m not basket maker, I’m an artist and I am really good with my hands, so I make things that try to teach. So each of us have our abilities and it’s a gift, it’s up to each of us to use those gifts.” (www.geraldclarke.net)
Indigenous peoples in California relied on traditional gathering to provide for all of their food and medicinal needs. California’s landscapes produce hundreds of indigenous plant species that have been used thousands of years prior to European contact. And many of these plants and their preparations as medicine informed modern pharmacopeia, most notably aspirin, which is derived from the bark of the willow tree. Native herbalism continues to be relevant today. There is a resurgence of traditional medicinal practices in Native communities and a growing interest in this knowledge in popular culture. In this video, we explore how Native herbalism is practiced today and how a holistic approach to health and the environment can inform healthy living.
Decolonizing the Diet
California — a biodiversity hotspot — provides an abundance of plants for both food and medicine. To Native peoples across the state, gathering locations were like supermarkets today. They provided all the resources necessary to survive. These native plants are relevant today as they reinforce cultural continuity for California’s Native peoples and provide healthy, drought-tolerant alternatives to the processed foods typically found in Western diets. In contemporary California, movements such as “eat local” and scientists’ “discovery” of the health benefits inherent in chia and sage, for instance, have led to an increasing awareness and desire to purchase indigenous foods. But while more and more people are recognizing the benefits of California’s indigenous plants, the scale of the commercial food industry often prohibits access to local indigenous communities. In this video, we visit members of the Chia Cafe Collective, a group working in Southern California to revive Native food practices and raise awareness about the precarity of these important cultural resources.
“Plants As Food” gives viewers a glimpse into the “decolonized” diet including the preparation, harvesting and processing of raw material from indigenous plants. Many Native California communities today are reincorporating indigenous plants into their diets, which can potentially help prevent obesity and diabetes, two diseases on the rise since the industrialization of food. Craig Torres explains the health and dietary benefits of indigenous plants while Barbara Drake explores what issues arise when people are deprived of their traditional foods.
“Plants As Medicine” will explore nature as a natural resource for medicinal purposes. Natural resources such as willow bark, yerba buena and sage can contribute to healthier lifestyles. Ethnobotanist and herbalist Sage LaPena gives an overview of plants as medicine and details how indigenous medicines work pharmacologically and culturally.
Weaving Community: How Native Peoples are Rediscovering Their Basketry Traditions
Basketry has been described as the pinnacle of Californian indigenous culture. But the craftsmanship necessary to make these works of art requires much more than weaving techniques. It requires a deep and sustained relationship with the environment. For centuries Native peoples tended the land and used a variety of methods to shape plants to suit their basketry needs from pruning, weeding, and coppicing to the cyclical use of controlled burning. Today, many of these techniques have been lost or suppressed and the ability to access traditional gathering locations has been impeded by urban development and the restrictions of private property. In this video, we explore how traditional gathering is practiced today and how Native peoples are rediscovering their basketry traditions in Southern California.
Keeping the River
Salmon once swam in every major river in California and they provided and continue to provide an invaluable resource for Native peoples. In some areas like the Klamath River Basin, salmon are at the center of the world and integral to the environmental and cultural survival of the Yurok, Karuk, and Hupa peoples. But modernization forever altered watersheds across the state by concretizing rivers, siphoning water for agricultural production, and building dams to facilitate hydroelectric power. The effects on fish populations have been devastating and many Native groups have protested against these threats to their way of life. In this video, we explore how the Yurok, Karuk, and Hupa peoples have maintained their close relationship with salmon, how they have fought civil rights battles to secure tribal fishing rights, and how they have mobilized against the environmental degradation of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers resulting from dams, large scale agriculture, and the marijuana industry.
In addition to the video series, the online web hub features a variety of news stories that illustrate a larger inquiry into the concepts and practices of traditional ecological knowledge, including an introductory article titled “What is Traditional Ecological Knowledge?” by M. Kat Anderson. The web hub will also include articles on cultural landscape management through the use of fire; traditional foods, medicines, and building materials; traditional California desert life-ways; and Northwestern California Native peoples’ relationship with Pacific salmon.
There was a panel after the screening of the one-hour documentary of TENDING THE WILD, which included Juan Devis, Chief Creative Officer, KCETLink Media Group as the Panel Moderator, Laura Purdy, Senior Media Producer of Exhibitions, Autry Museum of the American West, Matthew Crotty| Director of Content Development & Production, KCETLink Media Group and Timara (Tima) Link, Native American Cultural Educator.
Laura Purdy talked about how the Autry and KCETLink got together and while doing research, she discovered that they had work on other projects with KCET and thought it would be a good fit to do a project like this and beyond the walls of the museum and into a multi-media platform. With social and short and long form documentaries, to broadcasts, so that was a key component for her to bring them aboard. They all met and got along great and she wanted to get things done.
Matt Crotty talked about the first meeting with the Autry, where they sat down and talked about the plans for the gallery and how they were being developed. There were five key areas, that were fire, salmon, desert and plants, plants for food and for medicine. How can they make a video of all of these elements and they needed to do research and their main resource was Kat Anderson’s book Tending the Wild, (https://www.amazon.com/Tending-Wild-Knowledge-Management-Californias/dp/0520280431). They needed to be able to tell the human stories and so they needed people, not only the objects. They had to be schooled. Matt pointed to his left and said “people like her.” It was Timara (Tima) Link
Tima talked about how people were excited to be part of this project and as cultural educators throughout the state, they are all connected by traditional knowledge, and how they all know each other. They see each other to ask about their acorns, their plants and how she was the glue that stuck those pieced together. Tima told the story of how a cultural educator from Arizona reached out to her after he watched several of the episodes that had aired and told Tima that he had his entire museum staff sit down and watched those episodes and said that they are going to revise everything about their exhibits because of the show that they watched and how they cannot wait to go out into their communities, get them to come and talk about their own experiences. Tima said “No matter what tribe you are from we are all faced with 3rd and 4th graders who will sit through a whole talk about these beautiful baskets we made and the wonderful foods and acorns we ate, and at the end of it, say ‘but we thought you were dead’, it’s a whole world of movies and history books and museum exhibits and state park exhibits and everything says, Indians are gone, they ate this way, they lived this way, but they are not here anymore. So as cultural educators, I will go out and reach 20 fifth graders and that means when they are our age, they know that we are still here.” Tima finished with a suggestion to go out a buy a native plant and plant it, watch it grow and use it for food and be an active participant in reforming the landscape to work for you for your food and medicine. And also to go out and volunteer in the native communities.
David Harper, member of the Colorado Indian Tribe, talked about living 250 miles away in the desert and he wanted to acknowledge that the elders from the Colorado Indian Tribe Mojave area drove 250 miles to be part of the screening of TENDING THE WILD that night. Thunderous applause! He spoke about solar power and said that his tribe are ancient water protectors since the beginning of time and that Colorado Indian Tribe stands with North Dakota. He ask that they come to them, living along the Colorado river that makes the Grand Canyon and they have significant ties to California and considered a California tribe.
ABOUT KCETLINK MEDIA GROUP
KCETLink Media Group is a national independent, nonprofit, digital and broadcast network that provides high-quality, culturally diverse programming designed to engage the public in innovative, entertaining and transformative ways. With a commitment to independent perspectives, smart global entertainment, local communities, and opportunities for engagement and social action, KCETLink depicts people and the world through a lens unavailable elsewhere in U.S. media. A viewer-supported 501(c)(3) organization, KCETLink content is distributed nationally via satellite on Link TV DIRECTV channel 375 and DISH Network channel 9410 and on KCET in Southern and Central California via broadcast and cable, as well as through various digital delivery systems. For additional information about KCET and Link TV productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org or linktv.org. Select programming from KCET and Link TV is also available for streaming on Hulu, Apple TV, and Roku platforms.
ABOUT THE AUTRY MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN WEST
The Autry brings together the stories of all peoples of the American West, connecting the past with the present to inspire our shared future. Throughout the year, the Autry presents a range of public events and programs—including lectures, film, theater, family activities, and music—and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach. The Autry’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant collections of Native American materials in the United States. To learn more, visit TheAutry.org