Gather: a new project

Gather is a new project currently in production that explores the state of Native American Food Sovereignty thru film, photography and print journalism.

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Gather is a new film and journalism project on Native American Food Sovereignty.
We know that guns=power for the dominant white ruling class in the US. And we can be sure that this particular fetish can be traced back to the earliest colonizers. But let’s go a little deeper.

The military advantage Europeans had over the Indigenous of Turtle Island were horses and guns (and, later, disease).

The thirteen colonies pushed toward a Revolution because of issues around land (in part). Remember, the entire Eastern seaboard was not *wilderness* but a carefully cultivated map of farm land and other food supporting ecosystems. The Anglo Europeans (as opposed to the Spaniards) recognized the extractive value in this preciously preserved topsoil. Rather than mine gold, they mined carbon, transforming regenerative farmland into massive mono-cropped plantations that generated tremendous wealth. Of course, this “economy of scale” depended on stolen land and stolen labor.

By 1763, in just 150 years, American farmers had so depleted the topsoil of the East that they clamored to push over the Appalachian range and steal more land. But, that push would need British Military support. Why? The Indigenous would come back again and again to try to retake their land and these American “Farmers” needed ammunition, garrisons and supply chains.

The British had just issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763, forbidding settling west of the Appalachians and ceding that land to Natives (as if it weren’t already Natives’ land). And American farmers were livid. Economists say this was the first major stimulus of the Revolutionary War.

One of the first things the new American congress did post War was open up these territories, destroying the sovereignty set into law by the British. And expanding the American economy again w/ guns and bullets.

Bullets upheld the economy and kept the power toward white land owners vs Natives and African Americans. Nothing has changed.

Ledger art by @montileauxart
We are beyond grateful to have been awarded the Food and Farm Communication Fund 2021 impact media award, which we shared with the amazing @whetstonemagazine .

As you well know, we did not expect anyone outside Indian country to have any interest in this project much less non-Native media organizations. It moves us beyond imagination to see the sort of dialogue that has begun and the right and proper elevation of Indigenous people in leading these conversations. No longer will Indigenous people simply stand on the sidelines or deferentially accept a mere seat at the table. Diversity and inclusion does not equate to acceptance of leadership.

And the critical issues plaguing the world right now require more than just a seat at the table. Gather was created to show the urgency of giving stewardship and leadership back to those who have the capacity to heal the world and not those who continue to destroy it.

We are profoundly grateful to all those who considered us for this award. And we are so honored to share the stage with @whetstonemagazine 🙏🏽🙏🏽
Those of you who have seen (or at least know about) @3100film (available on Amazon Prime!) will remember Shaun Martin - the exceptional Diné runner and educator and leader. Friends of the film and exceptional humans @tinamuir88 and @firstrun just launched a new podcast @RunningRealized about the spiritual dimensions of running and featured Shaun on a recent episode. We’ve excerpted a tiny bit and laid it under @3100film footage (the audio quality of the podcast is much higher than this clip).

Hope you all enjoy. Please follow Native running organization @wings_of_america to support Shaun’s efforts. And please subscribe to the Running Realized podcast everywhere you get your pods.
Super sorry for the social media silence. We haven’t disappeared but have been doing a ton of online panels for universities and other institutions - centered on our cast members.

Since we created the film for Native audiences, there’s a lot we didn’t make explicit in the film itself - no definitions of trauma, no timeline of genocide, etc cause these are all living realities in Indian Country.

Anyhow, we do podcasts from time to time and while I (@mrsanjayr - the director of the film) don’t like to put myself at the forefront cause our cast are the experts (and I’m non-Native), every once in a while I do pop onto a show.

Last week I recorded with Nil Zacharias, a fellow friend from India. We had a great convo about systemic problems with food.

I really focused on the problem of tying capitalism to the food systm. With capitalism in general, there are winners and losers. That’s the nature of the system. And I’m not saying it’s bad for life or whatever. But when translated to necessary functions, like food delivery/access, there are also winners and losers. And that’s not just or right. Everyone deserves food especially in a post-colonial framework which created winners and losers right off the bat, and based on race rather than wealth.

People often talk about technology being a solution to inequity and I got to rant a bit about this on the pod 🙂

Find the rest via @eatfortheplanetpod
Photos from Gather's post
Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico
First: We are doing a virtual, live screening of Gather Monday January 4th at 8 pm EST followed by a Q&A with cast members and director @mrsanjayr. See the link in our profile. Tickets are $5. Our panels have always been a lot of fun, but we realize most of our followers haven’t gotten the chance to see one. Hope as many as are able can join.

Ahhh, but the photos. They capture knowledge, beauty and power - all the elements contained in a seed.

The seed is the universe out of which life and form manifest. The seed holds the spirit of our ancestors’ wisdom and their love for future generations. The seed contains both the possibility and the promise of sustenance and strength.

How can one place a monetary value on this?

The power in the seed is priceless and at the same time fragile. With the seed, we thrive. Without the seed, we die.

The balance between commerce and life isn’t so difficult to understand, but the roots of capitalism have infected the relationship between the two in that commerce is now (perversely) more important than life.

Those that can AFFORD the calorie get the calorie. The seed isn’t for those who sow it, tend it, harvest it, but for people thousands of miles away with the means to pay for the packing and shipping of the fruit.

This is why the seed is so valuable to capitalism. In it lies the promise of thousands of dollars, of added value, of propagating inequality.

And this is why food sovereignty in many aspects begins with the seed, the land it sits in and the water that nourishes it.

This system shouldn’t be at the mercy of those with dollars but should serve those who tend it, love it, harvest it. What they choose to do with it is their choice. But the market shouldn’t dictate the journey of the seed. The keepers should.

Photo - Tesuque Pueblo seedkeepers / by Jonathan Sims on assignment for Gather.
@ Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico
Photos from Gather's post
San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation
Ok everyone! You made an Elder so incredibly happy!!

Last Thursday when we did a panel with @kisstheground Twila had made an offhand comment about a long wishlist she had for 2021. But out of humility she said it was too much to share.

The comments section on the Zoom lit up with people begging her to share the top item on her wishlist.

That’s when she revealed that her truck was on its last legs. Her trusty Nissan had driven over 350k miles, made 3 trips to Standing Rock and had introduced countless Apache kids to their land.

And that’s when we committed to starting a GoFundMe.

Our initial goal was $15k, enough to buy a used truck with 100k miles on it. But by noon on Friday we had blown past that goal. And we realized that Twila could actually get a new truck, something that would last 20 more years.

We boldly upped the goal to $20k then $25k then $32k and finally $35k.

While GoFundMe takes 2-5 days to send funds, we were able to get a loan from a kind person to advance the funds to Twila.

And so she headed to Phoenix Tuesday, cashiers check in hand and drove away in a 2020 Toyota Tacoma.

She thanks everyone from the bottom of her heart. Her days are always packed with responsibilities - food deliveries to elders; ferrying kids to the desert to forage; and foraging for her own family and neighbors.

She also drives to tribal nations all over the South to participate in knowledge sharing and exchange.

2020 looked like it would end bleakly for her transportation requirements. But you all changed that destiny.

THANK YOU all so much for displaying the love, heart-power and kindness this world so desperately needs.

Happiest holiday everyone.

With love,

Team Gather @ San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation