Growing Native

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I spent last winter in northern Italy on a fellowship. Something that struck me was how differently people viewed food. For example in a village where I was staying, shopping for food was an every day event. People would walk through a open air market, see what was fresh, and buy enough for a day or two. The vegetables, the pastas, meats, fish or dairy, were all sold by the farmer, fisher or rancher. The food chain was quick and visible.

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It's harvest time here in New Mexico and the abundance of traditionally grown foods are everywhere. I recently brought out a visiting scholar and artist Ron Bull from the Maori Tribe in New Zealand to visit the Tesuque Pueblo Farm. We were given a tour of the farm by Emigdio Ballon (Quechua) who is the head of the agricultural initiative at the farm. We watched local school children pick ripe apples, sampled blackberries and raspberries on their vines, saw the abundance of crops ready to be harvested from medicinal plants to traditional corn.

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The corn is almost ready to harvest now and Northern New Mexican families are busy making the corn into chicos. Chicos are a traditional dried corn. They are made from field corn that is harvested, tied into ristras (strings), and hung to dry. Some Native American and Hispano families (that settled in this region hundreds of years ago) make chicos by roasting the corn in the horno adobe (earthen) oven overnight and then hang them to air-dry. After the corn is dried, the kernels are rubbed off by hand and then stored to be used throughout the winter.

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Every once in a while, the very idea of a documentary series exactly matches what’s going on at home. Such is the case with Growing Native.

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The footage from the 24th Annual Canoe Journey in the Pacific Northwest has been processed.  Here is a sneak peek at some of that footage as host Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho) speaks to the indigenous people of the area about their culture and traditions.

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Vision Maker Media recently traveled to the Northwest to film the 24th Annual Canoe Journey. We started at 6 a.m. documenting the launch from Tulalip. This amazing event will be part of the Growing Native series Vision Maker Media is producing for PBS.

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Vision Maker Media seeks stories that can be included in the seven-part series, Growing Native, which will focus on reclaiming traditional knowledge and food ways to address critical issues of health and wellness, the environment and human rights.

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Vision Make Media hosted the first Media for Change Workshop focusing on documentary film and social issues held at the Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This unique workshop for Native Media Makers and Educators included speakers Molly Murphy of Working Films and Rose M. Poston (Sandia Pueblo) of KNME-TV.

Cherokee filmmaker Heather Rae’s new feature documentary, First Circle, shares the stories of families in Idaho struggling with drug abuse, the foster care system and the intrinsic human need for family.

A harshly comedic glimpse of rez life from the point of view of two babies. Featuring the 1491s.

Dr. Arne Vainio, an Ojibwe physician on the Fond du Lac Reservation in northern Minnesota, is about to have his fiftieth birthday. As a doctor, he encourages his patients approaching the age of fifty to come in for a series of health screenings to determine their risk for health conditions such as diabetes and colon cancer that have tendencies to appear at midlife. Despite the life prolonging benefits of obtaining these screenings, many men are reluctant to undergo the tests, including Dr. Vainio.

The Traditional Native American Farmers Association along with countless others are fighting to keep traditional farming alive throughout native communities.

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