“Inhabitants: Indigenous Perspectives on Restoring Our World”

Maggie Collins

Editor, Arts and Entertainment

I had the opportunity to take a course centered around sustainability this semester at UNCG. This course increased my knowledge of how to have a more sustainable lifestyle and how many of our everyday “routines” are destroying the earth. With my intensified desire to find out more ways to combat issues like climate change and plastic pollution, I stumbled upon the UNCG Sustainability Film and Discussion Series and decided to check it out. I went to their monthly event where they played the film “Inhabitants: Indigenous Perspectives on Restoring Our World.”

This film was based on the sustainable ways that Indigenous people live using techniques such as prescribed fires and cutting down trees in order to actually help the environment. This seemed like a wild idea to me at first; I have grown up to see fire as something to fear and cutting down trees as detrimental to our environment. However, the film explained that prescribed fires are used to burn forest debris that would prevent a wildfire from continuing to burn. Their way of deforestation is only cutting down trees that are diseased to prevent them from spreading to other trees. This gives them resources for wood without having to cut down a bunch of healthy trees that still have a long life ahead of them. 

The Indigenous people in the film spoke of things like water and fire as relatives instead of resources, differentiating the way they viewed them and how they interacted with them. This was a big ‘wow’ moment for me in the theater as I thought about how I viewed those things. We have come to see water and trees as a resource, and we think that we can just take from them. However, Indigenous people showed that they have built relationships with things of nature, and they work together; it’s not a one-sided relationship. 

Through their farming techniques, these Indigenous peoples grow things like beans and corn in one of the most drought-common areas. This is all because they know how to adapt to the changing climate. They view nature as a partner to work with, not something that we can take over or control. We don’t have to use pesticides, chemicals or irrigation to survive. Through their ways of farming and working with nature, we can adapt to the new environment and combat climate change. 

What was so ironic about this film was that these practices of farming, prescribed burns, deforestation and more were in place way before now. When the United States took over the Indigenous people’s land, they also tried to take away their way of life and culture. It was essentially genocide. The government was attempting to kill off the buffalo and take away their land to push them out. 

Additionally, Indigenous people are not getting credit where it is due for many of the practices used in the United States today, like planting crops in rows and planting diverse types of crops in one area. In the discussion after the film, a common topic brought up was how the information shown in this film is not taught in schools today because it “isn’t in the curriculum.” This leaves little accessibility for people to learn about the Indigenous people and what hardships they have faced and are still facing. Many of us have grown up without the wisdom and guidance of the Indigenous people. Therefore, we have subsequently been killing our environment because we don’t see it as a relative; we see it as a resource that we can ultimately control. The information in this film could truly help us reverse the damage that we have done to our home. 

This film was an eye-opening experience for me, changing the way I view nature and what it gives us. It’s a call to rethink how we are living our lives and make our everyday practices more sustainable. The film is available to watch through Vimeo and iTunes. More information is available on their website, INHABITANTS (inhabitantsfilm.com).

 Each month the UNCG Sustainability program displays a film for its film and discussion series at the Weatherspoon Museum. The next film will be shown on March 16 at 6 p.m. on the first floor in the Margaret and Bill Benjamin Auditorium. Further details will be released about the film closer to the viewing date.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, featured

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