In northern New Mexico, those seeking wisdom and inspiration don’t have to look far, and looking to the past need not mean being stuck in the past. This is evident in a new documentary film, On the Land: Together with the Earth, which takes a dramatic look at the relevance of the region’s traditions, connecting old and new ways of sustainable living.
The film’s seven personal stories reflect experiences and humor gleaned from Pueblo, Hispano and Anglo cultures and show how, in some ways, they are united by conscious efforts to respect the land and each other. The stories include growing up at Taos Pueblo in the 1950s, healing a troubled, violent life by returning to the land and grandparents’ teachings, and using traditional age-old building methods along with innovative green-building techniques and solar energy. There is also practical advice about how to make a ranch or home self-sustaining using indigenous materials.
“When you turn on the evening news, you see a world that is mostly steeped in chaos and rampant disrespect for the natural world and each other,” said filmmaker Cindy Pickard, founder of the nonprofit Rites of Passage. “On the Land shines a hopeful lens on humanity and the earth by showing the land’s power to heal and bring people together.”
Imagica Pictures and Rites of Passage collaborated to produce the film. It was filmed and edited by Andy Pickard. A compelling soundtrack features local New Mexico Hispanic musicians and Native American music selected by Grammy-winning producer Tom Bee, founder of the Albuquerque-based Sound of America Records.
The film premiered in Taos last month, where it was introduced by some of the featured participants. Prior to the screening, there were performances by 10-year-old Taos Pueblo drummer/singer Cruz Lujan, Taoseño flamenco guitarist Ricardo Anglada (his first public performance since recovering from a stroke in October 2013), and professional guitarists and a percussionist from Taos led by Vito Trujillo, Sr. and Allen Vigil.
Screenings are being arranged for Albuquerque, Santa Fe and beyond. DVDs are also available. More information on the film can be found at www.the8thfire.org. To view the film’s trailer, visit vimeo.com/33124684
Quotes from the film
Painter Jonathan Warm Day Coming, from Taos Pueblo: “In my work, I hope to preserve a record of the traditional life of our people…increased knowledge and understanding will help all of us to live better with one another and the natural world.”
Ed Cárdenas, social worker, teacher and author: “The messages of our ancestors are always around if we only open our hearts to listen.”
Victor García, rancher, farmer and building craftsman: “You can’t eat money.”
Mark Myers, solar designer: “The new technology is here. It just needs to be implemented.”
Other Nuevo Mexicanos interviewed include Jody Armijo, George Martínez and innovative solar homebuilder Willy Groffman.