Sanjay Rawal@mrsanjayr

Trying to do justice to the stories I have the opportunity to tell. @3100film @gatherfilm #foodchainsfilm

https://civileats.com/2017/11/21/a-native-community-preserves-its-food-traditions/

301 posts 15,309 followers 355 following

✊🏼 #Repost @greggdeal (@get_repost)
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It’s nice that @patagonia is trying to hit this issue, but the Indigenous communities affected by this move most MUST be heard. Not one tribal government who has significant stakes in this have been talked too or included in this effort. 5 tribal governments have had their tribal sovereignty cast aside making this the second major move Trump has made against Indigenous people in this move that is less unprecedented and more falling in line with the American tradition of disregarding this land’s first people. The space proposed for industrialization is filled with over 100,000 sacred sites, ceremonial grounds and burials of old ones. This is Indian Land. This is the land our Creator has covenanted to us. We are the stewards of this land, and we will fight to protect it always. (design concept by @alexismunoadyer and @kaytebrown! THANK YOU!) #savebearsears #protectthesacred


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As part of the @gatherfilm project we have had the amazing opportunity to observe true stewards of our food system - deeply wise and compassionate people who understand how to love the land and truly live in balance with it. One such wisdom keeper is Twila Cassadore (@cassadoretwy) of the San Carlos Apache Reservation. Twila and her colleague Seth Pilsk are part of the Western Apache Diet Project thru which they interviewed dozens upon dozens of Apache elders to reconstitute the traditional Apache food system devastated by colonization and genocide. The first step was understanding what Apaches used for sustenance before the advent of the White Man. Apaches were primarily foragers and hunters and understood the seasonality of both flora and fauna. One staple species in the winter is the elusive Gloscho- a small rodent that makes large mounded nests under cacti. Gloscho eat a pure and clean diet of shrubs and desert legumes. They’re a plentiful food source if one knows how to scare them out of their nest and how to catch this critter that seems to scurry a million miles an hour. Here, Twila initiates young Mae in the traditional food ways of her elders. Mae ended up helping to catch a Gloscho, which Twila made into a “deconstructed” tamale: meat with sumac berry and squash layered on fire baked corn meal. Gloscho were given the unfortunate name woodrat by colonizers which definitely impacted the way Apache viewed this food, says Twila.

San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation
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We (@gatherfilm) had the great honor to work with Tara Duggan @taracduggan and Hillary Renick @coastymathanuuma on an article on about the food ways of the Sherwood band of Pomo natives based in Mendocino County, California. It was a sobering look at the disappearance of their ancestral harvesting and foraging environments thru a series of government and mercantile invasions. Beginning in the 1600s they have had to face onslaught after onslaught against both their bodies and their land. Their brilliance and resiliency was incredibly inspiring and would give any activist anywhere hope that change is possible. Check out the article on today’s front page of the Chronicle and on their website. Photo by @renan_ozturk - @sfchronicle @tanya_meillier @fndi303 @sterlinharjo @jlg.ensaw @jenbuffett @kiowaqtee @daharbfilm @frau_mit_katze @kim_baca1 @chzamag @the11thhourproject @taylorfreesolo @gretacaruso @siixuutesna

Klamath, California
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In 1978, in response to #Yurok tribal members selling an abundance of salmon into the Northern California markets (increasing supply and dropping prices), a conglomerate of salmon brokers pressured the US government to stop the fishing of the Klamath by the #indigenous. Forget that the Natives had the legal rights not to mention ancestral rights. The US government swooped in with large boats and billy clubs and smashed boats and bodies. Yurok and Hoopa fishermen and fisherwomen battled on the Klamath before retreating to an enforced embankment on the adjacent Trinity River. On that embankment (itself an ancestral village), Chucky Carpenter recalls the days when Native activists from around the country poured into the Hoopa Valley to take up arms for the Ancestral right to fish. And guess what, with the rally cry of #FishOn echoing thru the valley, they won. With dams, overfishing and climate change threatening the Trinity like never before, the fight rages on. @renan_ozturk @daharbfilm @tanya_meillier @taylorfreesolo @aesthetic.n8tive.trash @chzamag @frau_mit_katze @fndi303 @kim_baca1 @riseupranch @gatherfilm @sterlinharjo

Hoopa, California
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We had an absolutely incredible time following Yurok members of the #AncestralGuard on their indigenous river – the Klamath. The ancestral guard is a small group of young coastal Californian indigenous men and women committed to reversing the silent genocide of their people. Focusing on reestablishing ancient foodways for health and strength as well as revitalizing the appetite for ancestral culture among youth, the ancestral guard understands that to continue as indigenous people, minds need to be transformed not just on reservations but off. Everyone has a different definition of what it really means to be indigenous - but for these youth on the Klamath, they say to be indigenous is to love their river. And that allows all coastal natives who love the Klamath to be considered as Yurok in the mind of these kids. They continue by saying that to love their river means to love the ocean and mother earth because all three systems are intrinsically connected. With climate change they have seen that no matter how much they try to protect the river, greater forces threatening to destroy everything they hold dear. Drone work by @renan_ozturk and @daharbfilm. - @jlg.ensaw @petergensaw @frau_mit_katze @tanya_meillier @sterlinharjo @chzamag @taylorfreesolo @fndi303 @siixuutesna @taracduggan @gretacaruso @kim_baca1 #klamath #yurok #eureka #california #indigenous #nativeheritage

Klamath River
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I am really excited about the next shoot we are doing for @gatherfilm. In a couple weeks, we will be up in the northernmost coastal sections of California with @theancestralguard on Yurok and Hoopa land. It's been a tough season for traditional fishing on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. The government allocation (and there are problems with that very term) is down from 600k fish for the tribes to just SIX HUNDRED. Over centuries of inhibition on the coast, natives never led to the demise of any species. But in just 100 years of commercial fishing in the Pacific, salmon stocks have nearly been wiped out. The future is uncertain for California Coastal Tribes, but it's not necessarily bleak. Youth are discovering agency and responsibility. Looking forward to witnessing their work. With @fndi303

Redwood Forest
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Another shot of young Mae (to the left) standing in rapt attention as her aunt Twila (@cassadoretwy) chops an indigenous wild banana. Mae had just completed her second ever foraging trip at the ripe age of 8. In the past, Apache kids her age knew dozens of wild edibles as well as the time of year best for their harvest. After a century of a sustained attempt at genocide and the unrelenting imposition of colonial values and economics, the Apache reservations have been ravaged. Yet, their ancestral knowledge still remains thanks not only to elders but to youth receptive to carry-on these secret and sacred traditions. Mae has much to learn. But we will follow her journey over the next year. @gatherfilm @apachefarmer

San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation
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Marking #indigenouspeoplesday with this memory of Shaun Martin pausing at the rim of the Little Colorado River at one of the westernmost spots on the Navajo reservation. Shaun was over halfway through a ceremonial 100 mile run marking the kidnapping and escape of his father from government boarding school. As early as six years old, Shaun's father Allen broke free from those colonial shackles and made his way by landmark and stars back to his family's home site. Shaun, now an educator at a Navajo high school, wanted to explore not only his family's history, but who he is as a Navajo runner, by taking on this transcendent task. @tanya_meillier @seankirbydp @michael_a_levine @bijanoliamusic @quinnthenavajo @wings_of_america @snehac_94 @3100film

Cameron, Arizona
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After nearly 3 years, we finally finished @3100film which, as many of you know chronicles the journey of a wonderfully spunky paperboy from Finland as he tries to complete the worlds longest running race – the Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race. His journey takes him around the world to the Navajo nation, to the Kalahari Desert and to the highlands of Kyoto Japan. Along the way he learns that the human spirit is unbounded and that we are all built and born to run. The story is driven by three heroes: a Navajo runner, a Bushman Hunter and a Japanese monk (whose teacher is pictured here). We were lucky enough to have recorded an original title song with the great Roberta Flack and have just sent the film off to a number of festivals.... We were chased by elephants and some of us got pneumonia but somehow we made it thru. Wish us luck as the journey for us seems to just be beginning again. That sounds like a very apt spiritual allegory! Thanks to @tanya_meillier @seankirbydp Alex Meillier @lsingh @michael_a_levine @snehac_94 @allison.masters @ljstories @forestwoodward @omarmullick @mayhdzgzz @abigaildisney @jenny.lawhorn @jonesformes @quinnthenavajo @survivalinternational @spartanrace @peak_races @frau_mit_katze @alfonso_montiel @laurenzander22 @fitwild @anthony_rodale @nickwolcott @mountainreds @albisheridan (i know I'm forgetting someone. To that person : sorry!!!!) @noellacoursaris @bijanoliamusic

Hieizan Enryakuji
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The whole crew of @gatherfilm was honored and humbled to spend time with Clayton Harvey (@apachefarmer) and the team from The People's Farm on the White Mountain Apache Rez. Yes the farm grows and delivers local and organic food. But this is no twee little outfit. The People's Farm is dedicated to reintroducing ancient Apache foodways to a community suffering from colonization, specifically the complete destruction of their food system. The US government endeavored to annihilate the Apache entirely and when they realized that physical destruction was impossible, they systemically destroyed the Apache way of life beginning with their foodways. Clayton and his team are under no romantic notion that they will be able to go back to the ways of old, but they understand the deeper meaning of food – that food is identity and a spiritual link to the past present and future. That is what the peoples farm stands for, and that is what they will achieve. With @renan_ozturk @tanya_meillier @sterlinharjo @frau_mit_katze @turner_a_c @daharbfilm @45sky @jenbuffett

Ndée Bikíyaa, The Peoples' Farm
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Back on the Apache Reservation, Mae watches her auntie Twila prepare coals for grilling wild harvested green indigenous bananas. Mae represents the future of the ancient Apache food ways, but an uncertain future at that. Like many children on the reservation, she is a product of a severely broken home. Her mother had her at the tender age of 15. And Mae is the second oldest of eight. Thankfully Mae is now living with a relative/guardian on the Rez who has promised to give this little dynamo all the opportunities life has to offer. Under the watchful guise of her aunt Twila and her guardian, Mae has a rare opportunity to break a horrifically vicious cycle. If she does, I guarantee you this young girl will change the world. @sterlinharjo @tanya_meillier @frau_mit_katze @apachefarmer @fndi303 @45sky @jenbuffett

San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation
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Mae Day :: young Mae joins her auntie Twila for her second day of foraging. On today's menu: amaranth. Twila teaches Mae how to separate the husks from the black seeds, using the wind to naturally clean the seeds. A few days earlier an elk herd had its way with the meadow, chomping up most of the wild crop before winter sets in. @45sky


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We spent an amazing afternoon on the #ApacheRez with Twila Cassadore. Twila healed herself from decades of trauma and violence by dedicating herself to mastering and sharing ancient Apache food ways. Apaches weren't row crop farmers but expert foragers. They passed this deep knowledge down from generation to generation. Here Twila takes her niece Mae on her first foraging trip- harvesting wild sunflowers to make porridge. With @renan_ozturk @daharbfilm @tanya_meillier #apachecorn @45sky @jenbuffett

Fort Apache Indian Reservation
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In January of 2016, #RobertaFlack suffered a stroke. Even worse, she fell and broke her hip as her body seized up. 20 months later we have her back in Studio singing an original song by @michael_a_levine entitled NEVER GIVE UP - the title track of my new film on the worlds longest race @3100film. As you all know, participants in that race have to average at least 59.8 miles a day over the 52 day window. And it's all done around a high school in queens around a 1/2 mile loop. And I guarantee that runners are always fighting the urge to give up. Roberta was a student of the founder of the race, the spiritual Master #SriChinmoy. He gave her the name ADDWITIYA, a Sanskrit word meaning "unparalleled". I'm humbled to listen to this inner hero lay down the most expressive singing I've heard in a zillion years. Thanks to @michael_a_levine for the song and for producing the track.

The Cutting Room Studios
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I am thrilled to announce that a short film I made on a very good friend from Iceland was just accepted into the Reykjavík Film Festival. My buddy Snatak, which means SEEKER in Sanskrit, owns a music store but can no longer sing. He was once a great runner, but can barely get around these days. And he's just in his mid-50s. One might say that ALS struck him in his prime, but as he reveals in the film, he feels that he is the luckiest person on the planet. Before ALS struck, he discovered the importance of having a spiritual life, a spiritual practice. And he gravitated towards the teachings of Sri Chinmoy. Snatak feels that this insight into who he really is has helped him make progress on this arduous physical journey. He feels that there is life beyond the body – that we are not physical beings but are part of a larger continuum of souls. I hope to be able to share this film online shortly.


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Turn on sound for music. Spent an incredible day with the great composer Michael Levine (@michael_a_levine)finishing up the music for @3100film. If you can believe it, the edit is done – that's two years of filming, nine months of editing, and several hundred thousand miles of travel by air and road. Next is color correction and sound mix. Can't wait to share this project with everyone finally. On the screen are the final shots of the film ... our main character completing 3100 Miles by foot. @tanya_meillier @seankirbydp @lsingh @mayhdzgzz @elisaestrada @quinnthenavajo @wings_of_america @brooksrunning

Woodland Hills, California
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Here's another perspective of #American @yolandaholder's epic, down to the wire finish of the Self Transcendence #3100 mile race last night. She became the oldest woman (59), first full time walker, first African American and 4th American to finish this race in its 21 year history. Again, she walked the one block course (a tiny bit more than 1/2 mile) more than 5,600 times over the 52 day window. She braved multiple 90 degree/high humidity days, a stomach virus, the sidewalk surface and the craziness of a NYC summer. But she did it. She reached her goal, one that very few have even attempted. And now she's a legend. 📷: Dhanu Alaimo

Thomas A. Edison High School (Queens)
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And folks there you have it. At the last hour of the last of 52 days @yolandaholder the "Walking Diva" just crossed the finish line of the #3100 Mile Race. As the first ever full time walker to participate, she managed to average nearly exactly the 59.8 miles per day needed to finish the world's longest certified race. Yes, this is the race that is staged entirely on a 1/2 mile loop, on a sidewalk, around a high school in the heart of #NYC. @nycmayor offered a soulful message of congratulations to all the runners today and none was more proud of finishing than Yolanda, the oldest female ever to finish ... at - get this - 59 years young. She walks for her mom who passed of diabetes; she walks for all those who suffer and those who care for them; and she walks for you and me and all those who dream of one day touching the very stars that she now walks among.

Thomas A. Edison High School (Queens)
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Oh my god. Kaneenika Janakova from #Slovakia just broke the women's world best at the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race. 48 days and change. 64 miles a day for almost 7 weeks. That would be an incredible WEEKLY mileage...... Heroic. Amazing. No words.

Thomas A. Edison High School (Queens)
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Day 45 at the worlds longest race! The self transcendence 3100 miler. 7 days and 12 hours to go. And it'll be down to the wire. The top three will finish with ease. But the next two, both first timers, might be able to finish with an hour to spare. Keep in mind, this race requires 59.8 miles a day for 52 days. One bad day and a runner will find themselves in a huge hole. Will they have the will to fight back? To increase their average to 62 or 63 miles a day?? 59 year old Yolanda was having a stellar race when she was beset by a stomach virus. She had 3 bad days and was forced the last 2 weeks to focus on each lap, desperately trying to make up for lost miles. She's pushing every night to hit the needed 62 miles she requires to average in order to finish with minutes to spare. So far so good. Follow her @yolandaholder. @fitwild @anthony_rodale. If anyone is out in NYC I urge you to come by this amazing spectacle of human achievement. And if you do, lemme know! The course is open 6am til midnight. Til 11:59:59 on August 8th.

Thomas A. Edison High School (Queens)
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Many many many thanks to @Kickstarter not just for enabling us to get very close to the finish line of @3100film, but also for all of their support of the Documentary community in New York City. Not only do they offer office space to up-and-coming filmmakers in the city, they allow independent filmmakers to use the facilities – in our case, their incredible screening room to host a rough cut screening last night. For anyone who has shown a creative work prematurely, which in the filmmaking process is an important step, you know how important it is to create the right atmosphere. We couldn't have asked for a better place to show our baby to the world for the first time. And thank you to the tiny group of supporters who came and offered their most heartfelt and candid comments. I'm really excited to offer this film to the rest of the world. I think we will be ready to do so in a couple months! Thanks to @thelizcook and Elise McCave.

Kickstarter HQ
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I travel quite a bit for work and I often have to spend an inordinate amount of time with folks I've never met. It's usually a great experience but sometimes it's not. Last winter I not only had to hang with someone new, I had to occasionally share a bed with him and his lady friend. It wasn't half as bad as I feared. Thanks for sharing your man cave @baloointhewild. With @zuluinflight


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Councilman Tom Wilson of the #Yurok tribe has spent his entire life at the confluence of the #Klamath and #Trinity rivers. His fishing site is a stone's throw from an ancestral village where the #Yurok, #Hoopa and #Karuk Natives met and shared ceremonies. Each tribe relied on the river systems not just for food but for their connection to the Celestial. More than 10,000 people were supported physically and spiritually on these rivers. These days tho, with salmon stocks at an all time low and with drug cartels and dealers pushing deep into ancestral lands, the tribes are besieged from within and without. Suicides are heart-breakingly common and lack of economic opportunity is stifling. But Tom and others maintain hope for the future and have dedicated their lives to healing families and healing the rivers.

Weitchpec, California
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The Yurok are the largest tribe in California and have lived at the mouth of the Klamath River / north of Eureka / since time immemorial. The Klamath was once home to the third largest salmon population of any river. Dams and overfishing have reduced the salmon run from the hundreds of thousands to just 650 this year. That means that the US government will only allow the Yurok to commercially harvest 650 fish this season (for a population of over 6,000). For People that have eaten 1/4 lb fish each day of the year for millennia, they're being forced to harvest just 1 fish per every ten people for the whole year. The Yurok have always believed that when the salmon die, so will they. In years with huge salmon runs, suicide rates have dropped. In meager years, well .... I'll leave it at that. (Salmon strips hang in a Yurok smoke house).

Steelhead Lodge
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#Swinomish part II. Canoes have been an integral part of the identity of Tribes in the Pacific Northwest. The Salmon have been a way of life for 10,000 years and more. For some tribes, the salmon played a critical role in their creation stories. The Nez Perce, for instance, portray the salmon as the first animal who volunteered to help the new, naked humans at their inception. This particular Swinomish canoe will be paddled 40 miles a day for 15 days and will join hundreds along the way before beaching on northern Vancouver Island. The "canoe paddles" reconnect people with their waterways and have literally helped cure historical trauma, alcoholism and depression.

Swinomish Village, Washington
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Spent this morning on the #Swinomish #rez in Northern Washington. Traditional salmon fisherman, they've kept the #Skagit river strong and healthy for millennia despite the encroachment of western society. But forces much larger than their powerful wills are at play (and they're wholly aware of this). Agricultural runoff from upstream poisons the waterways; overfishing at a massive scale has diminished the salmon fishing window to NINE days this year; and climate change has reduced the snowpack and warmed the upstream salmon spawning ground to temperatures that kill adult fish. Yet the Swinomish continue the fight for their river and their future. Powerful legal minds in the tribe are fighting for enforcement of their treaty rights. Their court victories have established precedent for hundreds of tribes that rely on fishing ancient waterways.

Swinomish Village, Washington
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I had the amazing fortune to spend a week with Snatak Mathiasson in late April. A former runner and musician, Snatak was struck with ALS 13 years ago. His decline was very slow but he has found his motor functions decreasing steadily to the point where he's unable to manage the music store he has in downtown Reykjavík (Iceland). His musical friends, however, formed a male choral group and installed Snatak as the leader. And in honor of their friend, they planned a 10 day tour thru Tuscany which I was lucky enough to film. Hopefully we will have a nice little short film by the end of the summer. Amazingly, maybe due to a lifetime of running, Snatak's legs have barely deteriorated.

Florence, Italy
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I've been out in Northern California exploring a new narrative on Native American food sovereignty. I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with acclaimed journalist @missmonet and photographer supreme @taylorfreesolo. After a couple days of hearing about abalone and seaweed harvesting with the Pomo, Taylor's husband @renan_ozturk was itching for a gift from the Golden State. His loving wife scaled an epic grapefruit tree in a full gown to snag a couple dozen fruits for her beau.


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Throwback to last summer – Kaneenika Janakova finishes the self transcendence 3100 mile race on the very last day with about 12 hours to spare. She averaged exactly 60 miles a day over the 52 day period to come in just under the wire. She was the fifth woman to have completed the race and did so in just her second attempt. Sadly, the year before, she was on pace to finish the race but tripped and broke two ribs with just 10 days to go. Amazingly she soldiered on but she couldn't meet the pace required to complete the distance. This year, despite vowing never to run the race again, she will toe the starting line. The race begins on June 18th. I swear to you all, this race is essential to experience on the course. It is like a temple to human possibility. And it's easy to do so – come any day between June 18 and August 8. Check for the location on the geo-tag. Message me if you'll be out there. Chances are that I will be too!

Thomas A. Edison High School (Queens)
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