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Film explores effects of solar projects on Native American life

June 18, 2013|By Louis Sahagun
  • An aerial view of a geoglyph near Blythe, Calif.
An aerial view of a geoglyph near Blythe, Calif. (Robert Lundahl )

Documentary filmmaker Robert Lundahl’s latest work, "Who Are My People?," explores the effects of large-scale solar energy developments on Native American spiritual and cultural connections to Southern California’s scorched outback of creosote and alkaline lake beds.

At the heart of the dispute is a contest between Native American traditions and developers and government officials who contend benefits from the projects such as greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy production outweigh their disturbance of cultural resources in the bleak desert terrain.

Some of those resources, Lundahl said, seem "downright strange to Anglo-European eyes – like enormous geoglyphs, or earth drawings, visible from space, including giant human-like forms and complex geometries."

"Stranger still," he added, "international energy companies want to build their facilities right on top of these sacred communications from the distant past. In the process, they are tearing apart the social and cultural fabric of indigenous descendants."

The documentary, three years in the making, features Native American leaders from throughout the region.

"Who Are My People?" premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at the Joyce Beers Uptown Community Center, 3900 Vermont St., San Diego. The filmmaker and Native American elders will be present. The event is open to the public, and donations will be accepted.

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