In this compilation, award-winning independent documentary filmmaker Robbie Leppzer chronicles indigenous people from North, South, and Central America speaking out about their common legacies of survival and contemporary struggles over land, human rights, and the environment. Columbus Didn't Discover Us The 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's historic voyage to America also marked 500 years of survival by indigenous people throughout the Americas, whose way of life was fundamentally changed by the European landing. In preparation for the Columbus Quincentennial, 300 Native men and women came to the highlands of Ecuador to take part in the First Continental Conference of Indigenous Peoples. Columbus Didn't Discover Us features interviews with participants, filmed at this historic gathering, representing a wide spectrum of Indian nations from North, South, and Central America. This documentary is a moving testimony about the impact of the Columbus legacy on the lives of indigenous peoples from across the hemisphere. Native people speak about the devastation of their cultures resulting from the "European Invasion," contemporary struggles over land and human rights, the importance of reviving spiritual traditions, and the need to alert the world to the environmental crises threatening the survival of the planet. Columbus Didn't Discover Us is an essential primer for understanding the Columbus legacy — past and present — from an indigenous point of view. Arctic to Amazonia From the Arctic to the Amazon, much of our world's fragile ecosystem is at risk. Multinational corporations and government development projects often engage in practices which threaten not only the environment, but the survival of indigenous cultures. To discuss this growing problem, representatives of Native communities from around the world came to Smith College to attend the week-long Arctic to Amazonia Tribal Lands Conference. Arctic to Amazonia features Native activists from North and South America presenting first-hand information on the impact of industrial development upon their land and cultures. They review the history of European colonization in the Americas, critique destructive patterns of consumerism, and contrast indigenous perspectives on the environment with corporate world views. In excerpts from speeches presented at the conference, indigenous representatives talk about the struggles of Native communities to protect their land against ecological destruction. These battles range from northern Quebec, where the Cree and Inuit peoples are fighting massive hydro-dam projects, to Arizona, where the Havasupai oppose plans to mine uranium near the Grand Canyon, to the Brazilian jungles, where numerous Amazonian peoples have won important victories in the campaign to protect the tropical rain forest. As the threat of global environmental disaster looms over us, mainstream society can learn much from Native peoples. Arctic to Amazonia is an effective catalyst for discussion of environmental issues from an indigenous perspective.
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