Posted on March 18, 2019
Forest Woodward, Anna Callaghan, Marie Sullivan, Aidan Haley, Laura Kottlowski | 2018 | 12 min.
2019 Official Selection
Bears Ears National Monument is one of the most talked-about public lands under threat, though the dialogue often glosses over how sacred it is to many Native Americans.
In March 2018, a group of tribes put their differences aside and came together to run 800 miles to Bears Ears–and to send a message of unity. The Sacred Strides for Healing Prayer Run wove from tribal homelands across the Southwest to Bears Ears.
The film begins dreamlike, around the campfire, with flashes of runners moving across the landscape. We hear the voice of Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe giving a motivational talk.
“You guys are entering that sacred time. Now you have to call on something bigger than you.”
As an advocate for public lands and access to wilderness, I was profoundly moved by this short but beautiful 12-minute film. The message hit home–people can put aside their differences, come together to heal and bring a unified voice to the table in defense of the wild. With a number of iconic natural treasures being eyed for development, now more than ever we need to see what the elders did–that you get nowhere in life by yourself.
Environmental issues are social justice issues and protecting the last intact wild places ensures health for everyone. All life deserves clean air, water, and soil. For us to thrive, we need large, expansive, open spaces, where we can connect with ourselves, our loved ones, and nature. Prayer runners from Navajo, Ute, Pueblo, and Hopi nations ran for days, across hundreds of miles, dissolving conflict as they healed together.
In the film, a runner says, “We realized those relationships with each other are rooted in the land and the best way to understand your landscape is with your feet. Running in prayer is like breathing.”
Sacred Strides is available from the Wild & Scenic On Tour Program, one of the 2019 Wild & Scenic Official Selection that travels the globe to 250 locations this year. This film could be coming to a venue near you! On April 27, we’ll bring this film to San Francisco, when Wild & Scenic goes On Tour at the Cowell Theater in Fort Mason Center. You can review the entire film program for San Francisco here.
If you are member of SYRCL, the film is available through Wild & Scenic’s DVD Film Library. For local members living nearby South Yuba River Citizen League’s Nevada City office, you can borrow this film plus nearly 2,000 titles from all past festival years. Rentals are free and available for SYRCL members only. Become a member or renew your membership today!
If you have questions about bringing Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour to your community, call (530) 265-5961 ext 204 or email Theresa Huck.
This month’s Staff Pick was brought to you by Communications Coordinator Laura Petersen.