Australia: A Battle to Win Back Ancestral Lands

Putuparri and the Rainmakers

Directed by Nicole Ma (2015)

Film Review

This is a very poignant documentary about the indigenous elders who led the effort to reclaim their land in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia.

After years of protesting about mining in their sacred land, in 1992 aboriginal Australians won the right to claim title to their ancestral lands if they could prove their historic connection to them. In this case, the narrator Putuparri’s grandparents and other aboriginals were kidnapped (for their knowledge of hidden water holes) by white cattlemen seeking to set up outback cattle ranches. When the ranch owners moved on, they dumped their 2,000 aboriginal workers in a nearby refugee camp.

In 1992, 50 elders from four tribes submitted a giant map painting of the Great Sandy Desert to prove their connection to the lands they were claiming. It took 15 years, but in 2007 a federal court granted them title to most, but not all of the ancestral land they claimed. Because the “white fellah” only knows how to draw straight lines, the sacred land of Putuparri’s grandfather was bypassed.

His family went back to court. In 2014, three months before he died, he finally won title to his ancestral land.

“It’s a Miracle We’ve Survived This Far”

Mental Midgets/Musqonocihte

By Trace Hentz

Blue Hand Books (2018)

Book Review

This exquisite little book is actually two books in one – both thoughtful compilations of original poems, prose snapshots, memes, photos and “creative nonfiction,” all beautifully laid out on the page.

Mental Midgets contains a moving tribute to Native American musician, poet, philosopher and activities John Trudell, who died in 2015.

General themes covered in both books are colonization, the survival and resistance of indigenous people and the attitude of hopeful resistance all of us need to survive the barbarity and insanity of advanced industrial capitalism.

There are also thought-provoking quotations from fellow dissidents Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Lev Tolstoy, Chris Hedges, Kurt Vonnegot and Neil Young.

It’s the type of book I envision re-reading repeatedly over coming months and years.

The World Bank’s Ongoing Battle to Drive Africans Off Their Land

The Honey at the Top

Directed by Dean Puckett (2016)

Film Review

The Honey at the top is about the 30-year battle the indigenous Sengwer are waging against the World Bank and the corrupt Kenya Forest Service (KFS). The latter are trying to evict the Sengwer from their ancestral Embobut Forest. The Kenyan government seeks to use the forest in a lucrative carbon trading scheme.

Although the Kenyan courts have ordered the KFS to desist from harassing Sengwer families, the former continues to launch periodic raids in which they beat up women and the elderly, set fire to their homes and arrest entire families – demanding bribes for their release. The World Bank funds these KFS activities.

Both the World Bank and the KFS declined to be interviewed for this documentary.

Click the cc tab for English subtitles.


* Carbon trading is the scandal ridden scheme of buying and selling permits and credits to emit carbon dioxide. Despite being a central pillar of the EU’s efforts to slow climate change, there is no real evidence it has successfully reduced carbon emissions .

An Indigenous Approach to Learning

Relearning the Land: A Story of Red Crow College

Enlivened Learning Project (2015)

Film Review

Relearning the Land is the first in a series of documentaries exploring various alternative universities Canada, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India, the USA, UK and Costa Rica. The Enlivened Learning Project maintains that modern university education is in deep crisis. Increasingly profit-driven and competitive, they tend to serve the interests of the global elite at the expense of society as a whole. Because they tend to alienate students from nature, community and one another, they are ill-equipped to prepare young people to address the urgent global economic and ecological crises we presently face.

This first film focuses on Red Crow Community College on the Kaina Reserve (part of the Blackfoot Confederation) in Southern Alberta. Founded in 196, the community college offers two year degrees in arts, science, nursing and Kaina Studies and is open to non-Blackfoot students. In addition to offering classes in Blackfoot language and First Nations history, Kaina studies offers classes in Blackfoot ecological knowledge, handed down from ancestors trained to look after the beaver bundle. A beaver bundle is knowledge of how to survive that plants and animals gift to human beings.

In the Blackfoot world view, human beings are the baby species and must learn from older species how to adapt and fit in. The European settlers erroneously believed their culture and technology was superior to that of First Nations people, which is why they tried to destroy their culture and technology by kidnapping their kids and forcing them to attend residential schools.

For the most part, first Nations technology, geared towards adaptation and survival was far superior to that of the Europeans. Left unchecked, European ignorance and arrogance is on track to destroy the entire human species.

Update: Sadly Red Crow College was burned down by an arsonist in August 2015 and the Blood Tribe is seeking donations to help rebuild it.