About the Film

Documentary Feature | USA | 53:54 mins.

In the Mojave Desert of Southern California,

the world’s energy companies converge to produce power. They’ve destroyed ecosystems, migrating birds, tortoise, and sacred places from ancient civilizations.

The LA Times indicates, we are at a “Flashpoint” between competing value-systems. Bodies have been exhumed, and geoglyphs destroyed, in an area that is a long-term indigenous settlement.

“Who Are My People?” depicts how the world’s energy firms like Solar Millennium, have met their match in a small group of Native American elders, in the hottest desert on the planet.

The film takes us behind the scenes of two of the largest solar projects in the world,
“fast tracked” by US renewable energy policies.

With Don Alfredo Figueroa (Yaqui, Chemehuevi), Reverend Ronald Van Fleet (Mojave Traditional/Hereditary Chief), Phil Smith (Chemehuevi). Preston Arrow-weed, (Quechan/Kumeyaay), Chemehuevi Chairman Charles Wood. Tracks, Keith Secola (Iron Mountain Ojibwe), Jesus (Chuey) Figueroa, (Chemehuevi, Yaqui, Chichimeca), Victor Van Fleet (Mojave) and Bird Singers, Larry Eddy (CRIT).

Bill Powers, P.E., solar expert, Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Lowell Bean Ph.D. Anthropologist, James Andre, Ph.D., Botanist, U.C. Riverside, V. John White, Executive Director, CEERT, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger. Narrated by filmmaker Robert Lundahl.

“Who Are My People?”

to date, the only film to address the siting and construction of utility scale renewable energy facilities in California’s Mojave Desert, focuses on unique cultural sites that would be lost, and the cultural significance of these sites to Native Americans. The film raises the profile of the obligation the federal government has under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to consult with tribes whose ancestral lands will be impacted by these energy projects. According to Bill Powers P.E., the film “…played a major role in delaying or stopping some of the most damaging projects in the Blythe Area.”

The film follows four Native American elders, Alfredo Figueroa (Chemehuevi/Yaqui), Reverend Ron Van Fleet (Mojave Hereditary Chief), Phillip Smith (Chemehuevi), and Preston Arrow-Weed (Quechan), as they seek to preserve cultural resources, including large geoglyphs, some over 200 feet long, popularized by author Erich Von Daniken, in “Chariots of the Gods.”

According to Alfredo Figueroa, Chemehuevi Cultural Monitor and elder historian, the sites relate to the creation story of Uto-Aztecan peoples, and their descendence from the stars.

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Sr. Alfredo Figueroa, (Yaqui/Chemehuevi), PHOTO : LUNDAHL ©2014

“Who Are My People?” is a 1 x 60 documentary film on the current and controversial topic of the build out of large solar renewable plants in the deserts of the West. Television coverage of the story has been minimal because of the remote locations involved.

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Preston Arrow-Weed (Quechan | Kumeyaay), PHOTO : LUNDAHL ©2014

Filmmaker Robert Lundahl worked with an array of scientists and professionals, and with Native American Elders, including Reverend Ron Van Fleet (Mojave), Phil Smith (Chemehuevi), Alfredo Figueroa (Yaqui/Chemehuevi), and Preston Arrow-weed (Quechan/Kumeyaay), to create “Who Are My People?, the first film to focus on Native Americans responding to desert utility scale solar renewables. The film takes the shape of the film maker’s personal narrative about a journey to the desert.

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Phil Smith (Chemehuevi), PHOTO : LUNDAHL ©2014

“Who Are My People?” goes behind the scenes to investigate the permitting and construction of two utility scale solar facilities in the Mojave desert, fast tracked by US renewable energy policies.

 

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Reverend Ron Van Fleet (Mojave Hereditary Chief), PHOTO : LUNDAHL ©2014

“Who Are My People?” pays homage to a previous generation and attracts those with memories of why the environment is important.

It addresses the issue of why people are important regardless of race or class and how communities are connected through environment and practices in the name of the environment, gold mining, logging, and now solar energy.

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