At 14,162 feet, rising from the surrounding forest, Mount Shasta dominates the landscape of northern California. In a meadow just below the treeline, two communities gather for summer healing rituals amidst a carpet of wildflowers. New Age practitioners have gravitated to Panther Meadows for decades to pray, dance, sing and drum.
Northern California's Wintu community also conducts a renewal ceremony in the meadow. Florence Jones feels that the New Age "ceremonies" offend the mountain. She is the 88-year-old top doctor of the Winnemem Wintu, and leads a thousand-year-old ceremony at a spring in the meadow. Wintu religion focuses on healing and recreating natural resources, including humans, plants, animals, the spring, and the mountain itself. It disturbs them that "New Agers" dance naked in the meadow and leave crystals in the water. The walls of the spring are collapsing due to people climbing in and out.
The forest service has also proposed a multi-million dollar ski resort a few hundred yards away with the ski runs coming right down through the Panther Meadows. The Wintu struggle to protect Panther Meadows from the encroachment of the ski resort and the desecration of New Age practices.
Across the USA, Native Americans are struggling to protect their sacred places. Religious freedom, so valued in America, is not guaranteed to those who practice land-based religion. Every year, more sacred sites - the land-based equivalent of the world's great cathedrals - are being destroyed. Strip Mining and development cause much of the destruction. But rock climbers, tourists, and New Age religious practitioners are part of the problem, too. The biggest problem is ignorance.
MOUNT SHASTA, part of the IN THE LIGHT OF REVERENCE Classroom Series, tells the story of the Wintu, an indigenous community of northern California, and the land they struggle to protect.
The other programs in the series are:
Devils Tower - The Lakota struggle to protect their sacred site from climbers and other encroachers.
Hopi Land - The Hopi fight to preserve their land and water from strip mining.
Grade Level: Grades 9-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2001
Copyright Date: 2001
VHS ISBN: 1-56029-899-5
"This beautifully-crafted film shows how the places most sacred to Native Americans are being both disrespected and destroyed, and how Indians are fighting back to save their own religious heritage. This film is a wake-up call for everyone who cares about the environment and human rights and deserves every opportunity to reach a broad and diverse audience."
"For those who know nothing about the denial of Native American religious freedom, this film will change minds and open hearts. For those of us already involved in the struggle to save sacred land, this film will energize and inspire."
Walter Echo-Hawk, Native American Rights Fund
"The film clearly articulates some of the issues indigenous peoples all over the world face as they struggle to prevent their spiritual beliefs from being marginalized by people who believe spiritual places are structures built by men, not the Creator."
Wilma Mankiller, author and former Principal Chief of Cherokee Nation
"This respectful, brave, and understated film, which urges the redress of profound historical errors, is itself an act of reparation. In the Light of Reverence reaches beyond cultural disputes to reveal and document the arena of human wisdom."
"The Middle East may get the headlines, but there are battles involving sacred ground in the United States, too, as nicely documented by In the Light of Reverence, on PBS."
The New York Times
"In the Light of Reverence shines a beam on the fundamental differences between two world views, one based on individual rights - including the right to exploit the land for profit - the other, on responsibility to a community that includes people, ancestral spirits and the spirits of the forest and mountains themselves."
Sara Jean Green, Seattle Times