Sunday, September 13, 2020

Native American food, culture and people brought to much-needed attention in Sanjay Rawal's documentary, GATHER

Does it occur to you, as it has repeatedly to me of late, that while Black Lives Matter most definitely, where the hell is the attention and responding change necessary for Native Americans? Black enslavement has led to centuries of continuous oppression; genocide, on the other hand, is so much easier to ignore, since there are so few reminders left of what "My country 'tis of thee" did to its original population. The new documentary GATHER goes some distance toward remedying this by reminding us quietly but insistently of our history while showing us some excellent reasons why Native American lives and culture continue to matter -- for now and for whatever future we may have left.

As directed and produced by Sanjay Rawal (shown at left) and featuring a collection of Native Americans of differing tribes all working toward the betterment of their own society while re-introducing the USA to some better ways to eat and act and think and live. 

We meet a Native American chef (below) from a four-star restaurant now ready to open his own place where diners will be able to sample Native American food that's both healthy and tasty.

Also on board is a young student (shown at bottom) whose science fair project is devoted to finding then demonstrating scientific proof of why Buffalo meat is superior to that of America's current favorite, good old cholesterol-ridden, antibiotic-injected beef.

We learn how members of a tribe of Northern California, the Yurok Nation (one of whom is shown below), are trying to save the salmon population -- that is both the major food source and means of earning a living -- even as we receive a lesson in furthering our own diet, cultural possibilities and even, yes, spirituality. (The latter is not hit overly hard, thank goodness.)

Mr. Rawal is light on his feet, moving things along quickly, offering lots of good information with little waste or repetition (the movie lasts only 74 minutes). We meet the families and friends of the Native Americans on view and learn why what they are all doing -- it's about food sovereignty -- is important in sustaining their (and our) food supply. 

Alone for the information we glean on the disappearance of the Buffalo herds and how and why this was so major in the destruction of Native Americans, the movie is worth a view and a listen. This little documentary, for all its positive attitude and charm, goes a distance in reminding us of the genocide in our own backyard. When will proper attention and real reparation be paid to the remaining Native Americans?

premiered last week via iTunes and Amazon and is available now for purchase or rental.

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