In The Light Of Reverence: A Review

Reconciling Allah"In the Light of Reverence" is a documentary about three places that are sacred to indigenous people in the U.S.; places that have been and continue to be disturbed, capitalized upon and, in some cases, destroyed by non-indigenous people. The film discusses what is being done, its effects on native people and what people are doing to make the situation better.

"In the Light of Reverence" gives an excellent history of these three specific places, and encourages one to think about the basic things that are perpetuating the problem.

The first sacred space shown in the film is Mato Tipila, or Devils Tower (see photo) in Wyoming. It is a mountain sacred to the Lakota people for its healing power, but it is also a popular area for rock climbers. The Lakota people feel that it is extremely disrespectful to climb this mountain given its sacred and powerful nature and they have asked the rock climbers to stay away during the month of June. The Lakota people in the film explain that June is special because everything is being regenerated and reborn. During this time, they feel it is especially important for to have devils tower to themselves.

In Arizona, Hopitutskwa, or Woodruff Butte is sacred to the Hopi people that live there, because they believe that it is where the bringers of rain are. Unfortunately the bluff is also used for mining by its "owner," Dale McKinnon. McKinnon uses it for concrete, and argues that this culture couldn't exist without this mining.

Mt. Shasta, in California, is the third site that "In the Light of Reverence" brings illustrates. It's a beautiful place that is sacred to the Wintu people because of it's powerful springs. But, as the film shows, there is a plan to build a ski resort directly through the mountain, that would completely devastate the area. The developers believe that since it is such a beautiful place, they should make money off of it, providing vacationers with recreation. They have no respect for the Wintu people, for whom Mt. Shasta is an extremely important part of life.

"They have asked that the rock climbers to stop stay away during the month of June. The Lakota people in the film explain that June is special because everything is being regenerated and reborn."
I think that it is important to think about where our recourses come from. The cities we live in don't exist independently. Instead, much of our resources come from areas like these. Our cities are built up very directly because of the draining of places that are not deemed valuable. Places like the Woodruf Butte are specifically sacred to the indigenous people who live there, but the concept extends to almost everything else, labor, energy etc. "In the Light of Reverence" comments on the nature of capitalism, and asks whether the destruction and exploitation of one thing is necessary for another to develop or prosper.

"In the Light of Reverence" also made me think about the many dimensions of racism and capitalism, and the ways in which U.S. culture is based on extreme greed and violence. It tries to make its viewers aware of the many people on whose backs this country has been built.

It implies that this culture and economy, in its current state, could not function if there was any respect for people, or the earth, or any kind of relationship there beyond exploitation and disregard. We are tearing apart sacred lands to make concrete and stone washed jeans. We are building resorts, and refusing to give native people the time they ask for in sacred places like devils Tower. Whether its for recreation, entertainment or to collect building materials, the Americans in the film don't seem to care about anything but their own profit.

Land that holds cultural, spiritual, and physical significance is destroyed all the time. So, what makes this film unique? The voices of the Native people and the details the relay, about the way the land fits into their cultural and spiritual practices is told in a compelling, emotional way. These are things rarely captured on film, let alone explored by Americans at large. It would be difficult for many people to see this film and not be effected by it's message.



"DayDreamz" -- Native Way




Land, space, labor and culture are capitalized upon whenever convenient or profitable, this is such an underlying principle of U.S. culture, and is so normalized it often goes unnoticed. But "In the Light of Reverence" implies that there might be another way of doing things. It is a really good documentary because it brings attention to the affects of these problems and the people who are working to do something about them. Everyone should be aware of destructive actions that are taking place and the affects that infringe upon the ability for people to live their lives in the way that they need to. This is so important. "In the Light of Reverence" inspired me to want to do something about these problems.

"In the Light of Reverence" runs on PBS' POV series on August 14, 2001.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close