Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pathway 3: Food and Ecology

Winona LaDuke
Our third pathway through the Origins Festival is themed around food and ecology - and the start point for that just has to be Winona LaDuke's Lecture on Monday 15th June.  Winona is the founder of the Honour The Earth project, which she runs from the White Earth reservation in Minnesota.  She combines a deep understanding of her Native culture with an impassioned engagement in contemporary issues, that has led her twice to stand for the Vice-Presidency of the United States, running alongside Green candidate Ralph Nader.  Honour the Earth states:  "We are committed to the understanding that Indigenous peoples are key in the work to address climate change and energy justice -- from our teachings and wisdom of thousands of years living within our cultural practices, to our strategic position in terms of renewable energy and retaining agro-biodiversity in a time of climate change. Our work is in restoring these knowledge systems and practices, strengthening consciousness, and creating the durable energy and food economies for Native America. "  The rare opportunity to hear this inspirational speaker in London really is unmissable.  We are also screening a film about her life: Thunderbird Woman.

Another inspiring Native American woman is Chef Lois Ellen Frank, who joins us with Chef Walter Whitewater to create an amazing Native American Gourmet Lunch.  It promises to be totally delicious, way outside our usual London food experiences, and imbued with the traditional food knowledge and ecological beliefs of First Nations people.  After the lunch, Lois will be talking with Graham Harvey about Food and Spirituality.
Voladores de Papantla
Also ecological in inspiration is the spectacular ceremony of the Voladores de Papantla.  An ancient Totonac ritual, associated with regeneration and natural cycles, it is particularly appropriate that it is performed in London at the summer solstice.  Their ceremony at Horniman's Pleasance is followed by another Meso-American performance about regeneration: the Mayan Grupo Sotz'il present Oxlajuj B'aqtun.  At the 2012 winter solstice, the Mayan calendar moved into a new era: in this shamanic play, the meaning of this cosmic change is explored in terms of our relationship to the Earth, to the animals, and to our common humanity.

Oxlajuj B'aqtun
If all this leaves you in need of some personal re-balancing, why not try a little Ayahuasca, courtesy of José Navarro?  The Amazonian halluconegenic may be a bit tricky to find in London, but José's solo performance for an audience of one is about the closest you can get!  Book your slot for a five-minute encounter with this masterful piece of puppetry.  

The environment is central to indigenous Australian culture too.  The Tracks exhibition at the Rebecca Hossack gallery features some remarkable paintings, made in response to the spiritual idea of "Country"; while Charlie's Country, screening at Hackney Picturehouse, makes a powerful case for a re-connection to the land and to traditional ways of finding and preparing food - the mass-produced food of the white world is poisoning Charlie's people.

Two other films finish off this particular pathway: from opposite ends of the earth, they each deal with the relationship between indigenous people and the natural world.  From New Zealand, the classic Whale Rider sees a Māori girl form a powerful bond with the great sea mammal - and from the Canadian Arctic, Uvanga offers a rare glimpse into the life of the Inuit, and their close ties to land and sea.

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