Spirit of the Trees
A Six-Part Educational Video Series Exploring the Link Between Trees and Forests and Native American Cultures
Spirit of the Trees DVD Cover
Official Distributor: National Film Board of Canada
Spirit of the Trees weaves together Native voices, art and music from 40 indigenous tribes and nations. Narrated by the late actor/musician Floyd Red Crow Westerman, this remarkable journey with Native People gives you insight into the traditions of their spiritual practices, foods and medicines, art and music, shelter and land management—all inseparably connected to trees, forests and Mother Earth.
Circle of Life: (Central United States)
In the Circle of Life segment, Woodland Tribes like the Yankton Sioux, Menominee and Objibwe share their perspectives on why cultural diversity and biodiversity are naturally interconnected. You will experience how through years of dedication and listening to their elders, the Menominee have created one of the most outstanding examples of sustainable forestry in the world. From Black Ash basket making to building sweat lodges, Circle of Life takes you to the lands of tribal artists, elders and land managers living sustainably with deep, healthy spiritual traditions tied to trees and forests.
People of the Cedar: (Northwest)
The tribal nations of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest consider the Cedar essential to life, equal only to the Salmon. People of the Cedar, the title of this segment, features many tribes and traditions that have evolved from community life in the forest: carving, basket making, weaving, Cedar clothing and gathering. The Yakima share their concerns and philosophy on sustainable forestry and maintaining traditional food and gathering sources.
Living Knowledge: (Northeast)
During the Living Knowledge segment, you will hear from tribal members from Mashpee Wampanoags, Nansemonds, Pequots, Mohawks and others. The first people to greet Europeans were the First Nations of the Northeast United States. These tribes were completely interdependent with the eastern forests, rivers, land and the Atlantic Ocean. Watch and hear how traditions have been preserved while embracing today's lifestyles.
Malama 'Aina: (Hawaii)
Centered entirely around the Native Hawaiian culture, the Malama 'Aina segment shares the intimate relationship Hawaiians have with the land and all living things. Included in this piece is the touching story of how the Tlingets of Alaska gave the Hawaiians three giant Sitka Spruce for a traditional outrigger canoe because they had no trees large enough left on the Islands. Hear from botanists, na kumu hula, artists, healers, navigators and others, of how the indigenous Hawaiians struggle to save their cherished land.
Continuing Traditions: (Southwest)
In Continuing Traditions, Native Americans from the Southwest and California share the spirit of the trees through the voices of their sacred drums and flutes, their looms and weavings, their medicines, stewardship of their lands and cultural interdependence. Watch a traditional drum maker show the entire process from finding the perfect tree to finishing a beautiful drum. These indigenous people have lived for thousands of years with rich traditions, all intricately tied to their natural environment.
Natural Harmony: (Southeast)
The Seminole Nation is made up of remnants of a number of Southeastern tribes and escaped slaves who fled to the Southern Florida Everglades and its virgin forests, Cypress Swamps and rivers of grass. The natural harmony they developed with the Everglades ecosystem ultimately sustained their survival, and today they thrive as the "Unconquered Seminole Nation". This segment shares the Seminole journey into the 21st century through stories, photos, traditions and current efforts to preserve cultural knowledge and natural harmony with the land.
Quote from Narrator Floyd Red Crow Westerman, “This series truly captures the spirit of the Native American People.” The late Mr. Westerman is a Dakota Sioux (Dances with Wolves, among his many credits), author and song writer, and serves as a compelling narrator throughout the series.