climate change

Review: Keep the Fires Lit

"Keep the Fire Lit" premiere at the Fort Worth Independent Film Festival

What is the difference between a protester and a protector? That genuinely depends on one’s perspective, and what is being protected. From the perspective of the dominant narrative, the Indigenous movement is more about rowdy protesters who fail to see the good the processes they impede. The global Indigenous movement, however, sees itself as protecting the planet which has been ravaged by those who fail to see its worth without extraction, and preserve cultures that are distinctly tied with location. “Keep the Fires Lit” is a healthy look at the Indigenous population that has been fighting to protect the earth as a sacred responsibility.

The most important concept for outsiders to grasp of the argument for the Ndee tribe is recognizing that respect for the ecosystem is not the same as worship. Yes, there are some elements of worship within the religious practices–which were respectfully not named–but protecting the earth is as logical as not biting the hand that feeds people. Water is understood as the “first medicine,” which makes sense because the majority of the human body is composed of water. Therefore, the people whose cultures are linked to the earth are protecting the water quality that has regularly been devastating for one economic venture or another.

So many people in the United States are disconnected with history, but because of the original genocide, many Indigenous people are much more connected with their history than outsiders. Yes, they have cultural origins, but all tribes have interpretations of how the land’s maltreatment has created the conditions in which we currently live. Within the film, various tribes describe how the pipeline culture has affected their homelands. Instead of the mainstream media’s insistence that “they don’t understand the way economics works,” many of the people in various branches describe exactly why the history of extraction has been detrimental to different locations.

Finally, in the film many members of the Indigenous community discuss how serving the United States military has strengthened their resolve to protect their culture. Even though swearing allegiance to the United States is required, veterans are drawn to protecting not only the people but the land that protects and provides for the people. Service appears to be innate to the tribes based on collectivism long before the word “socialism” graced the lips of the general populace. In fact, military service has made those who served even more committed to protecting the earth from irreparable destruction.

Hearing about Indigenous culture from those within is a rare opportunity, especially in film, and the world can only be grateful that so many are finding their silenced voices. “Keep the Fire Lit” is helpful to those looking to hear an authentic perspective on the response to unrelenting pipeline infrastructure and leaks. Also, the film is looking for funding, despite its being produced on $2500, because films like this need to be available for viewing for the whole population, not just those who can attend film festivals.

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