Through the eyes of Lower Elwha Klallam elders
Robert Lundahl's film on ecosystem restoration on Washington State's Elwha River
At BC SPACE Gallery,235 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651949-497-1880
Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 2:00 p.m.
Round table discussion follows until 5:00 p.m.
BC SPACE is pleased and proud to present the screening of the feature-length documentary Unconquering the Last Frontier, the first film to address the topic of dam removal and ecosystem restoration on Washington State's Elwha River. Filmmaker Robert Lundahl made the film over a period of eight years and will be present.
The screening will be held in support of Southern California creeks, rivers and riparian ecosystems, including San Mateo Creek (Trestles), and Aliso Creek, along with habitat preservation efforts located on the land previously occupied by the former El Toro Marine Base in Orange County. Regional environmental leaders and local Native Acjachemen representatives will be on hand for the discussion which follows the film.Unconquering the Last Frontier describes how the Lower Elwha Dam was constructed illegally in 1908; how dam management practices contributed to the river's decline, and how events on the river were paralleled by the systematic political, economic, and cultural suppression of the native people. The story is told through the eyes of Lower Elwha Klallam tribe elders, Beatrice Charles and Adeline Smith, along with tribal members, Rachel Kowalski-Hagaman, Joe Luce, and former Tribal Chairman, Russ Hepfer. Acclaimed Native American actor Gary Farmer narrated the film. Bay Area composer Tony Saunders created its score."Unconquering the Last Frontier tells of the aggressive industrial development of Washington's Olympic Peninsula at the expense of the native people, who had lived along the river since time immemorial," says Lundahl. The triumvirate of hydro power, mills and logging stripped the Olympic Peninsula of its magnificent forests and its legendary salmon. The activities of the corporations left the native people, as well the descendants of the area's European-American settlers, often without jobs and without hope.
In 1976, the tribe, along with 14 environmental groups, intervened in the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) process to stop the relicensing of one of the river's two dams. The tribe wanted the dams removed and the Elwha River watershed ecosystem restored. Such restoration was mandated by Congress in 1992 and is slowly moving forward. In February 2000, the federal government purchased the dams, the first step toward their physical removal, now anticipated to begin in 2012."The film tells of the Klallam Nation's struggle to recover their culture and traditional livelihoods in the shadow of hydro power development. At the same time, the story can be seen as a cautionary tale, as the companies that once developed and dominated the Pacific Northwest have since moved on to Pennsylvania, to the American South, to Canada, Alaska, Malaysia, Thailand, South America and Russia, and now China and other locations, where they have continued the same practices at the expense of the global environment and indigenous peoples of those regions. The film also calls into question an Americanized notion of "Progress," which assumes that ecosystem resources are expendable in the process of capital and technological expansion and resource extraction. Now in the era of global climate change, we find out they are not."
Admission is free, but seating is limited so reservations are encouraged. For additional information and rsvp, please contact BC Space Gallery, 235 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, (949) 497-1880 or c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Lundahl's still photography work On The Road To Little America will also be on display in the gallery for the screening.
More information about Unconquering the Last Frontier is available at: http://www.unconquering.org/.