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George Mason University

Honors College to screen feature-length documentary on Indigenous food sovereignty, Gather

October 19, 2020   /   by Sophia Chapin

On Monday, October 26 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm, the Honors College will be hosting a virtual event featuring the film, Gather, along with an introduction and concurrent Zoom chat with Dr. C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa and Dr. Gabrielle Tayac of the Department of History and Art History at Mason.

Gather poster

The just-released documentary investigates a growing movement of Native Americans hoping to reclaim their vibrant, rich identities through traditional foodways, despite facing generations of trauma inflicted on their communities by settler colonialism and genocide.

“Native Americans are rebuilding the sustainable foodways of their heritage,” said Dr. Claudia Rector of the Honors College, who is organizing the event. “The documentary highlights the growing movement among Indigenous Peoples to reclaim traditional foodways to improve health, maintain important cultural traditions, and return to environmentally sustainable food practices. Gather illustrates a relationship with food that respects all life on Earth rather than exploiting it.”

This film is important to share with the Honors College community because of the disproportionate effect climate change is currently having on Indigenous Peoples’ way of life, including access to traditional food and medicinal resources, and the continued erasure of their nations by the United States.

Gather showcases the ways in which food is intrinsically tied to cultural identity, and how the loss of traditional lands has exacerbated the cultural erasure of Indigenous nations across North America.

Honors College students, faculty, and staff who wish to view the documentary and participate in the virtual dialogue should register through Mason 360. A link and password will be shared at the start of the event to view the film directly through the participant’s device. In the concurrent Zoom chat, Drs. Genetin-Pilawa and Tayac will introduce the film and help contextualize it in the broader discussion of Indigenous sovereignty.

Dr. Genetin-Pilawa is a historian of U.S. and Native American history, with expertise in Federal Indian policy, and Dr. Tayac is an Indigenous activist-scholar with a background in Indigenous cultures of the Atlantic. She served as a curator and historian at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian for 18 years.

Dr. Rector herself has learned that caring about what is happening to Indigenous Peoples is more than just understanding the events of America’s oft ignored past. “Indigenous history is largely synonymous with—or at least very closely linked to—both the destruction of environment and the perpetuation of the most violent, brutal forms of racism in this country. At one point those seemed to me to be separate issues. […] Now, I understand that the destruction was linked, and so the restoration must be, too.”

The Gather film screening event is open for everyone in our community to come and learn more about Indigenous Peoples and their struggle to preserve their sovereignty. Read more about the film here. Register to attend the event on Mason360.