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Inspired by Standing Rock: Inspired by Standing Rock

Inspired by Standing Rock, a student film explores the cultural and spiritual significance of water by traveling to visit Red Lake Nation, interviewing elders and traditional people about the Sacred Lake and then traveled to the Sacred Ganges River in India.

The student filmmakers came to Red Lake and the traditional village of Ponemah from the College of St. Benedict & St. John's University. Their mission is to foster awareness surrounding social justice issues through the creation of annual documentaries. They call themselves Extending the Link. (ETL)

"Because Water is one of the four elements - the first round of Creation - we want to show everyone why the problems surrounding pipelines and water access/ownership is much more than an issue of resource distribution, and we must respect our water as it is a source of spiritual life as well," said co-producer Grace Lundquist.

ETL's motto is "Think Globally, Act Locally," and therefore each film focuses on an issue at an international and domestic level with the goal of tying the story back into how it affects local communities in Minnesota.

This year, their 11th film, Nibi Eteg focuses on the cultural significance, spiritual importance, and value of water. Below is a link to the 30 minute film "Nibi Eteg: Where the Water is" (in Ojibwemowin).

You'll hear and see Red Lake members Vickey Fineday, Spiritual Leader & Hereditary Chief Greeting Spears, Wesley Cloud, Nate Taylor, Clifford Hardy, Zac Mitteness, and the film crew's "Indian Guide," Red Lake PR Person, Michael Meuers. Also interviewed, but not seen in the film, were Al Pemberton and Pat Brown from Red Lake DNR, and Elders Frannie Miller and Elizabeth "Pug" Kingbird.

Background from Student Newspaper

When Native American groups protested the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline, members of Extending the Link (ETL) took notice.

"We saw all these native groups screaming water is life, water is spirit, you cannot be doing this to our water - and it was being completely ignored," said Grace Lindquist, a College of Saint Benedict senior chemistry major from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, who has been a member of ETL for three years.

ETL used that as inspiration for its 11th documentary, "Nibi Eteg: Where the Water Is" (Nibi eteg means where the water is in Ojibwe).

"We are sharing the stories of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and the people whose lives revolve around the Ganges River in India," Lindquist said.

Extending the Link is a nonprofit, student-run venture through CSB and SJU and the Donald J. McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship. The group has covered a wide range of topics over the years, including fair-trade coffee in Guatemala, micro-lending in Chile, child-headed households in Uganda, and Europe's only recognized Indigenous Peoples, the Sami.

The protests by Native American groups against the two pipeline projects sparked their interest in the spiritual and cultural significance of water.

"We started exploring, and we saw that idea of water (being sacred) is very present in a lot of groups. The Hindu religion, as well as many other connected religions, through a cremation process at death, you are cast into the river, and that is what carries you into the afterlife. Without that water, without that river, you don't receive moksha, or salvation," Lindquist said.

ETL members visited the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in northern Minnesota over two long weekends in October. They heard about the Medicine Wheel and the belief that all four elements - water, air, fire and earth - are connected.

"That's where the story really started to come together. They gave us our initial interviews, and kind of set the direction of where we were going," Lindquist said.

Then, six members of ETL traveled to India over semester break.


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