In the Land of My Ancestors

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Official trailer: In the Land of my Ancestors celebrates the living legacy of Ann Marie Sayers, a beloved Ohlone elder. Ohlone people are not federally recognized as indigenous nations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ann Marie used the Indian Allotment Act of 1887 to reclaim her traditional land in Indian Canyon, which is the only federally recognized Indian territory for over 300 miles from Sonoma to the coast of Santa Barbara in California.

In the Land of my Ancestors is a documentary short that celebrates the living legacy of Ann Marie Sayers, a beloved Ohlone elder. Ohlone people are not federally recognized as indigenous nations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ann Marie reclaimed her ancestral land in the Indian Canyon, which is now a sanctuary to many indigenous peoples who don’t have traditional lands for ceremonies.

“We need truth in history. It’s so important. The foundation of this country was built on the lives and death of Indians.” Ann Marie Sayers

In the Land of My Ancestors is a documentary short that celebrates the vital life work of Ohlone elder, Ann Marie Sayers, who has tirelessly preserved the stories and history of her indigenous ancestors.  Ohlone people are not federally recognized as indigenous nations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ann Marie used the Indian Allotment Act of 1887 to reclaim her ancestral land in the Indian Canyon in Hollister, CA, which had been in her family for generations. 

I am a photojournalist and a writer, whose stories explore the counter narratives, solutions and resiliency of women rising and raising their voices and stories. A few years ago, I worked on a photo essay on Ann Marie and the significance of the Indian Canyon.  As an immigrant to the US and a settler in the Bay Area, I learned how the California Missions era and the Gold Rush all but destroyed the culture of Ohlone people.  It was incredible to see how the Indian Canyon had become a healing sanctuary to so many indigenous peoples who are reclaiming their culture and spirituality. 

This moment is particularly important as Ohlone women in the San Francisco Bay Area are reclaiming their language and ancestral lands, like Corrina Gould, who is leading a women-led effort to establish the Sigorea-Te land trust. 

“Nature Deficit Disorder is very real in this society. We are absent of the sacred, outside of money.” Ann Marie Sayers

We need to raise $10,000 to wrap up the post production of the film, amplify our media distribution and host film screenings in the Bay Area.

Majority of our donors are Bay Area and California residents, who feel this film is vital for a reckoning on the genocide suffered by indigenous peoples during the Gold Rush, when there were bounties on the heads of Ohlone people. “In 1854 alone, the government spent 1.4 million – $5 a head, 50 cents a scalp for professional Indian killers,” shared Ann Marie.

As the population of Natives precipitously shrunk during the Gold Rush, the Canyon served as a safe haven for those who were able to find it after wading through a swamp.

Why This Matters

“I am living my dream to live in the same home site of my ancestors. I can feel my ancestors dancing when there is a ceremony going on.” Ann Marie Sayers

This is an important story in the context of the San Francisco Bay Area. Ohlone People are the first peoples of this land that has become one of the most coveted real estate on Earth, where there is an affordable housing crisis and erasure of stories of indigenous peoples.

Ohlone people are also on the frontlines of many bold efforts to revitalize their language, culture and spirituality. Ann Marie fought a 10 year battle to reclaim her traditional land in Hollister, CA, which she later opened up to all indigenous peoples who don’t have traditional lands for their ceremonies. 

This documentary short is an homage to her resiliency and touching generosity. In the face of a dehumanization narrative of the dominant culture, Ann Marie has devoted her life to educate youth and others on the history of Ohlone people in the San Francisco Bay Area, and their continued efforts to keep traditions alive.

“I know who I am,” says Ann Marie. “Ohlone people are still here. I do this work to honor my ancestors.”

How You Can Engage

“Today people are shortsighted. When you make a decision, think how this will affect the next seven generations. And we need our youth to start thinking this way.” Ann Marie Sayers

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Support us to amplify the story of Ann Marie Sayers!

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SCREENINGS

Screening in the community soon

>Screening at the MAH Santa Cruz – Awaswas Territory Soon

KQED will share ITLMA – August 2nd 2019

Past Screenings

Introduction and Presentation of the screening at Grace Cathedral in Yelamu

>>Saturday, May 4 at 1 PM, at the Lakeview Branch of the Oakland Public Library. Facebook Event

Kanyon Sayers-Roods, quoted: When the colonizers arrived in California, they saw lush bounty of nature. They failed to see this abundance was because of the respectful stewardship by indigenous peoples, who lived on those lands for thousands of years.