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One Word Sawalmem

Date & Time
Thursday, November 4, 2021, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

What is one word from your ancestral language which changed your life and which you can offer to humanity as medicine to heal our relationship with the Earth? It’s this question that One Word Sawalmem, the internationally-acclaimed short film, explores. Watch this intimate, expansive, award-winning film before hearing from directors Michael 'Pom' Preston and Natasha Deganello Giraudie. They will explore their experience in making the film, and discuss major themes within their work, including how storytelling is at the core of overcoming invisibility, how a deep relationship to nature can align with our wellbeing; and the role that decolonization played in the process of this film. This is a work—and an event—which asks the big questions and, ultimately, helps us to better live in balance with the natural world.

One word ripples outward, vibrating with healing power: Sawalmem, meaning “sacred water.” For Winnemem Wintu young man Michael “Pom” Preston, Sawalmem represents a vital vision for healing the world and for healing from the legacy of the Shasta Dam that, since the 1940s, has harmed salmon and the Sacramento River and the Winnemem Wintu people of Shasta Mountain, California. Violating state law and posing a risk to Northern California’s water supply and the Winnemem Wintu people, a Shasta Dam raise is being fast-tracked by the Trump administration. Michael’s mother, Chief Caleen Sisk, speaks out and organizes Run4Salmon, an annual 300-mile prayerful journey. Michael dances in tribal ceremonies to stay strong in this latest battle as a warrior for Sawalmem. The spiritual is political.


Session Type
Session Tags
Salmon, Climate Justice, Relationship with Land, Truth & Storytelling, Indigenous Teaching
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MICHAEL "POM" PRESTON’ STATEMENT: Sawalmem, "sacred water," is how the Winnemem Wintu tribe has always been in relationship with water. Coming from Northern California, where water is abundant, the tribe decided it was time to share this meaning of Sawalmem to help change the concept of water as "resource" to water as sacred life giver. As a member of the tribe, I decided to do my part in telling the world what my tribe is saying about water and became part of making this documentary happen.
Michael 'Pom' Preston
NATASHA DEGANELLO GIRAUDIE is a mother, filmmaker and teacher of nature practice. She directed her latest film, One Word Sawalmem, with Michael “Pom” Preston of the Winnemem Wintu tribe of Mt. Shasta. The uplifting film has won a number of awards, was selected for 40+ festivals in more than 15 countries, was screened at the Smithsonian, at several UNESCO events and is scheduled to be broadcast on PBS. When she’s not filming, Natasha is the host of Nature Practice Flow, an international online community of people committed to deepening their relationship with the Earth.
Natasha Deganello Giraudie