CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter Screening: Saging the World
September 8 @ 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
“Saging The World” a film by Rose Ramirez, Deborah Small and CNPS
With documentarians: Rose Ramirez and Deborah Small
This film is the focal point of a campaign to deter the global rush on white sage (Salvia apiana), driven by widespread cultural appropriation of smudging. The documentary runs 20 minutes. Immediately following the screening, advocates from the film will be available to answer questions.
“For decades California’s first people have been fighting the pseudo-Native use of white sage,” said one of the film’s producers, Rose Ramirez (Chumash and Yaqui descent). “With the explosion of articles and how-to videos by non-Native people, on social media and the Internet, the demand has increased to an alarming degree.” Sage bundles can be found everywhere–at grocery stores, online retailers, specialty shops, and outdoor markets. The practice of saging–burning dried sage leaves to “purify” or “cleanse” the air has gone mainstream and become a common sight in movies, reality shows, and yoga classes. Yet, the appropriated use of saging in popular culture is having the opposite effect, harming both Indigenous communities and the sacred plant.
The white sage commonly used in commercially sold smudge sticks is a California native plant, and often contains sage poached from the wild. Today, white sage is vanishing from its only home in Southern California and northern Baja California to fuel international demand for this viral trend. The California Native Plant Society is working with a community of Indigenous advocates and allies to stop the rampant poaching, foster understanding, and inspire action for white sage.
“White sage has already lost habitat to development in Baja and Southern California,” says CNPS Director of Conservation Nick Jensen. “In addition, we’re seeing a key species getting decimated by poaching in many areas where it is still abundant. As a result, all the creatures that depend on white sage are going to suffer as well.”
Saging the World was created by Rose Ramirez (artist, photographer, filmmaker, writer, and California Indian Basket weaver of Chumash and Yaqui descent) and Deborah Small (artist, photographer, writer, and professor emerita in the School of Arts at CSUSM) in partnership with the California Native Plant Society. “We hope the film and the campaign will inspire people to boycott wildcrafted sage products, grow their own native plants, and rethink their relationship with white sage and plants more broadly,” said CNPS Director of Education & Engagement David Bryant.
Regional Native communities have tended relationships with the plant for thousands of generations and have long fought for the protection and recognition of white sage. “We all recognize it when we see it–cultural appropriation” said Gerald Clarke (Cahuilla). “I think various cultural traditions are taken–and I think that’s the key word taken. Taken, but there’s nothing given back.”
Craig Torres (Tongva) says, “Plants are not just ‘cultural resources.’ Plants are our relatives. They’re to be treated with reciprocal respect.”
To learn more about Saging the World, please visit www.cnps.org/sagingtheworld
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