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The Pine Ride Indian Reservation in South Dakota is home of the Lakota Sioux and has been called “ground zero” for Native American Issues.

The grim statistics on reservations like Pine Ridge today are the equivalent to that of a 3rd world country, revealing the legacy of colonization and treaty violations. Unemployment on the Reservation fluctuates between 80-90%. Many are homeless, and those with homes are packed into rotting buildings with up to 5 families. More than 90% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. The life expectancy for men is 47 years old — roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.

Photojournalist Aaron Huey has spent the last six years uncovering the story of this relatively undocumented social injustice. We’re honored to have Huey attend this year’s festival as a special guest.

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Thanks for reading our blog series. To read from the beginning, go here. We want to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to everyone who has supported us, most notably our families, our friends in Telluride, and the folks at Mountainfilm who provided the inspiration to undertake our journey and a forum to share our experience.

We really appreciate you reading our blog posts these past months. Some were long, some were short, some were pretty good, and some were probably a little less interesting than you might have hoped. We conveyed our experience here in Ghana as best we knew how, but sometimes, words just don’t suffice. So for this week’s blog post, please enjoy a selection of photos from our trip. No reading involved!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A new uranium mining boom is threatening further harm to the people, water, wildlands and biodiversity of the Grand Canyon region.

The Obama administration is considering a plan that would protect up to 1 million acres of the Grand Canyon’s watersheds from new uranium mining. But only one of the alternatives they’re considering — Alternative B — affords protections across the entire 1 million acre watershed.

Power in the Pristine filmmaker James Q Martin, part of Rios Libres, put together this PSA, narrated by Craig Childs, to bring people to action.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/22855650]

Martin reminds us that May 4th is the last day the government will be accepting public comments, so take action by visiting www.ProtectGrandCanyon.org today.

The Denver Art Museum is hosting Streets of Afghanistan this Thursday, April 28, in an effort to connect communities and cultures in a country that has endured nearly four decades of conflict. The exhibit is a life-size exhibition that recreates the streets of Kabul and the rural roads of Afghanistan, including stunning portraits of the people who live there.

Proceeds from the exhibition, created by Mountain2Mountain (M2M), a Colorado-based nonprofit, will support programs including girls’ education, efforts to help imprisoned women and children and support for the Afghan youth movement. We are honored to welcome Shannon Galpin, the founder of M2M, as a special guest to the Mountainfilm Festival this year.

When: April 28, 2011

Where: Denver Art Museum — 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway

Earlier this month, over 10,000 climate activists convereged on Washington D.C. for Powershift 2011, national youth climate summit.

Bill McKibben and Tim DeChristopher were both on hand with powerful speeches.

You can catch both McKibben and DeChristopher as special guests at this year’s festival.

Congratulations to artist Antrim Caskey who was recently announced as a winner of the 43rd Annual Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for her work ‘Dragline,’ a photographic expose of mountaintop removal coal mining.

“The winners this year reflect the interests of Robert Kennedy, particularly in justice and the plight of the downtrodden,” said RFK Journalism Committee Chair Margaret Engel. “From the creative use of cartooning to illustrate solutions to poverty, to the persistence of a reporter continuing to cover America’s prisoners in Cuba, the journalists brought originality and passion to their work. From obvious places of misery, including Haiti and Afghanistan, to the still-sensitive issue of campus rapes and their unseen collateral damage, the winning journalists put their talents to use on behalf of people endangered by violence and destruction.”

The Green World Campaign is making it easy to make a difference. Last week they launched a year-long initiative called “ReGreen the World,” in which the organization is working to “plant trees in environmentally damaged areas, creating sustainable villages, restoring indigenous ecologies, and mitigating our climate crisis.”

How to plant 5 trees on your cell phone:

  1. Enter the number 85944
  2. Text the word TREE as the message (not case-sensitive)
  3. Send the message
  4. You’ll receive a free response message asking you to confirm your $5 donation
  5. Type ‘Yes’

This is a one-time donation. You may choose to do this up to 5 more times.

To inspire more people the take part, the images from Earth Day made their way onto the American Eagle screen in Times Square.

What could we do as global citizens if we really put our minds–and hearts–to it? The answer: Just about anything. Marc Barasch

You can also take part in the iniatiative by donating on the Green World Campaign website. To further engage people, there is an interactive section that allows donors to track how many trees have been planted.

I AM ANGRY. I AM OUTRAGED. And I am in love with this beautiful, blue planet we call home.

This story in the Gulf of Mexico is not a new story. Living in the American West, I understand the oil and gas industry, both its political power in a state like Wyoming and its lack of regard for the safety of workers. Broken necks and backs are commonplace injuries. So are lost fingers. Occasional blowouts occur on land as well, resulting in fatalities. Production is paramount at the expense of almost everything else.

And I have seen the environmental degradation that is left in the wake of collusion between government agencies and oil companies. Federal regulations are relaxed or ignored, putting the integrity of our public lands at risk. Ecological health is sacrificed for financial gain. This sense of entitlement among oil companies is supported by the U.S. Congress. It has direct results on the ground: burning slag pools; ozone warnings; contaminated water wells flushed with benzene; and loss of habitat for sage grouse, prairie dogs, and pronghorn antelope. The scars on the fragile desert of southeastern Utah, from endless road cuts to the sheared oil patches themselves, will take decades to heal. These are self-inflicted wounds made by a lethal economic system running in overdrive.

After months of watching the news coverage on the blowout and subsequent oil spill, I had to see for myself what I felt from afar: this catastrophic moment belongs to all of us.

2011 special guest Terry Tempest Williams, “The Gulf Between Us,” November/December 2010 Orion 

Orion has the full article on their website as well as a narrated slideshow.

Mark your calendars!

As part of Earth Week, this Thursday, April 21st, Jeb Berrier, Suzan Beraza along with a panel of special guests, will take part in a live webcast from NYC. The webcast will be an interactive Q&A about Bag It and will air at 6:15 pm PST/9:15 pm EST; you can catch it by clicking here. A great opportunity to learn more about the film and find out how to activate your own community and how to begin to legislate changes.

Learn what else the Bag It team is up to right now.

We came across Radiohead’s music video for All I Need this week. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch.

A poignant video that was made in partnership with MTV’s EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) campaign “to create a clip that raises awareness of issues of forced labor and abuse around the world.”

“It’s an interesting thing, because if you are in the West, it’s a luxury to be able to talk about the importance of human rights for everybody, but yet in the East, or the poorer countries where slave labor is going on, if you talk to certain companies, it seems that it’s much more important that they’re on some sort of economic ladder, and somehow the rights of the workers are secondary to economic growth, and that I find a very peculiar logic, and I think that’s as much about the power of the companies and the profits they’re making as it is of any moral stance. So it would be useful when the West talks about human rights, they actually consider countries where, for a lot of workers, it’s not really on the agenda yet,” Thom Yorke said in an interview with MTV when the video was released.

Modern day slavery is not a new issue at Mountainfilm; author and anti-slavery activist Ben Skinner is a regular at the festival. This year he will talk specifically about how our audience can get involved in the fight to stop modern-day slavery.

To learn more about slavery and what you can do to take action, visit Free The Slaves.

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