Broadcast Premiere of Four-Part Film Series, “Standing on Sacred Ground,” Debuts on WORLD Channel Tonight

Sacred Land Flim

Four-part series runs until Sunday, June 7 on WORLD Channel (check local television listings)

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA —  Standing on Sacred Ground, a four-part documentary series, eight years in the making, on Indigenous struggles over sacred sites, enjoys its national broadcast premiere on the PBS WORLD Channel, Sunday, May 17 at 9:00 PM (ET) (check local listings).

The next three episodes will run weekly through June 7, 2015. In addition, public television stations nationwide will have access to the programming via the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), which has also accepted the series for broadcast distribution beginning in April 2015.  The WORLD Channel delivers the best of public television’s nonfiction, news and documentary programming to U.S. audiences through local public television stations and streaming online. WORLD reached 35 million unique viewers 18+ last year.

Standing on Sacred Ground, produced by the Sacred Land Film Project, shares stories from eight Indigenous communities around the globe resisting threats to lands they consider sacred in a growing movement to defend human rights, protect culture and restore the environment. In the series, Native people share ecological wisdom and spiritual reverence while battling government megaprojects, consumer culture, competing religions, resource extraction and climate change.

In episode one, Pilgrims and Tourists, Indigenous shamans of the Altai Republic of Russia and a northern California tribe find common ground resisting government projects: Shasta Dam and a Gazprom pipeline. In episode two, Profit and Loss, from Papua New Guinea to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, Native people fight the loss of land, water and health to mining and oil industries. In episode three, Fire and Ice, from the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia to the Andes of Peru, Indigenous communities protect their sacred lands from development, competing religions and climate change. In the final episode Islands of Sanctuary, Aboriginal Australians and Native Hawaiians reclaim land and resist the erosion of culture and environment.

“Public television viewers will now have the opportunity to access global perspectives from a chorus of Indigenous voices defending against attacks on their resources, and on the future we share,” said producer and director, Christopher “Toby” McLeod. “We are proud to partner with The WORLD Channel, NETA, Vision Maker Media and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), who are constantly striving to provide public television stations with diverse, enlightening programming for their audiences.”

The films are now available for public television stations to schedule in time for broadcasts timed around Earth Day on April 22, 2015. The WORLD Channel premiere of episode one ofStanding on Sacred Ground on May 17 coincides with Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month (May).


“We know having these films available to public television stations in May, timed with Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, will allow local stations to provide their viewers with important content that focuses on the issues facing many Native cultures in their areas,” notes Leanne K. Ferrer, Executive Director of Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC). “We also understand some stations may choose to hold some or all of the films to air in November during Native American Heritage Month.”


The film series has screened to great acclaim around the world since its release at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October 2013. It received the Best Documentary Feature Award at the Native American Film Festival 2013 and director Toby McLeod received the John de Graaf Environmental Filmmaking Award at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival 2014. The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian screened the series last year as part of the U.S. Environmental Film Festival, and the films were featured at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, last November. The films have also been screening in the Altai Republic, Moscow, Peru and Papua New Guinea.

Praise for “Standing on Sacred Ground”:

“Beautifully illuminates Indigenous peoples’ resistance to environmental devastation and their determination to protect our common future.” —Robert Redford

“Some of the finest minds on the planet are featured in this documentary—and they’re talking about the biggest problems our planet has ever faced!” —Bill McKibben

In addition to the WORLD Channel premiere in May, NETA has distributed Standing on Sacred Ground to the full public broadcasting system for April 2015. To find out more about the series, visit


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