About this project
Clearwater, a new documentary from Tracy Rector and Lou Karsen, is the story of the unique relationship between tribal peoples and the waters of the Puget Sound. For nearly 15,000 years the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest have called these waters home, and have time and again had to adapt to environmental, social and political changes in order to survive. And now, faced with unprecedented environmental challenges that threaten the very chemistry of these ocean waters, they are forced to adapt again. In fact, we all are. Clearwater will explore how and why we adapt, with one eye on the past and one eye looking towards the future.
This documentary will span generations, gender, and ideology to present a contemporary portrait of an ancient people. We will document long practiced culture, cutting edge science, and the fight to protect a resource in peril. We will travel throughout the Puget Sound, capturing stunning underwater footage, animated histories, and the everyday stories of the ‘people of the clear salt water’.
Clearwater is a character-based film. Take the geoduck (pronounced gooey) for instance. It is the world’s largest burrowing clam, and digs its home beneath the waters of the Puget Sound. It is also one of the longest living organisms in the animal kingdom, the oldest on record living 168 years. The Suquamish have dug the geoduck for thousands of years, and now it not only feeds them, but also provides much needed income. Its sweet flavor and aphrodisiac shape have made it a delicacy in China where it fetches $20/lb. The Suquamish dig it, pack it and ship it overnight to Asia, for next day preparation in a dozen ways. But harvesting the prized geoduck isn't easy. Walking the seafloor to find and dig them as far as 70 feet below the surface, breathing air through a mere hose, is a dark, cold and dangerous job. Lydia Sigo, Suquamish museum archivist and lifelong fisherwoman, is one of the few geoduck divers left.
THE SCIENCE OF OCEAN ACIDIFICATION
We will dive into the Puget Sound with Lydia, and document many other Tribal community members' connection to the water: how they utilize and protect the life it brings forth. Paul Williams, a Suquamish Tribal biologist is working to address a threat greater than any that has come before: ocean acidification. NOAA's global ocean acidification measurements place the Northwest and the Puget Sound among the most acidic on earth. Shellfish are literally deteriorating. What does this all mean? How will this affect the tribal communities of the Puget Sound? How do you adapt if you lose the one thing that defines you? We will explore these questions and the impact of this issue on the culture of the people.
COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS and PARTNERS
From modern day culture bearers in the youth council, to the archaeologist turned Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman, to Coast Salish elders who recall when fishing wasn't an industry, but a way of life, everyone who lives near the water has a deep connection to it. Our film will document these stories to show the importance of this water, perhaps the oldest ocean water in the world, and the culture that it has supported for thousands of years.
WHO WE ARE/OUR WORK
Longhouse Media: Tracy Rector and Lou Karsen
Suquamish Biologist: Paul Williams
Suquamish Museum Curator/Diver: Lydia Sigo
Suquamish Elder: Betty Pasco
Muckleshoot Traditional Foods Expert: Valerie Segrest
Makah Tribal Chairman: Micah McCarty
GET INVOLVED / JOIN US
As we launch this project we invite you to join us in our journey. We humbly ask for your support with a pledge to this film.
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