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Partners in Clime
(DWR Climate Blog)

July 17, 2017

Climate Conversations — Editing Process Begins
by Elissa Lynn

Now begins the hard work; reviewing and transcribing all the tape we shot (nowadays its neither film nor tape, but digital; nonetheless “tape” sounds right). We have a lengthy production period, but want to have good, concise stories about each of the Tribes we meet. The run-times (length) of the pieces restrict us from using every person’s stories. But all the raw footage, of interviews and the beautiful terrain and sacred areas we shoot, will be going to the Tribes themselves, hopefully to share with their younger generations. It’s a great gift to be able to hear, document and preserve these stories.

Rather than sit in an edit suite for hours on end, the technical crew is now able to post video clips with us producers that show time codes, which we need to write into the script so the editors can locate the sound bites we select. With a combination of multiple hosts, shoots, videographers, and producers, this will be quite the year of television work leading up to release at the Tribal Water Summit in 2018. Thankfully, DWR has some of the very best state facilities for video production!


June 1, 2017

Climate Conversations — Tubatulabal Tribe
by Elissa Lynn

The Tubatulabal people have lived in the stark, captivating foothills of Mt. Whitney for thousands of years. The name Tubatulabal means pine-nut eater. Ground using rock and stone after gathering, the pine nuts were the staple of existence, eaten with local proteins such as fish, rabbit, deer, and quail. Their ancestors found the pine nuts at a lower elevation than current tribal members; a sign of a warming climate. An extra thousand foot climb would be necessary to gather some traditional medicines.

The Tubatulabal tribe welcomes the Dept. Water Resources team in June, 2017, to share tribal ecological knowledge on climate change in California.

The habitats are also drier, and that’s saying something. The South Fork of the Kern River is already one of the driest in the state. Local rainfall is less than 10 inches per year, on average. The river, however, flows all year round, and the deep green line of trees along its banks makes it easy to locate. The Kern’s headwaters lie in the southern Sierra mountains, those with the highest elevation in California. Snowpack here is less impacted by climate change, so far, than the northern Sierra, because the southern mountains are taller, and therefore colder through the winter season.

And when it’s a good year, like 2017 has been, even local creeks that have dried up during the drought are flowing. But the Tubatulabal say this year is an exception; the trend during their lifetimes is toward drier conditions. Habitats have shifted. They can’t locate the plants in the same locations as their ancestors; saltgrass, wild onions, watercress, mud wart, mountain mint, jibson and tule.

Still, they celebrate this one good year with thanks. The yearly Bear Dance had higher attendance than recent years; dancers and families took their place this spring in a wide circular open-air wooden gathering place to sing songs of praise, blessing and healing. They are concerned about the changes in temperature and precipitation caused by man-made global warming. Cooperation is their strongest suggestion; we all need to come together to solve problems that involve all peoples. The pine-nut eaters have lived in this beautiful and complex climate for centuries, and would like to see greater recognition and mindfulness of the environment we all share.


May 31, 2017

Climate Conversations — Kickoff
by Elissa Lynn

Not decades of history, but generations. Today is the first step in a year-long effort to document tribal perspectives on climate change; what has changed, and what does tribal ecological knowledge tell all of us in California about the impacts of a warmer climate? Our hopes are that having tribal stories archived on video will provide a record for younger tribal members, and that the stories will be shared at the Tribal Water Summit in 2018 and online.

The first tribe we visit will be the Tubatulabal of Kern Co. Six hours from our office in Sacramento; it’s a part of the State I’ve never visited. My name is Elissa Lynn. I’ll be producing the videos we shoot with tribes over the next year and writing this blog. You may hear from others on our team, too. The program took time, commitment and partnership to get off the ground, and today is very exciting!

I want to hear from elders what they think about climate change; is it our (human’s) fault? What impacts has it had on their ways of life and practices? What are their suggestions for global response? Please join us on this year-long exploration as we interview tribal members, photograph lands you may never have seen, find out what tribes are doing to adapt, and produce a series of video stories about tribes living in different climate zones in California.