The Native Wisdom Documentary Film series

The Native Wisdom Documentary Film series


Ancient Wisdom, giving hope to a changing world

Two films celebrate the efforts of Indigenous scientists, tribal elders, and culture keepers to preserve the ecosystems where they gather First Foods and medicines. Their traditional ecological knowledge is influencing decisions by resource and wildlife managers in Oregon, and giving hope to a changing world.

The screening will be followed by a conversation with the filmmakers: 

Tim Keenan Burgess (Paiute, Shoshone) is the Multimedia Coordinator at the Native non-profit Wisdom of the Elders Inc.

Kunu Dittmer-Bearchum (Northern Cheyenne/Ho-Chunk Nation) is Wisdom’s Multimedia Producer and Filmmaking Educator.


Indigenous scientists and elders from several Oregon tribes, including the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Reservation, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz, the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, and the Coquille Indian Tribe share observations of their changing environment, natural resource issues, and the beauty of tribes’ traditional arts, music and storytelling. Their unique perspectives and knowledge is more important now than ever. 

These documentaries feature gifted tribal elders and indigenous scientists and their observations of ecosystems on their reservation and ceded lands where they hunt, fish and gather traditional First Foods and medicines. The films show how traditional ecological knowledge is now influencing decisions by natural resource managers in Oregon on wildlife and resource management, and how Oregon Tribes are leading the way for the nation in habitat and species restoration. 

Portland-based non-profit Wisdom of the Elders Inc has been collecting Native oral histories, stories on history, culture and music for 25 years. Known for their award-winning radio series, “Wisdom of the Elders Radio,” and The Northwest Indian Storytellers Festivals, Wisdom also produces documentary films. The video series “Native Wisdom,” includes programs on Alaskan Athabascan and Inupiat Tribes as well as a new pair of films entitled “The Peoples of Western Oregon” and “The Peoples of Eastern Oregon”. 

"Native American prophesy states that the day will come," explains Executive Producer Rose High Bear, "when the people of the world will turn to Native Americans and other indigenous people to learn how to care for the earth and for one another." 

The films were produced by Wisdom staff producers Tim Keenan Burgess, Kunu Bearchum, and Lawrence Johnson. 

Klamath Councilman Perry Chocktoot had this to say: 

"I had one old elder tell me one time, ‘There’s nothing without meaning.’ … And what he was trying to tell me was, if you do something, there’s going to be a reaction to it. No matter what you do. Whether it’s the pushing of wind, or the disturbance of dirt, there’s always a reaction to it. So, it made me think: how are we doing things? How are we interacting with government agencies? How are we interacting with one another? Is it going to meet our needs over time? Is it going to meet the unborn children’s needs?"

Special Admission

Free and open to the public.