Post Coastal

KEEPERS OF THE MOUND

Ceremonial site, burial ground, midden, gateway, lighthouse, high ground: there are countless theories and explanations for the purpose of mounds, earthen structures built by native peoples of the United States.  Mounds hold more than just fragments of ancient life, they can teach us how ancient peoples settled, inhabited, and adapted to a rapidly evolving landscape.  For the Native American descendants of tribes that inhabited the delta, these spaces also are spiritual centers.  Hundreds of these ancient sites dot Louisiana’s coastline, and yet with rising sea levels, Louisiana is at risk of losing more and more mounds each year, and the wisdom they possess.  But cultural heritage is not a renewable resource.

Bayou Grand Caillou is one such mound at risk.  A giant mound on private property in Dulac, Louisiana, the mound at Bayou Grand Caillou is part of a rapidly changing ecosystem that is at risk of being washed away.  Today, this mound sits on property owned by several local lawyers and developers, not by the United Houma Nation or the local Dulac community.  Carla Solet, a member of the Houma and a Dulac local who lives next door to this mound, wants the mound protected from coastal land loss, but she also wants (legal) access to this sacred space.  For now, Carla and her family visit the site without permission, collecting palms to make baskets and spending time on land that holds deep meaning to their identity.  We follow the Solet family as they explore the meaning of the mounds in terms of their cultural heritage and reclaim the mound in a clandestine flag-planting ceremony.

Mounds were gathering sites for ancient peoples, a place to share knowledge and stories, and today they are a symbol for something that is in danger of being lost, both literally and figuratively, as Louisiana’s coast continues to dissolve.  As land disappears coastal communities rich in culture lose spaces and rituals, opportunities for people to come together, share and collect stories and artifacts to honor the land and its people’s history.  

KEEPERS OF THE MOUND was created with direct support from the Foundation from Louisiana and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Water/Ways program.  Directed by Katie Mathews, Camera by Justin Zweifach, Sound by Lukas Gonzales, Edit Paavo Hanninen.  Executive Producer Darcy McKinnon, Producer for LEH John Richie, for LEH Brian Boyles.

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REFUGE

Phan Plork emigrated to Buras, Louisiana, in the early 1980s to escape the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge.  He now is part of a vibrant community of over 30 families of Cambodian descent in the heart of Plaquemines Parish.  He and other Cambodian and Vietnames fishermen are active parts of their community, but struggle to be engaged in the process of coastal restoration planning, due to cultural and language barriers.  As he looks towards the possibility of needing to move his family and community, becoming a refugee twice in his life, he wonders if his personal resilience will be enough to see his family, home and livelihood through.  REFUGE premiered at the 2017 New Orleans Film Festival.

REFUGE, featuring Phan Plork and Sandy Ngyuen.

Directed and produced by Katie Mathews

Camera by Biliana Grozdanova and Alex Glustrom

Edit by James Page

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MONIQUE VERDIN: signals::doc

Antenna::Signals-docs presented in partnership with NOVAC

As part of a series of short documentaries about local artists and activists who have participated in Antenna’s Signals live magazine events, NOVAC produced this short documentary portrait of the current work of Monique Verdin, St. Bernard native, citizen of the United Houma Nation and artistic activist whose works focus on her indigenous heritage, her relationship to place, and the impacts of environmental change and pollution on southern Louisiana.

Directed by Katie Mathews and Ikeem George, Camera by Justin Zweifach, Edit by Cameron Wheeless and Ikeem George.

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