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5 Indigenous Stories to Help Us Reckon with the Past and Honor Native Peoples

A group at the Cultural Conservancy removes dried grain corn from the cob to preserve the seeds in their seed library. | Still from the "Cultivating Native Foodways with the Cultural Conservancy" episode of "Tending Nature."

As many of us prepare smaller meals and fire up our video chats for virtual celebrations, we invite you to center your Thanksgiving celebration on honoring and amplifying Native stories, seeking truth about our history, and acknowledging Indigenous presence and wisdom. Below are a few "Tending Nature" episodes and articles we recommend to help us unfold and re-establish respect and reciprocity among each other and with the world that surrounds us. 

Young Indigenous Climate Activists Fighting for Our Collective Future

Cody, Xiye, Naelyn, Ruth and Autumn. If those aren’t names you recognize just yet, read our profiles below to learn how these young climate activists are working hard to advocate for your right to water, land, renewable energy and more, to build an inclusive climate agenda for the world at large.

Green energy does not always promote the greater good. The Wiyot tribe from Humboldt County have fought for restored access to their land, including their traditional ceremonial grounds on Tululwat Island. When an energy developer proposed a large wind project on a spiritual and gathering area, the Wiyot opposed the project's greater ecological disruption and rallied the community to defeat it.
Guarding Ancestral Grounds with the Wiyot - Media Manager

How the Wiyot Guard Their Ancestral Grounds

The Wiyot tribe in Humboldt County fought a long and hard battle to regain ownership of their traditional ceremonial grounds — and won, making it the first time a municipality returned land to a Native tribe. More recently, the tribe rallied the community to oppose a massive wind project on their ancestral lands, and ultimately defeated it. Watch "Guarding Ancestral Grounds with the Wiyot."

A public perception of the desert as a “wasteland” has opened the Mojave Desert to many iterations of destruction and alteration. A collaborative group of desert tribes, concerned citizens and funders have formed the Native American Land Conservancy to acquire, preserve and protect Native American sacred lands through protective land management, educational programs and scientific study.
S3 E2: Preserving the Desert with NALC - Media Manager

‘The Desert is Our Grocery Store, Our Church’

While California’s desert is often perceived as a playground, or a wasteland, Native Peoples have long lived in the desert and understood its fragility and gifts. The Native American Land Conservancy works to acquire, preserve and protect Native American sacred lands in the Mojave Desert through protective land management, educational programs and scientific study. Watch "Preserving the Desert with the NALC."

Local food production and deep knowledge of plant diversity sustained the Yocha Dehe people of California’s Capay Valley for millennia. Spanish colonization and the Gold Rush changed this drastically but the tribe is reclaiming its land. Using olives, a fruit of Spanish colonization, the Yocha Dehe people are combining ecological knowledge with modern science to rethink agri-business.
S3 E3: Reclaiming Agriculture with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation - Media Manager

Reclaiming Fruits of Colonization

For the Yocha Dehe people, who have lived in California’s Capay Valley for more than 15,000 years, local food production and deep knowledge of plant diversity sustained them for millennia. Using olives, a fruit of Spanish colonization, the Yocha Dehe people are combining ecological knowledge with modern science to rethink community-centered agri-business using sustainability practices centered on their ecological wisdom. Watch "Reclaiming Agriculture with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation."

    Recognizing Permaculture’s Indigenous Roots

    It is important to recognize that the roots of permaculture, a term coined in the 1970s, lie firmly and deeply in the ancient, fertile, organic soil of Indigenous science of cultivating a reciprocal, regenerative relationship with the Earth, in which the human acknowledges her innate connection to Earth. Read "The Indigenous Science of Permaculture."

    Top Image: A group at the Cultural Conservancy removes dried grain corn from the cob to preserve the seeds in their seed library. | Still from the "Cultivating Native Foodways with the Cultural Conservancy" episode of "Tending Nature."​

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    Tending the Peruvian Amazon: Planting Seeds of Reciprocity Between Human and Earth

    Based in the Peruvian Amazon, Chaikuni Institute blends an Indigenous agricultural practice known as chacras integrales with agroforestry, a permaculture method from Brazil.
    Seneca white corn grown at the Cultural Conservancy. | Still from "Tending Nature" episode “Cultivating Native Foodways with the Cultural Conservancy."

    A Return to Heirloom Corn Unpacks Powerful Cultural Histories

    A growing number of seed programs is atempting to connect Indigenous communities back to traditional ecological knowledge, while encouraging healthy diets and sustainable farming practices for all.
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    Autumn Peltier: ‘Water Warrior’ for Marginalized Communities

    Autumn Peltier is passionate about granting communites acess to clean water. It's a cause she has been fighting for since she was at least 12 years old.