Seeds of our Ancestors: Native Youth Awakening to Foodways
a participatory co-creation with indigenous youth

Seeds of our Ancestors: Native Youth Awakening to Foodways is a poetic documentary created by the 2014 Youth Guardians Program over the course of the summer program and throughout the following winter and spring of 2015.

Seeds of our Ancestors grew out of the poetic explorations of Native urban youth as they struggle to overcome trauma caused by colonized/industrial foods and awaken to the healing and nourishment of native foodways from their own traditions and those of others. Learning from teachers and traditional ecological knowledge-bearers steeped in traditions as diverse as California Maidu, Yucatec Maya and Seneca, the youth root down into the cultural soils that support ancient and vital foodways traditions, including crop cultivation, acorn processing, cooking, seed-saving and simply sharing food in community.

This documentary was co-created with the young Native participants of a Native Foodways and Media Youth Internship in San Francisco, California, Turtle Island. The group’s collective process included learning the new technology of audiovisual storytelling to serve the ancestral technology of Native foodways. This co-creative journey manifests itself in interwoven voices and organic montage which explore the most pressing concerns of the young participants: cultural healing, ecological health, the history of disease caused by processed foods, and the current problems of food deserts in impoverished urban areas. Balancing these dire social and ecological issues are hope-inspiring stories as well as soundscapes that create percussive music from the sounds of harvesting corn and grinding acorns.

This is the original flyer created for the 2014 Youth Guardians program:

2014 Youth Media training flyer.jpg


Participants (in order of appearance)

all video and sound recording by participants, unless otherwise noted

Quinton Cabellon (Yokut/Filipino/Irish)

Brenda Montano (Xicana/Mexicana)

Mina Karim (Afghan-American)

Sienna Kateri Shaw (Lakota Sioux)

Silvia Solorio (Mexican-American)

Dean Vargas (Spirit Lake Sioux/Mexican)


Youth Coordinators

Valerie Perez-Ordoñez (Mexican/Salvadorean)

Monserrat Hernandez (Mexican-American)


Direction and Video training

Mateo Hinojosa (Bolivian-American Mestizo European/Quechua)


Facilitation and Production

Nícola Wagenberg (Colombian/Jewish)


Executive Production

Melissa K. Nelson (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)



  (in order of appearance)

Ysidro Ávila
(Mexican-Indigenous American/Salinan/Pueblo/Basque/European)

Diana Almendariz        (Maidu/Wintun/Hupa/Yurok/Cherokee)

Doña María Ávila Vera
(Yucatec Maya)

Isabel Hawkins

Melissa K. Nelson
(Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe)

Karissa Lewis

Kaylena Bray

Gerardo Marin
(Anahuaca Mexica)



Natalie Zimmerman

Mateo Hinojosa


Sound mixing

Jake Stillman


Media Intern

Quinton Cabellon


Traditional Water Song by Ysidro Ávila

Bodhran Drum by Colin Farish

"Pacific Waters" by James Whalen [Mejiwahn]

Acorn Symphony by James Whalen [Mejiwahn]

Tongva song by L. Frank Manriquez


IFH Painting

Tomahawk Grey Eyes and Theo


Plant Timelapses


Special Thanks

Wendy Johnson

Marilee Eckert

Carol Wahpepah

Lois Ellen Frank

Maya-Pueblo Cultural Exchange Program

Canticle Farm

Adelaja Simon

Anne and Chiara Symens-Bucher

Nafsi Ya Jamii

Wilson Riles

Wendy and David Bray

Adelaja Simon

Deezbaa O'Hare

Levana Saxon