“Managing Groundwater with the Paiute” Alan Bacock, Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley's Water Program Coordinator, testing water levels.

Running Ditches and Slowing Water: Paiute People Adapt Traditions to Modern-Day Gardens

A constant battle over water, including a major leak in a pipe owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, inspired the Big Pine Paiute Tribe to revisit the irrigation traditions of their ancestors and connect them to modern solutions.

Joseph Miller, a member of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe, describes how a plot of land has been transformed into a park, community garden, farmers market and an irrigation demonstration project. Working with the natural contour lines of the land, they have run ditches and made a berm to help water flow slowly into a water retention swell. Miller says they have applied the three S’s of water from permaculture rules: spread it, slow it and sink it. This process has improved the soil health on the plot and has made it possible to nurture plants as large as fruit trees, creatures as small as earthworms and fungi, and organisms as microscopic as beneficial bacteria.

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Holistic Healing with the Syuxtun Collective

Since the 20th century, Western medicine has focused on treating a patient’s symptoms, not the underlying cause. Today, scientists and doctors are realizing that we should be wary of a health system that relies on direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising and are embracing alternative, preventive whole body options, which start with a healthy mind, body, and spirit. These are concepts Indigenous peoples have practiced for thousands of years, by using medicinal plant knowledge that informed much our pharmacopeia. 

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Rethinking The Coast with the Ti'at Society

Climate change and urban development have significantly altered ocean conditions and our ability to access the coast, making it more and more difficult for the Tongva tribe to carry on their long-held seafaring traditions. Today, members of the Tongva, Chumash and Acjachemen are rebuilding their connection with the ocean and the Channel Islands by rebuilding a Ti’at, a traditional Tongva canoe.

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Restoring The River with the Yurok, Hupa and Karuk

For the past two centuries, California has relied heavily on the natural resources of the North Coast region, exploiting its pristine watersheds for agriculture and its forests for timber. But today, the environmental costs of timber extraction and damming have reached a tipping point. Now the Yurok are working with local and state organizations to revitalize the forests, rivers and wildlife, a comprehensive feat requiring collaboration among community leaders up and down the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. This episode features interviews with:

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Managing Groundwater with the Paiute

In the wake of the recent drought, scientists and politicians are beginning to understand that reserving and maintaining groundwater is essential for addressing the state’s water needs. California’s Native peoples have lived with drought cycles for millennia and today, the Paiute are shepherding conversations around access to water resources, raising key questions about how our snowpack, streams and aquifers are used and maintained.

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