How “Groundworks” re-stories land through creative reclamation
“Groundworks”, produced by AMPD Professor Ian Garrett with Toasterlab for Vision Maker Media, follows four California Native dance professionals as they create “Groundworks”, a dance performance on Alcatraz Island for San Francisco’s first official Indigenous People’s Day.
The one-hour documentary travels from traditional acorn gathering spots to the “Groundworks” rehearsal studio before being shared at sunrise on Alcatraz—nearly 50 years after the Indians of All Tribes occupied the island and brought attention to Native American rights. Originally initiated by contemporary dance company Dancing Earth Creations, the “Groundworks” project was designed to amplify the oft-forgotten Native presence anywhere in the Americas.
The piece weaves together four artists’ stories and contemporary ways of sharing traditional Indigenous knowledge and dissects the artists’ current relationships to the Pomo, Ohlone, Tongva, and Wappo/Onastatis territories, languages and traditions. Their efforts to “re-story” the land through creative reclamation are important facets of the Land Back movement.
“Groundworks” is available online at pbs.org until November 29, 2022. On November 18, 2022, an in-person screening will take place at the Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, California).
About the Groundworks Artists
Profiled in the documentary are Ras K’dee, Pomo, a musician with ties to multiple bands in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties; Bernadette Smith, singer and dancer from the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians; Kanyon Sayers-Roods, a multidisciplinary Ohlone artist from Indian Canyon, a sovereign Indian Nation outside of Hollister, California; and L. Frank, a Tongva-Acjachemen artist, tribal scholar, canoe builder, and language advocate.
About the Toasterlab Team
Groundworks is produced by Toronto-based production company Toasterlab, which is led by Ian Garrett (Groundworks director, producer, and writer) and Justine Garrett (Groundworks producer and writer). The Groundworks documentary production team includes co-producer and writer Tiśina Ta-till-ium Parker (Miwuk/Paiute/Kashia Pomo), editor Tia Taurere Clearsky (Ngā Puhi/Te Aupoūri Nations of Aotearoa—New Zealand), and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Don Schroeder as consulting producer. Groundworks features original music created specifically for the original performance from Ras K’dee, Esmé Olivia, and Bernadette Smith, as well as contributions from K’dee’s band Audiopharmacy.
“Throughout the development residencies, the creation of the dance performance, and the documentary, Toasterlab’s role has been to support our Indigenous collaborators and bring attention to their important work. This project has been a deep collaboration throughout the multi-year process,” says director and producer Ian Garrett. “We are delighted to partner with Vision Maker Media and APT to bring Groundworks to public television audiences.”