SF de Young Museum exhibit explores indigenous views on climate change

ByDan Ashley and Tim Didion KGO logo
Saturday, October 7, 2023
de Young Museum exhibit explores indigenous views on climate change
The new "Contemporary Indigenous Voices of California's South Coast Range" exhibit at the de Young Museum explores indigenous views on climate change.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The faces and voices filling the theater as part of a new exhibit at San Francisco's deYoung Museum are members of native communities indigenous to California. Their unique perspective and urgent warnings about climate change are captured in both moving pictures and still portraits by photographer Kirti Bassendine.

"They believe that the climate change is a depletion of Mother Earth and its resources. And they are the stewards of this land, you know, so I think that's a really important message when we talk about climate change," Bassendine said.

MORE: Bay Area's indigenous community builds a better future by reconnecting with their past

The exhibit is called "Contemporary Indigenous Voices of California's South Coast Range." Bassendine hopes the subjects will translate their wisdom to a wider audience.

"I think, you know, the era we're living with the technology and the fast pace that we live in, it's very easy to forget about our connection as human beings," she said.

We first met one of the subjects, Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez, during a report in the fire ravaged Santa Cruz mountains. That's where Chairman Lopez and other members of the Amah Mutsun where sharing native knowledge about ceremonial burns, and managing healthier forests.

RELATED: Indigenous peoples use ceremonial burns as Redwood forest management tool in Santa Cruz mountains

When it comes to Bay Area forest management, The Sempervirens Fund and Amah Mutsun Tribal Band are looking at traditional Indigenous practices.

"Our history does not start with the missions, or people who were here for thousands of years. And our people and our ancestors were scientists and they have a lot of very significant knowledge for all people to learn from. And we need to work together to restore that," said Lopez.

Other indigenous tribal members share that wisdom as well.

They are voices with echoes of an ancient past carrying messages in the age of climate change that could have a profound effect on our future.

MORE: Spotlight on Indigenous spoken word artist, musician and scholar Lyla June

"It is spiritual, says Bassendine. It's a spiritual thing, you know, and it's origin. It's an urgent message that we have to work together."

The "Contemporary Indigenous Voices of California's South Coast Range" exhibits opens the first weekend in October at the de Young. Admission is free.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live