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’Nido de Lenguas’ Documentary Captures the Dying Yumano Culture’s Legacy

Michelle Marie Robles Wallace -
go to original
November 2, 2017

Watch a portion of POLEN's "Nido de Lenguas" (KCET)

The Yumanos, an indigenous group that once spanned Baja and Alta California, as well as parts of Arizona, remember that they have always lived along the Colorado River, even as political borders divided them and environmental conservation has threatened their way of life. The Kiliwas, Pai Pai and Cucapá are three Yumano tribes who still live in Baja California, although their languages are nearing extinction and their tribal numbers are in decline.

To save what little remains, POLEN, the Tijuana-based collaborative art duo, worked with Institute of Cultural Investigations of the Autonomous University of Baja California and with members of Baja California Yumano tribes to create a documentary based on their myths, geographically symbolic locations, dreams and beliefs around death.

POLEN created their documentary, Nido de Lenguas (Nest of Languages), by working extensively and intimately with three Yumano tribes: Kiliwas, Pai Pai and Cucapá. Though Adriana Trujillo and José Inerzia directed and produced Nido de Lenguas, the success of their documentary came from their collaboration with the Yumanos. Trujillo and Inerzia wanted to “reverse the tradition of classic anthropology,” and they established close relationships with the Yumanos to create their documentary by “working from the recreation of [the Yumano’s] myths, fears and magics…[and] integrating actions from the moment of the [Yumano] themselves and their imagined reality.” In their collaboration, POLEN filmed and directed as various tribal members spoke with them, told them tales and helped to recreate the scenes, myths, fears and dreams that appear in the documentary. The result of this four-year-long effort is a haunting, non-linear film that layers myths and culture on the desert landscape.

“The idea of extinction is something that intrigues us; we are eyewitnesses to constant death. With Nido de Lenguas, we intended to make a picture of the geo-symbolic Yumano universe and their principle myths related to the land, the memory and their fears. They have already died, and we are the witnesses of their death. We have excluded them for centuries, what is their territory, the land. In it, we wander and their myths and reams will linger there forever. There is no better way to portray them than through the ephemeral, the intangible,” said Trujillo.

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