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Filmmaker Focuses On Values, Lessons, And Wisdom Of Grandmothers

Photo by Victoria Wicks
From left, Ana Sanz, Mary Ellen Uptain, and Susan Stark Christianson

Credit Photo by Victoria Wicks
Argentinian musician Ana Sanz finds drums to play after the Rapid City screening of the documentary The Wisdom of the Grandmothers. Sanz is traveling with filmmaker Susan Stark Christianson around the U.S. as she shows the film in various locations.

After a 25-year career, Susan Stark Christianson left a political job in Alaska state government and took off on a quest to explore the wisdom of grandmothers. Her goal was to travel from Siberia to Patagonia to find what female elders value and want to teach. From those interviews, Christianson created and published a book, and her videotaped interviews are now woven into a rough cut documentary.

Christianson is touring the United States, showing the film at various locations. SDPB's Victoria Wicks caught up with her and a couple of fellow travelers in Rapid City, when she screened the film at a nondenominational spiritual center. The voices of the grandmothers come from extended interviews found online. The song "God's Will," heard in the middle of this story, is written and performed by Sarah Hawley.

A long-standing summer gathering is planned for the Black Hills June 22-25. The Spiritual Unity of Tribes Gathering of Eagles started in 1989 in Saskatchewan, with the first one held in the Black Hills in 1992.

Mary Ellen Uptain says some of the elders featured in the documentary film The Wisdom of the Grandmothers will attend the gathering, as well as other elders and young people from around the world.

"It's an opportunity for all cultures to come together in a good way and share with one another in kind of a living-in-community setting... the way that it's always been," she says.

Uptain says the gathering site is the Borderlands Education and Retreat Center on Rochford Road, close to Deerfield Lake.

Rapid City freelancer Victoria L. Wicks has been producing news for SDPB since August 2007. She Retired from this position in March 2023.