Voices from the Barrens
One Take Documentary Series


Native People, Blueberries and Sovereignty

2020 / 56 minutes
Not Rated


“Voices from the Barrens, Native People, Blueberries and Sovereignty,” documents the wild blueberry harvest of the Wabanaki People from the USA and Canada. The film focuses on the Passamaquoddy tribe’s challenge to balance blueberry hand raking traditions with the economic realities of the world market, which favor mechanical harvesting. Each August, First People of the Canadian Wabanaki, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet (Wolastoqiyik) tribes, cross the US/Canada border into Maine to take part in the tradition of hand raking blueberries with their Passamaquoddy brothers and sisters. This crossing to Maine’s blueberry barrens isn’t considered “agricultural labor,” butis a part of the traditional harvest from the earth.

The panel after the Nov. 18 screening:

Donald Soctomah is an author, editor, filmmaker, and researcher and he is the historic preservation officer for the Passamaquoddy nation. He is the author of Remember Me, a book about Tomah Joseph’s influence on Franklin Delano Roosevelt; just last year he published The Canoe Maker, a book about David Moses Bridges. He has compiled three invaluable collections of Passamaquoddy research material and he was the Passamaquoddy community editor for the Dawnland Voices anthology of literature. He is the father of 11 children, grandfather of 20 grandchildren, and has one great grand-child. FOR THE FILM, Donald was our cultural and historic consultant. He is a “Voice” in the documentary’s story. He was also involved with postproduction reviews. 
Nancy Ghertner is a visual artist and filmmaker working in experimental and documentary film. Her 2011 feature documentary, After I Pick the Fruit, was screened at various film festivals and received a Documentary Achievement award at Southern Appalachian International Film Festival, as well as Honorable Mention at the International Festival for Peace, Inspiration and Equality. The film toured extensively at college, community, church and government organizational screenings. In previous related work, Nancy co-produced and was cinematographer for 330 Miles to Justice, which documented the 2003 NY Farmworker’s March from Seneca Falls to Albany. In 2019 she created a film history of the New York State Fair Labor Practices Act, which passed in 2019, giving farmworkers in NY State labor rights. Nancy is active in human rights organizations
in New York State, where she advocates for Immigrant rights, Farmworker justice, and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Voices from the Barrens was started from her research into agriculture labor across the International borders.
Cat Ashworth has been creating video artworks, documentaries, and educational programs for over twenty-five years. Recently she directed the Iroquois Creation Story (2015), a 17- minute film that combines animation and dance to tell the ancient Haudenosaunee story of how our world came to be. The Iroquois Creation Story has won several awards including Best Animation in the 2015 Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA. The film is on permanent installation at the Seneca Art and Cultural Center in Victor, NY. Cat Ashworth has an advanced degree in Ethnographic Filmmaking and studied with John Mohawk, a leading scholar, author, and spokesman for the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. She is a Professor in the School of Film and Animation, at Rochester Institute of Technology.