Pilgrims and Tourists in the Pastures of Heaven focuses on the indigenous shamans of the Altai Republic, Russia, and Northern California’s Winnemem Wintu Tribe who find common ground in defending ancestral burial grounds and protecting their sacred places. In both countries, communities are confronting changes from modernism, recreational land use, and resource development.
Winnemem Wintu tribal members remember the exhumation of their relatives in the 1940s, to make way for the rising waters of Shasta Lake, the largest reservoir in California. They face an uncertain future and a second flood, if the US government’s plan to increase the height of Shasta Dam is approved by Congress. Dozens of sacred sites and burials would be affected by the increased water storage. Teenage girls grind herbs on a medicine rock during their coming-of-age ceremony on the banks of the McCloud River, as elders protest plans to enlarge one of the West’s biggest dams and forever submerge this touchstone of a tribe.