Advanced Laboratory for Visual Anthropology

Stolen Paradise

2018 / 28 minutes / Directed by Jesse Dizard

The stark landscape of the Eastern Sierras, Mono Lake, and Owens Dry Lake illustrate the consequences of efforts in the early 20th century to move water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles. Emphasis is on the results of 100 years of water transfers from this region averaging 5-7 inches of rain per annum, and the abiding sense of loss felt by the Paiute-Shoshone people whose ancestors first settled what is now the Owens Valley. Viewers are introduced to locals with unique insight into the grass roots impacts of decisions taken far, far away.

Los Angeles could not be what it is today without imported water. In 1913 the LA Aqueduct was completed, and water was diverted south from the Owens Valley via more than 200 miles of canals and pipelines.

Over one hundred years later, California Indians and other residents from the Owens Valley speak about how the impacts of that diversion continue to reverberate throughout the region. Their voices deserve to finally be heard.

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