Interview: Costa Boutsikaris, Co-Director of “Inhabitants”

A photo of filmmaker Costa Boutsikaris next to the cover for the documentary Inhabitants.

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You may have read about how land managed by Indigenous peoples see the highest levels of biodiversity, but what exactly does Indigenous land management look like? A new documentary by Costa Boutsikaris and Anna Palmer wants to show audiences exactly that.

Slated for release later this year, Inhabitants tells the stories of five Native American Tribes as they work to restore their traditional land management practices. From deserts in the Southwest to the plains of Montana and the shores of Hawaii, the documentary explores some of the ways that Native people live more sustainably while also increasing resilience in the face of the climate emergency.

Prescribed burns in Northern California can make communities less vulnerable to wildfires. Corn planted deep in the soil of Arizona can make the crop more drought-tolerant. Food forests in Hawaii provide sustenance while removing carbon from the atmosphere and increasing biodiversity.

I recently spoke with co-director and cinematographer Costa Boutsikaris about Inhabitants, and I was absolutely fascinated with these time-tested ways of living in harmony with the environment. We talked about the making of the film, some of the ways tribes are restoring ancestral practices, and how others can learn from Native peoples without commodifying their wisdom.

“Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective,” a film by Costa Boutsikaris and Anna Palmer

The official cover for Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective.

About the creator

Headshot of Inhabitants co-director Costa Boutsikaris.

Costa Boutsikaris is a documentary filmmaker from the Hudson Valley in New York and the co-director and cinematographer of the new documentary “Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective.” The documentary tells the story of five Native American Tribes as they work to restore their traditional land management practices. “Inhabitants” premiered at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, DC in March 2021 and is currently showing at various film festivals across the country. The documentary will be available for on-demand viewing this fall.

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