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The Fire Within Us

An Indigenous-Led Documentary

Photo credit: Condor Visual Media



“MAATHAAW: The Fire Within Us” is an Indigenous-led research feature-length film documentary from the Condor Visual Media team that documents the cultural, emotional, and scientific relationships of Southern California Tribes with the gift of fire.

Emphasizing a reclamation of traditional ways to inform current fire management practices, this effort will bring Indigenous voices to the forefront and acknowledge their leadership in climate adaptation and resilience. This is a story that will serve as an example of the transformative efforts in advancing climate adaptation planning and actions occurring in the Southwest by highlighting the continued resilience and vibrancy of Indigenous communities and practices.

MAATHAAW is currently in production with an anticipated release in Spring 2024. Consider donating to this important film at this link:



This film covers multiple stories about Indigenous peoples from across the San Diego region and their cultural, emotional, and scientific relationships with fire.


Credit: Condor Visual Media

Dr. Stanley Rodriguez and apprentice Priscilla Ortiz share how they are working to revitalize the language within the Iipay and Tipay Kumeyaay Communities. With only a handful of fluent speakers of the Kumeyaay language and its many dialects, language immersion programs are being initiated to keep the language thriving.

Chief Wesley Ruise Jr. and Joelene Tamm's mission has been to build a fire cadre of local Tribal and non-Tribal partners to balance Indigenous, state, local, and federal practices for land management. These efforts have brought intentional fire back to the land and has guided academic and Indigenous science to learn how fire can help in the removal of invasive Gold Spotted Oak Borers.

Quinton Peck, a Tribal member from the La Jolla reservation, shares his story of addiction in the aftermath of the 2007 Poomacha fire. His story reflects on the healing power of fire when it is acknowledged as a relative and not an enemy.

The Climate Science Alliance Tribal Working Group collaborates to safeguard the lands and cultures of southern California Tribes from the threat of climate change by practicing transformational adaptation through the equal valuation of knowledges. This story focuses on the science behind current fire conditions, climate adaptation, and how knowledge systems can come together to uplift Indigenous management practices.

These stories are intertwined and connect to paint a bigger picture of how fire is healing to our communities, knowledge systems, and relationships with one another. All stories take place in the original territories of the First Peoples in the region of San Diego, California. They are powerful stories of collaboration, resilience, and hope.

This project's goal is to uplift our Tribal communities and people in the region now called San Diego and their relationship with fire. MAATHAAW is the Iipay Kumeyaay word for our soul. MAAT is the land and also our bodies. AAW is fire. Fire on the land, and fire in the heart.

Logo Design by Anthony Hurtado

Art vectorized by Diane Terry, Climate Science Alliance


The Climate Science Alliance is honored to support this important project through foundational funding and staff time. We invite those who are able to join us in supporting MAATHAAW through a donation here:

Show your support by following MAATHAAW and Condor Visual Media on social media!

Condor Visual Media:




On the Blog

Oct 20, 2023

Extended Trailer Released for “MAATHAAW: The Fire Within Us”

We are excited to share the new extended trailer for Condor Visual Media's Indigenous-led feature-length documentary "MAATHAAW: The Fire...

Nov 24, 2022

"MAATHAAW: The Fire Within Us" Trailer Release

We are SO excited to share the trailer for this Indigenous-led feature-length documentary by our partner and Affiliated Artist, Condor...

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