A few weeks ago, riders, speakers, visitors and families from Pine Ridge, Wind River, Dine/Navajo, Arapaho, Shoshone, Florida, Houston, Puerto Rico and Denver gathered for four days in Sedalia, CO. A camp was set up, riders on horseback rode in each day from the four directions and lessons were learned . . . . . as they always are when we come together in this way.
Lesson #1: We all are better when there is diversity in our camp/gatherings/communities – diverse in ages, genders, backgrounds, races, cultural and religious traditions.
Lesson #2: There is wisdom from all directions. No one owns the Sacred. Possesses the feather. The drumbeat. The horse. Indigenous wisdom is rooted in lessons from elders (and youth) from tribes, clans, traditions, religions, and cultures from all over the world. We are stronger as a human species when wisdom, traditions and culture from all directions is shared, welcomed and embraced.
Lesson #4: Iktomi (the spider), the Coyote and the Trickster are often present in camp amidst these sorts of gatherings. They usually make an appearance and often times interact with those already teetering on the edge. The dance with the Trickster is one of opportunity, but also danger.
Lesson #5: Trauma is also very often present in these sorts of camps and gatherings. Of course, it is -- given our shared history and humanity. Iktomi and coyote are drawn to those carrying the trauma most intensely and so, one need not look far to see, hear and feel the injury of the past gather around the fire.
Lesson #6: This is generational work: Alleviating poverty. Reconciliation. Indigenous wisdom. It’s complicated; the way forward riddled with mistrust, trauma, pain and complexity. It requires careful thought, intention, persistence and resilience.
Lesson #7: True reconciliation of harm done requires careful, deliberate and persistent effort. And the ability to forgive . . . . Basil Brave Heart teaches us that forgiveness is only possible by looking at the Divinity within. It's also true that efforts to help cannot be fueled by guilt, pity or a "feeling sorry for."
And so, we live in daily gratitude for those who walk and ride with us. Who travel, stay and visit with us at these sorts of gatherings. And for those who have supported this work for so many years.
This is the finale of a four-part email series reflecting on each day of the Indigenous Wisdom Summit & Four Directions Ride, which took place from July 16th-19th in Colorado. Check out our reflections from Days 1, 2, and 3 HERE and read on for more!
Rhyia JoyHeart, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho, dances the Jingle Dress Dance on the last night of the 2022 Indigenous Wisdom Summit.
When jingle dress dancer Rhyia JoyHeart stepped into our camp in her handmade regalia on the final evening of the Indigenous Wisdom Summit & Four Directions Ride, a look of admiration and awe spread across the faces of the two young Native girls seated nearby.
Rhyia, a proud Eastern Shoshone & Northern Arapaho young woman, carries herself with a power and presence that demonstrates what it means to stand tall in one’s heritage. As she entered the circle, she spoke of the history of her people and the legacy of her family: “We as Native People introduce not only ourselves and our tribe, but also our relatives, because it’s important to know who you come from and where you come from,” she stated as the silver cones of her dress rang out their gentle song into the wind.
Rhyia also shared the deeply sacred teachings surrounding the Jingle Dress Dance, a healing dance with Ojibwe origins that she began to study after suffering a family loss. Before dancing the Jingle Dress Dance for Summit & Ride attendees, she expressed her desire for the dance to be healing for those present in the circle, for Indigenous communities, and for the world:
“We dance for the people.” - Rhyia JoyHeart
Hohóu and aishen to Rhyia for the knowledge, grace, and sacred dancing she brings to our circle each time she joins us!
This is part three of a four-part series reflecting on each day of the Indigenous Wisdom Summit & Four Directions Ride, which took place from July 16th-19th in Colorado. The series will conclude next week. Check out our reflections from Days 1 & 2 HERE and stay tuned for more!
Pictured: Darryl Slim speaks to our circle on Monday, July 18th at the Indigenous Wisdom Summit & Four Directions Ride.
Day 3 of the Indigenous Wisdom Summit & Four Directions Ride was marked by smooth afternoon horseback rides, cross-cultural community building, and an enlightening evening presentation by Navajo wellness educator Darryl Slim.
Darryl - a soft-spoken and deeply spiritual Diné man who is almost never found without a peaceful smile across his face, two neat braids running down his back and a floral hairband that honors the traditional dress of Navajo women - entered our camp carrying an aura of gentleness that was immediately palpable. As teachings around mindfulness stemming from the traditional upbringing he received from his grandparents poured forth into our circle, one could feel the laser-focus with which each attendee was attuned to his words. He taught of the interconnectedness of plants, animals, humans, air and water and the need to tend to each element of life. Throughout the presentation, he encouraged participants to pay attention to the silent stillness “beneath the sound.".
When we tend to the elements of life, he explained, we return to wholeness and thus begin to heal. This type of mindfulness, embodied in protection songs he sang in his Diné language, helps us to “...really get to know who you are really not.” Getting to know who we are really not then opens the way for us to tune into the silent stillness all around: “The more you get to know the silent, the more you get to know yourself.” In this way, we may more fully come into who we truly are and may connect with all things, making our own unique mark on the world in harmony with all other beings. As Darryl’s grandfather taught him, “Everyone should sprout up like a flower, and have their own pollen.”
A'he'hee to Darryl for the sacred teachings he shares and the wonderful presence he brings to each Tipi Raisers event he travels to! We are immensely grateful.
Pictured: Darryl oversees the lifting of a tipi at our camp in Sedalia, CO for the Summit & Ride. Darryl is skilled in tipi construction and often leads our group as we raise tipis at various events!
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