|HOT SPRINGS, South
Dakota: In An effort on the part of 13 women from around the globe
to renew the rituals and ceremonies of past generations has become a
major happening and has touch numerous lives.
These things were evident in Hot Springs last week as the 5th
International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers was held
at the Mueller Civic Center.
More than 250 people, from all walks of
life and from throughout the world, congregated in the Black Hills
for the council n titled “We are again One People” - to pray for
peace and for all cultures to live together in harmony.
“The 13 Grandmothers met for the first time in the fall of 2004,”
said Sandy Emerson, who said she is from the bay area of California.
“They feel that will the way that the indigenous cultures are
threatened in the world, that there needed to be a forum to preserve
the traditional healing ways; that the ancient ways needed to be
passed on to the following generations.”
The Grandmothers’ Council convenes every six months since its first
meeting in upstate New York in the fall of 2004. “There were 13
women who answered the vision call,” said Emerson. “The number has
just stayed at 13 since then.”
Spring of 2005 found the group at the home of Mazatec Grandmother
Juliet Saimiro in Mexico and last year’s spring council was held in
Dharamsala, India, which is the exiled home of Tibetan Grandmother
Tsering Dolma Gyaltong.
“At the council in India, the Grandmothers were granted a private
audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” said Emerson.
This spring the Grandmothers are being hosted by two of their own,
Rita and Beatrice Long-Visitor Holy Dance from Pine Ridge.
The council began on Wednesday with prayers and a day spent honoring
the elders. Thursday honored medicine people with a special prayer
ceremony remembering and honoring the veterans. Beatrice
Long-Visitor Holy Dance recalled the loss of her son, who had been
in the service, on his return home due to an auto accident.
Following closing ceremonies on Friday, the council was to carry the
sacred fire, which was part of the opening ceremony, to the Sundance
grounds for a traditional Sundance, which concluded the council.
This fall the Grandmothers Council will visit the Bioneers
Conference this fall in San Rafael, Calif. Bioneers Web site
states,”is a forum for connecting the environment, health, social
justice, and spirit within a broad progressive framework.”
After the Bioneers Conference, the next scheduled council is at the
home of Grandmother Bernadette Rebienot in Gabor, Africa next June.
One man attending this year’s council said he was in India during
the 2006 meeting, but did not participate. “I was aware of it
through friends,” he said. “I am a sage, which means that I practice
many theologies and spiritual faiths.” He said he had done so for
the past 45 years and had become familiar with the rituals and
endeavors of the Native American Church.
While many of the council’s attendees are over the age of 50, a
large number of people under the age of 35 were in attendance as
well, including a young man from British Columbia.
“I am very concerned about the situation in which we find
ourselves,” the young man said. “I feel that important changes are
needed globally; that there is much knowledge that is soon to be
gone, unless we find a way to pass it on.”
He said he sees the council as an opportunity to be around a variety
of people who see similar truths.
“I feel that much of the heritage is being ignored,” he said, citing
that land that is considered sacred to the Native American people is
endangered with uranium mining. “This is my first time in the Black
Hills; I have heard about it but never visited. I see many things
that once they are gone, they’ll never be seen again.”
Emerson said she was unsure whether she would make the trip to
Africa for next spring’s council, but that she was very glad she had
made the trip to this year’s event.
“This is such a multi-cultural event,” she said over lunch on
Thursday, with the fragrant aroma of the food of many nations in the
“The Grandmothers are right when they said, ‘Each of us is a
different jewel; and all of the jewels are in the same basket.’ That
really is true, don’t you think?”