Indigenous Peoples Exchange - 2003 October
Good Medicine All Around
East-West Indigenous Exchange Fall 2003
“You must bring the medicine people together, to get to know each other and work together”, said members of our last Indigenous Peoples Exchange in 2001. Two years later in the Fall of 2003, we made that statement a reality by bringing together native spiritual leaders from Siberia and the U.S. The delegation was comprised of Danil Mamyev and Chagat Almashev of the Altai region and Valentin Khagdayev and Erjen Khamaganova of the Lake Baikal region. Our journeys took us through New Mexico, Arizona, Massachusetts and Vermont where we met with members of the Navajo, Hopi, Tlingit, Pawnee, Wampanoag, Abenaki and Cherokee tribes.
Chagat, Danil and Erjen
In the Southwest, our Siberian friends heard tales from native Alaska from elder Bernard DeAsis, walked in the footsteps of the ancestors in Chaco Canyon, joined hands and energies with those of Navajo petroglyphs, received Blessingways and Initiation ceremonies from a Navajo medicine man, ate and slept in a traditional Navajo hogan, visited youngsters learning the Navajo language at a communty school, spoke to over 50 Navajo students and faculty at Dine College and witnessed a traditional basket dance of the Hopis at Second Mesa. In the Northeast, they met with leaders of the Wampanoag, Abenaki and Cherokee tribes and co-led a Native American-Native Siberian ceremony for peace attended by over 70 people.
The experiences for both the native Americans and the native Siberians were incredibly deep, rich, magical, fulfilling and affirming. In the words of Danil, “As we travel together and meet our Native American brothers and sisters there is something greater happening between us, something of deep meaning, that is not immediately apparent. We may understand it at the end of the trip or it may take the rest of our lives.” The Siberians found similarities in their culture, traditions, creation myths, language and spirituality with many of the native Americans. It became more and more apparent through the exchange that we were helping to reunite long-lost family rather than introducing strangers from two opposite sides of the world.
Danil and Isleta Pueblo dancers
Navajo elder Leon Secatero who travelled to Siberia last summer on a SEN exchange (see article on page 4) was instrumental in showing the Siberians an in-depth view into the rich culture of the Navajos. Leon shared his wealth of knowledge and experience about sacred sites and their protection, native rights, petroglyphs and ancient civilizations and brought the group to several sacred sites of his people. This deep sharing continued with Gomo Martinez, a Navajo medicine man, who so generously shared his time, his ceremonies, his healing knowledge and his home with the group. Gomo’s transcendent ceremonies brought the group to a higher level of consciousness and personal power and opened the way for deeper energetic and physical connections to be made between Siberia and the U.S.
The group was warmly welcomed into the home of Hopi medicine man Augustine Mowa where important issues of native rights and spirituality were discussed. David Mowa spent time with the group out on the land and at Prophecy Rock, the sacred site where the original petroglyphs of the Hopi Prophecy are found. The Siberians were blessed with a visit to Grandfather Martin Gashweseoma, one of the oldest living Hopis who shared about Hopi life in the past and the propehecies to come.
In the Northeast, the Siberians were privileged to meet the “Indians who are still here”, those native peoples who have survived the onslaught of the dominant culture and who have managed to keep their traditions alive. Native elders came from all directions; Medicine Story (Wampanoag) from N.H., Chief Windsong, Raven, Anne Foxx (Wampanoags) and Raining Horse (Blackfoot) from Cape Cod, Nanatasis (Abenaki) and Venerable Dhyhani Ywahoo (Cherokee) from Vermont. This gathering was truly blessed by deep sharings of personal experiences, world views, stories, songs, myths, and once again finding common ground between native peoples miles apart in distance yet close in heart and mind.
The repercussions of this exchange have already spread out like waves from the center. In the words of Erjen Khamaganova,“This exchange was like a road opening in many ways. The ties between Baikal and Altai, between Native Americans and Native Siberians, and even between Navajo and Hopi are being established and strengthened.. I can now say that this [the East-West Indigenous Exchange] is a groundbreaking project. We now have a true beginning for important collaboration among indigenous peoples who live and safeguard very special areas of the Earth.”