Manataka American Indian Council
Free Spirit Campground
Black Hills, South Dakota
June 26-29, 2008
The Spiritual Unity of Tribes is a Gathering of all people from all nations uniting spiritually through sharing and respecting each other's traditions and philosophies of life. The Gatherings are a time to share prayers, stories, and teachings from the past and present for the enlightenment and uplift humanity.
Our Focus this year is “Coming Together in Unity.” As we look around us we see so much division, wars, hatred, jealousies, and separateness. Here in Turtle Island many people have anger, resentment, and bitterness towards others. The Spiritual Unity of Tribes is a movement initiated by an Indigenous Grandmother in the late 1980’s to address some of these issues. We share the vision of the Manataka. No one at our Gatherings claim to be able to magically heal all these challenges that our world faces. What we do is come together as family, all willing to listen respectfully to each other. Some share dreams and visions. Some share hard feelings. It is all put into the Sacred Fire that is the center of our Gathering.
Our connection with Manataka is our Kola, our brother and friend, Woableza LaBatte. He has been involved with the Gathering of Eagles for many years. He told us about you sisters and brothers to the South and all the wonderful things that you continue to do there in that most Sacred place. We invite any of you that are able to journey North to the Sacred Black Hills of South Dakota to join us this summer as we make our prayers here.
The 2008 Gathering of Eagles will be held at the Free Spirit Campground. It is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, at the base of Bear Butte, outside the city of Sturgis. Bear Butte, considered a sacred mountain, has been of immense importance to Indian people of all tribes who have traveled there to conduct their ceremonies for thousands of years. The mountain is known as Mato Paha (Bear Mountain) in Lakota or Noahvose to the Cheyenne. It is a great honor for the Gathering of Eagles to be held there this year.
Gathering of Eagles staff
Wednesday, June 25 is "camp day" so that we can get settled in. The opening ceremony will be at sunrise on Thursday, June 26. The Gathering will conclude at the end of the day (dusk) on Sunday, June 29. We encourage everyone to stay over until Monday afternoon, if at all possible. It is always difficult to leave, so please allow yourself plenty of time for your goodbyes and a more leisurely departure. Each person who attends the Gathering is encouraged to share in some way, through a prayer, a story, a song, a teaching, etc. Please take some time to consider what you can offer.
Many years ago, Black Elk had a vision, a vision of peace and unity among all peoples. Though years have passed, Black Elk's vision has been pondered and cherished by many, knowing that at some time, the vision would be fulfilled. Sitting Bull also spoke of the time when there would be a gathering of the tribes. People continue to ponder these prophecies of the great leaders and to consult with the Elders regarding when and how these prophecies would be fulfilled. Many believe that time is now. For thousands of years Elders, Grandmothers, Medicine men and women on many islands of our planet have known that someday all races would be reunited and would bring healing to our Mother Earth. Indigenous peoples who have retained a spiritual way of life would teach their brothers and sisters all over the planet how to renew these ways and live in humility, having respect for all and a sense of oneness with each other and their Creator.
The first Spiritual Unity of the Tribes Gathering was held in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1989. It was called for by Grandmother Iron Eagle from the Cree Nation. The second Gathering was also held in Saskatchewan in 1990. In 1991, Grandfather Ernest Mirabal of Nambe Pueblo in New Mexico hosted the third Gathering. This was the first Spiritual Unity Gathering held in the United States. The fourth Gathering was held in the Heart of Turtle Island, the Black Hills, in 1992. The Spiritual Unity Gatherings in the Black Hills are called the "Gathering of Eagles." As of March 2008 there have been approximately 40 Spiritual Unity Gatherings held worldwide, including on the Peace weavers’ land in upstate New York State, two in Siberia, several in Alaska and ten in Australia.
Gathering of Eagles Volunteers
The Gatherings are peaceful in nature, founded upon the very principles which are imparted to all who gather together. While the Gatherings do not presume to be an answer in and of themselves, each is a prototype and hope for the future, creating a loving and unifying atmosphere as standard. The spiritual compassion, tolerance and equality that have been understood by Indigenous peoples for generations are the foundation of the Gatherings. They have the feeling of a family camp-out and lasting friendships develop among participants who come from all over the world. The Gatherings usually have from 200-300 people. We camp out for a week, build an arbor, and keep a sacred fire going in the center for four days and nights. Although the protocols are centered on Traditional Indigenous Spirituality, we respect everyone. We have had people from Lithuania, Tibet, Wales, Aztec dancers from Mexico, Bahai, Buddhist, you name it. We encourage sharing. We do not allow proselytizing.
No fee is charged. Everything at the Gathering of Eagles is free and provided by volunteers and donations. The Gatherings encourage sharing from all who attend, through a prayer, story, song, teaching, etc. Each person is important to the whole and all share around a ceremonial fire.
Elders have been the guiding influence in previous Gatherings and they have instructed that the Grandmothers should speak. The Grandmothers are asked to come forth and once again share their wisdom and knowledge of the ways, language, and philosophies they have learned for the benefit of all Nations of the Human. The Spiritual Unity of Tribes/Gathering of Eagles is an opportunity for the people of all Nations to rediscover how to live on Mother Earth and with All Our Relations. Unity is our goal. Now is the time.
Here is one comment from a Cherokee/Irish person:
I have been a junkie of these Gatherings for many years. I totally believe in the concept of the vision of the Spiritual Unity of the Tribes, plus I like the name, it means a lot. Most people think when I say that I am talking about my own tribe or the tribes that I have lived with and been associated with most of my Life. But that’s not true.
The tribe I speak of and think of is the tribe of Human Kind. We are all from tribes of one kind or another, and I truly believe Tribes are being formed all the time. Tribalness is not a blood thing; it is more a Spiritual concept. Spiritual and a common Goal, a common way of Life.
As we look around us at the state of this nation and the world in general, it is evermore apparent that we need to start taking a good hard look at this tribal way of life thing. In fact it may be past time to just look at it, we need to put the quirt to the pony and move ever faster toward living it.
I felt that going back to Naki Bito, Mexican Springs was a very positive step. It was great to see old friends and it was great to see how far we have all come down this good Red Road. I think maybe we may have touched on just how precious each one of us is to one another. And, just how important it is that we all get our butts in gear and try to exemplify the concept of Spiritual Unity.
It is an understanding that we all try to reach with one another. Both Men and Women, it is a very mutual understanding of each others roles and talents. Within that Sacred Ground that we walked upon for 4 days in a Sacred manner, we saw each other face to face, we walked side by side, we were once again together as family. What more could a person want.
I was honored to see each of you again. May your song carry on within the hearts and Souls of your Grandchildren.
Clay at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gena at email@example.com
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