The Journey of the Sacred Hoop across America is about to begin.
2, until July 10 of 2000, a Hoop of 100 Eagle Feathers will be carried
from Los Angeles, California to Washington, DC on a Walk dedicated to
bring healing from drug and alcohol abuse and an ending to domestic
violence in American Indian and Alaska Native communities everywhere.
But the addictions and domestic violence epidemic we live with is not
confined to Native America. All four directions or ethnicities--the
Red, the Yellow, the Black and the White--are cordially invited to make
the walk with us and to share in the conferences and other wellness
events along the way.
of 3800 miles begins with a single step. That step will be taken on
Sunday, April 2 at the Southwestern Museum in Los Angeles after an opening
ceremony and Blessing featuring wellness advocate and actor Danny Glover,
Native American Elders, and ceremonial support from local California
Indian tribes. California Governor Gray Davis has been invited to participate
at the send-off. Walkers based in California will then carry the Hoop
across the desert to Blythe, California where the caravan will be met
by their counterparts from Arizona. In the manner of a sacred relay,
the Hoop will pass through some 10 states and become the centerpiece
at eleven wellbriety conferences between Phoenix, Arizona and Washington,
The Sacred Hoop
What about the 100 Eagle Feather Hoop which is
such a powerful rallying point for this historic walk? In 1994 an Indian man had a vision. In his visionary experience,
he saw a small willow tree shed its leaves and form itself into a circle of about four feet in diameter. As the
vision continued, he saw the feathers from both Golden and Bald eagles fly through the air and arrive at the willow
hoop. One by one the feathers attached themselves to the hoop until a total of 100 feathers were fastened around
the circumference of the willow. As the days and weeks passed after his vision, he understood that he was to facilitate
the construction of such a hoop inside a sacred American Indian purification, or sweat lodge.
After speaking about his vision with elders in
order to understand its significance, word went out on the "moccasin telegraph" that eagle feathers were
needed. One by one, they began to arrive from Native peoples from around North America and even from around the
world. The visionary Hoop became a reality.
Eagle Feather Hoop is the vision and inspriation of Don Coyhis, Mohican
Nation, who was raised on the Stockbridge-Munsee Indian Reservation
in Wisconsin. Coyhis is also the Founder and President of White Bison,
Inc., an American Indian non-profit organization of Colorado Springs,
Colorado. White Bison is the hosting or facilitating organization for
the Journey of the Sacred Hoop Walk. White Bison has been facilitating
programs of sobriety, recovery and community healing and change in both
native and non native communities in the US and Canada since 1988. Coyhis
will be participating on some of the Walk.
In 1995 a gathering of indigenous elders from all
four directions took place in Janesville, Wisconsin. At an empowerment ceremony during the gathering, the elders
placed the following four gifts into the new Sacred Hoop: 1) The power of healing individuals, families, communities
and nations; 2) The power to instill hope into all who spend time in sincerity at the Hoop; 3) The power to create
unity among people and activities inspired by the Hoop; and 4) The powers to forgive the unforgivable.
Since 1995 the White Bison 100 Eagle feather Hoop
has been brought to hundreds of native and non-native communities in the US and Canada so that individuals of all
ages might pray in their own ways in the presence of the Hoop. The Hoop came to be called the Hoop of Nations as
it traveled to the many hundreds of Indian nations in North America. Wherever it goes, it carries the gifts of
Healing, Hope, Unity and Forgiveness. Now the Hoop is about to pass through hundreds of native and non native communities
as it wends its way on the Journey of the Sacred Hoop Healing Walk.
of the Sacred Hoop is like a traveling university. In addition to hosting
hoop ceremonies and feasts along the route of the Walk, eleven communities
will be sited for special educational conferences, each teaching specific
information about Recovery, Treatment, Prevention and Intervention regarding
substance abuse and domestic violence. Here is a glimpse at the conferences.
ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
with a drug and alcohol focus will introduce the Medicine Wheel and
the 12 Steps program which has been pioneered by White Bison. The Medicine
Wheel and the 12 Steps is a culturally specific approach to the 12 Steps
of Alcoholics Anonymous, rendering 12 Step work friendly and accessible
to Native people. This cognitive model of the 12 Steps is a basis of
all White Bison's recovery work and may be used by both native and non
native people in diverse areas of recovery. For an example, here is
a list of addiction
recovery programs in Washington, DC.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND PREVENTION
hard information is available on Native Americans and domestic violence.
One study indicates that in cases of severe violence Native people suffer
at a rate nearly 36 per cent higher than white families. But it is well
known among Indian people that the trauma of family violence in Indian
communities is serious and severe. One goal of the conference on domestic
violence is to present and discuss those domestic violence prevention
and intervention programs around the country which are known to be working.
This sharing of "best practices" is a grassroots way of helping
a network of domestic violence healing to grow. Talking circles will
be utilized to share the traditional ways of dealing with violence and
how harmony was traditionally maintained in the community.
conference focuses especially on native men's healing. It provides resources
so that native men may create and sustain men's healing groups in their
own communities. The fatherhood conference teaches a four part model
for Indian men which includes 1) Embarking on a new beginning; 2) Discovering
Feminine Strength; 3) Experiencing Wholeness; and 4) Generosity or Giving
Back. The conference will touch on five issues important to native men.
These are, 1) Alcoholism and other addictions; 2) Multi-generational
trauma and cultural oppression; 3) father/son relationships; 4) Spirituality;
and 5) Role modeling and service to the community.
The boarding Schools conference takes on a subject
unique to Native Americans: forced attendance at residential schools from the 1870's well into the 1960's. The
conference airs the issue of multigeneration historical trauma that affects native people even if they themselves
didn't attend a boarding school. The boarding or residential school experience in native culture is one fact directly
responsible for the high incidence of alcohol and drug abuse as well as family violence among First Nations people.
NATIVE YOUTH SUICIDE AND FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME
The conference on Native Youth Suicide and Fetal
Alcohol Syndrome will focus on two well known facts about Indian country. Both youth suicide rates and fetal alcohol
rates are far above those of the wider society. Healing youth suicide in native communities is begun by addressing
the strong feelings of worthlessness experienced by some native youth. Teaching
youth the skills of self-appraisal and conscious awareness of their own self-talk through the Medicine Wheel and
the 12 Steps learning program is one weapon against youth suicide. In the case of fetal alcohol syndrome, the Medicine
Wheel and the 12 Steps program especially for women will be shared with conference participants.
LOST CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS
Nearly every Native American raised within the
Native community has in one way or another been affected by alcoholism even if they themselves have not been a
drinker. There are behavioral qualities and characteristics which all adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) share
in common. When this well-known body of knowledge is presented in a culturally appropriate and specific way, all
of a sudden a person's personal issues around parenting, relationships, jobs and employment and many other parts
of life become understandable. The Lost Children of Alcoholics conference will share ACOA information in a culturally
HONORING THE WOMEN OF THE FOUR DIRECTIONS
A conference honoring women of the four directions--all
women--will be a multicultural meeting place to share the experience, strength, and hope of the women's struggle
across ethnicity, nationality and race. Re-asserting women's ways has been an important part of the coming-together
time and the environmental and social healing which is happening now more than ever. The Native sisters, Asian
sisters, Black sisters, White sisters and Hispanic sisters have their own cultural differences, but the power of
the sisterhood is unifying and strong and will be honored in this conference.
NATIVE LEADERSHIP--If You Lead, Be Sober
leadership includes tribal leadership but goes far beyond to include
community leadership of all kinds and leadership in nationally-based
Indian organizations. The stresses and challenges of leading in Indian
country are demanding and severe as well as rewarding, through service
to the people. But leading in Indian country will test the sobriety,
recovery and further wellness of the best of people. Wellbriety goes
beyond sobriety or the abstention from addictive substances. Wellbriety
includes self-knowledge and personal growth, especially within the framework
of native traditions and culture. Many of the conferences, and especially
the conference of Native leadership, present the Wellbriety journey
of greater sobriety and wellness.
STRENGTHENING OUR FAMILIES
conference of the Walk will take place in Washington, DC and will focus
on family healing and strength. Strengthening our Families will explore
traditional knowledge and traditional ways in the healing of first nations
families. The traditional cycle of life, including the eight stages
of human development, will be a topic of teaching, discussion and talking
circles. Knowledge of how to conduct family circle discussion nights
for youth, parents and others in the extended family will be talked
about. People will learn how to conduct the traditional native talking
circle. This last conference of the walk will be a prelude to the White
Bison 3 day Strengthening our Families conference to be held in Albuquerque,
New Mexico from September 21-24, 2000.
Come Join the Walk!
The Journey of the Sacred Hoop across America is
a gesture of Healing, Hope, Unity and Forgiveness for native peoples and for North America at large. It sends the
message "Stop the violence. Stop the Substance Abuse. Stop the harm and pain in our Nation. Let's begin by
wiping away our tears and beginning the healing process together, a commitment that must be made in unity."
participating in the Walk and its conferences will have a learning experience
and an experience of making friends and allies in the struggle towards
sobriety, recovery and wellness. The body of wellness knowledge which
is growing day by day in North American society will find a culturally
specific voice, friendly and understandable to native people.
is invited to join the Walk. Check the route and walk with us for short
or longer segments as fits your own needs and commitments. If you can't
come out to walk, consider keeping a sacred fire in your own community
and conducting a learning gathering of your own to support the Walk
and provide a resource for those at home. Undertake your own mini Walk
locally for sobriety, recovery and an end to family violence.
The Journey of the Sacred Hoop Walk is also a model
for how wellness and wellbriety can take root in other communities with specific cultural needs. The 100 Eagle
Feather Hoop provides a spiritual connecting point which is culturally appropriate to Native people and others
sympathetic with Native Ways. Other communities will have their own special symbols or sacred
elements. It is said that the longest road that we will ever walk is the 18 inches between the head and the heart.
The four gifts of the sacred Hoop, and the human bonding that will take place on the Walk helps make that connection.
Making that connection, substance abuse and domestic violence will begin to become things of the past.
It is also said that the Honor of One is the Honor
of all. And if the Honor of One is the Honor of all, then the Pain of one must also be the Pain of all. There is
no escaping it--we are all related and connected on Turtle Island, the land also called North America. Join the
Journey of the Sacred Hoop for diversity, unity, inclusion, and the healing of our communities.
We need your support of the Walk with donations of money, resources
Contact Laura Hom at White Bison, toll-free at (877) 871-1495 to make
contact and to find your place in the Walk.
E mail us at <email@example.com to communicate.
And keep watching the website at www.whitebison.org for news of the Walk and latest updates.
The TENTATIVE SCHEDULE