Meeting Tribal Elders

Sedona Arizona, January 25-28, 2008

A sporadic dispatch from Ralph Abraham on February 05, 2008


Long ago I met Andrew Bailey in London. He stayed in Santa Cruz for a time during the Hip days of the 1960s, and we met again in the 1990s in East Hampton NY when I first began consulting at the Ross School. We kept in touch over the years and almost met here and there. Eventually he divorced, left the Hamptons for points West, and met up with Connie Baxter Marlowe. I think it was about four years ago that they decided to include a short interview with me in a documentary they were working on, and we met a few times to record interviews. The film --- IN SEARCH OF THE FUTURE. What do the Wise Ones Know? --- featured elders of various indigenous tribes. My role, I supposed, was to represent the views of the lost tribe of Hippies. Last summer an early draft of the complete film was shown at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, CA. Some of the tribal elders attended but I was unable to go. So when they planned a further gathering of elders in January I decided to attend.

Friday, January 25

I flew to Phoenix where I was to meet some of the group upon arrival at the "Sky Harbor". Even if I had not seen photos I could not miss John Renesch (like me, a non-indigenous elder), Woody Vaspra (Native Hawaiian, founder/president of the World Council of Elders), and Chief Sonne Reyna (of the Yaqui-Carrizo Nations). After rendezvous and introductory hugs we found Nicoloa Gradon, our ride to Sedona. Two hours later we arrived at the INNstitute, where at dinner we met the entire cast, including of course our hosts, Connie Baxter Marlow and Andrew Cameron Bailey, and also Sakina Blue Star (Sioux, Choctaw-Cherokee and Scottish heritage), Mona Polacca (International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers), Wachan Bajiyoperak and wife and daughter (Incas from Cuzco, Peru),  and some Sedona regulars who dropped by, such as Suzy Chaffee, the 1968 Olympic skier from Rutland, Vermont, and cofounder of the Native Voices Foundation, and Adam Yellowbird.

Saturday, January 26

This whole day was devoted to a public event, opened with a dance and ritual by the Inca family. Each elder gave a brief exhortation, then the audience participated in a talking circle. The day closed with a performance of tribal chants with Adam Yellowbird, Chief Sonne, and Woody Vaspra. Revolutionary socializing filled the evening and into the night, with me and John Renesch boggled by a plethora of native stories, myths, alternative histories, and so on. This crowd has a lot of fun and warm hugs.

Sunday, January 27

Breakfast and the whole day we continued the subtext of the public event: our own private gathering of elders. In addition to more stories, myths, tribal lore, and so on, we learned of various efforts to unify indigenous peoples all over the globe, send native teams to the Olympics, recover native lands, etc.

Monday, January 28

I flew home. Most memorable, for me was the revelation of the global integrative movement involving the World Council of Elders, the International Sundance Movement, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, and the Eagle-Condor Project. The tribal elders are fully functional with the internet, and are rapidly evolving an intentional global society. Besides grokking the global system comprising biosphere and human population, and the primacy of love, they are given to good times, hospitality, much laughter, and of course, high wisdom.