Update: ICTMN has received confirmation that the grandmothers themselves will not be going on this trek, more information to come.
The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers is planning to trek more than 800 miles from Oklahoma to Montana on the Trail of Tears led by Australian horse trainer Carlos Tabernaberri.
Tabernaberri was discovered by Noqah Elisi, Cherokee, after seeing a man in a vision quest who told her she was to follow the footsteps of her grandmothers. She then saw him on a DVD she found in a box of books at a garage sale, reports ABC.net.au.
“His way of working with the horse without using pain as a motivator just touched me so deeply,” she told ABC News. “Traditional Native values all talk about respect. I don’t care if you’re a full blood, a chief, if you’re wearing buckskin and covered in feathers. I don’t care who you are, if you’re not treating that animal with respect then you’re not living traditional Native values.
“I saw that balance of right relationship with Carlos—I haven’t seen that with other trainers. He is reminding us of the traditional Cherokee values.”
Elisi and Tabernaberri formed a bond and Elisi sought approval to ride under the banner of the council.
Tabernaberri’s involvement in the trek was supported by Grandmother Margaret Behan, Arapaho and Cheyenne, after she spoke with him for minutes on the phone.
“Carlos is very intuitive with the horses, he can communicate with them,” Behan told ABC News. “A horse whisperer, you know? They talk to them, can communicate and connect with them. They become very one with each other.”
Tabernaberri is honored by the invitation, and even after he told Grandmother Behan that there are many horse trainers in the United States they could use, but Grandmother Behan was clear that they want him to lead the trek.
“It is going to be an amazing spiritual journey—not only for them, but for me,” he told ABC News.
The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers formed in 2004 after the grandmothers met in Phoenicia, New York—home of the Iroquois Nation—in response to a prophecy made by their ancestors thousands of years ago. According to the video below, that prophecy says we are at a critical time in history, and that if humans don’t change their ways the consequences will be dire. It also says the thirteen grandmothers, who are from around the world, will light the way for the rest of us.