Turtle Lodge, the institution of learning on the Sagkeeng First Nation lands in what is today Manitoba, is summoning all would-be volunteers for the May 24–27 Wisdom Keepers gathering for a meeting to be held Sunday April 29, 2 p.m.
From May 24 through 27, 2012, Elder Dave Courchene (Nii Gaani Aki Inini, Leading Earth Man), Anishnaabe Nation Eagle Clan, invites elders, Bundle carriers, oral historians and the keepers of traditional knowledge to gather at Turtle Lodge to share their knowledge at the Gathering of the Wisdom Keepers of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.
The lodge is seeking those interested in volunteering for the four-day event, which will include a pow wow, daily sunrise ceremonies, the original instructions on how to live a good life, a recitation of creation stories, teachings on the sacredness of life from the grandmothers and vision quest teachings from the grandfathers, among many other activities and instruction. The original understanding of the treaties will be explored, and the Great Binding Law of the Creator, or Ogitchi Tibakonegaywin, will be taught.
The gathering is being held in a sacred place, on the land, as the lodge says in its convocation, in a forum that honors traditional ways and protocols. Carrying their pipes, bundles and sacred songs and stories, “Elders will be able to share their wisdom to help all of the people as we return to ceremony to seek spiritual help and guidance,” the lodge says on its website. “The circle will call on the Grandmothers and their teachings. Youth will be encouraged to share and to take their place in the circle to learn about our way of life.”
Courchene is holding the event to help people “lay a foundation that supports the New Life that our elders tell us is arriving,” he said in a press release. “I am issuing a call for a gathering to the Keepers of our traditional knowledge, the Healers, and Leaders of our ceremonies, who represent the Spiritual Leaders of our Nation. I call upon their help to gather and issue a collective statement of our concern as to what is happening in our world today, and bring a message that can help define a direction that can help everyone find a way to support this New Life that is arriving.”
Courchene, the 2012 winner of the Indspire Award for Heritage & Spirituality, has spoken to Indian Country Today Media Network before about the new age. He is not referring to an impending apocalypse, but to a change that he says is already under way. The Eighth Fire has been lit, he says, as foreseen by the elders, and a new age is already evolving.
“As the First Peoples of this land we were given Original Instructions of how we should live and behave, and we have managed to fulfill these instructions. In prophecy it was said that a time would arrive when these Original Instructions as they were given were to be shared with all Peoples that would arrive upon our Land,” he said in his statement. “I believe that time is now. We are challenged to find a path that can support this New Life. Nature is giving birth, and as she is giving birth to this New Life, she will bring many changes.
The changes, he says, “will help humankind to realize the importance of living a life of values that supports and respects all life. The message that can be developed from the Wisdom Keepers of our Nations can help define a foundation that will help support a new world based on the importance of being anchored to Spirit, and that defines a close and sacred relationship to the Land.”