The purpose of this important work is to create a teaching ground for youth of how to be a human being in today’s society that carries innate responsibilities directed from one’s Ancestors. This is to respect the freedom of choice we are given in this lifetime. It is to be an active participant in the continued healing of the historical trauma of family, extended relatives and one’s environment. It comes at a critical age and time in children’s lives. With the depletion of this vital rite of passage it has commonly been replace by gang initiation within many communities both urban and rural.
One of the 7 Sacred Rites is called “Coming of Age”; it was shared as a Rite from White Buffalo Calf Woman and is part of the way of life as the Buffalo People also known as Lakota/Dakota/Nakota People. This ceremony is about becoming a woman and becoming a man, to learn the responsibilities for youth health and wellbeing moving into adulthood. This transition comes at a critical time of development in a children’s lives. Some have said that with the disappearance of this vital rite of passage it has been commonly replaced by gang initiation within both urban and rural communities.
In the Summer of 2016, within Sica Hollow on Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota, USA, Indigena has partnered with Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Elders to lead young women, in the traditional White Buffalo Calf Woman Coming of Age ceremony. Sharing teachings as a continuum from past to future that is necessary to bridge both Elders’ and Youth and heal community. Intergenerational healing ceremony and knowledge transmission fosters dignity, create participatory experiences, and inspire personal and community stewardship. Through traditional food and medicinal plants young women will learn about the power of their ancestry, the significance of their womanhood, and their responsibility as women from other Grandmothers and Medicine Women.
Mentors consist of their own Mothers, Elder Women and Aunties to be part of this 4-day ceremony of life creating a strong community base. During this time they will spend time to visit, educate, share stories and life lessons they have endured about their older now wiser years they have walked. It is an opportunity for healing and connection. There will be hands on activities for the youth to make their own moccasins and a medicine wheel as teachings are shared. The moccasins being symbolic as the young women go forth with new steps in life. And the medicine wheel will accompany their path used ceremonially on their journey. Healing happens when stories are told. There will be an element of visual storytelling for the youth to document their time and all they learned.
As a result of relationships that have been strengthening over the past few years representatives from Colombia and Mexico have been invited to also participate. Community requests include Coming of Age Ceremonies for the Lacandon in Naha, Mexico (Fall 2016) and the Kogi in Gonawindua, Columbia (Spring 2017) to support intergenerational alliance building.