Section VII: Reimagining and Reinventing the Wisdom Traditions—B

Track 6: The Contributions of Indigenous Wisdom
(Chris Daniels)

It has long been suspected by Whiteheadian process scholars that traditional Indigenous worldviews, ways of gaining knowledge, and understanding of the divine, could be successfully accommodated and interpreted from a process perspective, but until recently very little, if any, scholarly work has been done in this regard. It has also long been known that Indigenous peoples, as modern holders of ancient ways of knowing and relating to the natural world, have much to contribute to the development of an ecological civilization that is vital to the survival of the human race. In fact, the world’s Indigenous traditions may be the single most important resource in this regard as humans re-learn to balance the fine line between the instrumental value of the natural world and the inherent intrinsic value of all things in an inter-connected, relational universe in a way that allows for responsible use of natural resources. After all, traditional Indigenous relational ways of life throughout the world have been far more successful than has modern civilization in maintaining sustainable use of natural resources for survival, while giving proper honor and reciprocal respect to all aspects of creation.

Yet this wisdom has been largely ignored and misunderstood by the dominant modern societies that have consistently responded to Indigenous cultures with disdain at best and hegemony and oppression at worst. This conference provides a unique opportunity to respond to these attitudes and actions by allowing the Indigenous voice to speak out within a setting designed for listening to, understanding, and accepting alternative perspectives, thus allowing equal partnership dialogue concerning moving toward an ecological civilization. In turn, a Whiteheadian outlook may be just what is needed to interpret these teachings for the contemporary post-modern world in a meaningful and constructive way.

With this purpose in mind, the Indigenous Thought track hopes to provide a dynamic alternative to the usual method of conducting an academic conference track—one that may be more in keeping with both Process and Indigenous methodologies, as well as the spirit of this conference.

The Contributions of Indigenous Thought Track

The underlying attitude of this track is predicated on the conviction that it is important that the Indigenous voice be heard directly—from Indigenous scholars, and from the Elders themselves. We believe this is an important step in recognizing the invaluable contribution that Indigenous people have to offer in the dialogue concerning the move toward rebuilding a more ecologically sustaining civilization.

This track is also based on the belief that Whiteheadian process philosophers and theologians may be in a position to not only understand, but also accept and help translate for other Western scholars and leaders the worldview, epistemology, spirituality, and contributions Indigenous peoples can offer.

Rather than eight sessions with three scholars per session presenting papers and answering questions in a conventional scholarly style, this track will entail a more dynamic, dialogical approach. One of the main differences will be that all the contributors will be invited and expected to participate in all the sessions over the three days. There will be fewer presentations with more opportunity for dialogue on the session theme. More than merely an opportunity to present a scholarly paper, the track is also meant to be a brainstorming session on how the human race can move toward an ecological civilization, and how seizing the alternative of Indigenous and Whiteheadian thought can contribute to that goal. The issue discussed in each track session, broadly focused on the overall conference track theme of “Contributions of Indigenous Thought toward an Ecological Civilization,” will be dictated by the main presentations.

Track Sessions:

In summary, this track will be held from Friday to Sunday of the conference and will conducted as a “mini conference” within the context of the larger gathering. The presenters will constitute a panel which will sit for all 8 sessions, forming a “think tank” in dialogue about the themes presented. Each session in the track will present an issue or topic that promotes increased understanding of Indigenous wisdom and/or how it can contribute to creating the ecologically sustaining civilization crucial for the wellbeing of both the planet and its inhabitants. The eight sessions will be divided into three broad categories of “Understanding the Indigenous Way,”“Contributions of Indigenous Wisdom,” and “Where do we go from here.” The hope is that by the end of the conference participants and attendees will have moved from a place of better understanding of the Indigenous perspective to practical considerations in moving forward in the future toward an Ecological Civilization. All contributing panelists and attendees are invited to join in the dialogue throughout the conference.

Friday June 5

Section Plenary: 11:00am-12:30pm

Featuring: Ignacio Castuera

Session One: Friday June 5, 2:00pm-3:30pm

Theme: Indigenous Worldviews and Ways of Knowing

Track Introduction and opening.

After a brief welcome this session will begin with an Indigenous ceremony, hopefully held outdoors, to open and hold the “space” of the track in a good and meaningful way. The ceremony will be followed by an introductory presentation by track organizer Chris Daniels.

Presentation: “Process Thought and Indigenous Worldviews” by Chris Daniels

In addition to an overview of the track proceedings this presentation will focus on the parallels between Whiteheadian and Indigenous thought and why such parallels are important, particularly on how understanding the world as fundamentally relational, experiential, and in dynamic process, can contribute to a move toward an Ecological Civilization. It will also serve as an introduction to the Process Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, as well as a very general understanding of Indigenous ways of viewing the world.


Session Two: Friday June 5 4:00pm-5:30 pm

Theme: Indigenous Worldviews and Ways of Knowing

Presentation: “Indigenous Ways of Knowing and the Search for Ecological Cultures” by John Grim

Indigenous knowledge is increasingly presented in development, political and academic settings by indigenous individuals and communities as authenticating and affirming particular ways of knowing. The social and political emphases in these presentations are important dimensions of indigenous communities, but speakers typically highlight other features that deserve attention such as homelands, cultures, traditions, histories, languages, institutions, rituals, and beliefs. Indigenous spokespeople have described these themes as not only inseparable from knowledge but interwoven into the fabric, or lifeway and cosmovision, of their existence as a people.

Indigenous, thus, refers to small-scale societies around the planet who share and preserve ways of knowing the world embedded in particular languages, story-cycles, kinship systems, worldview dispositions, and integrated relationships with the land on which they live. More importantly, indigenous worldviews and cosmovision, or ways of knowing, are not primarily characterized by techniques of quantification or through experimental method. While indigenous knowledge can be labeled a scientia, or knowing, it is actually quite different than Western science and is closer to philosophia, or a love of wisdom. It is a way of thought that looks to place and the life given in place as storied principle rather than being conceptually abstract as ontology or as reductive analyses. This talk will examine these issues through consideration of selected lifeways as ecological cultures among indigenous peoples that provide ways of thinking about our global way forward.

Presentation: “The Guarani Indigenous People in Latin America in search for the “earth without evil” and process theology” by Claudio Carvalhaes

At the heart of the life of the Guarani people in Latin America, there is Yvy marã e’ỹ, the earth without evil, the land of freedom for all. This belief has been the source of resistance for the Guaranis during the 500 + years of ongoing colonization. Yvy marã e’ỹ holds the kernel of life and carries the possibilities of life interconnectedness, participatory transformation and stubborn hope for liberation. Using Process, Postcolonial and Liberation theologies, this lecture/performance will state that the struggle to preserve Yvy marã e’ỹ, the lives of the Guaranis and all indigenous people is the struggle for the possibility of our own survival.


Saturday June 5

Session Three: 11:00am-12:30pm

Theme: Re-thinking Indigeneity

This will be a joint session with Section V, Track 6 “Birthpangs of an Ecological Civilization.”

Presentation: “Indigeneity as an Alternative: A Move Toward an Ecological Civilization” by Jeannette Armstrong

I will be presenting a perspective on the idea of Indigeneity. My life work has been to revitalize the Syilx Okanagan knowledge into contemporary practice. I was fortunate to have been born into a family that maintained the Syilx Okanagan traditions, including maintaining the Nsyilxcen language as a living, spoken language. My life work has been to revitalize cultural knowledge through recovery of the Nsyilxcen language-use in application in all aspects of the social lives of our communities. The Syilx language and knowledge documentation system provided a way to navigate contemporary decision-making faced by the Syilx communities regarding land and people. I will be presenting on the Syilx societies concept of egalitarianism which is first based in the concept that diversity is vital and necessary and therefore must be a central consideration in any decision-making process to subvert imbalances of power and privilege through soliciting a knowledgeable collaborative process of reasoning for decisions. My Ph.D. research, my life work and now my Canada Research Chair is focused on the Indigenous Syilx Philosophy regarding the idea of “Indigeneity” as a social paradigm which I propose as an alternative to the dominant globalization paradigm. I propose a philosophy of Indigeneity based in a set of principles which considers the health of the land and all its local inhabitants as an ecological way-of-being rather than the racialized or politically colonized and constructed idea of “Indigenousness”. I am interested, not only for the academic view, but in how humanity might be shifted from the dangerous and destructive view entrapping us all.

Presentation: “Becoming Indigenous: Moving from a Western to Relational Worldview” by Jaki Daniels

This presentation will focus on my evolving personal experiences with what Chris Daniels, PhD has termed ‘becoming indigenous’. As a Western born and educated ‘white’ woman, the past 17 years has seen a complete re-structuring of my worldview, including the way I experience life, nature, relationships, and in particular, how I learn. One of the most striking features of this change is that I was not dissatisfied with my approach to life or looking to change it. However, due to a significant and unexpected experience with nature I was introduced to a different way to ‘be’. In this session I will be discussing the stark contrast between my previously held worldview and my current relational one. This contrast reveals where humankind has gotten off track and embraces a perspective that inherently considers ‘all our relations’. For the past decade I have been guiding others to live and experience in a similar way. I believe that if we re-engage with the earth and each other in the ways of our indigenous ancestors and current Indigenous peoples—personally and directly experiencing the interconnectedness of all life—we will come to know what will be best for all, not just for ourselves.


Session Four: 2:00pm-3:30pm

Theme: The Elders Speak

Introduction: Bill Pfeiffer and Erjen Khamaganova

Translator and Ceremonial assistant: Altantsetseg Tsedendamba of the Association of Protection of Altai Cultural Heritage

 Presentation: “Environmental Traditions in Mongolian Shamanism”, by Buyanbadrakh Erdenetsogt (with ceremonial assistant and translator Altantsetseg Tsedendamba)

The presentation will focus on ecological instructions from the ancestors and the ways of restoring and reinforcing reciprocal relations between humans and nature through ceremonies and rituals. A special focus of the presentation will be on ceremonies to ancestral spirits, spiritual owners of lands and waters (savdags and lusuud) and ceremonies connected to nature seasons and cycles.
Q & A

Presentation: “Wisdom of Places: Sacred Knowledge of the Karakol Valley, Altai Mountains” by Danil Mamyev

This presentation will discuss the importance of sacred sites as both sources of ancient wisdom and generation of new knowledge. Sacred places – areas with special geological and geophysical qualities within the single living planetary organism – matter deeply to the healing we all need for the future of life on this planet. A new ecological civilization will start not in urban centers, that are energetically and ecologically poisoned, but in these places ‘where the spiritual and physical unites’. These special places teach us to re-learn skills of living in balance and harmony with our planet and the universe.
Q & A


Session Five: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Theme: The Elders Speak

Presentation: “Salbuurun – Heritage of Ancestors” by Almaz Akunov

Salbuurun as a collective, complex hunting system is an integral part of nomadic way of life. It is a result of centuries long collaboration between people, horses, hunting birds, hunting dogs (taigans), is rooted in the ancient religion of Central Asian steppes and mountains —Tengrism (Tengrianity)—and follows the ethical code of rules and taboos regulating hunting relations. During Soviet time both the traditional spirituality and complex system of human interactions and relationships with nature have been dismissed and significantly eroded. Unwritten laws of hunting and nature protection were also lost to many. The presentation will focus on re-establishing lost relationships and efforts of eaglemen/berkutchis – the keepers and stewards of important cultural heritage — to defend ancient tradition and Kyrgyz ideas of deep connections and respectful relationships with nature, to ensure continuity, to engage and inspire young generation and strengthen the identity of Kyrgyz nomads.
Q & A

Presentation: “Traditional ‘Manas’ recital” by Kamil Mamadaliev

Kamil will recite an episode of his choice from the Manas Epic, the great, centuries-old epic poem of the warrior Manas, chronicling the story of the Kyrgyz people. Recitals often last for days – or even weeks – as the rich oral history unfolds layer after layer. Tapping into the wisdom of the spirits, Manaschi recite, in an animated, trance-like state, an epic which is thought to be twenty times longer than Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey combined. The Manas is seen by many Kyrgyzstanis as a codified instruction of how to live and endure in times of uncertainty and rapid change. Kamil will take all of us on a journey to the invisible world of ancestors and ancient heroes, reminding us about the importance of maintaining balance.
Q & A

End of Day Discussion:

A discussion on the themes brought forward by the Central Asian Elders and how the ideas presented earlier by Jeannette Armstrong and Jaki Danels on re-indigenization and Indigeneity as a social paradigm relate to the Central Asian experience.

Sunday June 7

Session Six: 11:00am-12:30pm

Theme: The Elders Speak

Presentation: “Living in Two Worlds: Traditional Diné (Navaho Indian) and the Dominate Society” by Danny Blackgoat, traditional Diné of the Big Mountain region

The traditional world of the Native Americans is evolving, and has evolved, into the present. They have assimilated the dominant society’s norms and values, and continue to acculturate away from their ancestral ways. This is the perspective of a Diné Navaho Indian. This presentation will discuss colonialism, extraction of mineral resources, loss of language/traditions/history, and eventually—identity. I hope this does not come to pass.

Presentation: “What it means to be human from the perspective of a Native American Elder” by Fred “Coyote” Downey – Kenneste/Maidu/Huchme from Round Valley, California – Ceremonial Elder.

Coyote will be presenting his simple, earth-based message of how to be a human being – those values that don’t ever go out of fashion and that need to be incorporated into today’s society.


Session Seven: 2:00pm-3:30pm

Theme: Past and Present?

Presentation: “” by Julia Bogany and Mark Acuna. Tongva Elders and tribal council members

Presentation: “Re-enacting the Womb Time/Space: Sweat lodge of traditional Magoist Korea in Gyodong, Ganghwa Islands, visited during 2014 Mago Pilgrimage” by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang

Prompted by the experience of 2014 Mago Pilgrimage to Korea (Oct. 7-20), which was participated by a culturally mixed group of pilgrims from the U.S., Australia, and Korea, this essay focuses on the sweat lodge called hanjeung-mak (chamber of chill and steam) located on a gentle ravine in Gyodong, Ganghwa Islands. Known as a traditional healing facility for women locals used until 1970s, it proves to be one of the Magoist (read gynocentric) socio-cultural-ritualistic inventions of traditional Korea. This essay provides; my first-person narrative, as director of the pilgrimage, of what it felt like to experience the womb-symbolizing architect built in nature; research on how it was controlled by the Neo-Confucian government and used by the queens of court authority in the fifteenth century; an insight that it aims to re-enact the ancient mandate of Magoists, re-turn to the origin of Mago (the Great Goddess)—wholeness is achieved through re-enacting the Womb Time/Space of the Great Goddess; its homeopathic effectiveness by the sonic harmony produced by the community of users; and an open search of cross-cultural parallels with native peoples of the Americas.


Session Eight: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Theme: Where do we go from here?

Presentation: “Remembering and Practicing Indigenous Culture” by Bill Pfeiffer

The people of Earth (the land!) must unite or perish. Indigenous culture is arguably the only long term, successful culture on the planet. Therefore an adoption—what is actually a remembering– of the key cultural ingredients of our Native ancestors can provide the necessary platform for a planetary, yet bio-regional “local” culture. To rephrase; re-inhabiting the landscape, both inner and outer, may be the most exciting endeavor we humans can undertake. However, and emphatically, I believe this is not only a philosophical endeavor but a highly experiential one based in the heart. It takes courage to overcome the sometimes overwhelming amnesia born from centuries of oppression by the dominant paradigm. My presentation will draw on my experience working with both Native and non-Native peoples in the Americas and Siberia. I will outline the key cultural ingredients mentioned above which can be seen as best practices for social and ecological “thrival.”

Panel Discussion theme: “What have we learned and where do we go from here”

Panel Conclusion: Final Thoughts and Whiteheadian response

Possible Closing Ceremony


Presenter Biographies and Contact

Chris Daniels

Having spent most of his adult life as an audio engineer and producer in the music business, Chris earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Calgary in 1996 in Religious Studies and Applied Ethics, a joint degree in Religious Studies and Philosophy. Returning to school in 2006 Chris did his Masters and PhD work at the University of Calgary, specializing in religious diversity and Process Philosophy. His Ph.D dissertation, titled “All My Relations: A Process-Indigenous Study in Comparative Ontology,” investigates the close parallels between Whiteheadian Process metaphysics and the relational worldviews and ways-of-knowing of Indigenous peoples. He still does some work in the music business but is primarily a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary, teaching courses in Philosophy of Religion, Indigenous Worldviews, and soon (hopefully) Process Philosophy.


John Grim

John Grim is currently a Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Scholar at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale Divinity School, and the Department of Religious Studies. He is Co-ordinator of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale with Mary Evelyn Tucker.  They are the series editors of the 10 volume collection on “World Religions and Ecology,” from Harvard Divinity School’s Center for the Study of World Religions. In that series he edited Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: the Interbeing of Cosmology and Community (Harvard, 2001). He has been a Professor of Religion at Bucknell University, and at Sarah Lawrence College where he taught courses in Native American and Indigenous religions, World Religions, and Religion and Ecology. His published works include: The Shaman: Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians (University of Oklahoma Press, 1983) and two edited volumes with Mary Evelyn Tucker entitled Worldviews and Ecology (Orbis, 1994, 5th printing 2000), and Ecology and Religion (Island Press, 2014).  He has also edited with Tucker a Daedalus volume (2001) entitled, “Religion and Ecology: Can the Climate Change?” They are currently finishing a biography of Thomas Berry (Columbia University Press, forthcoming), as well as an edited volume Living Cosmology: Christian Responses to Journey of the Universe (Orbis, forthcoming).  John is also President of the American Teilhard Association.


Jeannette Armstrong

Jeannette Armstrong is Syilx Okanagan, a fluent speaker of Nsyilxcn and a traditional knowledge keeper of the Okanagan Nation and a founder of En’owkin, the Syilx knowledge revitalization institution of higher learning.  She currently holds the Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy at UBC Okanagan.   She has a Ph.D. in Environmental Ethics and Syilx Indigenous Literatures. She is the recipient of the EcoTrust Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership. She is an author and Indigenous activist whose published works include literary titles and academic writing on a wide variety of Indigenous issues.  She currently serves on Canada’s Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.  


Cláudio Carvalhaes

Cláudio Carvalhaes, a theologian and artist, was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, where he also earned his degree from the Independent Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He was ordained by the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil and served two different Presbyterian congregations in São Paulo. He studied ecumenism in Switzerland at the World Council of Churches and received his M.A. in theology and literature from Methodist University’s Ecumenical Institute of the Graduate School of Religion in São Paulo under the guidance of Dr. Jaci C. Maraschin. His doctoral studies were conducted at Union Theological Seminary under the guidance of Drs. Janet R. Walton and Delores Williams. Cláudio currently teaches at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.He has published articles, in English, Spanish and Portuguese, on the relation between globalization, immigration, multiculturalism and postcolonial theologies/liturgies, worship, arts, and the Christian faith. Carvalhaes is the author of three books in Portuguese, and one in English: “Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality” (Wipf@Stock, 2013). His upcoming books are:  “What Worship has to do with it? Interpreting Life, Church and the World Liturgically” (Cascade Books, 2015) and “Liturgy in Postcolonial Perspectives – Only One is Holy, Editor, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan: Postcolonialism and Religions Series, 2015).


Jaki Daniels

Jaki Daniels has been a Natural Healing Arts Practitioner in Calgary, Canada for 27 years. She is also an author, a teacher, and a community leader. She is one of the founding members of the recently formed Kaheeyu Mountain Institute, a collegial network of educators and practitioners whose motto is “Bridging the worlds of ancient and modern, art and science, energy and matter.” She has written two books: Heeding the Call: A Personal Journey to the Sacred, and The Medicine Path: A return to the healing ways of our indigenous ancestors. Her specialty is in bringing forward the ancient ways of living and healing, and guiding others to experience life from a relational worldview. In 2004 Jaki was ordained as a minister in The Circle of the Sacred Earth. She serves her community as a Spiritual Elder and hosts a variety of ceremonies throughout the year.


Helen Hye-Sook Hwang

Helen Hye-Sook Hwang teaches, writes, and organizes around the globe for Magoism (Goddess Feminism). Hwang earned an MA and a PhD degree in Women’s Studies in Religion (Claremont Graduate University, California), and enrolled her second MA degree in East Asian Studies at UCLA. Her ongoing research concerning Mago, the Great Goddess, has led her, among others, to create and direct the online journal Return to Mago: Magoism the Way of WE in S/HE [], Mago Academy, and Mago Circle. She leads a Mago Pilgrimage to Korea annually and gives lectures internationally. Hwang advocates peace and connection of all beings as WE through the Primordial Knowing, the consciousness of Mago (the Great Goddess).


Bill Pfeiffer

Bill Pfeiffer is the founder of Sacred Earth Network which implemented leading edge visions for almost 20 years. In that time, Bill made Russia a “second home” having traveled there 42 times – giving him a rare cross-cultural perspective. The Sacred Earth Network had a two pronged mission: 1) assist Soviet–and soon thereafter, post-Soviet — nature defenders to enter more powerfully into the emerging global environmental movement and 2) promote the philosophy and practice of deep ecology. This led to The Sacred Earth Network’s Indigenous People’s Exchange between Native American and Native Siberian elders. He also led dozens of spiritual ecology workshops in the U.S. He has 25 years of experience in Re-evaluation Counseling and Vipassana meditation, and has undergone extensive training with Siberian shamans as well as with Joanna Macy and John Perkins. He has also spent much time in the US Southwest learning about Native medicine ways and the crucial importance of the petroglyphs and pictographs. His new book, Wild Earth, Wild Soul: A Manual for an Ecstatic Culture has been met with high acclaim.



Central Asia Elders and Representatives

Erjen Khamaganova (organizer/interpreter)

Born in the Buryat Republic, Russian Federation to Khongoodor clan from her mother’s side and Sagaan clan from her father’s, Erjen Khamaganova was raised in a yurt and schooled in Mongolia, Russia, Germany and the US to become a specialist on environmental and cultural heritage, with experience in academia, government service, international institutions, and cultural work at the community level. Her work with elders and youth in the Baikal and Altai regions has involved the arts, music, ecology and shamanic traditions. She is currently a Program Officer for Central Asia and Turkey of The Christensen Fund.


Altantsetseg Tsedendamba (organizer/interpreter, ceremonial assistant)

Altansetseg is from the Association of Protection of Altai Cultural Heritage. In addition to being a translator/interpreter she is both a ceremonialist and an assistant to Buyanbadrakh Erdenetsogt

Danil Mamyev

Danil Mamyev is an Altaian elder of Todosh clan, from the Altai Republic, Russian Federation. He is the founder and the current Chair of the NGO “Tengri—School of Soul Ecology” incorporated in 1995. The mission of the organization is the protection and development of sacred lands, and the creation of conditions for management of these lands by indigenous people of Altai on the basis of their traditional knowledge and values system. Tengri initiated the creation of the Karakol Ethno-Natural Park “Uch Enmek” in 2001 to protect the sacred valley of Karakol. Danil Mamyev is the current Director of this Park.

Buyanbadrakh Erdenetsogt

Buyanbadrakh Erdenetsogt is a leading shaman of the Mongolian Shamanism Center and the Head of the Association of Protection of Altai Cultural Heritage. He belongs to Olkhonuud- Medeebayan clan. He became a shaman at the age of 17. Since 2003, Buyanbadrakh has been working on revitalization of native culture and traditional knowledge. He has traveled through all 21 provinces of Mongolia conducting ceremonies on sacred places to restore relationships, re-generate biocultural knowledge and renew the energy of protector spirits. He is the conductor of the national Great Fire Ceremony, the Sun Ceremony, Mountain Spirits Ceremony and the Great Tengeri (Father Sky) Ceremony. In December of 2012 Buyanbadrakh organized an event, “Transcendental Art of Throat Singing”, where Mongolian shamans and throat singers collectively offered a brilliant account of values of relationships within the “golden triangle”—human, nature and culture. In 2011, he produced an anthology of invocations to the 99 Tengries (skies). Buyanbadrakh has participated in a number of international gatherings and convenings promoting the values of nomadic culture, translating the language of Tengri and nature to modern audiences through the help of guardian spirits and ceremonies.

Almaz Akunov

Almaz Akunov is a traditional Eagle Hunter and Head of Salbuurun Association in the Issyk-Kul Province of Kyrgyzstan. He is a fearless steward of the traditional art of raising and training hunting birds and a holistic system of traditional Kyrgyz hunting—Salbuurun. He is native of Ton district of Issyk-Kul region, belongs to a famous lineage of eagle hunters. Almaz is an artist and a herder, berkutchi (eagleman) and an archer. In 2006 he has founded an Eaglemen Association Salbuurun focused on revival and revitalization of traditional complex hunting system of Kyrgyz people, as a living model of co-evolution and collaboration between humans, hunting birds, hunting dogs and horses on landscapes of the Northern and Inner Tien Shan.

Kamil Mamadaliev

Kamil Mamadaliev is a prominent Manaschi (reciter of Manas epics) of modern Kyrgyzstan. He is from Kang-Burgo village, in the Talas district. Kamil discovered his gift for storytelling at the early age of seven. He began reciting excerpts from the epic Manas while playing and helping his family with grazing their livestock. This profound understanding and love for Kyrgyz oral tradition was a gift to him from his grandfather, who was a storyteller and sanzhyrachy (keeper of a lineage).  At the age of 12 Kamil was initiated as a Manaschi. Since then, he began to recite Manas for the public. Presently he works for the National Cultural Complex Manas Ordo in Talas. 


North American Elders and Representatives

Fred “Coyote” Downey Kenneste/Maidu/Huchme from Round Valley, California

Fred (Coyote) is a founding member of the The Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth which is composed of grassroots spiritual leaders from Indian nations throughout North America. Structured in the ancestral way, the Circle is open to all traditional Indian people. It serves as a living repository of indigenous wisdom and values. Its focus is exclusively on perpetuating traditional cultural and spiritual values. Coyote’s work in his home state of California is primarily as a ceremonial Elder, but as an educator and lecturer it is international in scope.

Via Eric Noyes of The American Indian Institute:

Danny Blackgoat

Danny Blackgoat is the son of the late Benny and Roberta Blackgoat of Big Mountain, Arizona. He is a Living Arrow People of the Bitterwater traditional clan system of the T’aa Diné (Navaho Indian) and born for the Manygoats. After attending boarding schools on the Navaho reservation until eighth grade, and then public school until graduating in the early 70’s, he graduated from Northern Arizona University in the Spring of 1976 with a Bachelor of Science, a degree in Physical Education. Danny worked for the Flagstaff Unified School District from 1977-81 before attending University of Arizona for his graduate work in Political Science 1981-82.  He worked another year with FUSD as a Native American student academic advisor before working with the Big Mountain Legal Defense/Offense Committee as a translator, guide and sheepherder. Since then he has worked as a Dine Bizaad doo Bi’i’ool’i/Navaho Language and Culture teacher, taught Navaho Language at Navajo Community College, and has been an educator up until his retirement in 2012. Currently Danny assists Diné elders/relatives in his home community of West Big Mountain in northern Arizona as well as consulting and travelling to give lectures and presentations to youth in schools, colleges and universities.  He continues to work with Native American communities throughout the USA.


Julia Bogany

Julia is a Gabrieleño/Tongva Elder and a member of the San Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians in the San Gabriel Valley. She is the band’s Cultural Affairs Consultant. Julia is a member of the California Indian Basket Weavers Association and serves on several committees and organizations including Chaffy College Equity Council, Pomona Human Relations Board, Riverside School District as their Native American Consultant, and the California Indian Education Association. She is also president of her own consulting firm “Residential Motivators.” Julia has years of training in child development, Indian child welfare, and Native American studies. She has worked for over 20 years working with her community and tribe assisting the Gabrieleño/Tongva with grants and events. She, along with others such as Mark Acuna, is actively part of the program to revitalize the Tongva language.


Mark Acuna

Mark Acuna is a council member of the Tongva tribe of Southern California. Mark works tirelessly for federal recognition of the tribe, keeping their traditions alive, and re-constructing the Tongva language since the last native speaker died in the 1970’s.

maskThis course meets the qualifications for the CEU hours listed below for LCSWs, MFTs, LPCs, &/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. The Center for Creative Transformation is a registered CEU provider (PCE 1095) with the BBS. [Approval for Clinical Psychologist CE units is being sought but has not been granted as yet.] Please click here to go to the CEU Registration Page.