Chief Arvol Looking Horse. (photo: Getty)
26 June 15
hief Arvol Looking Horse, spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota, and North Nakota tribes of the Great Sioux Nation, facilitated the 20th annual World Peace & Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites ceremonies from June 18-21 in Ashland, Oregon. Looking Horse is revered worldwide for being the Keeper of the 19th Generation Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle. Over the four days, 1,000 participants gathered at Howard Prairie Lake to pray for world peace and healing of the earth, with thousands worldwide also lighting their “sacred fires” and joining the international prayer that focused on All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer. The international prayer has been held in different countries over the twenty years, and Looking Horse has conducted the opening prayers to many sessions of the United Nations.
Maori elders traveled from New Zealand to bless the sacred grounds while bald eagles soared overhead. International travelers from Egypt, Canada, and Japan united with local residents and renowned tribal elders, including Agnes Baker-Pilgrim from the Siletz Tribe of Oregon, Eddie Benton Banai from the Grand Medicine Lodge (Ojibwe), Rabbi David Zaslow, and Professor David West, to pray with people united worldwide during the solstice ceremony to bring about an “energy shift” of healing.
Following are Looking Horse’s serious words for these times, from his talks over the four days, along with messages from Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, Eddie Benton Benai, Rabbi Zaslow, Paula Horne, and Professor David West.
Chief Arvol Looking Horse Addresses Seriousness of Earth Changes
“As a child I didn’t have or use guns. Now today I am a spiritual leader. I am the 19th Generation Sacred White Buffalo Calf Bundle Keeper, and yet my grandma on her deathbed said, ‘If people don’t straighten up, he’ll be the last bundle keeper for the Lakota.’
“Many world leaders have blessed this World Peace and Prayer Day: twenty years ago, H.H. the Dalai Lama gave his blessing [for our first World Peace prayer ceremony]. In South Africa, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela have also blessed the prayer. That is what it will take, people who love nature and the environment. This international prayer is about the empowerment of nations to walk in beauty, because life is beautiful and sacred, and we are living with Spirit.
“On June 21st, we accomplished making history. As we came here, we heard words of the Pope talking about climate change. Scientists are now standing with First Nations on stopping tar sands extraction.
“Today we are standing together because Mother Earth is dying and is sick and has a fever. Our work doesn’t end here. We will carry on our ways for the responsibility of our children. We are faced with great challenges, because man has gone too far, and brought us to this prayer. Our grandfathers have tears in their eyes, and ask us ‘What is going on? Something strange is going on.’ My prayers in circles are focused on the water of life being affected. The signs of the white buffalo being born, along with white deer, etc., we’ve witnessed in all parts of the world, are all part of prophecy of these times.
“As years have gone by, the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman has been highlighted, as she said that white animals would be born and we’d be a voice for these animals. June 21st is the anniversary of twenty years of World Peace and Prayer Day. Twenty years ago, we started this journey when the first white buffalo was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. Almost every year since then, a white buffalo or other white animal has been born, yet soon to be killed.
“Mother Earth is going to have side effects from so much corruption, like the Tar Sands extraction. Also in Hawaii, the sacred sites are being ruined. We are going to the White House and to the United Nations to express our concerns, as our work is not done today. In the Sacred Hoop, there is no ending and no beginning. We are also working with the people of the world through the U.N.
Proclaiming the Importance of Sacred Sites
“My whole life I have been honoring sacred sites. We made a book, The Star Knowledge Book to share some of our stories, i.e., the teepee is a vortex to Great Spirit. We have come to respect the secret knowledge and language. In that sacred language, I’ve come to respect the deep responsibility we have to live in this world … to respect the energy, knowing that Mother Earth is a spirit, the Source of Life, not a resource.
“No matter where you go in the world, every culture has its own ceremonies and sacred sites. Previously we rode on horseback, walked, and ran to our sacred site, Grey Horn Butte. It is a sacred site to our people, but others call it Devil’s Tower. That language is hurting our people. We can never use that language, no foul language, as reference to our sacred site.
“I was just a young boy on the reservation in South Dakota when the elders said we need to travel back to our sacred sites. They said we needed to gather and remind people about our sacred sites. In fact, they said we need to write a book. So we went to the Seven Council Fire in Rosebud and there we chose and talked to many elders about the stories they could share. As I mentioned, we published a blue book, Star Knowledge, about the star knowledge, the universe, and the stars. I learned so much from these elders about how everything that moves has a spirit and everything has its time in this world, so I was humbled to hear the teachings: knowing how to respect life and go through all these protocols to approach, to understand it, about how to receive and give.
“We’re losing so many elders. But we had so many elders called upon who came and each spoke Lakota, and it was beautiful to hear the language. It is our way of life: the sacredness of the language. Knowing language is a crucial part, and I learned from the elders that way. The elders shared about the sacred sites and the star knowledge, and how beautiful it is to listen to their message. That which lies deep within the Source has truly inspired the life of all things, everything, we live with it in spirit that way. I was a young man and I never thought it would be my life: the voice, the spirit of our way of life, our ceremonies.
We Must Unite Now – We Are at a Crossroads
“The prophecies say someday that time will come again when all nations will stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a sacred circle. The prophecies say because we aren’t watching where we’re going, that Great Spirit will bring us back into that circle.
“From the heart of Mother Earth, we have a message that all these white animals are being born, and this message is for all the world: We must unite as all nations and one prayer.
“We are at a crossroads faced with chaos, disasters, sicknesses and viruses. There are tears in our elder’s eyes. We must unite. We are all being faced with tragedies and disasters, and volcanos are beginning to erupt worldwide. These Northwest territories are speaking to us of volcanos. Yellowstone National Park could erupt with super-volcanos anytime.
“We soon will see the 4th of July fireworks, but what about Mother Earth’s fireworks with all the volcanos of the world erupting?
“The climate is changing. If only the trees, water, and rivers could speak, they’d tell us their story. In that tree, every year is a circle. In our life, we have a cycle of life and we too are part of the growing of that tree. We have our seasonal ceremonies, so our way we are taught, we learn from every person and all the teachers who have gone before, some known and some not, some written about, some not, but we still have their voice today. I’m honored by wise words they shared and left behind. Every time we have our spirit bowl/plate we are offering to those who have gone before us.
A Blessing and a Warning
“We are networking through modern technology but our ceremonies have been saying this for a long time about the Earth and climate change. The message of the white animals being born worldwide is there’s a blessing and a warning that we, of this generation, are facing chaos, disaster, big winds, tornados, and flooding. Prayer is the answer.
“In 1995, the first white buffalo was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, and we took a message there. Today, the message is still the same, with white animals being born, not just white buffalo calves, but white animals born all over the world. The message is that Mother Earth is sick and has a fever.
“We took the message to the U.N. that mankind has taken this too far, and only through prayer will a healing come back to Mother Earth. If we don’t do this, Mother Earth will shake herself and volcanos will erupt. It is only through prayer that we can create an energy shift and make changes for the sake of our children. This message is still the same today. The Kobi also came to the U.N. too and shared their message with us. There is so much affecting the environment: the Keystone Pipeline, droughts, earthquakes, the air and water being hurt. Mother Earth is speaking to us.
How to Be Ready
“How can we be ready for what is coming in the future? It is through the people having enough faith and belief, and to calm their spirit – to believe something can change. I hope this country can stop the fracking. All our elders are saying, ‘Return to the sacred.’
“You have to have a good mind if you’re going to help the People. If not, it affects people who don’t think, then use guns. The foods we eat from Monsanto are not good.
“We are part of this global community. I hope we can create an energy shift and that even Republicans and Democrats would too have a greater understanding of what’s happening to Mother Earth at this time.
“We are here because there is something we’re being called upon to do. We know something is wrong and we don’t want to face it except to face it spiritually. We are praying to the Sacred Fire, and people all over the world are in tune with us and in prayer with us.
Looking Horse Urges All to Work for Environment
“We received news today, June 21st, that a U.N. Declaration is being taken today to the Secretary General of the U.N. calling for an establishment of an Indigenous United Nations to reflect the accumulation of thousands of years of knowledge, and for the protection of future generations. In addition, they attached a proclamation of the ‘vision of Arvol Looking Horse and his World Peace and Prayer Day’ with an emphasis ‘to exhibit concern for all life and to pray for global healing’ and to proclaim the ‘importance of caring for sacred sites.’
“It referred to Iroquois Chief Leon Shenandoah’s prophecy thirty years ago that referred to the ‘end of life when trees start dying from the treetops downward, then nothing will grow.’ It referred to spiritual consciousness being the highest form of politics. It further called on the abolishment of nuclear bombs, and further affirmed that ‘We are the spiritual energy and are 1000x stronger than nuclear energy.’ We cannot trade the welfare of our children, and must abolish nuclear threats. It also requested the Papal Bulls (Manifest Destiny) be officially rescinded.
“You too can be a peace leader and work with the environment. That fate is in you, and no more are we alone. We are a global community and faced with global challenges, but through prayer we set an agenda for the future for world peace. Life is sacred and we are part of this global community. I hope we can all create an energy shift with prayer.
“People all over the world have been in contact us through the different communications we have today. To the people who have helped us with this spiritual journey for the past twenty years, I want to say, ‘Thank you for believing, and I truly believe each and every one of you can share this with your heart.’ Cherish what Creator gave you as this Life is sacred, the fire is sacred, and the water of life is sacred. There’s so much we have to live with, and everything has a Spirit, and that Great Spirit gave us life.
“The Sacred Fire is a spirit, and the Water of Life is a spirit. In that circle, there is not one person higher than another. In the sacred hoop, all are leaders. As we started our sacred fire for the ceremony, there is no ending, no beginning. We are part of the cycle of life and we have a responsibility.
“We pray someday June 21st will be an international holiday. As we stand here, people are gathering at their sacred sites worldwide.
“We need a lot more of you in the world to pray for peace because it is not good what we are facing. In our prayers, we have dignity, honor, and respect. If we live it, our children will have it too. The elders say you are not alone in this world because you always have your ancestors, so never say you are all alone.”
Agnes Baker-Pilgrim Honored at World Peace & Prayer Day
Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, 91, is the oldest living member of the Takilma Tribe in Oregon, and a member of the Siletz Tribe. She is also the head of the 13 International Indigenous Grandmothers Council, and her family has conducted an annual Salmon ceremony on the Rogue and Applegate Rivers for close to two decades. Her daughter and son, Nadine and Keith Martin, provided a smaller version of this traditionally-cooked salmon feast for the World Peace and Prayer Day, and Agnes addressed the participants over the four days:
“It’s people like Arvol Looking Horse who help us have world peace. We all have the honor that our ancestors left us their unfinished work to take care of this planet: ozone hole, smog in the cities, trash in the oceans and rivers, GMOs, massive cutting of trees, tops of mountains being mined, global warming causing ice melts.
“All this destruction is damaging the 7th generation and the unborn yet to come. We have to do better so they can grow up and have white hair like me, and also have a world with clean water and air. We have to start with these little people, because the world and the future is theirs.
“I have been part of the Salmon Nation all my life. If you live by the streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, protect them. Don’t throw any trash in the waters.
“If I can be a voice for the voiceless at age 91, what’s your excuse? I care and I know you care what happens to the animal habitats in the water. We can’t live without the animals.
“If you have one foot in this world and one in the other like me at my age, you had better walk your talk. I hope all will give prayers for Chief Arvol Looking Horse, prayers as he carries the Sacred Pipe. You know the karma if one doesn’t carry it right, and he walks his talk.
“Creator can answer prayer. Walk your talk because prayer really works. Love one another. Take care of the children and hug the little ones a lot. Say thank you for being here for me. Because of the love of my kids and grandkids and great grandkids, I am here at the age of 91. It’s their love that is why I am sitting here. With the Maori dancing here, I wanted to dance too. Prayer works, and I’m not talking ‘church.’
“In Jefferson, Oregon, I did the ribbon-cutting for the nation’s only veterans wall memorial, dedicated specifically for Native veterans and Code talkers, finally all together. Don’t forget the biggest contingency of our U.S. forces have been Native.
“I care and speak about the salmon, the water, the condors which are the thunderbirds, getting the lead out of bullets [to prevent contamination to predators eating wildlife killed by hunters], to stop the clear-cutting of our forests, spraying of 2,4,5-T herbicides, no spraying along the highways, save the bees, and no GMOs. I prayed and blessed thirty-nine condors in Portland. It won’t be long until they’ll fly overhead.
“Magic happens. Creator can do that. It’s One God, many paths, so don’t use your path as a sword. We are all in this leaky canoe together.
“When I cooked salmon for Martha Stewart years ago at one of my Salmon gatherings, as she was putting the salmon on our redwood sticks, I told her, ‘after eating salmon cooked traditionally, you’ll throw away your frying pan.’ (When you eat salmon, thank the tree people too because the wood is used for the fire, and also we put the salmon onto redwood sticks to traditionally cook them).
“We are all water babies. Take care of the water wherever you are. At least once a day, give thanks to Mother Earth for all you have, all you eat, even your jewelry, automobiles, cell phones, everything comes from the Earth, and is made from the Earth’s resources. I pray that I walk my talk. Know that all there is is love, and there’s a purpose for you. You come to a ceremony on one level, and then go home on a higher level. Creator has a hand on you.”
Elder Eddie Benton Banai, of the Grand Medicine Lodge, Ojibwe:
“We are all related. The elders have been saying for generations that either people protect the Earth and water, or else there will be no life … As we look around today, there is consciousness rising, an awareness of this. But we are fast running out of time. Civilization has become an enemy of the People, and the leaders of this civilization don’t see Mother Earth is living…. Republicans and multinational corporations have no feeling for the People. Even the Bible says you even if you have all the money in the world, what about at the end of the road? Money is not the only thing important. Yes, money is necessary but it is Life itself that is most important. Man might own the watch on his wrist, but the watch shouldn’t own the man. We are running out of time, and how the Earth is being ruined, we might only have four more of these World Peace and Prayer Days. 72% of the world’s drinking water is already contaminated. If all the water is destroyed, we are all gone too. To save the Earth, put down your biases and differences, and begin walking and working together.
“Our stories began 50,000 years ago, and that is a little bit longer than 1492. Since 1492, nearly all indigenous languages have been destroyed. It is good we have men like Arvol Looking Horse who know about responsibility.
“The consciousness needs to continue after four days here. How many days ago on CNN did we see the murders in the church? Who’s raising these kids? Be active and talk about the elimination of drugs in our communities and our nation.”
Additional Speakers Add Their Support
Rabbi David Zaslow of Ashland’s Havurah Synagogue emphasized an understanding that “It is all nations, not one nation. It’s all religions, not one religion. It’s all, not one.”
Former SOU professor David West stated, “In over 300 tribes, there is no word in their languages for ‘failing.’ Yes there are words for ‘mistakes or learning from mistakes’ but no words for ‘failure,’ so there is hope for us all.”
Looking Horse’s wife, Paula Horne, pointed out, “NASA scientists have said we are at a point of no return. We are here to prove it different and be a ripple effect. If we could do this worldwide, we could heal the earth.”
Looking Horse Urges People to Make Their Choice Now
In White Buffalo Teachings, another of his books, Looking Horse states:
“We are the watchers. We are the witnesses. We see what has gone before. We see what happens now, at this dangerous moment in human history. We see what’s going to happen, what will surely happen unless we come together – we, the Peoples of all Nations – to restore peace, harmony and balance to the Earth, our Mother … We must understand the two ways we are free to follow, as we choose: the positive way or the negative way, the spiritual way or the material way. It’s our own choice, each of our and all of our choices. You yourself are the one who must decide. You alone, and only you, can make this crucial choice. Whatever you decide is what you’ll be, to walk in honor or to dishonor your relatives. You can’t escape the consequences of your own decision. On your decision, yes, on your own personal decision, depends the fate of the entire World. We are the only species destroying Mother Earth! You must decide. You can’t avoid it.
“Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger? My Grandmother once told me to understand that every person can have a good heart, a heart big enough to change the world! She said the Great Spirit wouldn’t give us something we couldn’t handle!
“Know that you yourself are essential to this World. Believe that! Understand both the blessing and the burden of that. You yourself are desperately needed to save the soul of this World. Did you think you were put here for something less?”
Jane Ayers is an independent journalist (stringer with USA Today, Los Angeles Times) and regularly contributes to Reader Supported News. She can be reached at JaneAyersMedia@gmail.com