‘In the old ways and in the old days it has been said that we came together by invitation. Some sent a message stick, others a ‘runner’, some by season, meeting place, ceremony, while others knew by cultural duty and responsibility. It was said then that we are spiritual beings first. That is remembering who we are. ‘
INIPV Elders meeting May 2010
‘Man has a poor understanding of life. He mistakes knowledge for wisdom. He tries to unveil the Holy secrets of our Father, the Great Spirit. He attempts to imposehis laws and ways on Mother Earth. Even though he, himself, is a part of nature, he chooses to disregard and ignore it for the sake of his own immediate gain. But the laws of nature are far stronger than those of mankind. Man must awake at last, and learn to understand how little time there remains - before he will become the cause of his own downfall. And he has so much to learn - to learn to see with the heart. He must learn to respect Mother Earth –She who has given life to everything, to our brothers and sisters, the animals and plants, to the rivers, the lakes, the oceans and the winds. He must realize that this planet does not belong to him but that he has to care for and maintain the delicate balance of nature for the sake of the wellbeing of our children and of all future generations. It is the duty of man to preserve the Earth and the Creation of the Great Spirit. Mankind being but a grain of sand in the Holy circle which encloses all of life...’
Chief White Cloud
Since its inception in 1999 through the present the ‘Stories and Songs of the People’ mission, in simplicity, is to help create a space that engenders and allows for InterNātional* participation in the sharing and exchange of knowledge, experiences, cultural practice and cultural expression. Each succeeding event, whether a conference, festival, seminar, presentation or research project has been a unique opportunity to embed this process within a larger global framework, defining space for conversations and collaborative efforts with Original Nations and Peoples (ONP), educational institutions, NGO’s, community organizations and wider community members as well.
Along the way these events have encompassed an ever - widening cultural and educational exchange of complex cultural ‘methodologies.’ These methods share a collective intent; recognizing diversity as central to how we define what it means ‘to be a human being’ and widening our perspectives to understand the myriad of ways we define our relationship to environment, both traditionally and contemporary. Some key components for ‘Stories and Songs of the People’ also included:
A shared understanding for ideas of Cultural Safety;
The Sharing and Strengthening of Cultural Knowledge and Cultural Practice;
InterNātional ONP collaborations; International collaborations;
Cultural Presentations and Cultural Ways of Expression;
The recognition of Trauma (Inter-generational and inter-cultural);
Identified appropriate methodologies for facilitating presentations and forums;
Interfaith and Intercultural gathering and exchange;
Creation of platforms inviting wider community involvement, participation and discussion; and,
Wider community and community organization collaborations
* (Pronounced Inter-Nā-shen-al)
The “Stories and Songs of the People” project is unique in that the primary purpose is not of a commercial nature, but rather developed as a framework for InterNātional sharing of cultural ways of ONP. The primary goal is to help identify, recognize and employ cultural strengths in practice for the myriad of issues common to both ONP and wider community - locally, regionally, nationally and interNātionally. From a shared ONP cultural platform, Stories and Songs of the People has engendered this participation while investigating commonalities in practice through an array of platforms. These have included areas of law, governance and environment; society and resource management; education; research projects; and other events.
From the Stories and Songs of the People activities two other initiatives arose - The InterNational Indigenous Initiative for Transformative Collaboration (INITC) and the InterNational Indigenous Peoples Village (INIPV). Established through the instrumental efforts of Stories and Songs of the People, theseactivities invited a diversegroup of participants to experience and share a wide range of topics that help identify our collective understanding of relationships to our environment and each other.
There is a growing recognition amongst institutions, organizations and wider community members that language must adapt to encompass wider perspectives and greater understanding. Euro-centric and Anglo-centric ideas of classification such as ‘American Indians’ / ‘Red Indians’ or
‘Aboriginal’ are disingenuous. They are historical perspectives from ways of viewing the world, amalgamating Original Nations and Peoples to an inequitable position, perpetuating ideas and perspectives that have historically and continually marginalize ONP knowledge, Cultural and Spiritual Practice.
INITC proposes transformation through the recognition of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual change, critical to genuine collaboration. As a shared ONP format and process for sharing cultural perspectives and practice, an underlying notion is the recognition that we all come from many Nations, sovereign in their own right. The product of our collective and collaborative efforts may be described as InterNātional.
The Inter-National Indigenous Peoples Village Inc. (INIPV)
INIPV Inc. is the result of many ONP:, wider community, community organizations, institutional organizations, and individuals working together to form an appropriate village space for InterNātional presenters, performers, cultural practitioners, knowledge keepers and invited guests.
Starting in 2010, Stories and Songs of the People collaborative events embedded the initial InterNātional Indigenous Peoples Village in an established standing festival as a collaborative partner to global community – oriented events.
Establishing the INIPV successfully brought thousands of participants a unique opportunity for sharing ONP cultural knowledge and practice
through Cultural Presenters, Speakers, Elders, Performers, Artists and Wisdom Keepers from the Stories and Songs of the People foundation of InterNātional collaborative and collective efforts. These efforts continue today through ongoing events now hosted by ‘Nation’ and delivered through the Stories and Songs of the People events platform.
The Human impact
Transformative Collaborative efforts for shifting paradigms occur through intercultural, interfaith and educational exchange. Stories and Songs of the People is a shared way for creating spaces of genuine change for all involved; through workshops, seminars and conferences, cultural gatherings (with special seminars for invited guests) and spiritual retreats and reflection.
- Acknowledge and support the creation of equitable spaces to hear the voices of ONP -
- Become a Collaborative Partner (!); Nation, Organization, Community or Individual
- Sponsor: InterNātional Gatherings - Environment relationships through cultural perspective
- Sponsorship: Friends, Allies, Relative
- Sponsorship/Participant - to current events
“I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not for his or her self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the equitable use of natural resources and through concern for the future generations, the proper care of the environment.”
Excerpt from address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, ‘Address to the Parliamentary Earth Summit (Global Forum) of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)’ (1992)