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Sacred Sites: Bdote, Minnesota, World Peace and Prayer Day

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In 1996, Chief Arvol Looking Horse started the annual World Peace and Prayer Day. The first WPPD ceremony was held at Gray Horn Butte in Wyoming following a horseback ride from the Wahpeton Dakota reservation in Saskatchewan. On that site, according to tradition, the Buffalo Calf Woman first appeared to the tribes, hundreds of years ago, bringing instruction in sacred ceremonies of how to live in balance with all life, and leaving behind a sacred bundle containing a sacred pipe of peace. Today, Chief Arvol Looking Horse is the 19th Generation Keeper of the Tradition of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe.

The World Peace and Prayer Day ceremonies have been held in different locations around Turtle Island—and beyond, to Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Japan, and Costa Rica.

From June 18 to 21, activities and events will be held in Fort Snelling State Park, at the place called Bdote Minnesota or Mdote, where the Minnesota ind Mississippi rivers meet. According to,

"Bdote has always been and remains a place of importance in the Dakota belief system, central to Dakota culture. It is the cultural equivalent of the Garden of Eden. This is also a place where many important events in the past 200 years of Dakota written and oral history have occurred. This is the 'Gathering Place' where leaders of multiple tribes would negotiate and make critical decisions."

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A "Peace Ride" on horseback to honor Tail Feather Woman began at Pickerel Lake, SD, on June 5th and is set to conclude at Bdote on June 18, 2011.

Other activities taking place include concerts one the 18th and 19th featuring musicians Michael Bucher, Mitch Walking Elk, Louis Alemayehu, Los Nativos, Chase Manhattan, Will Hale and DJ Cavem. On June 19, from 2 to 4 PM, people will gather on the Mendota Bridge to attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest hug.

On June 21, Chief Arvol Looking Horse will conduct a public ceremony at Bdote/The Center, Fort Snelling State Park. Other speakers include Isaac James Bishra of the Maori Nation of New Zealand; Adele Honde of Japan, organizer of WPPD 2004; the Brave Heart Society and Elk Soldier Society of the Yankton Sioux Tribe; Swami Nityamuktananga Saraswati; Shri Natha Devi Premananda; and Rabbi Bob Carroll from Israel.

For more details on this multi-faceted four-day event, visit

"All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer is respecting each others’ traditions, culture and religions," said Arvol Looking Horse in his World Peace and Prayer Day message for 2011. "There is one Creator and one Mother earth that we all share. We have gone all over the world once a year to pray with other faith communities and Indigenous Nations at their Sacred Sites. We have traveled to the United Nations to talk about the environment and prophecies. As First Nations we have committed ourselves to maintaining our sacred way of Life where there is no ending and no beginning! Mitakuye Oyasin (all my relations)."