The discovery of a Mayan calendar that blows away all new-agey notions of an impending apocalypse on December 21, 2012, notwithstanding, we are not in the clear yet. Great change is indeed coming, indigenous leaders say.
But contrary to common expectation, this change will not be like the flick of a light switch. In fact, it is already under way, said Dave Courchene, Anishnaabe elder and the founder of Turtle Lodge, an institution that maintains the fires of traditional knowledge.
Indigenous leaders have been calling together their wisdom keepers to try and make sense of what the spirits have told the elders is a “new life,” as Courchene said in summoning people to a gathering at the lodge from May 24–27, A Gathering of Indigenous Wisdom Keepers.
“The gathering that was called was first of all to allow our elders, our teachers, to come together to share their knowledge,” he told Indian Country Today Media Network in an interview on May 11. “Because one of the things that I’m seeing that’s happening around the world is that the structures that exist are disconnected from spirit. And the elders of our nations carry a knowledge that can help fulfill a prophecy that we’ve been told about.”
The prophecy “is that it’ll be here in America that the truth will be revealed,” he said. “And in the revealing of that truth it will be the indigenous people who will lead this movement back to the center.”
Turtle Lodge is located on a sacred site, where Anishnaabe people had gathered thousands of years ago. Regarded as a center, the place is called Manito Ahbee, Where the Creator Sat, and the beginning place of many sacred ceremonies.
The elders “say that new life has arrived,” Courchene said. “And the question that needs to be answered now is how do we support that new life, that has been confirmed by the elders who are very much connected to the spirit that offers the guidance and the direction and the spirit that offers us an understanding of the time that we have just entered.
The truth, the elders say, will be “revealed in America, the place that we refer to as Turtle Island.”
Courchene’s hope for the gathering is that the elders will share more of the depth of the understanding of their relationship and messages from the spirits, the land. Anishnaabe identity literally means “sameness from the inside,” he said. “We cannot write the fullness of this understanding of this great binding law.”
The earth will survive, Courchene pointed out. It’s the human species that needs to be concerned about its survival. Thus the gathering welcomes youth as well, who are encouraged to share their concerns and learn from their peers and the elders so that a future can be created for them.
The earth is giving birth to a new spirit, Courchene said, as a mother births a child. It’s a spiritual energy, and one that will give humans the choice of renouncing the material nature of existence.
“This is the knowledge that is going to emerge,” he said. “All this knowledge that we have carried as a people, that we’ve evolved with, is going to be heard so that it will allow our fellow human beings to make a choice in life—that they will continue on to live a material, a minimal life, physically, materially, or do they really want to live the fullness of life. That can only be inspired by the spirit itself, that defines what our spirit and purpose is in life.”
The gathering will be as much a celebration as anything, Courchene said, and fittingly it will start off with a celebration round dance at the pow wow grounds on Friday May 25. A call is out for traditional dancers and drums, but one doesn't have to be a traditional dancer to participate, the gathering's poster says.
His words and understanding are not much different than that of those who gathered from April 12–15 to share their ancient and contemporary perspectives at a global teleconference. The conference, the International Mayan Telesummit: Messages from the Heart of the Mayan Lands, featured Maya spiritual leaders, scientists and anthropologists, according to its website.
“What that video doesn’t provide is why this ‘shift of the ages’—the completion of a 26,000-year cycle of life—is significant to the Mayan people, not as an ‘apocalypse’ but as a time to prepare their families and communities for changes to come,” said the site. It’s “a critical time on the planet,” the site said, and stressed “how important it is to gather our entire human family. Both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples must come together to see us through this great transition. No one should be left behind.”