The Journey of the Sacred Hoop entered Albuquerque to a police escort with lights flashing and sirens wailing.
More than a hundred well-wishers lined the entrance to the Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute campus in northwestern Albuquerque April 21. They welcomed the 100 Eagle Feather Hoop and its entourage of walkers, runners and drivers.
From the back of a pickup truck, a local Indian drum group sang honoring and welcoming songs as the crowd gave victory cries and sounded the trill. Approximately 20 Journey members entered, carrying the Hoop, raised high for all to see. In front of the Hoop, a walker carried the red silhouette of 5-year-old Brandy Jo, killed in an incident of domestic violence. Her memory accompanies the Journey from coast to coast as part of the nation wide Silent Witness Program to bring awareness to domestic violence in America.
Two Buffalo Soldiers from the Buffalo Soldiers Society of New Mexico, dressed in 19th century Cavalry uniforms, met the Journey entourage. These African American men are descendants of the black Cavalry regiments which fought for the U.S. government in the Indian wars two centuries ago. They were joined by representatives of the other ethnic groups, Asian, Caucasian and American Indian, as all four colors carried the Hoop into SIPI.
The Eagle Staff, just behind the Hoop, was carried by Dr. Clayton Small who would oversee much of the weekend program.
There were many little children among the walkers as well as elder Gray Wolf, 81, who accompanied the Journey all the way from California.
Two days of conferences taught, shared, demonstrated and modeled Wellbriety, bringing healing to communities across the nation.
Kevin Gover, assistant Interior Secretary and head of the BIA spoke to the gathering as someone deeply involved with his own sobriety and wellbriety journey. "What you are doing by being here, both the walkers and those attending the conference, is so enormously important. I know it is a healing journey for you and I can only imagine the kind of power you're drawing as you move across the country, and therefore the power that you share as you come into communities."
On Saturday, Cindy Garcia and Gwen Packer of Morning Star, a treatment, prevention and intervention organization working to stop violence against Indian women and children, guided participants through a letting-go ceremony.
Greg Dobbs of the New Sunrise Regional Treatment Center from Acoma, N.M., organized a circle in which three young people new in recovery shared their experience of being recently clean and sober.
On Sunday, Small led a healing model for Indian men. His video, "The Good Road of Life," introduced the intimate Easter Sunday gathering to the four issues of an Indian man's wellness journey: Addictions recovery, multigenerational trauma and cultural oppression, father-son relationships and service to the community.
Don Coyhis, a participant and president of White Bison summed up the weekend experience. "Every day on this walk there are many opportunities to walk in the minefield of miracles. We see so much proof that the Creator is involved ... When we start to get well we become really aware of the gifts of our ancestors. The best intervention, treatment or recovery program is our culture."