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Wisdom of our elders

On June 21, the Intertribal Friendship House of Oakland, Calif. hosted World Peace and Prayer Day. The keynote speaker was Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe.

In a dream, I saw an assortment of cupcakes with various sizes and compositions in a mystical box. All of these pastries were absent of an icing topping and I told myself that this simple task was achievable. Before I could take action, a spiritual force went to crush these treats and this dream faded.

Many thoughts permeated my mind that day, but my greatest treat came from a simple gesture by Gracie Horne, a family member of Mr. Looking Horse. This mid-20s college student began her presentation by making a public appeal to ask the elders present for permission to address the community.

This is the traditional way of respecting elders and a very refreshing exhibition of good cultural manners. Unfortunately, many young people get collegiate degrees and think that this is their shortcut to becoming an elder, but it isn’t! Mastering humility that honors our senior members and nourishes our innocent children is a very slow process. Collegiate degrees are not an ancestral path to achieve wisdom.

An elder taught me that you are not a parent until you’ve become a grandparent. Your biological parents are your older brother and sister, the real parents are the head of the household and they are the elders and grandparents. In other words, biological parents are a future parent/elder in training and they should value their seasoned parents’ wisdom over their inexperience until they complete their generational apprenticeship as a “rookie” adult and parent.

The role of non-elders is to keep eyes and ears open, with mouths shut. An elder’s wisdom comes from mastering a traditional Indian doctorate degree by living cultural knowledge while refining a spiritual foundation. When life brings the pains and struggles of old age to the physical body, then the Great Spirit may gift words of perfection found in the speech of a real elder.

Earth People University doesn’t utilize diplomas crafted from a version of modern man’s paper money. Instead, two diplomas are honed. How our hands work with the gifts of the Creator is our testimony to our relationship with the Creator and within our communities. Are we gentle with our Mother Earth and do we care for her other children?

I applaud Ms. Horne for her desire to pursue an authentic Indian diploma and can tell she has been listening and observing fine family and tribal elders.



– Denis Lucey

Santa Rosa, Calif.