Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Indigenous Spirituality

Most of the Ecuador youth either represent an indigenous society by their own ancestry, or live within the area of influence of an indigenous people. As such, they seem to possess a deep spiritual readiness to embrace important connections to indigenous cultures in the United States. As they have discovered the ancestral traditions of the Spokane Tribe, the Ecuador youth have expressed both amazement and admiration. In fact, some of the youth were surprised to know such a thing even existed within the United States. They imagined this country as a land of eternal shopping centers, freeways, and factories.

As a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, I recognize the importance of making cultural and spiritual connections with indigenous people around the world. My role in this project has been unique because I offer these youth a perspective few others in this community can provide. I have been able to open their worldview to include local customs, while addressing them in Spanish. More than once, a member of the group has taken me aside to thank me for my participation in the program. One young man even approached me in tears and said he never imagined someone like me existed in this country.

They whole process has humbled me deeply.

For their part, these youth have opened my eyes as well. I see a group of young people deeply committed to the environment and their role as youth leaders. They inspire me more than words can describe. As time allows, I will write more of my experience and include photographs of the exchange.

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