For many years, the work of our Founder has been to connect the Wisdom Keepers of many traditions, those that have been taught to carry that which is sacred, and to share in a proper way with those who are seeking to reconnect with these traditions. From the traditional indigenous we can learn the ethics and the codes of relationship, to walk gently and respectfully, and to honor the different experiences that have brought us to this moment. The exchange of knowledge and traditional practices is critical to help reawaken the connection to the natural and spiritual world which has been lost in our modern world. This is the re-establishing of the "spiritual trade routes" - the sharing of wisdom, sacred objects and traditions across traditional/indigenous peoples and cultures.
In light of these needs, TJU – EPU is committed to supporting at least one gathering a year, which connects people from around the world, including indigenous Elders and Wisdom Keepers, who often need financial assistance to travel and participate in councils and ceremonies. The opportunities of these gatherings create precious moments for indigenous leaders to learn from each other and better serve their communities. Past gatherings have included representatives from the Haida, Tewa, Oromo, Maya, Mohawk, Cherokee, Saami, Viking, Hawaiian, Maori, Penobscot, Mexica, Micmac, Lakota, and Hopi nations.
The impact that these opportunities to travel have on indigenous communities is inspiring. A powerful example of this is Oromo Elder and Wisdom Keeper, Abu Liban Debassa Guyo, who traveled from Kenya, Africa to attend the 2005 Council for Peaceful Alliances in Guatemala. Flying to this part of the world for our council allowed him to make his first trip to the United States, where he was able to offer teachings to hundreds of Oromo refugees living here in North America. The Oromo people were so touched and moved by these teachings from their Oromo Elder, that they worked together to fly him back to the United States the following year; and are now making it possible for him to visit annually, as well as helping to established an Oromo Cultural Center. His second visit to the U.S. allowed him to join us for the initiation of the Deer Mountain Center, where he joined us in raising tipis and building a willow sweatlodge, thus sharing in other Native traditions.
"When I came to Guatemala and listened to the story of the Maya and the challenges they were faced with in keeping their culture and traditions alive, I saw very striking similarities between theirs and my Oromo culture. It encouraged me to learn that there are other people also that are going through the same situation.
There is a proverb in my language that says one hand cannot wash itself, but with two hands you can do it. I believe the people like the Maya and my people who have similar goals and issues can collaborate on many levels. We can reach out to each other. Collaboration can also come in terms of information exchange - lessons in what we have learned from our experiences, and how we overcame certain things. Exchanging that information is very important. It can take so many levels, and can be done in so many different ways."
-Debassa Guyo, Oromo Wisdom Keeper living in exile in Kenya