Crossing the mountains of Oregon suddenly brought us into desert, sagebrush and evergreens dappling the dusty soil, a drastic change in landscape from the fertility of the Willamette Valley. After a few wrong turns and almost wanting to give up we came across the site, parked, and walked towards camp. Four Winds Foundation holds a sacred space for members of the Lakota Native traditions. The 40-acre property hosts campers, students, and teachers from many backgrounds, all with an intention to explore native traditions in peaceful wilderness. It was evident that this was a home, although it was not a permanent residence.
This multi-national amalgam of tradition, peoples, and symbols allowed for a beautiful “altar” of ancestral recognition and gratitude to the power of Mother Nature and her gifts. This belief and tradition is based on the natural elements; not just focusing on edible food but also the medicines, stones, the fire, connecting the community to the earth as a whole.
Sweet Medicine Nation, the grandmother of the camp, welcomed us with open arms into her family. Over the next day we would sing, pray, sweat, and feast with people very intent to hear our stories as we breathlessly asked for theirs.
After a singing lesson and the ceremony, we were welcomed into the teepee for stories and sharing around the fire. The strength of this community became apparent, as experiences were shared as openly as the land. There was a common theme of respect, receptivity, sharing of personal stories and insights, as well as a deep value for all that was shared. We walked back to our tent humbled.
As with any community of people, food became a central theme quickly as communal meals were shared. After camping, we offered to make breakfast for the group. The thanks we received from this simple act seemed overwhelming!
Following breakfast, we interviewed Sweet Medicine Nation (aka “Sweety”), and Rainbow and Amara Dreamer. They shared their stories of how they came to where they currently are, and the importance of the connection with the earth and community. Rainbow pointed out the importance of recognizing our strength in numbers and, if we all support this vision, how accessible it is. This point was illustrated by a beautiful Cherokee story, which will be included in a separate tab soon.
This stop on our trip ended up being an unexpected addition to the story we wish to unravel. This was a welcome reminder that we are on this mission to get back to a connected way of living, but also a refreshing assurance that these ways have not died out completely. People like Sweet Medicine have lived their whole lives like this, even in the modern day. We thank Sweet Medicine for our introduction into this strong community and hope to cross paths again. We wish to remind our readers to remain connected with our collective purpose, and walk barefoot on the earth.