FOR's 2013 International Pfeffer Peace Prize Recipients ~ The Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers
They came from all four directions of the Earth.
They came from the Amazon rainforest, the highlands of Central America, the mountains of Oaxaca, the desert of the American southwest, the great forests and vast plains and Black Hills of North America, the Alaskan tundra, the mountains of Tibet and Nepal, and the rainforest of Central Africa to meet face-to-face for the first time in upstate New York. In response to prophecies, dreams, visions, and the leg work and visions of Jyoti (Jeneanne Prevatt), Ann Rosencranz, Darlene Hunter and others from the Center for Sacred Studies, thirteen indigenous wise women gathered in October 2004 at the Menla Mountain Retreat Center to unite in a common vision to heal the planet.
With deep concern for “the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth, the contamination of our air, waters and soil, the atrocities of war, the global scourge of poverty, the threat of nuclear weapons and waste, the prevailing culture of materialism, the epidemics which threaten the health of the Earth’s peoples, the exploitation of indigenous medicines, and with the destruction of indigenous ways of life,” the Grandmothers formed a global alliance. Theirs is an alliance of prayer, education, and healing for our Mother Earth, all Her inhabitants, and all the children, for the next seven generations to come.
FOR is honored to present the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers with the International Pfeffer Peace Award for their work for peace and justice throughout the world.
The journey to form the council began many years ago inside their hearts, and with promptings from Spirit telling of a time when the grandmothers would gather together to wake the world. Jyoti, a spiritual teacher and one of the founders of the Center for Sacred Studies, had been making relations with indigenous wise women and receiving visions of a circle of wise women elders. On a trip to Gabon, Jyoti carried her vision to an African shaman and medicine woman named Bernadette Rebienot. Bernadette had a similar vision and told Jyoti, “Go get this done.” Jyoti then traveled to the Amazon to meet with healers and mediums, Clara Shinobu Iura and Maria Alice Campos Freire, who also told her to “go get this done.”
Jyoti returned to her home in Northern California charged with a mission and uncertain about how to proceed until she received a message from her own deceased grandmother while meditating. Her grandmother told her, “start with the seed of relations and all will unfold naturally.” With her associates, Ann Rosencranz, Carole Hart and Lynn Schawecker, Jyoti sent out invitations to 16 indigenous women from around the world to join them in a gathering. The 13 Grandmothers who responded had all received their own visions and heard their own ancestral prophesies. They were told that they would be called together at a critical time in history when their ancient knowledge was needed for the survival of the next generations.
At nine years of age, Rita Pitka Blumenstein, a Yup’ik from Alaska, was told by her grandmother, “There will come a time when you are old and gray like me that you will be asked to sit on a council of 13 Grandmothers. I have gathered 13 sacred bundles and 13 white eagle feathers. Protect and keep them safe; and, when that time comes, hand them to each grandmother and take one for yourself and sit down and know that I am standing behind you and so are all of your ancestors, and the time that we have been preparing for is now.”
During that first gathering in October 2004, Rita kept one for herself and presented an eagle plume and a sacred stone to each of the Grandmothers present: Bernadette Rebienot, Omyene of Gabon, Africa; Margaret Behan Arapaho, Cheyenne of Montana, USA; Aama Bombo (Buddhi Maya Lama), Tamang from Nepal; Julieta Casimiro, Mazatec from Huautla de Jimenez, Mexico; Flordemayo, Mayan from the Highlands of Central America and New Mexico; Maria Alice Campos Freire from the Amazonian Rainforest, Brazil; Tsering Dolma Gyaltong from Tibet; Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance, Oglala Lakota from the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA; Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance, also Oglala Lakota from the Black Hills, South Dakota, USA; Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Takelma Siletz of Grants Pass, Oregon, USA; Mona Polacca, Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa from Arizona, USA; and Clara Shinobu Iura of the Amazonian Rainforest, Brazil. And the wise women elders united to become the Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers.
It was decided at the first gathering that the council would form under the blanket of the Center for Sacred Studies, and the way was determined when Grandma Agnes, the eldest grandmother, proclaimed: “Girls, if we’re going to make relations then we’ve got to go to each others’ home places and hold this vigil of sacred prayer with our sacred fire for seven days for world peace and unity. In this way we will come to know each others’ families, each others’ land, each others’ culture, each others’ language, and we will model as we travel the world how this many women from all different lines of prayer and life and culture can sit down at a round table and model unity and peace among all people; that it is not our differences that get in the way, it is actually what brings us together.”
Since the first council in upstate New York nine years ago, the Grandmothers have completed twelve gatherings to each other’s homelands to cultivate their unified prayer for peace.
- 2nd Council-May 2005, Pojoaque Pueblo, New Mexico, in honor of Mayan Grandmother Flordemayo.
- 3rd Council-May, 2006, Oaxaca, Mexico, in honor of Mazatec Grandmother Julieta Casimiro.
- 4th Council-October 2006, Dharamsala, India, in honor of Tibetan Grandmother Tsering Dolma Gyaltong. During this gathering the council appointed Jyoti as their Traveling Ambassador Charged with the Mission, and had an audience with His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama.
- 5th Council-June 2007, Black Hills, South Dakota in honor of Beatrice and Rita Long-Visitor Holy Dance.
- European/US Tour- July, 2008, the Council offered prayers at the Vatican, met in Assisi, and taught in Spain. Fall, 2008-Grandmothers taught in New York State and Washington, D.C.
- 6th Council- August 2009, Lincoln City, Oregon to honor Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim and her people of the Confederated tribes of Siletz.
- 7th Council- December 2009, Sedona, Arizona, to honor Grandmother Mona Polacca and her Havasupai, Hopi and Tewa peoples.
- 8th Council- October 2010, Japan in honor of Brazilian-Japanese Grandmother Clara Shinobu Iura.
- 9th Council- May 2011, Anchorage Alaska in honor of Yup’ik Grandmother Rita Blumenstein.
- 10th Council, October 2011, Brasilia, Brazil in honor of Grandmothers Maria Alice Campos Freire and Clara Shinobu Iura.
- 11th Council , July 2012 in Lame Deer Montana, Northern Cheyenne Reservation in honor of Grandmother Margaret Behan.
- 12th Council, November 2012 in Kathmandu Nepal in honor of Grandmother Aama Bombo.
They have also carried their message to conferences and gatherings throughout the United States and Europe. In 2005, The Grandmothers Council petitioned the Vatican for the repeal of papal edicts dating back to 1493, which have granted dominion to European nations over lands occupied by tribal peoples for thousands of years. During a European Tour in 2008, they visited the Vatican to lay down prayers.
This summer a European tour will take the Grandmothers to Stockholm, Sweden in honor of the Sami People, and to Karlsruhe, Germany for a conference called “World Congress on Health Consciousness and Healing the Earth: Be Part of the Change.”
In October, five of the Grandmothers will visit the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. The Institute’s programs focus on health, humanitarian and peace efforts, support healthcare development in under-served areas, motivate young people to serve the community and the environment as a way of life, and increase public awareness of Dr. Schweitzer’s philosophy and its potential for a more peaceful and sustainable world. The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) is privileged to be invited to present the Pfeffer International Peace Award to the delegation of Grandmothers at this event.
In addition to their travels, the Grandmothers’ teachings have rapidly spread and inspired sacred activism worldwide through their book, Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer their Vision for Our Planet (Shambhala Publications, 2006) which has been translated into eight languages, and through their documentary film, “For the Next 7 Generations” that premiered in 2009. The film has received great accolades and is in huge demand throughout the US and Canada, and has been translated into Spanish, Swedish, German, Japanese and French.
All photographs courtesy of the Grandmothers’ Council. Photographs were taken by Marisol Villanueva.