The 4th International Indigenous Leadership Gathering (June 21-24) went down this weekend and it was amazing. Overseen by the St’át’imc Chiefs’ Council in their un-ceded territory (at Lillooet, BC) and once again fronted by Darrell Bob, it was once again proved that a powerful, grand-scale, traditional event can come off beautifully if people take ownership of their intentions and actions. I attended for the second the year in a row to camp, take part in ceremony and hear the words of (mainly indigenous) leaders and speakers from all parts of the globe. Each day saw speakers from all over the world address the crowd on various global and local issues that affect not only indigenous but all people and the earth - the "first mother". Great speakers, some of them, and you'd have trouble sitting still when so stirred by meaningful words - truly medicine for the heart and mind. The St’át’imc people hosted but everyone attending pitched in to work the kitchen, serve and clean up the 3 meals a day that were provided for all attendees at no cost to anyone…It was touching at the closing ceremony when Mr. Bob commented: if anyone went hungry, then I failed at my job…of course no one went hungry and you are left with admiration and honor for the commitment displayed by the St’át’imc people to get the word out and make people feel welcome and like family, they are skillful but sincere – very, very accomplished people. One simply had to be at any one the gatherings to fully appreciate what an undertaking it is to host and feed a few thousand people from all over the world. Keep in mind the logistics involved regarding space to for everyone camp, clean water, family safety and enough food for everyone. There were sweats, prayer vigils and drum circles constant drum circles everywhere, a few scruffy hippies, a few dippy new-agers (always will be when Indians are involved) but all-in-all mainly everyone’s heart was in the right place.
I brought out my hand drum during the closing gratitude ceremony to drum alongside, Peruvian, Nigerian and Asian drummers…a buzz! As with any outdoor event the weather was a factor and after nearly freezing my schnitzel off last year, I was better prepared and this year the main concern was rain. Mostly the weather was fair with inter-mitten rain but Saturday night a mighty rain storm appeared in the south valley, the direction the weather arrives from and you could this was going to be a doozy. At dusk the ominous dark and swirling clouds appeared and you could see sheets of rain looming. In mere minutes, swollen drops turned into torrential rain chasing most into tents, trailers or whatever cover they could secure (for me it was into the safety of my buddies’ Honda). As I sat in the vehicle listening to the rain pelting the car and watching as it fell almost sideways outside I was struck by the fact that the drum group made mainly of boys from East Van did not surrender to the weather. In fact, the drum group and a few dozen die-hards remained steadfast in their determination to celebrate the drum…and life. They danced, though drenched to the bone, and the drummers paused long enough between songs to drink some water and soothe their throats for a minute or two only to pound away once more at songs which repeated verse after verse giving dancers songs to live by. This is special shout out to the drummers and singers (some ladies, too) of East Van and the rain-dancers who exemplified the spirit of what the event seems to be about.
See you next year.
© 2012 Champsteen Publishing