“So let us unite spiritually, All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer. Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please remember June 21st, World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church, a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for all life, for good decision making by our Nations, for our children’s future and well-being, and the generations to come.” Chief Arvol Looking Horse 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
Since ancient times people from all over the globe have gathered in sacred places to honor their ancestors and thank the earth in sacred ceremony. In this way, many indigenous people believe, that stability and harmony are maintained on earth. Sacred sites are places of power and importance because of their geographic relevance such as mountains, rivers, forests, lakes etc. or places such as temples and sanctuaries have been built as places to hold ceremony and prayer. Many sacred sites are recognized today as cultural heritage sites by the UNESCO for their historical and cultural importance. Ceremony and prayer are ways in which we as humans can collectively or individually commune with creation and the earth, also, in which we can give offering and offer gratitude for life and all the gifts.
For some many native cultures worldwide ceremony is an essential part of life and the earth and all living things are considered sacred. Unfortunately due to modernization and colonization many of these native cultures have suffered the loss of their traditions and in some cases the prohibition of them to perform their traditional ceremonies passed down to them for millennia. In North America the Sundance and other traditional ceremonies that belong to Native American, where outlawed but the US government going back to 18 hundreds and only until the past couple of decades have many of these ceremonies been recovered and come out of hiding. In Guatemala indigenous Maya where forbidden to practice their traditions and to perform ceremony in their ancient temples and pyramids for more than 4 centuries until 1995 when the Government passed the “Agreement on the Identity & Rights of Indigenous Communities” which grants indigenous communities the freedom to exercise their distinct forms of spirituality. In Mexico pyramids and ancient ceremonial sites are wrongly called ‘ruins’ and the and indigenous people are still not allowed to perform ceremony only in very rare occasions and obtaing a very special permit. In England the Druids religion is remerging from the darkness, obtaing legal status as a religion in 2010 and slowly recovering the use of their ceremonial sites such as Stonehenge where they perform the annual Solstice ceremony.
Since 1995 Chief Arvol Looking Horse, spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nation and 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe has been traveling different parts of the world calling for a global recognition of Sacred Sites and the celebration of World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites on June 21st.
In this recent month of June Chief Arvol Looking Horse and his wife Paula traveled to Brazil for a very special World Peace and Prayer Day ceremony that was held as part of the different side events held in Rio de Janeiro parallel to the United Nations Sustainable Development Conference or Rio+20 that was co-hosted by Aldeia Nova Terra, the Global Peace Convergence and Peace 2012. The ceremony took place took place in “Kari-oca village”, the indigenous peoples encampment as part Rio+20. This ceremony was preceded by the signing and blessing of tha “Kari-Oca declaration” by more than 30 indigenous leaders and an indigenous march to the site of the United Nations Conference of Sustainable Development of Rio+20 to deliver this declaration to the heads of state and global leaders gathered there. Also present at the signing of the “Kari-Oca declaration” was Tata Pedro Cruz, Mayan elder and timekeeper from Guatemala, Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network and others. Inside the United Nations the different indigenous leaders spoke, asking governamets and leaders to recognize and protect the rights of indigenous people worldwide, many of which are being displaced from their native for development of mining projects, hydroelectric plants and oil drilling. Examples are endless and deeply disturbing.
Later back in Kari-oca village a wonderful ceremony took place under a great bamboo structure know as “Oca”. In the center of the Oca a fire was lit and a ceremonial space was opened around the fire. A smell of sage and smoke filled the air as representatives of many tribes, native and non-natives together joined in prayer for Mother Earth. One-by-one people of all ages and walks of life went to give a tobacco offering to the sacred fire according to the Lakota tradition. Chief Arvol Looking Horse guided this ceremony praying for the protection of sacred sites all over the planet and calling all people to unite as one nation in prayer. Tata Pedro Cruz spoke of the ending of the cycle of time and the rebirth of a new culture of peace on planet Earth after the Mayan longcount finishes in December 2012. The songs of the different Amazonian tribes present added a celebratory and unifying feeling. The Eagle and the Condor have come together again. These are historical times, for we are living in time of prophecy.
VIDEO: Indigenous People Light Sacred Fire Ahead of Rio+20