ELDERS AND TEACHERS

Rod McAfee

This page is dedicated to acknowledging my elders and teachers, who have been so generous with their guidance and teachings.

Many of my elders have entered the World of the Ancestors and are still looking over my shoulder: Lillian Mitchell, my teacher's aide on the Navajo Reservation in the early 1970s, who taught me more than I could ever teach anyone else; Cher Bear (Eagle Stone Woman), who fostered my feminine leadership; Thomas Banyacya, from whom I learned about prophecy; Wallace Black Elk, who lived and talked in circles; Martin High Bear, from whom I learned many jokes and the seven laws of the chanupa (sacred pipe); Buck Ghosthorse, who taught about family and our responsibility to the next seven generations; Grandma Chipps, who helped me learn what it meant to be a sundance mother; Derwin White Lightning, who gave lessons in humility and ego; Ted Williams and Jake Swamp, who lived their lessons of gratitude and passed them on without attachment; Warner Jim, whose life was itself a lesson about the Columbia River and the endurance of the River People; Kingfisher, who let me follow him into the arbor; Al Highhorse, who invited people from all races to follow the chanupa; and Sister Jose Hobday, who taught with joy and delight in all spiritual ways.

I am happy that some of my elders are still with us. Rod McAfee, my husband and foremost teacher has supported me and my writing process unconditionally. I've also learned a great deal from my sister in spirit, Helmina Makes Him First. I thank the Creator for her commitment and dedication to the chanupa and her unfailing generosity, as well as her patience and tolerance with me.

Agnes Pilgrim from the Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers and her daughter Nadine continue to lead by example and show the world the importance of indigenous wisdom.

Other native elders and teachers who have gifted me with crucial life lessons include Godfrey Chipps, Minerva Soucie, Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Roy Wilson, Fred Wahpepah, Malidoma Somé, Michael TwoFeathers, Sobonfu Somé, Marilyn Bonney, John and Tara Goodvoice, Lupita McClanahan, Sweet Medicine, Johnny Moses, Casimirro and Margarita Mamallacta, and Phil Lane Jr.

Equally essential to me are elders and teachers from the dominant culture who understand how we are all related. Some of these have also passed into the spirit world, including my grandmother, Ruth Saunders Leupold, who taught me about the value of all religions; theologian Thomas Berry, who had a Great Work and passed it on; Sister Madonna Kolbenschlag, who helped me to understand how my Christian heritage could be an asset rather than a liability; and Eldridge Cleaver, who taught me about the progression from civil rights to Creation Rights.

One of my most influential teachers has been Matthew Fox, who insisted that I finish The Power of Ceremony. I am so grateful for his continuing presence in my life. His insights on original blessing and the value of ceremony bring strength and hope to many who worry about Christianity.