Grandmothers/Elders Fellowship Fund
Five traditional elders/healers have been identified as the first recipients of the 2016-2017 Tribal Trust Foundation’s Grandmother/Elder Fellowships. Please help us to raise an and urgent and immediate base amount of $50,000 as seed monies to be split equally among these amazing servants of the people, all of whom continue their work with extremely insufficient outside funding and at great sacrifice to their own personal and financial well-being. It is our intention to also raise additional funds beyond this seed amount to reinvest for future fellowships.
Historically throughout the world indigenous communities have taken care of their elders, healers and medicine people. Young men offered elders the first fish that was caught and the first meat from the hunt. The young chopped wood for the winter and the community made sure elders and healers were provided support in a myriad of ways. The services these elders and healers historically provided to their communities – including, but not limited to spiritual, emotional, energetic and physical healing, sharing cultural knowledge about lifeways, and personal and community guidance and support, were traditionally – and still are – given freely by these elders and spiritual leaders.
In today’s world, however, many traditional elders and healers remain in need of additional material support. What is important to note – and in conflict with how western culture operates – is that it is because of the traditional and cultural training and the commitment these elders, healers and spiritual leaders have made to serve all the people, that they won’t or can’t ask for the very support they often so desperately need.
Susan Stark Christianson – The Tribal Trust Foundation’s Grandmother/Elder Fellowship Fund is administered by Women’s Voices Project founder Susan Stark Christianson and offers an important new way to provide support to traditional grandmothers and indigenous elders. The Fellowship’s aim is to provide assistance to traditional grandmothers and elders to enable them to continue to provide their spiritual, social, educational, cultural and/or artistic knowledge, sciences and lifeways to present and to future generations.
During the course of her work as producer/director of the award-winning documentary film “The Wisdom of the Grandmothers” and the writing of her book on the same subject, project director and fellowship fund administrator Susan Stark Christianson met elders and healers throughout the world. She recognized these needs and realized a good way to help would be through the establishment of fellowships and this Grandmothers/Elders Fellowship Fund.
Grandmother Shore Charnoe – is a Métis woman who has been a foster parent, adoptive parent, family and children’s mentor, social worker and volunteer for children’s aid societies, and a consultant for child welfare organizations for more than 20 years. She is the founder of The Circle for Change and Mentor House in Branford, Ontario. Shore is also high functioning autistic woman who lives with chronic fibromyalgia. She is currently in the final semester of a program at First Nations Technical Institute for Indigenous Social Work. Shore also holds an Honors BA in philosophy of education, sociology and anthropology, developmental psychology, and environmental science. She is an adoptive and biological mother to 11 and a grandmother to four and has been a foster parent or mentor to more than 80 children and youth. A number of her adoptive children have fetal alcohol syndrome and come from abusive homes where they were victims of severe abuse, neglect, and trauma. Shore founded The Circle For Change as a grassroots organization to help Indigenous children in foster care. The program provides opportunities for children to heal through connection to the natural world. The program also provides support, sharing, and learning to non-Indigenous foster families caring for Indigenous children in order to help build a further bridge of support. Mentor House provides a safe place for children in crisis as well as a gathering place for those interested in sharing indigenous stories, healing and traditional knowledge and lifeways. Shore’s and her husband Richard’s dream is to purchase land in the country in the near future for an intentional community and healing center and a place to continue their important work. Learn more about Shore on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shore.charnoe or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0VsRqVUP4Y
Grandmother SaSa (Swan of the North) – Joyce E. Bryant was born in Central Maine to a father of Abenaki/Scottish/Irish descent and a Japanese Mother. While growing up she realized the gifts that she was born with were a seer, a dreamer and a hands on healer. She spent more than 20 years providing service and “learning to remember” from Grandmother Nakai Breen (Rose of the River), a Cherokee medicine woman in Texas. According to Grandmother SaSa “I spent twenty years learning how to remember the things I already knew and receiving new teachings from her.”
Grandmother SaSa currently has a healing center to help “heal the healers”. The building and land are located on the Bear Camp River today in a place now known as the “The Rose and The Swan” healing center in West Ossipee, New Hampshire. The Rose and The Swan is operated by donation only. No one would ever be turned away. At The Rose and The Swan as a universal healer, twice a year, in June and September, Grandmother Sasa holds a Medicine Hoop of Life that was passed on from Grandmother Nakai. Along with her husband of 45 years, she also conducts sweat lodges and pipe ceremonies, and she shares the Teachings of Beading in a Traditional Way. Grandmother SaSa also supports The Crystal Earth Project that she was introduced to by Grandmother Nakai. According to Grandmother SaSa “I have blessed and planted a Crystal Earth Seed in Texas in honor of my Grandmother Nakai.” She blessed the planting of The “Onondaga Peacemaker” Crystal Earth Seed in Syracuse, N.Y., in the Spring of 2016 and planted a Crystal Earth Seed in ceremony at the Medicine Hoop of Life that she maintains. “This technology directly engages the energies of Mother Earth, through the use of special crystals, for the purpose of healing and enlightening the human physiology.” You can learn more at ‘The Rose and The Swan’ on Facebook
Grandmother Abril Mondragon (ALIS Itlatol) – is the grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, and daughter of her resilient Comanche Shoshone-Mestizo family from the northern New Mexico region of the Blue Lake Mountains and the Rio Grande. She is the founder of Golden Bear for the preservation and education of natural and traditional healing arts, is a wild-crafter, seed saver, and ceremonial navigator. Abril is also known for her gourd and visionary arts, storytelling, and being a caregiver of ancestral knowledge passed to her through sacred story, song and the “lifeways and wise ways of her Elders.”
Abril has a variety of western education and healing arts degrees. As an educator she served as a teacher, tutor, mentor, as well as in curriculum and program development, and restorative justice circles for ages five to adult. As an international liaison she has traveled to participate in healing and regenerative venues for water, healing generational trauma, and harms to earth and sky’s nature. She is a “grassroots visionary activist” with a deep sense of gratitude for the inner and interconnected nature of all life. Abril has written and self-published children’s stories, the Dreamseed Cards and is currently writing an anthological memoir. She is devoted to being and living in service, for the fulfillment of the One Great Peace. Grandmother Abril’s dream is to complete the writing of her memoir, which includes many of the sacred stories and teachings of her elders. Her ALIS-Itlatol website is currently under development.
Grandmother Carole Blodgett – is the founder and director of Nurture the Children. Nurture The Children is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to nurturing through nature, “sharing the love and respect for Mother Earth, Father Sky, and all those who walk, swim, fly, and grow upon Her.” The program provides gifts of educational materials and samples of the four sacred elements schools around the United States. Carole is also the founder of the Water is Life Water Walks. Carol Blessing Water
For Carole, every step she takes through life is a prayer. She models this by walking literally hundreds of miles along the course of rivers and streams praying for and providing healing to our waterways. “As we carry the Sacred Water with love, respect, and gratitude, our footsteps transfer those energies into the land where it is picked up by every drop of water in the soil and that is then passed on to the water within the roots of all plants and trees and the bodies of every burrower. As the drops gather into streams, creeks, brooks and rivers the finned, winged and the 4 legged come to the Sacred Water and they too pick up those energies. Praying for the Sacred Water is praying for every thing and everyone ~ for nothing lives without water,” she wrote. In 2016 Carole walked the entire length of the Penobscott River Watershed, a journey of more than 600 miles, in order to bring awareness and bring healing to the water. In 2015 she organized and walked from the headwaters of in Mashapaug Pond, Bigelow Hollow State Park in Union, Connecticut to the Convergence of Quinebaug River and Shetucket River. She has also walked across the Pine Ridge Reservation to pray for the water and the people. Carole currently is helping with prayer for and preserving the waters at Standing Rock. You can learn more about her at https://youtu.be/sg9ble91eWs