How Do Our Programs Relate to Native American Culture?
Great Plains teaches a wisdom path with roots common to all our ancestors, including indigenous European, Asian and African cultures. Our programs are not focused particularly on Native American culture and we do not co-opt Indian spirituality or charge fees for sacred ceremony, sweat lodges, or blessings. Jeff does not claim American Indian heritage, or call himself a “shaman”. He does not have a grandmother who was a Cherokee princess. His own indigenous ancestors came from the great Celtic tribes of central Europe and the Anglo-Celtic Isles.
Since beginning his shamanic apprenticeship in 2009 Jeff has worked very hard to learn what he can from indigenous elders of North and South America willing to share their traditional ways with him. These include spiritual leaders of the Oglala Lakota people in South Dakota, First Nation Cree elders in Alberta, Canada, the Quechua Taita Iachak of South America (Peru), the Cherokee path of his first teacher Mikkal, and the modern Mexican Toltec system. Each year Jeff takes a group of volunteers to live with, work, and learn from the Lakota people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (see our Pine Ridge program).
This kind of cross-cultural learning upsets some native people who have been harmed by our dominant European culture. Yet the health of our wounded planet cannot wait for us to debate the past harm, exploitation, and genocide. Our purpose in creating these unique programs is not to "play Indian" or profit from the sacred ways of other cultures. Our goal is much more urgent and important: to reconnect with the earth-honoring traditions shared by all of our ancestors, open our hearts, and walk a good path that honors the Creator and respects Mother Earth.
All are welcome at our programs at Great Plains. Every human being, regardless of culture or bloodline, comes from indigenous ancestors somewhere on the living earth. And every human being has a responsibility to honor the Creator and protect the Earth Mother.
This is what I have learned from my indigenous brothers and sisters. I am deeply grateful for their teachings.