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HISTORY

The Early History of Spiritual Unity of Tribes Gatherings 


“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.”
- From “Black Elk Speaks” as told to John Neihardt


In 1988, Jim Walton, a Tlingit elder, consulted with the Saulteaux/Cree First Nations Elders on the Pasqua Reserve in Saskatchewan, Canada, including the family of James Iron Eagle and his son Harvey Iron Eagle. He spoke with them regarding the many prophecies of the indigenous people and the time of their fulfillment. Harvey’s grandfather was Chief Strong Eagle. But it was Grandmother Iron Eagle who was the first to recognize that the time had come.

It was first believed that only the Medicine people and the Elders would gather together to consult, and then teach and lead others. But Grandmother Iron Eagle and the other elders consulted on the Pasqua Reserve in 1988 were filled with urgency. They felt there wasn't much time remaining, that there had to be Gatherings now. Understanding must be given to all mankind, and as many as possible must be included. The Elders said things must be done "in a good way" so that the prophecies could be fulfilled as they had been revealed.

For detailed information on the initiator of the Spiritual Unity of the Tribes Gatherings, Jim Walton, click on this link


The First Gatherings

1989 & 1990

Saskatchewan, Canada

The guidance of the Elders was followed and the first Spiritual Unity of the Tribes Gathering was held on the Pasqua Reserve outside of in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1989. The second Gathering was also held on the Pasqua Reserve in Saskatchewan in 1990.

1991

Nambe Pueblo, New Mexico

In 1991, Grandfather Ernest Mirabal and his wife Connie Mirabal of Nambe Pueblo in New Mexico hosted the third Gathering. This was the first Spiritual Unity Gathering held in the United States.

1992

Black Hills, South Dakota

The fourth Gathering was held in the Heart of Turtle Island, the Black Hills, in 1992. The Spiritual Unity Gatherings in the Black Hills are called the "Gathering of Eagles." A Dakota Elder told his people of this Gathering more than thirty years earlier.

August, 1992

Tanacross, Alaska

Spiritual Unity of the Tribes V was held in Tanacross, Alaska, August 4-10, 1992, with the theme of “Honoring the Grandmothers”. The grandmothers are the image of Mother Earth, giving life and strength. There are many prophesies regarding the importance of the grandmothers, including the teaching “There won’t be peace on earth until the voices of the grandmothers are heard.” The Tanacross gathering was blessed with the attendance of Elder and Medicine Man Yellow Horse, along with many local Athabaskan elders and leaders.

June, 1993

Mexican Springs, New Mexico

Spiritual Unity of the Tribes VI was held in Mexican Springs, New Mexico, June 21-27, 1993. Representatives of the Six Nations responded to the invitation to come to Gathering VI and accepted the bundle that invited the Six Nations to host Gathering VIII in 1994.

August 3-8, 1993

Tanacross, Alaska

Spiritual Unity of the Tribes VII was held in Tanacross, Alaska, August 3-8, 1993. Benno Cleveland of Fairbanks, Alaska helped organize the committee that hosted the Alaska Gathering.

1994

Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Russia

In 1994, at the age of 72, Jim Walton went alone, and not speaking the Russian language, to Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Russia, to help establish alcohol-recovery programs. As a result of his work, the republic held several Healthy Lifestyle Summits; the Tundra Women's Center in Cherski, Sakha Republic, was founded (the first domestic-violence center in the Republic); and hundreds of cultural and health care exchanges occurred between indigenous people of the Sakha Republic and Alaska. Members of the Spiritual Unity of Tribes Steering Committee have traveled to Yakutsk, Siberia to coordinate a 1994 Gathering there with the Sakha people. The Siberians had been previously invited to attend Gathering VII in Tanacross.

1994

Washington State

In 1994 a Gathering was sponsored by the Lummi Tribe in Washington State, coordinated in part by Roberta Charles.

1992, and 1995 through 2000

Black Hills of South Dakota

The Gathering of Eagles was held in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the traditional territory of the Lakota Nation in 1992, and 1995 through 2000. In 1995 through 1997 the Gatherings were hosted by Vernon and Emalee Schmidt, near Custer, South Dakota. In 1998 through 2000 the Gatherings were held at Borderlands Retreat Center, on the Pesla, the Heart of the Heart of Turtle Island. Ben Rhodd was instrumental in bringing the Spiritual Unity Gathering to the Black Hills in 1992 and has continued his involvement throughout the period.

2001

Navajo Nation near Gallup, New Mexico

The 2001 All Nations Healing of the Twelve Feather Gathering was hosted by the Bear Clan Family of the Navajo Nation near Gallup, New Mexico. 

2002 to 2005

Canyon Calm, near Custer, South Dakota

The Gatherings returned to the Black Hills for 2002 through 2005. They were held at Canyon Calm, near Custer, South Dakota, and hosted by Garry and Mary Kate Stanker.

2006 and 2007

Chuska Mountain, near Gallup, New Mexico

Hosted by Grandmother Helen Tahe's daughters in her memory. Grandmother Helen was the guiding light and inspiration for the Gathering of Eagles for many years. She always wanted to host a Gathering there on her Dine family's ancestral land.

2008 - 2009

Bear Butte, South Dakota

In 2008 and 2009 the Gathering of Eagles was again held in the Black Hills. The location was the Free Spirit Campground at the base of Bear Butte. The Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and other tribes have conducted ceremony at Bear Butte for hundreds of years. Archeologists have found evidence of human activity at Bear Butte up to 6,000 years ago. For more information,
see the book, Lakota Star Knowledge.

2011

Nambe Pueblo, New Mexico

In 2011, Grandfather Ernest Mirabal and Grandmother Connie Mirabal brought the S.U.T. Gathering back to Nambe Pueblo, New Mexico, for a second time. People from Australia, New Zealand, Siberia, Scotland, Germany, and elsewhere atended this Gathering.

2012 - 2019

Australia

In 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 S.U.T. Gatherings were held in Australia, and have continued annually.

Learn more

June 2016

Black Hills of South Dakota

In 2016, the S.U.T. Gathering of Eagles returned to the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was held at Borderlands Retreat Center, which was the fourth Gathering at that location. People from Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Australia, Germany, Scotland, Argentina and many other places attended.


The Black Hills Unity Concert, sponsored by Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary, was held in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 in the Black Hills. Although it was not officially connected to the S.U.T. Gatherings, it was a related event and many S.U.T. people participated. The purpose of the Black Hills Unity Concert was to raise awareness of the need to restore guardianship of the Black Hills to the Lakota/Nakota/Dakota people. 


As of 2019 there have been many Spiritual Unity Gatherings held worldwide, including two on the Peaceweavers’ land in New York State, two in Siberia, several in Alaska, five in New Mexico, 14 in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and 21 in Australia.


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