About the World Journey || Public Profile of Ojibway Artist Turtle Heart
Eight years ago I stopped my ordinary life and now it is this work which will carry me to the end of my life. I am an old Indian man making a ceremony around the earth.
I am by following the inspiration and heritage of the family of the Ahnishinabeg American Indians. This happened through the ancestors of my father. Through my mother I have ancestors that are Celtic and Catawba (Edisto).
First and formost I believe I work for the ancient future, for this Mother Earth who gave all tribal people their original instructions. My work is with and for the human spirit, of and for all people..
I have received teachings from more than forty tribal elders over a period of 30 years. When I was a young man I was given Sacred Pipe. As I traveled with Sacred Pipe I was given the opportunity to reach for the education which I now treasure and hope to share with others.
My teachers and I agreed that I might in my own way share what we learned together, in my own way. Many American Indians who have ceremonial responsibilities have embraced the value and practice of working with and sharing with the world community, with other religious and spiritual faiths. I embrace that progessive movement fully.
My ceremonial work does not come from a political, governmental or ethnic agenda or authority. The Four Directions Unity Bundle is historically unique. It contains sacred objects and instructions from all over the world. Centered around a Sacred Pipe of the River Otter Clan, tribal elders, leaders of many faiths, and religious officers of the world's religions have contributed to this bundle.
Following the historic and spiritual tradition of the Ahnishinabek of the Northern Woodlands, I have started a long vision quest to carry Sacred Pipe around the circle of Mother Earth, around the world. Many of our most ancient sacred teachers made this choice and returned after great time and experience, to enrich the lives of all Ahnishinabe people. I am a child of that ancient family, a student of that tradition.
I am not a part of any other alliance with any tribal organization or tribal government. My work is spiritual, traditional and the earned rights bestowed upon me by my tribal elders and teachers. There are no authorities other than the living tribal elders that can say or should say who may be a child of the Ahnishinabe. I accept no money or services from any tribe or any government.
Only those tribal elders and teachers who created this work and this bundle have recognized moral and legal authority to define, authorize and "authenticate" this work.
It is my view that the combined stress and problems of nearly all tribal religions, culture, language and ritual has created confusion, pain and rage.
There is a lot of confusion and bad information coming in and going out from modern society. Sometimes I feel like tribal people are either drowning in an ocean of bad information, hunted by the sharks of intellectual good intentions...or starving in the windless desert of societal indifference. Between the self-appointed hate groups on the extreme right of reason, to the easily ticked modern media, finding out who is working from the grace and blessings of the old Indians. Who is "not" has become an obsession with racial purists, filled with the poison that comes from paranoia and an obessession with self-importance. And then spead around far and wide while most American Indian spiritual leaders remain in silence, almost in hiding, for fear of what will happen if they speak up. The truth is the survival of the American Indian sacred and spiritual resources is in great danger and vested with confusion. There are a small number of American Indian woen and men who are out in the world. They are talking, educating, learning, and carrying also the concerns and hopes of the old Indians, the tribal elders and the children of the next generation. I am proud to be a part of that work.
I believe that Sacred Pipe, many of the original instructions are floating in a sea of mud, in cloudy water and gray skies. From the long life I have made with my teachers we came to believe that a strong ceremony made by even one person could bring new information and open new and needed possibilities to everybody. Everybody. So the ceremonies and travels of the Four Directions Unity Bundle Sacred Pipe is to listen, to learn. To feed the roots of the sacred tree of knowedge. Every American Indian person has this right.
As Keeper and Protector of Sacred Pipe Four Directions Unity Bundle I have accepted responsibility to use the ceremonial instructions it contains to respond to the world and the world journey as it happens, within myself and for all my relations. I have that right to do this work absolutely and without question.
I am a volunteer, I accepted this responsibility 25 years ago from my tribal teachers face to face, breath to breath, eyes wide open.
We believe this is a ceremony created and supported by the original instructions and by the rights of personal vision, which is the right of all people who hold tribal sacred objects and who place themselves before the living faces of their tribal elders. There is no question that I have the right to hold these sacred objects and accept the direction of my teachers.
My education over 30 years took me to many tribal communities. Under the guidance of these teachers I studied many of the world’s religions, as well as world history, medicine, art and have read much of the world’s fine literature. I created this educational journey myself and went out and found the teachers who gave it to me. All of my tribal teachers loved me for doing that. Many of them are waiting for others to do the same.
The World Journey of Sacred Pipe inside the Four Directions Unity Bundle is an extension of those ideas, those rights, and those hopes of those tribal elders and teachers whom I believed spoke only the truth to me. Truth which I accepted as my life's work.
I prefer to meet and work with other people in small groups over several days. In this way the work has time to produce the rich details which come from taking a few days, to understand what this world ceremony is about, and what it can accomplish.
I receive no personal payments for my work. The people I work with help with the expenses of travel and support for things like our computer system. Sales from my work as an artist, which are modest, and support from my wife are what keep the work going. No one works with the mystery life of the old Indians for money, but money has to be raised, and money has to be used to get any work done at all in this world.
We have never needed or required the permission of anyone except ourselves, those of us who made this bundle, who conceived this idea, to carry sacred physical religious objects of some of the old American Indians around the world.
I am satisfied that I have lived and continue to live under the direction of my American Indian Elders, who are the final and only authority for Sacred Pipe and the Ceremonies of Four Directions Unity Bundle.