Women Rising Radio Program XI: The International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers

FLOR DE MAYO: Grandmother Flor de Mayo is a curandera, an indigenous healer, from a small town in the highlands near Nicaragua’s border with Honduras. The youngest of 15 children, she was noticed as having what her people call the gift of sight. She began curandera studies with her mother, also a curandera, at age 4. Her mother wanted all 15 children to be free from the colonial wars happening in Central America. She moved them all to New York, where Flor learned to speak English – with a Bronx accent – and married a man from the Bronx. Flor mastered the art of living in two worlds. She moved to New Mexico and founded her Institute of Natural and Traditional Knowledge. She received the Martin de la Cruz prize for Alternative Healing. Then she was called, in dreams and then in the material world, to join the International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. The International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers has worked with the Dalai Lama, presented their ideas to many groups of influential women worldwide, and visited the Vatican to try to work with the Pope. They were turned away.

BEATRICE LONG VISITOR HOLY DANCE: Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance is an elder in the Native American Church, a Sun Dancer and a health worker among her own Lakota Oglala people. She wondered why she’d been invited to join the International Council of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. But she soon discovered that she really belonged with the group. It was concerned with all the issues with which she was struggling: environmental degradation, drugs and alcohol in her community, domestic violence and broken families, worldwide wars… The Grandmothers have used group prayer to transform themselves and the world. And Grandmother Beatrice talks about how the Lakota people use prayer, and how important it is for children, in particular, to be taught to pray. Her daughter has started an organic farming cooperative with the Lakota, which has over 500 families working in it. Beatrice stands 4 feet 10 inches tall and is past her 80th birthday, and she still drives her truck around the Lakota land, delivering medicine and food to her people.

RITA PITKA BLUMENSTEIN: A Grandmother from the Yupik nation, Rita Pitka Blumenstein was born and raised in Tununak, Alaska, where she learned to practice plant and energy medicine, later becoming a tribal healer. She is now on staff at Anchorage’s South Central Foundation traditional healing clinic. “I grew up with no grocery stores, and we had to learn to eat from the land. We didn’t grow vegetables, we just ate what God put down on the Earth. I talked to the plants…that’s how I learned my medicine…” Grandmother Rita uses a Teaching Circle method of dialogue in her work with tribal gatherings and other groups. You can learn more about that by listening to her Women Rising Radio profile. Grandmother Rita Pitka Blumenstein joined the International Council of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and was amazed at the strong healing energy she found with them. She is especially interested in finding ways that the Grandmothers can bring peace and end wars. “We have to share,” says Rita. “Instead of greed we have to share. That’s the song of the world.”