Gathering In Gratitude 2017: The Future is Ours

August 6 - 13, 2017
Mahalo Art Center
West Brattleboro, Vermont

APPLY HERE

7 - 70+ year olds are welcome to apply to participate in this year's special one week intensive. There are spaces for interns, counselors in training and participants. Thanks to The Blessing Foundation and an anonymous donor, scholarships are available. 
This program is open to 7 – 70+ year olds
Interns and Helpers meet Aug. 6 – 13 for relatively full days. The exact schedule will be announced. Please call 802-451-9495 for information about the remaining few spots. 
Children 7 – 12 years old meet Aug. 7 – 9 from 8:30 – 3, Aug. 10 from 8:30 – 6pm, Aug.11 from 8:30 – ~9pm (with breaks), Aug. 12 from noon to ~9pm (with breaks), and Sunday Aug. 13th from 9 – noon.
Teens and Adults share the children’s schedule but stay until ~9pm each evening, except for Sunday, when closing circle ends at noon.
Please contact 802-451-9495 if you would like to have a conversation with the director before applying. 
Cost: $500 per participant
Scholarships are available, thanks to The Blessing Foundation and a gift from an anonymous donor.

Please ask about scholarships.
APPLY HERE

HERE IS INFORMATION ABOUT LAST YEAR: 
In 2016, a delegation of 18 people (16 children, teens, young adults, adults) and two elders from Massachusetts and North Carolina traveled to South Dakota for two weeks participating in the Gathering of Eagles in Hill City from June 21 - June 25 and then for an intensive on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation from June 26 - July 3. We offered Gathering in Gratitudes at both places and were received with great emotion and heart-centered responses. The two weeks were quite profoundly moving for participants and audiences alike. We are in the process of posting more about this event.

Gathering in Gratitude (GiG) is a joyous, life-affirming and intensive adventure! A transformational, creative community experience inspired by the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Thanksgiving Address,  GiG empowers soulful, Nature-based explorations and creates a new reality out of the material emerging from the collective. Multi-generational ensemble members engage their imagination, feelings and will to co-create a heart-centered poetic presentation of story, music, dance and visual arts to share with local audiences. 

From the standpoint of a theatre major, you just don’t get that Nature-inspired grounding in most theatre productions. GiG, for me, was a peaceful, mindful, community-building experience; radical, refreshing, restful and welcoming.
— Edward Burke, Artist, Musician, Poet

Join us around the fire. Give thanks for all of Nature. People of all religions and spiritualities are welcome. Artists of all abilities are welcome. As one participate put it, "GiG is a validation of everybody's life."

ABOVE is a slide show in process about GiG 2016 in South Dakota (and a bit from before and after the journey!). Please stay tuned for captions and more pictures.

These are exceptionally trying times on Earth and for human-kind. Throughout the planet, people are enduring, evolving and emerging in beautiful ways. The Gathering in Gratitude process asserts that we are all aware and powerfully creative.
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From Mahalo Art Center, we wish you all health and happiness. Please continue imagining peace, health and happiness for all beings. Thank you for using your gifts in service of the future generations!

LIFE, DEATH, DREAMS AND TRANSFORMATION
This mini-film gives you a flavor of what went into the creation of GiG 2015 and our fundraising for the two week journey to South Dakota in 2016.  Camera: Ezlerh Oreste, Jeff Kolter;   Editing: Jeff Kolter  Directors: Jeff Kolter, Luz Elena Morey 

As a third year participant I feel there is giving and taking with open hearts. ... We all have a lot to learn no matter what age. Luz Elena makes that possible with a gentle guiding hand. That hand is full of smiles, laughter and camaraderie.
This ongoing event feeds not only the audience and participants, but all the world.

Below are images from the Gathering in Gratitude process that has been evolving since 2007. 

Above are images from the Gathering in Gratitude process that has been evolving since 2007. 

 View "THE SOURCE:"
a gorgeous 22-minute documentary film about the Gathering in Gratitude process

The top film is of lower resolution for quicker access and the lower one is in HD (high definition). 

Gratitude ... goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
— Henri J. M. Nouwen
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AUDIENCE COMMENTS

From the November 17, 2012 Gathering in Gratitude documentary video premier of
filmmaker Chip Duggin’s “The Source” along with its audience participatory event:

  •  "The productions are very relaxing and I come out of there feeling refreshed and renewed."
  • "No matter how many productions of the Thanksgiving Address I have been in and seen, attending this new one moved me to tears."
  • "magical show"
  • "I love that in this process everyone's voice matters and is welcomed."
  • "Well composed, beautifully lit video. It gave a very good sense of what the program is all about."
  • "Very Powerful Film that represents the spiritual essence of gratitude."
  • "Spectacular work!"
  • "Thank you! It fills my heart to see children and adults playing together in a spirit of creativity and gratitude and not in the usual hierarchical model. May I participate in the next one?"
  • "Makes my heart and soul swell - beautiful- thank you!"
  • "Luz Elena carries a large heart not of this world ... an astral beam piercing the night"
  • "The movie was awesome."
  • "Words do not come nor would they suffice to describe my feelings/thoughts/reactions!"
  • "Wonderful therapy!"

In Memory of Tekaronianeken Chief Jake Swamp
Please see obituary below.

Luz Elena’s Gratitude for Jake Swamp:

In the summer of 2007 I contacted Chief Jake Swamp for advice and sanctioning because I was being guided to offer a community-uniting multi-generational sacred theater performance inspired by The Thanksgiving Address: 'The Words Before All Else,' (which has since become "Gathering in Gratitude").  Since 1998 I'd been illuminated by these teachings.  Meeting Jake and Judy many years ago, I was encouraged to focus even more on giving thanks. What has emerged is “Gathering in Gratitude,” a sacred theatrical community performance: a pageant of music, dance and drama that is newly created each time by the multi-generational cast, and which brings people’s minds and hearts together as one by honoring the natural world.

That summer day in 2007, on the phone, Jake listened patiently, in his always noble and deeply heart-centered way.   He encouraged me to be inspired by The Thanksgiving Address and to create something new - in a way that resonated with me, personally, and in a way that made sense to the actual people in the community who were participating.  Then, he asked, “How may I help?” 

He proceeded to make us a recording: "The Origin of the Thanksgiving Address," and we used it for the performance. It was profound. Jake's blessing and encouragement has been foundational in all this artistic work with the Thanksgiving Address throughout the years in different communities.

On Friday morning, October 15th, of 2010, I had breakfast with a cast member from that year’s Gathering in Gratitude.  This new cast member was describing a vision he had for this year’s presentation: he saw himself on stage, lost in the pain of his own fast-paced, self–centered lifestyle, while visiting a Native American elder - a medicine man. 

Over breakfast we discussed these visions, as well as modern western society, emotional breakdowns, nature-based experiences and nature-inspired revelations that lead to more peaceful ways of living.

Before leaving the breakfast, this man stopped me, paused inwardly a moment, and said, "The Native American - he is a chief."

I replied, "OK," totally trusting this process.  Then I told him, "Listen deeply and you will be given guidance."  

In minutes I was at my next work site and received the news of Chief Jake Swamp's passing. 

The Thanksgiving Address, one of Jake’s many gifts to us (though it is an ancient teaching of his people), says that the enlightened teachers who have died may be called upon for help and they will come and guide us.

I remember another time, years ago, when I called Jake Swamp.  There was lots of talk of peace-making among the people in my community at that time, and many people were advocating for the use of a peacemaking formula that I found was open to interpretation.  I perceived an impressive amount of judgment and passive-aggressive behavior purporting to be peaceful behavior.  I called Jake for guidance.  He told me that different people at different stages of their developement have different ways of being and that I was to have integrity and interpret these peace-making teachings in a way that honored my own being, truth and culture.  Once again, Jake Swamp took a stand to share from his culture in a way that encouraged the honoring of one’s own way of being and one’s own culture.

I am most grateful for Jake Swamp’s kindness, power, patience, care, generosity, participation, wisdom, humility, nobility and encouragement.

I am grateful for Chief Jake Swamp and for his family and people, and for the greater family/community he touches.  I encourage all of us on the path of peace to continue to listen deeply and to follow our callings in service to the peace and well being of all the future generations.

Biography of Tekaronianeken Jake Swamp, October 18, 1941 - October 15, 2010

Tekaronianeken, meaning "Where two skies come together", was born at home at Akwesasne Mohawk Nation Territory in 1941. He married Judy Point of Akwesasne and they raised seven children together and also have 23 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

For over thirty years, Jake was a Mohawk Sub-chief and representative of the Mohawk Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. In holding the position as a leader of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation his responsibilities included presiding over thanksgiving ceremonies, birth and marriage ceremonies, counseling, funeral rites, and the politics of the nation and confederacy.

In addition to nation and community responsibilities, Jake has been involved in many political activities over the years, which are an indication of his commitment to the plight of the Indigenous people of the Americas. Jake's involvement with politics began in the late 1960’s when Native People across America were fighting for their Human and Treaty Rights. Participating in the 1969 International Seaway Bridge Blockade was just the beginning of many initiatives of activism for Jake Swamp. 

Chief Jake Swamp

Chief Jake Swamp

Jake Swamp was of the delegation that was involved with the negotiations after the Wounded Knee occupation, participated in the Longest Walk, and was also a part of the Ganienkeh Land reclamation. He attended the Russell Tribunal in the Netherlands, and has traveled to Geneva, Switzerland as a delegate of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy

Jake has inspired a new generation of Mohawk leaders and teachers who are now taking the place of Elders in the communities of the Iroquois and was directly involved in the creation of the Akwesasne Freedom School - a Mohawk language immersion school of critical acclaim that has been an inspiration to many First Nation peoples in the United States and Canada. He was also director of an environmental education project and introduced aqua-culture to the community of Akwesasne. He also managed C.K.O.N Radio Station in which he developed a Mohawk language program with the elders of Akwesasne. Jake has inspired hundreds of people of many races and cultures through working with a number of influential organizations.

In 1982, Jake Swamp founded the Tree of Peace Society, which is based on the teachings of the Peacemaker and the formation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. The mandate is to provide a historical review of the contributions of the Iroquois Confederacy and to re-enact the tree planting ceremony by burying the weapons of war involving all races and creeds to uphold the principles of the Great Law of Peace.

The Tree of Peace Society was sanctioned by the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs in 1985 and by the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee as an effective means of pursuing and implementing cultural and environmental education. The Tree of Peace Society was incorporated as a 501(c)3 Non-Profit corporation in New York State in 1994.

As result of his thirty years experience as a sub-chief of the Mohawk Nation and international ambassador, Jake has been traveling around the world, doing tree planting ceremonies in diverse places such as Israel, Australia, South America, England, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Morroco, Japan, Thailand, France, Germany and Sweden. He has also planted a tree at St. Johns' Cathedral in New York City and over twenty colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Through his tree planting efforts, Jake has inspired the planting of over 200 million trees. He continues to inspire many college students of all races and backgrounds through his extensive lecturing schedule which takes him to over 10 universities and other speaking engagements a year.

Jake has appeared on the television program Five Hundred Nations, which has become educational software; Ancient Prophecies which aired in 1994 on NBC, Finite Oceans which aired on the Discovery channel in 1994; and educational display videos for the Carnegie Museum in Chicago. Jake isthe author of the children's book Giving Thanks, A Native American Good Morning Message (Lee & Low Books), which has been translated into five languages and was featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. Jake also authored The Peacemaker's Journey audio cassette produced by Parabola Magazine (1996).

Jake Swamp served as President of the Tree of Peace Society and maintained an active schedule of lectures, workshops and tree plantings. He was previously employed with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne facilitating the "Men for Change" program at the Iethinistenha Family Violence Shelter, working with men on domestic violence issues. He worked as a cultural adviser for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne's Child and Family Services until his passing.

© 2010 Tree of Peace Society
326 Cook Road, Hogansburg, N.Y. 13655
Phone/Fax (518) 358-2641
treeofpeace@earthlink.net