Annual Report 2016

Strengthening the Thread of Wisdom

Dear Community Wisdom Supporters,

Thanks to the continued support of our family of donors, 2016 was an incredible year of growth and capacity building for Sacred Fire Foundation.  We furthered our mission by increasing our grant program awards, which touched all five continents. We produced three Voices of Wisdom events and presented the Wisdom Treasure Award to Marcos Terena.

Recognizing the importance of the perspective held by the Elders, we formed an Indigenous Advisory Board to provide guidance and input into our program offerings.

After three years of volunteer work and leadership, Keiko Cronin stepped down from the Executive Director position. During her tenure, she created the stability that allowed us to hire our first full time Executive Director and several other part-time staff members.

The reach and recognition of our work increased as we participated in international conferences in Peru, South Africa and the United States. We engaged in impact assessment of our programs in order to evaluate and improve the fulfillment of our mission.

I hope you enjoy this report, in which we share highlights and information about our work in 2016.

With best regards,

David Wiley, Chairman of the Board

Protecting the Sacred

Through the generosity of our donors, in 2016 we disbursed the largest amount of funds in our history and expanded to cover all 5 continents!

Total donated
$90,885 USD

19 Grants
17 Peoples
10 Countries

We partnered with projects in 7 focus areas


Awareness Building

A delegation of Indigenous leaders travelled to New Zealand to learn from the Maori experience of achieving legal “personhood” for the Whanganui River so they can protect their own sacred lands.


Earth Stewardship

Mamos Elders and shamans led an extraordinary journey to the 44 sacred sites along the ‘Black Line’ of the Sierra Nevada in Colombia, passing on their sacred technologies to apprentices. This intricate web of exchange and offerings maintains the balance of nature for the benefit of all of humanity.



Shipibo children in Peru received teachings about medicinal plants and ceremonies, learning to be the future shamans of their communities in an area where migration and cultural loss is the common fate of youth.


Food and Healing

In the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, Tseltal Elders worked with youth and children on recovering lost medicinal plants and ancient knowledge of healing techniques, as well as the improvement of the community gardens for future generations.


Language, Art and Culture

Q’eqchi Maya communities in Guatemala and Belize shared the origin stories of their sacred site with younger generations, who wrote and illustrated these important stories for their communities. These spiritual narratives had been disregarded and dishonored by the church and were in danger of disappearing completely.


Ritual and Ceremony

The Raramuri community of Mogotavo (Chihuahua, Mexico) continued their work of revitalizing their culture and the traditional knowledge essential to the survival of their people. Among other sacred traditions, they celebrated and restored the Yumari ritual, a prayer for blessings and maintenance of the union between man, Nature and Onoruame, the Great Grandfather God.



At the Youth and Elders Camp in Arctic Village, Alaska, Gwich’in Elders taught youth how to build traditional dog sleds using local materials and keep their craftsmanship alive. The project was hugely successful and one student was so inspired she now makes and sells her own handcrafted dog sleds in her community.

Interactive Map of 2016 Grants

Tribes / Clans Funded in 2016

Belize Q’eqchi Maya
Canada Denendeh, Wsánéc
Ecuador Kichwa
Mexico Wixárika, Rarámuri, Tseltal, Maya and Tsotsil
New Zealand Maori
Peru Shipibo
Sri Lanka Sinhala
United States Gwich’in, Laguna Pueblo, Sioux and intertribal programs
Zimbawe VaRemba

In support of the defense of water and sacred lands, we provided funds for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In April 2016, after years of battling the Dakota Access Pipeline, they occupied a piece of land and, through ceremony and prayer, engaged in peaceful protest of the pipeline.

“The Yakanal experience left me with a thorn planted in my heart, which opened up in me the yearning to value and rescue all the customs and traditions of my culture – the language, the teachings of our Elders, because they are full of wisdom.”

–Luis Adalberto López Tuyub, Yucatec Maya,
Participant of the Yakanal Indigenous Youth Cultural Exchange Program

Voices of Wisdom

In 2016 we had 3 events where 123 participants were touched by the wisdom of the Elders
VOW Southeast in Asheville N.C. with Diane Longboat and Wanbdi Wakita

“Diane Longboat greeted us with a delightful warmth and openness. Her most memorable words for me were when she said that we are all Indigenous. She sees that the role of the First Nations people is to help all of us remember our ancestral wisdom. I was in tears. She addressed a longing in my heart. She invited us to be leaders in our professions by upholding the heart vision of connection to the land and to Spirit. She said that this is the way forward.”

–Judy Mann Participant at VOW Toronto, September 2016

Wisdom Treasure Award

The Wisdom Treasure Award is presented annually to honor the work of an Indigenous Elder who has demonstrated lifelong achievement in bringing wisdom, leadership and learning to their people and their community. On October 26th, Sacred Fire Foundation presented Xané leader Marcos Terena with the Wisdom Treasure Award to honor him for his leadership and tireless work for on behalf of Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Marcos has devoted his life to working for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and forMother Earth herself. In 1977, Terena founded the first Indigenous political movementin Brazil the Union of Indigenous Nations. The award ceremony took place during the Latin America Indigenous Funders Conference in Lima, Peru.

“We came here to fight for life. We came here to fight for our life, for our survival, but also for the survival of the planet, and the planet is just like a big canoe, a big boat, where we have blacks, Indians, whites. Because, when your lungs fail, can no longer breathe this air, your bodies will be sick and so will ours. And when we no longer have any water to drink, when you can no longer quench your thirst with the water from rivers, when you can no longer have forests, what are you going to do? You may invent some kind of pill to quench your thirst, but this will never taste as good as the fresh waters that we drink in our forests.”

– Marcos Terena

Xané Elder

Thank you for your support!

We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all of the people and organizations that have made this work possible. Without your financial support and your friendship, we would not be able to partner with so many wonderful Indigenous Communities all over the world.

“I have seen that my donations to the Sacred Fire Foundation have made my life richer, more prosperous, and bountiful in many ways.”

—Gwen Broz
Trustee and donor since 2007

Financial Information

Growth seemed to be the energy that infused our work during 2016. Our finances experienced an increase both in revenue and in expenses. We welcomed new donors and were fortunate to count on increased donations from our long-standing supporters. On the programs side, we were able to increase our grant fund amount and continued to produce events. Our operations expenses went up as a result of professionalizing the staff, but it is an investment that we are confident will support our work so that we can amplify our message and mission.




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