The Wisdom of the Past is the Seed of the Future

The Mission of the Sacred Fire Foundation Grant Program

The mission of Sacred Fire Foundation is two-fold: to ensure the continuance of ancestral wisdom; and to expand awareness about why the Indigenous worldview is crucial for all of us now, as well as for the future generations. We envision a global society that prioritizes balance, community, and connection, and helps to sustain all life on earth.

Since 2012, our grant program Protecting the Sacred, has funded 126 grants totaling nearly $525,000 to Indigenous communities in 23 countries, on 5 continents.

 

About the Protecting the Sacred Grant Program

To further the mission of the Sacred Fire Foundation, our grant program, Protecting the Sacred, provides modest grants and organizational support for Indigenous wisdom-keepers and their communities to assist them in the maintenance of traditional ways and the realization of a sustainable future rooted in Indigenous values. We fund projects around the world that reflect, support, and/or restore spiritual and cultural practices based in ancestral wisdom, with the hope that this ensures it can continue to flourish for generations to come.

 

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Focus Areas – Áreas de Interés

Awareness Building – Despertando Conciencia

Grants Focus Area – Awareness Building

We support projects that document Indigenous wisdom and worldviews in such a way that they can be shared with the rest of humankind. Indigenous ancestral wisdom might seem far removed from our lives, nonetheless it is a treasure trove for all of humanity, allowing us to learn from the varied experiences accumulated through millennia by Indigenous Peoples in relating to each other and to the natural world in a more balanced and respectful way. To learn more about these projects, we invite you to peruse our Awareness Building projects page, where you can read more about this focus area and view the impact we have had the chance to create:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/awareness-building/

 
 

Áreas de Interés – Despertando Conciencia

Apoyamos proyectos dedicados a documentar la sabiduría y cosmovisión indígena para compartirlas con el resto de la humanidad. La sabiduría ancestral indígena podría parecer muy ajena a nuestras vidas, pero es un tesoro de la humanidad que nos permite aprender de la experiencia acumulada a través de milenios por los pueblos indígenas sobre cómo los seres humanos podemos relacionarnos de una manera más equilibrada y respetuosa entre nosotros y con el mundo natural. Aprende más acerca de estos proyectos aquí: https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/awareness-building/

Earth Stewardship – Protectores de la Tierra

Grants Focus Area – Earth Stewardship

Indigenous Peoples are at the front-line of environmental devastation as their sacred lands become targets for exploitation and economic gain. We support projects that protect our Earth and promote the values of reciprocity and respect that are at the heart of sustainable living. To learn more about these projects, we invite you to peruse our Earth Stewardship projects page, where you can read more about this focus area and view the impact we have had the chance to create:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/earth-stewardship/

 
 

Áreas de Interés – Protectores de la Tierra

Los pueblos indígenas están en la línea de fuego de la devastación ambiental, ya que sus tierras sagradas están bajo acecho de quienes explotan y buscan ganancias económicas. Apoyamos proyectos que protegen a la tierra y que promueven los valores de reciprocidad y respeto, que son el corazón de una vida sustentable. Aprende más acerca del impacto que hemos tenido la oportunidad de crear:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/earth-stewardship/

Education – Educación

Grants Focus Area – Education

We support projects that teach and inspire children and youth to learn from and participate in the traditional practices of their people: singing their songs, following their ceremonial cycles, and learning traditional knowledge from their community elders. To learn more about these projects, we invite you to peruse our Education projects page, where you can read more about this focus area and view the impact we have had the chance to create:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/education

 
 

Áreas de Interés – Educación

Apoyamos proyectos que enseñan e inspiran a niños y a jóvenes a participar y a aprender sobre sus prácticas tradicionales: a cantar sus canciones, a seguir sus ciclos ceremoniales, a aprender sobre su conocimiento ancestral y medicina tradicional. Aprende más acerca del impacto que hemos tenido la oportunidad de crear:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/education/

Food & Healing – Comida & Medicinas Tradicionales

Grants Focus Area – Food & Healing

We support projects in Indigenous communities aimed at keeping traditional food, healing sources & teachings, and cultural practices alive, both for the sustenance of the people and for the creation of awareness about the ways in which the earth continually supports us, individually and collectively. To learn more about these projects, we invite you to peruse our Food and Healing projects page, where you can read more about this focus area and view the impact we have had the chance to create:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/food-and-healing/

 
 

Áreas de Interés – Comida & Medicinas Tradicionales

Apoyamos proyectos en comunidades indígenas para que puedan mantener vivas sus fuentes tradicionales de alimentación, así como sus prácticas medicinales ancestrales, tanto para su sustento, como para crear consciencia de que la tierra nos sostiene de forma continua, individual y colectivamente. Aprende más acerca del impacto que hemos tenido la oportunidad de crear:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/food-and-healing/

Language, Art & Culture – Lenguaje, Arte & Cultura

Grants Focus Area – Language, Art & Culture

We support projects that revitalize Indigenous languages and arts, celebrating the richness of diversity necessary for cultures to flourish. To learn more about these projects, we invite you to peruse our Language, Art and Culture projects page, where you can read more about this focus area and view the impact we have had the chance to create:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/language-art-and-culture/

 
 

Áreas de Interés – Lenguaje, Arte & Cultura

Apoyamos proyectos que revitalizan las lenguas indígenas para promover la riqueza de la diversidad y que, a su vez, sus culturas puedan florecer. Aprende más acerca del impacto que hemos tenido la oportunidad de crear:

Ritual & Ceremony – Ritual & Ceremonia

Grants Focus Area – Ritual & Ceremony

We support the rituals and ceremonies of Indigenous Peoples that strengthen the fabric of connection between humans, the ancestors, the sacred and the natural world. To learn more about these projects, we invite you to peruse our Ritual and Ceremony projects page, where you can read more about this focus area and view the impact we have had the chance to create:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/ritual-and-ceremony/

 
 

Áreas de Interés – Ritual & Ceremonia

Apoyamos rituales y las ceremonias de los pueblos indígenas en todo el mundo, que fortalecen el tejido de conexión entre los seres humanos, los ancestros, lo sagrado y el mundo natural. Aprende más acerca del impacto que hemos tenido la oportunidad de crear:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/ritual-and-ceremony/

 

Youth – Jóvenes

Grants Focus Area – Youth

We support projects that help Indigenous youth understand and value their ancestral culture with dignity and strength, and to incorporate modernity in their lives in a balanced and effective way. The link between youth and elders is essential to the continuance of wisdom and to the survival of cultures. To learn more about these projects, we invite you to peruse our Youth projects page, where you can read more about this focus area and view the impact we have had the chance to create:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/youth/
 
 

Áreas de Interés – Jóvenes

Apoyamos proyectos que ayudan a los jóvenes indígenas a entender y a valorar su cultura con fortaleza y dignidad, y a incorporarse en la vida moderna de una manera equilibrada y efectiva. Los jóvenes son el eslabón clave en la transmisión de la sabiduría de nuestros abuelos para que sus culturas puedan sobrevivir. Aprende más acerca del impacto que hemos tenido la oportunidad de crear:
https://www.sacredfire.foundation/focus-areas/youth/

 

Sacred Fire Foundation Grant Review Committee

Mercedes Caso

Director of Grantmaking, Grant Review Committee

Mercedes is a philanthropy and non-for-profit specialist for international programs. Her areas of expertise include grant making program design and coordination, board governance, and cross-sector and U.S.-Mexico binational partnerships for social development. Her fields of focus include human rights – particularly migrants and indigenous people’s rights – disaster philanthropy, and strengthening civil society. She received her master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy in New York, and a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Universidad Iberoamericana inMexico City. She strongly believes in the value of protecting and promoting cultural diversity and the importance of recognizing Indigenous wisdom as a heritage for humanity. She loves music and dancing and has a beautiful son named Michael.

 

Artemia Fabre Zarandona

Board of Trustees, Grant Review Committee

Artemia is native to México and holds a PhD in Social Anthropology. Since 1988 her main work has been in research and in teaching in different Universities in México specializing in the anthropology of religion and judicial anthropology. Artemia regularly conducts seminars and postgraduate courses about Indigenous rights, cultural diversity and the intercultural dialogue for legal representatives of Indigenous people, lawyers, judges, human rights advocates and public employees. She is an advisor to anthropologists and lawyers in judicial process where Indigenous individuals or groups require expertise in their culture, judicial system and values.

 

Gwen Broz

Board of Trustees, Grant Review Committee

From Brookfield, MA, Gwen majored in Psychology and later became a doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Gwen is an initiated mará akáme (healer) in the Huichol tradition and plays an important community role as a fire keeper for her hamlet. She has had a successful patient care practice for 30 years that now includes deep shamanic healing as well. Gwen was a strong volunteer on a committee that produced city master plans over a two-year period.

 

Grant Stories


Busuréliame, Inner Awakening Through Ceremony

The Sacred Fire Foundation grant provided logistical support, food for the Tarahumara during the planning and conducting of two regional harvest ceremonies which are part of a larger vision and program to strengthen Tarahumara resilience. Busuréliame (Inner Awakening)...

Creative Steps toward Gender Equality. Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, Belize.

The customs of Q'eqchi Mayan communities in Belize have been under threat from recent evangelical colonization that prohibits the practice of Indigenous cultural traditions. In response, an intergenerational project was created to rekindle an interest among Mayan...

A day at Nii Juinti

A good part of the grant received from Sacred Fire Foundation allowed the Nii Juinti school to buy all the necessary instruments and pay the workforce for cleaning, preparing and planting a wide variety of medicine plants typically utilized in the Shipibo culture by shamans.

Busuréliame:  Awakening the Conscience in the Sierra Tarahumara

The Yumari Project, which is coordinated by Tarahumara shaman and artist, Makawi, has evolved into a more comprehensive program for cultural awakening in the community of Mogotavo. The Tarahumara word for cultural education is busuréliame, which signifies to awake the conscience of the pueblo to universal knowledge.

Experiencing Elder Wisdom in Toronto

I attended the Voices of Wisdom event, held in near Toronto, Ontario, Canada on September 24 and 25, 2016. The event featured the Elders Kahontakwas Diane Longboat, Mohawk Elder, and Wanbdi Wakita, a Dakota Elder. Both of these Elders are spiritual leaders in their ancestral communities, and leaders in their professions in the greater community.

Feeling the Heart of the World at Voices of Wisdom

Listening to Kahontakwas, Diane Longboat, and Taoyewakanwi (Her Ways Are Sacred), Charlene O’Rourke, at the Voices of Wisdom at the Blue Deer Center June 11-12 was like a waking dream for me.

Reviving A River, Reviving A Lost Culture

“The Elders used to call Myntdu River their mother,” shares H. H. Mohrmen, a Jaintia Unitarian minister and an environmentalist from Meghalaya. Mohrmen is in a jeep with journalists, who are traveling to cover a unique riverine festival that is hosted by Elders from communities downstream of Myntdu. The drive on winding roads in the West Jaintia Hills passes by tall areca nut trees wrapped in pepper vines. Below, a rust-hued riverbank glistens in the sun.

Concentric Circles Sharing Fire at the Centre

Voices of Wisdom, in Asheville NC, completed one circle and initiated another. Before I knew anything about the Sacred Fire Community or Foundation, I knew Wanbdi Wakita. The circle began about 15 years ago, in the heat of Wanbdi’s Purification Ceremony, where I prayed to my Ancestors to help guide me on my journey.

Wanbdi Wakita, the calling of a Holy Man

Wanbdi Wakita, whose name translates into English as Looking Eagle, was born at home with the help of a midwife on a breezy day in October in the community of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. It was 1940. Overseas the world was at war, but a different kind of struggle was taking place at home.

Words from the Mamos. Insights from the Black Line Journey 2015

The Indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Martha in Colombia have a mission of utmost importance: to bring healing and balance to the earth for the benefit of all of humanity through their spiritual work of offerings and ceremony. They consider their land to be the heart of the world, contained by an invisible “Black Line.”

Maasai youth go on a life changing journey back to tradition

The Maasai youth, whose people reside and travel along the border between Kenya and Tanzania, sit in the crosshairs of modernization. Like many Indigenous youth they face immense pressure by outside forces attempting to instill in them that their ways are backwards, irrelevant and something for which they should be ashamed.

From Extinction to Existence: The Wôpanâak Language

Dormant for 150 years, a lost Indigenous language is brought back to life by a Native woman, setting into motion a cultural revitalization process.

Building Reciprocal Relationship with the Earth

Five Indigenous Elders Share their Wisdom

Reviving Native Languages, Reviving a Vital Lifeline for Cultural Survival

Language extinction can lead to cultural annihilation. When a language is lost, a culture is lost as songs, ancient ceremonial chants and vibrant storytelling traditions vanish. In North America, the legacy of settler colonialism, a violent and racist boarding school system, where Native children were forbidden to speak their mother tongues, endangered many Indigenous languages, driving some to extinction.

What I Learned from the Elders at Ancient Wisdom Rising

The 2015 Ancient Wisdom Rising (AWR) gathering is over, but I will continue to savor the rich experience of being with over 180 kindred spirits for two days as we enjoyed the wisdom of several prominent Elders from around the world.

Reclaiming the Sacredness of Water

“I come from a long line of teachers of rivers, who did not live in big cities and traffic,” shared Chief Caleen Sisk, spiritual and tribal leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe at Resilience of Sacred Places: Defining Security, dialogues hosted by the Sacred Land Film Project and the David Brower Center in July 2015. These dialogues shared the vision and perspectives of Native American women, defenders of sacred sites and Indigenous cultures, on “homelands” and “security.”

Voices of Wisdom

Three gatherings took place in the first two weeks of June. The first was in Brookfield, MA with Kahontakwas Diane Longboat (Mohawk) and David Tall Pine White (Nipmuc). The following weekend we book-ended the continent with Marcy Vaughn (Tibetan Bön) and Paula Nelson (Eastern Band Cherokee) in Greensboro, NC and Chief Ernie Salas (Kizh/Gabrieleño) and Chief Caleen Sisk (Winnemum Wintu) in Santa Monica, CA.

6 Reasons to Join Ancient Wisdom Rising

It can be said that human beings are a continuum. We are pieces, stories, visions and reflections of those who walked this Earth long before us.

The Ancient Wisdom Rising gathering is an effort to preserve the living continuity of ancient wisdom through dialogue, connection and discovery.

Shifting from Savior Complex to Indigenous-Led Solutions

“We need strength-based grantmaking, which recognizes the internal strengths of Indigenous peoples and their inherent knowledge and wisdom.”

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