“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father.”
“And I saw that it was holy.”
-From “Black Elk Speaks” (as told to John Neihardt)
A gathering lineage of great importance to inter-tribal unity consciousness is the “Spiritual Unity of Tribes” gatherings, founded by Tlingit elder, James Wilbur Walton (Khaalaaxh), who was a leader of the Kaagwaantaan Wolf House of Sitka.
In 1953, James read the book “Black Elk Speaks”. He was so taken by the teachings of unity of all peoples and by Black Elk’s vision, as it was relayed in the book, that he went to the Sacred Black Hills, in South Dakota, to find the family of Black Elk and to determine if the book had accurately portrayed Black Elk’s vision.
Henry Black Elk, the grandson of Black Elk met with James and confirmed Black Elk’s vision. From that time on, James dedicated his life to bringing about a rebirth of traditional indigenous teachings in order to affect the health of his people and in order to help bring Black Elk’s vision into reality.
In the early 1980s, James traveled across the United States, talking to elders and spiritual leaders of many tribes to learn more about the spiritual prophesies and to garner a better understanding of the meaning behind those teachings. Whenever he spoke with elders he sought permission to begin holding sacred gatherings.
In 1988, James consulted with the Cree Elders (Saulteaux) on the Pasqua Reserve in Saskatchewan, Canada, including the family of James Iron Eagle and his son Harvey Iron Eagle. He spoke with them regarding the many prophecies of the indigenous people and the time of their fulfillment. It was Grandmother Iron Eagle who was the first in this family discussion to recognize that “the time had come”.
It was initially believed that only the medicine people and the elders would gather together to consult, and then teach and lead others. But Grandmother Iron Eagle and other elders on the Pasqua Reserve felt there wasn’t much time remaining; that there had to be Gatherings “now”. Understanding must be given to all mankind, and as many as possible must be included. The elders said things must be done “in a good way” so that the prophecies could be fulfilled as they had been revealed.
The guidance of the elders was followed and the first Spiritual Unity of Tribes gathering was held on the Pasqua Reserve, outside of Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1989. As of 2016, there have been hundreds of Spiritual Unity Gatherings held worldwide, including two in Siberia, several in Alaska and 17 in Australia.