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Remembering Grandmother Sara Smith (RIP)


Reposted from Macleans: https://archive.macleans.ca/article/2002/4/1/sara-smith

Shut the heavy door and the large, already homey kitchen in the Native Women’s Resource Centre becomes a welcome sanctuary from the grit of downtown Toronto. For the eight women sitting purposefully around a Formica table, an added balm is the person they have come to see—Grandmother Sara Smith, a Mohawk from the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ont., a modest, big-boned elder with a mischievous smile and the kind of soothing voice you’d like to fall asleep to.

Once the dinner dishes are cleared, Grandmother Sara, as she is almost universally known, prepares to conduct what she calls “a circle,” a meditative gathering for sharing and healing spiritual wounds. From her medicine bundle she sets out a woven mat, deer antlers and a shell to hold the tobacco and other “sacred plants” she plans to burn, sending their aromas throughout the room. The discussion, too, flows as freely as the smoke between the symbolic and the everyday. Sara gently connects the dots: a baby’s cry down the hall leads into a homily about the natural intuition that is locked within us all.

Close your eyes and you could be transported back hundreds, maybe thousands, of years to late-night talk around a hearth and the gentle ritual of congregation. But “this is not religion,” says Grandmother Sara. “This is not native religion.” What she is proclaiming in her own quiet manner is spiritual journeying “as a way of life”—a way of being thoughtful today about the generations to come.

Now 62, Grandmother Sara began her own journey in earnest some 30 years ago as her four children were growing up and she felt there was something incomplete about her spiritual life. A stint in tribal politics didn’t fill the gap. Nor, entirely, did regular get-togethers with a group of women to analyze dreams, conscious meditative dreaming being a staple of inner life and decision-making for many natives. But both led inexorably to a re-examination of the old ways and the old legends, to long conversations with elders and visiting tribal leaders. And to the point where Sara is herself now one of those elders—the “Grandmother” is an honorific, though she’s a legit one, too, with 12 grandchildren.

In her day job, Grandmother Sara manages a non-profit gift store on the Six Nations reserve to help individuals with special needs. Her home is a cozy mix of native art and modern technology. An oversized satellite dish stands guard outside; a granddaughter does her homework on a laptop. But art and technology pale beside the signs of an ancient belief: in the backyard, a prayer circle of white pines; next door, a spiritual centre that she and her husband, Roger, had built a year ago, with a great hall and bedrooms for visitors. It is their gift—of a modest haven—to a world they see hungering for belief. And it is a world already beating a path to their door.

In Grandmother Sara’s kitchen, there’s a calendar of commitments that seems to stretch to another lifetime. Her travels have taken her to England, Europe, Australia, Central America and throughout Canada and the United States. A few years ago she was the only Canadian invited to meet with the Dalai Lama at a gathering of indigenous peoples from five continents at a Tibetan monastery in France. It was an event called the Gathering of the Shamans, and while Grandmother Sara feels native beliefs have much in common with Buddhism, she is categorical that she is not a seer or shaman—when pressed she says she is not even sure what the terms mean. She is simply a custodian, someone who keeps the oral traditions alive and links them, when possible, with the events of today. “We are a circular people,” she says, and by that she means many things. One of them: that a kind and thoughtful life can resonate for generations.


Greetings from S.E. Kenneth Cosentino

I have been asked to formally introduce myself here. My name is S.E. Kenneth Cosentino and I was born December 4th, 1989. I have lived in Niagara Falls, NY my entire life. One great aspect of living in the Falls is that I have been immersed in Haudenosaunee culture since childhood. I understand that we are guests here in their ancestral home, and so I strive for proper education and understanding of their culture.

As for my own culture, my mother is full-blooded Sicilian. I was raised by her and my maternal grandparents. Like Ongwehonweh culture, Sicilian culture is matrilineal. My father and I have been estranged since I was 9 years old. Through his blood, I am a descendant of Sir William Wallace, the Scottish knight who helped free Scotland from the English colonizers. In a very real sense, Wallace’s blood runs through my veins like a stampede of wild buffalo. Mixed with my Sicilian blood, there is a lot of fire and fury inside of me which I have disciplined myself to control, so that I am not a danger to others.

Instead, I have been a danger to injustice. I work for myself as a freelance artist and writer. I also own a production company called White Lion Studios, LLC. I have been a professional filmmaker since 2008. Art is a large part of my life and always has been. In my community, I am known mostly for being an artist and an activist. I have been actively involved in politics since 2017 as a means to an end. Politics is supposed to be the art of compromise and so I have explored it as an artistic medium. What I’ve found is corruption, not only of the system, but of the souls of countless individuals seeking a power which will never be theirs.

My maternal grandmother was born with a veil over her face, and my mother was born on Samhain. Our bloodline has been traced back to ancient Israel. Our ancestors fled persecution and hid in the Balkan mountains where they supposedly became goat herders. Their gypsy lifestyle has always been present in our family; we dance the Tarantella and we celebrate our cultural roots. One theory is that our ancestors followed their herd down into Sicily and made their new home there, becoming one of the tribes that would eventually spawn the Cosa Nostra.

My grandfather always taught me that Sicilians were considered Black when he was born, and it wasn’t until he was around 12 years old that he was considered white. This means that I am half-Black on my mother’s side, and half-white on my father’s. When most people look at me, they see pale skin and assume that I am white.

I have been honored and privileged to work with the Eastern Woodlands tribes for the past few years. I have had the opportunity to work closely with elders from the Mohawk Nation, the Tuscarora Nation, and the Seneca Nation; as well as Algonquin elders. As an initiate of the secret teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, I am always conscious of the parallels between our practices and those of the fire keepers. I myself am a hereditary fire keeper. Even my name means fire.

In addition to my art, I am a writer. I have published my first book, “Secret Teachings of the Hidden Masters,” and I am working on the second installment. I am also a teacher, both of the arts and of the mystical arts (namely, dream walking). I am also actively involved in cultivating spiritual growth in the youth of our community. 

For more information about who I am, please visit my personal website: www.theniagarian.com


Thank you,

S.E. Kenneth Cosentino





(Keep your guard up & watch what you believe)


Self Protection

Psychic (Spiritual) Self-Defense is a necessary part of taking care of one’s self.  It does not have to be scary or creepy.  It is a positive act of self responsibility.  The more one becomes Conscious and open to greater levels of understanding, the more light they will shine on areas of darkness that were previously in the shadows.  The negative elements that exist in Creation do not like to be exposed and will try, karma permitting, to harm those bearers of light that get in their way.

In this 3rd dimensional world, we live in a state of duality (Yin & Yang).  We all hold elements of both the light and the dark, within our eternal beingness.  We also have the ability to choose our own thoughts and we have been given free will by the Creator.

At times, we all have moments of vulnerability & weakness when our shields our down.  That is OK!  The important thing is to work on becoming better human beings, learn from our mistakes, bounce back and surround ourselves with good people, friends and family.  This goes a long way towards combating the negative and avoiding physic attacks.  We have the power if we have trust in ourselves and in the Great Spirit.

Medicine Men especially fall victim to psychic attacks if they are not careful or if their ego gets in their way.  Men like Mad Bear & Rolling Thunder especially had their share of close calls, as a result of how far they were able to push the envelope, delve deep into the psychic realm and expose the dark forces of opposition.

Though experience, Medicine Men have learned how to deal with psychic attacks.  Sometimes, they simply step out of the way.


WHAT IS INDIGENOUS “MEDICINE”? Part 3 [article] [YouTube]


Let’s look at Eleazar Williams’ Medicine (for an example)!


One of the great Tuscarora medicine men was Eleazar Williams (1880-1968), a Sachem Chief of the Turtle Clan.  He studied medicine under the tutelage of Juh G’wa Dee (Cayuga) from the 6 Nations reserve in Canada.

Eleazar was the father of elder Mad Bear’s friend, Ted Williams (1930-2005).  Just like Peter Mitten, Mad Bear had a high degree of respect & admiration for Eleazar and the lighthearted, yet humble way in which he practiced Native American medicine.

The Williams family had a great sense of humor and they were fun to be around.  This probably had an influence on Mad Bear as well.  The Williams, like many Tuscarora families, were both Baptist and traditional.  They managed to preserve & maintain their traditional customs & beliefs, while practicing Christianity.

Read more WHAT IS INDIGENOUS “MEDICINE”? Part 3 [article] [YouTube]

WHAT IS INDIGENOUS “MEDICINE”? Part 2 [article] [YouTube]


Let’s look at Peter Mitten’s Medicine (an example) to inform us!


One of the greatest Cayuga medicine men was Peter “Mitten” John (1904-1974).  Elder Mad Bear had a high degree of respect & admiration for Peter, his mentor, and the humble way in which he practiced Native American medicine.  Mad Bear was his student and he learned much by observing Peter Mitten in the field and took part in many grand adventures with him, as his trusty sidekick.


A teaching moment with Peter Mitten

Mad Bear had a close-knit working relationship with Rolling Thunder (1916-1997) aka R.T. (Cherokee), who lived in Carlin, Nevada.  Author, Doug Boyd, written a book about R.T. and his medicine in 1974.  Outside of this connection, Mad Bear & R.T. were friends with another medicine man, Semu Huaute (Chumash), who lived in California.  He was the founder of the Red Wind Intertribal Medicine Camp, San Luis Obispo County.

Read more WHAT IS INDIGENOUS “MEDICINE”? Part 2 [article] [YouTube]

WHAT IS INDIGENOUS “MEDICINE”? Part 1 [article] [YouTube]


Let’s look at Mad Bear’s Medicine (as an example) to inform us!


“The power is not within the medicine men, the power is within the Creator.  We work through the Creator.  We’re only the tools of the Creator.  Without him, Indian medicine can’t work.” -Mad Bear (Tuscarora/Iroquois)


It was Mad Bear’s eventful circumstance of being denied a G.I. bill loan to build a house on the Tuscarora Reservation that triggered his calling to become an activist for his Indian people and a medicine man.  Mad Bear researched the prophecies of this people, the teachings of the great Peacemaker, the political history of his forefathers and sought out the great medicine men of the Haudenosaunee.

Read more WHAT IS INDIGENOUS “MEDICINE”? Part 1 [article] [YouTube]



(We have much to be thankful for)

“Let us awaken to our duty to always be thankful!” -Ted Williams (Tuscarora)


We have much to be thankful for!  For many of you new to spirituality who are unfamiliar with how to give thanks, how to pray or how to pass on blessings, below in bold print is an incredibly powerful indigenous prayer (blessing) of thanksgiving, which comes from the Iroquois Longhouse (long house used for ceremonial purposes).


The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) (6 Nations) have a spiritual practice of daily giving thanks to the plants & animals, the 4 elements (Earth, Air, Fire & Water) and the 4 directions of Creation.

In 1976, elder Mad Bear (Iroquois/Tuscarora) gave a speech at the Council Grove conference in Kansas.  He ended up spending more than half of his allotted speaking time towards “giving thanks”.  There is a very power lesson to be learned from that.


TIME FOR INTER-TRIBAL UNITY [ Call-To-Action speech] [transcript]


Transcript of Inter-Tribal Unity Speech by Mad Bear Anderson (Tuscarora/Iroquois)


Speaker/Mad Bear: Time is ever so short! You must, right now straighten this out, between yourself, the Creator and my people. We are gathering our nations together! You must gather yours together!  To return back to the spiritual way of life; to return back as the Creator has intended. Or this whole world will be destroyed.

We are here today under our grandfather the Sun who is our witness and we have come here to deliver a message to all of you people, to all of our brothers & sisters to tell you that there are many things that are happening in this world now, and that we who are close to the forces of nature, close to the land and the spirits, and close to the Creator, know how to interpret these things, according to our prophecies.

Our Unity Caravan to begin with, began on August 21, 1967, at the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, near Bethany, New York. We called an emergency council, an emergency convention. We sent notices to all of our brothers & sisters, to come and meet with us because we saw a great problem facing our people.

Read more TIME FOR INTER-TRIBAL UNITY [ Call-To-Action speech] [transcript]



Hopi–Iroquois led… AMERICAN INDIAN UNITY MOVEMENT (1950’s–1980’s).  Free E-Book on “Mad Bear” Anderson (Tuscarora) and the Red Road of Spiritual Activism. Share while this book is freely available!

Note: CYGM does not promote or affiliates itself with social activist causes (Climate Change, Politics, Racial Equity, etc.) or Religion, its focus is strictly spiritual; encouraging creativity & personal development.  This E-Book covers the span of Mad Bear’s career.  He was both a medicine man/spiritual leader and activist for Native American & environmental causes.  The main emphasis of  this E-book is on Mad Bear’s historical path as a medicine man/spiritual leader.  Towards the end of Mad Bear’s life he became more focused on issues pertaining to spiritual unity, and much less on political activism.  All-in-all…. he was a Spiritual Activist!  Please read with the intention of gaining spiritual growth, which leads to personal development.