FOUNDER: Lisa R. Smith Grandmother, Optimist, “Serial Connector”
Lisa is often teased about being a “serial connector”; her passion is connecting people from diverse backgrounds to help heal the world. She believes that nearly everyone shares a universal desire to thrive in harmony with sufficient abundance. It is essential we accept our interdependence, reconnect with each other and Mother Earth, and share our collective wisdom, knowledge and creative genius to bring forth intergenerational solutions to our challenges.
She founded Pull Together Now, a transboundary alliance guided by our Indigenous partners who, place-to-place and face-to-face, are transcending religious, social, ethnic and political barriers, to nurture a relational worldview essential to the collective well-being of all life.
Lisa and her husband Mark live next to the Blackfoot River near Lincoln, Montana, in the Crown of the Continent. They have a grown son and daughter and four grandchildren.
Lisa R. Smith
Pull Together Now
FRANCOIS PAULETTE, Dene Suline, Alberta and Northwest Territories, Canada
Francois is currently the Dene Nation Elder Representative to the Assembly of First Nations representing 630 First Nations across Canada. He lives a traditional Dene life, is a fluent speaker of his ancient language and shares the traditional Dene knowledge with his people, especially the youth. Francois is a passionate and outspoken advocate of treaty and aboriginal rights in all matters affecting his people, and is recognized in the courts as an expert witness on historic treaties. He travels the world educating about the global water crisis and the Tar Sands mining Mackenzie River-Arctic Ocean watershed and Peoples of Northern Canada.
MINDAHI CRESCENCIO BASTIDA MUNOZ, Otomi. Mexico, is the General Coordinator of the Otomi-Hñahñu Regional Council in Mexico, a caretaker of the philosophy and traditions of the Otomi people, and has been an Otomi Ritual Ceremony Officer since 1988. Born in Tultepec, Mexico, he holds a doctorate of rural development from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana and is the President of the Mexico Council of Sustainable Development. Bastida Muñoz is a member of the steering committee of the Indigenous Peoples' Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative, and has served as a delegate to several commissions and summits on indigenous rights and the environment. He has written extensively on the relationship between the State and Indigenous Peoples, intercultural education, collective intellectual property rights and associated traditional knowledge, among other topics. http://www.centerforearthethics.org/about/leadership/geraldine-ann-patrick-encina
Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina is a member of the Otomi-Hñahñu Regional Council in Mexico, and a professor of ethnoecology. Born to Chilean parents of Celtic and Mapuche origins, Patrick Encina received her doctorate in ethnoecology and social sciences from El Colegio Mexiquense, A. C. in 2007; she also holds a bachelor's degree in biological sciences. She has been a visiting professor in Honduras and Argentina, and held faculty positions at several Mexican universities. Her research focuses on archaeoastronomy and cultural astronomy, particularly on ancestral and current ways of measuring and conceiving time and natural cycles in Mesoamerica, especially among Maya, Nahua and Otomian cultures. http://www.centerforearthethics.org/about/leadership/geraldine-ann-patrick-encina
Be’sha Blondin, founder of Northern ICE and ICE (www.ice-network.ca), is a recognized medicine woman from the NWT. From an early age, she learned about the Dene Way of life and developed her gifts through the teachings of the Elders and her parents on the east arm of Great Bear Lake; she is a guardian and protector of her people, the earth, water, air and animals. As a traditional healer, Be’sha works in the health, social and justice systems. She has helped people experience growth by changing people’s attitude about themselves and the world around them by offering seminars, presentations, workshops, counselling and training in the NWT, Yukon, across Canada and around the world.
Be’sha and the Dene Elder’s council led by Dene Suline, Francois Paulette, recently founded the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation (AIWF), born out of the vision from Northern Ice. The Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation is a self-determined traditional wellness initiative with the mandate of culturally reviving healing services and practices in the north. What creates and sets the foundation for this legacy project apart is the capacity to bridge cultural divides for the purpose of ensuring that key traditional wellness knowledge does not get lost with the next generation. Both Inuit and Dene elder leaders have come together with young Indigenous trail blazers including the Metis from various fields to bring forth this project to the people of the north. Solely defined and led by traditional protocol, elders will be the guiding force and vision for how the AIWF fulfills its mandate.
Alberta Iron Cloud Miller is a devoted grandmother to her extended family, and a community leader. Her passion: to utilize her education and experience as an advocate for the improvement of community health and wellness and to create safety in Native American communities for children and families utilizing a cultural approach shared by indigenous communities. As an educator and lifelong advocate for children, families and communities, Alberta has provided strong management and consultant skills to Native American communities, reservation schools, private non-profit organizations and tribal justice agencies. Through a western educational process and education in the traditional native ways, she has developed strong skills in participatory strategic planning; grant writing; program development and planning; qualitative research methodologies; conflict resolution and critical thinking for reflective decision making. Alberta resides on Knife Chief Road near Porcupine, SD with her husband, Jim Miller, featured in the award winning documentary Dakota 38, www.smoothfeather.org
Annika Dopping, Stockholm, Sweden is a distinguished journalist, author and documentary filmmaker in Sweden. Annika is a messenger for environmental concerns, human issues and leadership, all of which she incorporates into television productions, films, books, articles, seminars and communication strategies. Annika often moderates conferences focusing on sustainability and leadership issues of all kinds.
Galen McKibben Helena, Montana
Galen McKibben is an activist, community organizer and advisor to nonprofit organizations with 50 years of experience working with cause-driven organizations throughout the U.S. With the guidance of mentor Nellie Stone Johnson in the 1960s he organized the Residents Committee for Bethune Redevelopment, which built low to moderate income housing on the predominantly Black north side of Minneapolis. He led protest marches out of the riot ravaged north side into surrounding wealthy suburbs to focus attention to the racism-driven inequities of the time. In the 70s and early 80s he worked out of Washington, DC as a consultant to nonprofit organizations. His clients included the World Wildlife Fund, New York Botanical Gardens, American University, Wayne State University, numerous hospitals, the National Endowment for the Arts and others. In the late 80s he returned to his home state, Montana, where he continued his cause oriented work. He was a founding member of the board of CommunityWorks, which built ExplorationWorks, a museum of science and culture in downtown Helena, Montana. He has acted as advisor to the Governor's Taskforce on Endowments and Philanthropy, Montana Hunger Coalition, Montana Nonprofit Association and others. He has been an advisor to Bob Staffanson and the American Indian Institute for more than 25 years.
Paul Jeffery, Akron, Ohio
Paul attended the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions to assist the Transcontinental Indigenous Delegation as they presented their programs. He utilizes his diverse business and information systems experience to assist For-Profit and Not-for-Profit organizations develop strategic initiatives focused on long-term sustainability, identify areas of improvement and develop and implement cost-effective, creative solutions.
Milt Markewitz, Portland, Oregon
Milt’s life-work is about re-achieving a sustainable planet by enacting the Indigenous message of living in balance and harmony. He is the author of Language of Life: Answers To Modern Crisis In Ancient Ways of Speaking. Language of life documents a journey of discovery: from ancient languages to systems theory, from cosmology to ethics, and from “fixing” to “discovering” solutions to world problems. By joining hearts and minds to explore the power of the language we speak and the stories tell, humanity will discover new hope, indeed, find the way to live harmoniously on and with this beautiful planet Earth. http://www.natureslanguage.com/language-of-life. Milt attended PWR 2009 in Melbourne, Australia and is active in many organizations throughout North America, which through partnerships and learning, create a listening to the Indigenous voices that are so necessary to truly becoming sustainable.
Judy Casey, Akron, Ohio. Trustee: Pull Together Now.
Judy is a passionate and generous supporter of people engaged in bridging cross-cultural relations. In 1986, Judy founded Casey Publishing, a small newspaper publisher in Akron, Ohio which focused on positive stories and events about people in the Akron area. She is currently a trustee of The International Institute of Akron (IIA), a nonprofit agency founded in 1916, to welcome new Americans to Akron as they begin making Akron their new home; Judy plays a vital role in this as she seeks to inform the community through connecting with various organizations and holding community fundraisers for the organization. For many years, Judy and husband Paul Jeffery have also worked with Kwame Scruggs, founder of Alchemy and open their home to urban youth in need of a safe and nurturing home environment. The door is always open at Paul and Judy’s; they often host international scholars attending the University of Akron. Judy has two grown sons and 3 grandchildren.
Mary Yeshe of Helena, Montana. Trustee: Pull Together Now (Mary’s bio coming soon.)
Ilarion Merculieff, Aleut from St. Paul Island in middle of the Bering Sea. Anchorage, Alaska
Aleut elder Ilarion Merculieff is an indigenous messenger and teacher. Indigenous wisdom keepers throughout the western hemisphere and other parts of the world have shared their wisdom, knowledge and prophecies with him, asking him to share their words with others. Issues related to cultural and community wellness, traditional ways of living, elder wisdom, and the environment are close to his heart. He recently chaired the Indigenous knowledge sessions at the Global Summit of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change, attended by indigenous representatives from 80 nations. He has almost four decades of experience serving his people, the Aleuts of the Pribilof Islands and other Alaska Native peoples in a number of capacities. Merculieff is co-founder and former chairman of the Alaska Indigenous Council on Marine Mammals; former chairman of the Nature Conservancy, Alaska chapter; former co-director of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, Alaska chapter; as well as co-founder of the International Bering Sea Forum, the Alaska Forum on the Environment, and the Alaska Oceans Network. He served as chairperson for the Alaska Sanitation Taskforce and co-chair of the Federal/State Taskforce on Rural Sanitation to bring support for running water and flush toilets to over one hundred Alaska Native communities. He served on the National Research Council Committee on the Bering Sea Ecosystem and was one of four Native Americans to present at the White House Conference on the Oceans during the Clinton administration. Merculieff was selected by Aleut leaders to be part of a one-hour Discovery Channel documentary about the history and spiritual aspects of Aleuts, which aired in 2001. Global Center for Indigenous Leadership & Lifewayshttp://gcill.org/http://gcill.org/larry-merculieff/Bering Sea Elders Grouphttp://www.beringseaelders.org/
Lewis Cardinal, Woodland Cree from Northern Alberta. Edmonton, Alberta
Lewis Cardinal is the owner of Cardinal Strategic Communications, which specializes in Indigenous education and governance. He was a founding board member of Racism Free Edmonton, vice-president of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, founder of the Indigenous Peoples’ Arts and Culture Coalition, founding board member of Alberta Aboriginal Arts, and co-chair of the Aboriginal Commission on Human Rights and Justice and Director of Aboriginal Commission on Human Rights. Lewis has received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Indspire Award for public service, the Alberta Centennial Medal for his work in Human Rights and Diversity, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from MacEwan University, and the Anti-Racism Award from the Centre for Race and Culture. Lewis Cardinal is also a Trustee for the Parliament of the World’s Religions http://parliamentofreligions.org/
Jorge Garcia, from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Jorge Garcia has dedicated much of his professional life to understanding and applying principles of sustainability. He is the founder/President of the Center for Social Sustainable Systems (CESOSS), a non-profit organization that serves as a community catalyst and a research and learning center in the South Valley of Albuquerque. http://www.cesoss.org/ Jorge believes that communities cannot be seen as passive consumers or simply taxpayers. Communities represent a driving force that propels or deters capital gains. We can take a step forward toward sustainability if development paradigms are redefined to become inclusive and centered around community development. The Quadruple Helix of strategic relationships represents a changing and empowering paradigm that puts communities in the center of all development.
Alaina Buffalo Spirit Busby, Montana
Alaina Buffalo Spirit is from the So’taa’ee band of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and grew up in a traditional family near Birney, Montana; she continues to participate in her traditional culture with her family and grandchildren. A distinguished ledger artist, Alaina’s artwork honors the women that made a difference in her life. She is a well-known advocate for her People and fully engaged in efforts to protect her homeland and all the water and Life on Mother Earth. Alaina and other members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, local ranchers, environmental groups and communities are committed to protecting the eastern Montana prairie from the Tongue River Railroad and others planning to open new coal mines and coal export terminals along the Pacific Northwest coast. The proposed Tongue River Railroad would slither near her family’s land in its 89-mile long track along the Tongue River Valley, and through communities across Montana to Washington, hauling coal bound for China and their coal-fired power plants. http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/53342/Coal-Road-to-China Northern Plains Resource Council: https://www.northernplains.org/
Josette Peltier Flandreau, South Dakota
Josette has dedicated her life to her family and Native youth. As a grandmother and former police officer who worked the streets of urban and rural communities, she is now a Home Living Assistant at the Flandreau Indian School. Josette is the resident mother to students who need special nurturing and guidance at the off-reservation Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school serving students in grades 9-12. Anchored in her traditional Lakota ways, Josette is known for her kindness, wisdom and resilience, one who always listens deeply to anyone regardless of the external circumstances; she instills confidence in the Native youth who are emerging as leaders of their people. Josette and many other tribal leaders are demonstrating that though they have experienced generations of genocide and trauma, those experiences do not define who they are; each individual retains the dignity, wisdom and resilience of their ancestors who guide them in their lives today.
Danny Blackgoat, Big Mountain Dine (Navaho) elder. Big Mountain, Arizona
Danny Blackgoat is a linguist, Dine (Navaho) language educator, community organizer, and a life-long resister of forced relocation and member of the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth. Since 1974, federal relocation policy has forced 14,000 Dine' (Navaho) people from their ancestral homeland in Arizona. This genocidal policy was crafted by government agents and energy company representatives in order to gain access to the mineral resources of Black Mesa - billions of tons of coal, uranium and natural gas. For over 30 years, traditional Dine' at Black Mesa have lived in resistance, steadfastly refusing to relocate as strip-mines rip apart their sacred lands and power generation plants poison the desert air. Danny’s mother and auntie, the late Roberta Blackgoat and her sister Pauline Whitesinger, were renown resisters, and activists who lived their lives protecting their ancestral lands. He continues in their footsteps to remain on their land and works with youth to remain rooted in their Dine culture and way of being. Danny was a member of the Transcontinental Indigenous Delegation that engaged with thousands of international delegates at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions, last October in Salt Lake City. Traditional Circle of Indian Elders & Youth www.twocircles.org
Pauline Matt Browning, Montana
If you take care of the Earth, the Earth will take care of you,” is the philosophy Pauline Matt lives. She is the proud owner of Real People’s Herbs, a business she enjoys, creating lotions, soaps, balms and teas from native plants that grow around her Blackfeet homeland. She performs her work in a traditional and spiritual manner by offering tobacco and prayers, respect and time to the earth. One night in 2012, Pauline Matt dreamed that the water was dying and that she had the power to stop it; her dream was not far from the truth, with fracking arriving on the Blackfeet Indian Nation and adjacent to Glacier National Park in Montana. Instead of allowing the dream to paralyze her, she kept herself moving—literally—by organizing the six-day, 80-mile Chief Mountain Water Walk to help focus the eyes of the nation on this corner of Montana. Perhaps most importantly, Pauline knew that walking from Chief Mountain to Heart Butte, two sacred sites of her Blackfeet Indian Nation, would forever change the way she and her fellow walkers look at the earth. Hers was a journey to connect to a sacred landscape, and to reconnect an entire culture, one deliberate step at a time. Carrying a rawhide bag of water from a spring at Heart Butte, Pauline and her fellow walkers greeted each morning by burning sweetgrass and offering prayers to the dawn; along the way osprey, bears, bald eagles, moose, elk, and other creatures appeared, the ever-shifting views were always awe-inspiring. The walkers’ rhythmic, week long procession marked only the beginning of their journey, they and millions of other people are emerging to protect the sacred waters of Mother Earth from fracking and all other forms of pollution and privatization. Public opinion and policies and corporate behavior is shifting; recently Pauline’s community and the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance celebrated The Bureau of Land Management signed a final decision to cancel a 30-year-old oil and gas exploration lease on the sacred area called Badger-Two Medicine, sandwiched between Glacier National Park, the Blackfeet Reservation and the Bob Marshall Wilderness where two rivers spill out of the mountains. http://www.glaciertwomedicine.org/
Victor Masayesva, Jr., Hopi farmer and film producer/director. Hotevilla, Arizona
"A member of the Hopi Tribe from Hotevilla, Ariz., Victor Masayesva Jr. has been a lifelong advocate for the ascendancy of the indigenous aesthetic in multimedia productions. He has promoted this aesthetic by curating programs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and serving as artist-in-residence at the School of Art Institute of Chicago, Walker Art Center, Banff Centre for the Arts and featured director and jurist at the Yamagata International Film Festival, and the CLACPI Festival in La Paz, Bolivia. “Honored with the American Film Institute’s Maya Deren Award, Masayesva is an independent filmmaker who has been at the forefront of experimental filmmaking in the Native American media community. His publications include Husk of Time from the University of Arizona Press and his media work is included in the permanent collections at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Houston Museum of Art, Houston; and the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C."
Victor has created a rich body of video and photographic work that represents the culture and traditions of Native Americans — particularly the Hopi of Southwest Arizona — through poetic visualizations. Masayesva employs computer animation and graphics in lyrical translations of Hopi myths, rituals and history. Articulating the richness of his heritage in his own language, he allows the Hopi voice to be heard. http://www.eai.org/artistBio.htm?id=371
Victor is currently involved in producing his latest film Paatuwaqatsi-(Water, Land, Life) a celebration and honoring of water through running. The message of “Water is Life” is carried by Hopi runners to the 4th world water forum in Mexico City in 2006, a distance of 2000 miles covered in two weeks. Astonishing signs and messages appear to the runners, blessing the message and the messengers. More information available at: www.blackmesatrust.org and www.isauproductions.com . Victor and his network are collaborating with Jennifer Wemigwans, PhD. President Invert Media Inc. : http://www.invertmedia.com and producer of Four Directions Teachings - http://fourdirectionsteachings.com/.
Matt Black Eagle Man, Dakota.
Matt is a grandfather, spiritual leader, motivational speaker, & peace builder, born October 12, 1968, on Long Plain First Nation Indian Reserve just outside Manitoba, Canada. Just recently Matt was a keynote speaker at the United Nations Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy. He and wife Lynny Prince are the founders of Red Road Awareness and the R.O.A.N. Project: Repatriation of a Nation. Matt is a survivor of “The Sixties Scoop”, a Canadian practice from the 1960s to the late 1980s, when Aboriginal children were taken from their homes and place up for “adoption”; R.O.A.N. is providing guidance safe and loving guidance to help Native people, who have been disconnected from the find their heritage, to find their way back to their families and cultures.
Lars Larsson Dala Jarna, Sweden
Lars is a mechanical engineer as well as a researcher of ancestral traditions shared with him by diverse cultures thriving in ecosystems all over the world. All people regardless of their cultural traditions, economic status, or education are benefiting from Lars’ practical and inspiring education models; biodiversity, biomimicry, physics, mathematics, engineering are just some of the sciences incorporated into this experience based education system. Knowledgeable in many areas, Lars integrates this timeless knowledge with new techniques and modern technology to create the systematic transformations necessary to restore the environment and ensure social and economic well-being for all people. The Dalai Lama is collaborating with Lars; they have built a Timeless Knowledge school in the rapidly changing Himalayan region of India; the climate there is changing rapidly, water is becoming more scarce and the forests and agricultural lands are severely impacted. This unique school is utilzing holistic, whole systems, experience based education methods focusing on subjects critically important to the Himalayan countries such as topsoil creation and preservation, water conservation, energy development and the conservation of forests and the most efficient use of firewood. Through collaboration and critical observation of the natural systems that sustain all life, students have learned advanced concepts of chemistry, mathematics, problem solving, resilience and many other essential skills. Lars is dedicated to educating people how to solve our collective challenges by observing the interdependent complex adaptive systems in Nature.