We are deeply grateful to the Elders who sit on the Elders Council. They offer guidance to the organization and our global community. We value their worldview and wisdom represented by their unique cultural backgrounds and lived experiences. As we seek answers to some of the world’s biggest challenges, their voices are more vital now than ever. They are a living reminder that everything is sacred and we are interconnected to the web of life.
SALATON OLE NTUTU
Salaton Ole Ntutu (Maasai-Kenya) is the Cultural Chief and Elder in his African village of Maji Moto. Recognized as a warrior, shaman, and visionary leader of his semi-nomadic tribe, he is often asked to travel with others to protect them. He was born and raised in the heart of the African savannah, and was chosen as a young child to receive the spiritual knowledge of his Ancestors.
He left his family at age 14 to begin his warriorship, which involved surviving in the wild African bush for more than 7 years. Living among wild animals with nothing but his blanket and spear, Salaton developed the survival skills he was taught as a young boy. He is blessed with spiritual and energetic gifts that allow him to have a strong connection to people and nature.
Dedicated to keeping his culture alive and thriving, Salaton is a key partner and advisor for international non-profit organizations that support the Narok region. He champions self-sustaining initiatives in the areas of employment, water, women’s rights, education, conservation, and tourism through organizations he has helped to found.
Medungi Conservation is a community-based organization that protects cultural values, ceremonies, and traditions through projects that include health services, protection of land for holy and medicinal plants and trees, cultural ceremonies, and wildlife, and food security projects such as farming and beekeeping. Salaton is also a founding leader of the Enkiteng Lepa Primary School, which promotes the importance of and access to education through culturally connected learning while working to eliminate harmful practices such as female circumcision and early marriage by offering education as an alternative.
Through Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp, conceived of in 2004, Salaton can fund these progressive projects and share the value of his Tribe’s traditions.
KAHONTAKWAS DIANE LONGBOAT
MOHAWK NATION at SIX NATIONS GRAND RIVER TERRITORY
Kahontakwas Diane Longboat, BA, BEd, MEd is a member of the Turtle Clan, Mohawk Nation at Six Nations Grand River Territory, Canada. She is a ceremonial leader, traditional teacher and healer. Since 2013, Diane has served as Elder for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest and leading institution for clinical services and research for mental well-being. In addition in 2016, Diane became the Senior Project Manager, Guiding Directions Implementation, the CAMH strategy to improve practices and partnerships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Diane lead the development of the Ceremony Grounds for CAMH to establish the Sweat Lodge, Sacred Fire, and medicine gardens, including the policy development required to support traditional Indigenous healing as a standard of practice.
Diane is founder of Soul of the Mother, a Healing Lodge on the shores of the Grand River at Six Nations Grand River Territory, with extensive relationships with First Nations in Canada and throughout the United States and globally. Diane is also founder of First Nations House (Office of Aboriginal Student Services and Programs) at the University of Toronto.
Diane is a professional educator with a Master’s degree in education and has taught at universities and conferences, nationally and internationally, on the topic of traditional Indigenous knowledge systems and spirituality as the fuel for innovation. She has published extensively on Indigenous education law and policy for the Chiefs of Ontario and the Assembly of First Nations.
In 2017 and 2018, Diane was the Indigenous Education Advisor to the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Minister of Education (Minister Naidoo Harris and Minister Hunter).
Recently, Diane was Co-Chair for the development of the Indigenous Peoples Program at the Parliament of the World’s Religions global gathering in Toronto for 10,000 delegates in November 2018. Over 100 Indigenous spiritual leaders from around the globe spoke in the Lodge of Nations built inside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and at workshops throughout the Parliament. Diane is recognized as an Evolutionary Leader by the Source of Synergy
Mariano Marcos Terena is the son of the Xané Pueblo, from the region of Aguas del Pantanal, between Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. A Brazilian national born in 1954 he is a Xane’ leader who has devoted his life to working and organizing for the rights of Indigenous people and for the earth itself. In 1977, Marcos founded the first Indigenous political movement in Brazil, the Union of Indigenous Nations. In 1992 he organized a landmark event in the struggle for Indigenous peoples’ rights, the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples on Territories, Environment and Development. At this historic gathering, Marcos was chosen by over 700 Indigenous leaders from around the world to deliver their message to world leaders at the United Nations Earth Summit (UNCED). Marcos is also a founding member of the Inter-Tribal Committee, Land is Life, the International Alliance of Indigenous-Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, the Brazilian Indigenous Institute for Intellectual Property, the World Indigenous Games Festival, and the Call of the Earth Circle.
He founded the Union of Indigenous Nations (UNIND), and was involved in the process to include Indigenous peoples rights in the Brazilian constitution. Marcos has advised Ministers and official sectors of Brazil on Indigenous people matters. The relevance of his work is well known in International forums such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the World Intellectual Property Organization where he has acted as adviser and spokesman on behalf on Indigenous people movements. Among others, Marcos was involved in the following initiatives: the creation of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, coordination of the Forum for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge in Brazil and jointly with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and he also coordinated the Indigenous people panel in Santiago +5 Conference on Racial Equality.
Besides being the creator of Indian Voice, a radio program, Marcos Terena has also commented about Indigenous rights in various television programs. He has written two books: The Indian Aviator and The Citizens of the Jungle.
Oren Lyons is a traditional faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation who sits on the Onondaga Council of Chiefs. Born in 1930, he was raised in the traditional life ways of the Haudenosaunee on the Seneca and Onondaga reservations. As a youth he left for New York City but in 1970, Lyons returned to his ancestral homeland in upstate New York to act as Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan. In this capacity, he is entrusted with keeping alive his people’s traditions, values and history. Since then he has dedicated his life to preserving and protecting Indigenous lifeways by being one of the key players in establishing the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations.
In recognition of his contributions over many years as a teacher of undergraduate and graduate students in the University at Buffalo, Dr. Lyons is listed as SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and Professor Emeritus of American Studies in the UB College of Arts and Sciences. He has appeared on the documentary Faithkeeper, produced and hosted by Bill Moyers in 1991, and in Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary “The 11th Hour” in 2007.
Among his accolades he has received the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, the National Audubon Award, the First Annual Earth Day International Award of the United Nations, the Elder and Wiser Award of the Rosa Parks Institute for Human Rights, as well as the Wisdom Fellowship Award of the Sacred Fire Foundation. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival, and is a principal figure in the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders that he helped create in 1977.
KUNSI PAHAN PTESANWIN (Grandmother)
LAKOTA, CREE & METIS
Kunsi Pahan PteSanWin (Grandmother) is loving, strong, and gentle. From Leader of the Sundance of Women to Kunsi/Grandmother of children in Winnipeg schools, Pahan PteSanWin wears many hats. Her father, Tapwe Chretien, whose curiosity and deep reverence for the natural world, taught her the joy of Creation. Kunsi Pahan’s roots reach out to Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan where her grandmother, Eliza Paul, was born and the Northwest Territories where her father is buried. She is Metis Niheyaw sharing life with her husband, Wanbdi Wakita, a Dakota Sundance Chief. She says, “The first time I had a vision, I was eight years old. Years later as an adult, I had another that taught me my life has a plan, even when I don’t know what it is. The more I surrender to it and follow where it leads, the more meaningful life becomes.’ In 2016 she received a vision to have a Sundance of Women that honours the spirits of missing and murdered women which was realized in 2022. As a Therapeutic Counsellor, Spiritual Caregiver, and Elder, Kunsi Pahan has spent over three decades providing support to Indian Residential School survivors and their descendants. Kunsi Pahan is a published author most recently contributing to the anthology, “Keetsahnak / Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters.” Grandmother Pahan PteSanWin co– chairs the Respectful Rematriation/Repatriation Ceremony at the University of Manitoba and recently completed her Master of Social Work based in Indigenous Knowledges.
With the gentle nudging of profound spiritual experiences & visions, Wanbdi Wakita surrendered into this role and since then has worked tirelessly to help people from all nations and all walks of life. His life is a testament to one’s ability to overcome tragic circumstances, heal and go on to fulfill one’s potential and purpose.
Wanbdi Wakita has devoted over three decades to work with men in prison. Presently, he works in the role of Grandfather in Residence to the University of Manitoba Access Program. He is a gifted counselor, captivating storyteller/presenter and is described as gentle, soft spoken, a man of integrity and profound wisdom.
In 2016 he received the Order of Manitoba for his lifelong work to support those in need and to champion a message of healing and unity between all nations. Wanbdi possesses a rare breadth of traditional and culture knowledge. To those who know him, Wanbdi Wakita is Creator’s gift to a struggling people. You can read more about Wanbdi at https://bearpawtipi.ca/