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Update

Dear Friends,
We are excited to notify everyone that we have a new site to visit. This is http://www.sacredbreathlodge.com which is the literal translation for our new name, Oniyan Wakan Tipi. There is a Lakota quiz in the works as well as songs on our C.D., Walk in Harmony. We encourage everyone to learn these songs as they are in need of preservation and such a joyful way to pray to the Great Mystery. Some of you may be aware that we have a busy summer ahead. Our weekly song classes will continue to occur every Saturday at our location from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays which we will be out of town include the following: May 29th, June 5th & 26th, and July 3rd. Chris and I will be travelling with Aliya and the kids up to a Bear Dance in Wisconsin to support. We will also be continuing our personal teachings with James Crow Dog in South Dakota to better facilitate Ceremonials in the future. Please email us at chris4andrea@yahoo.com for further information. We wish everyone a happy Spring into Summer. Many good blessings to all, Andrea Long

    

     Congratulations to Aliya Waltemeyer for sponsoring a Yuwipi Ceremony. It was an honor and a privilage to help prepare for such an important Ceremonial such as the Yuwipi. This particular rite can be held for very personal reasons and therefore participation is limited. The Yuwipi ritual may be held for very specific purposes. Among them are healings, finding lost or stolen objects, and finding solutions to problems. It is held in a darkened room. The Medicine Man is wrapped and tied into a blanket and placed face down in the center of a circle of prayer ties. Specific songs are sung throughout the evening allowing the Spirits to intervene for a small moment in our lives.

     James Crow Dog, the Medicine Man presiding over the Ceremony, was prompt and assertive. We have found that he is a man who carries his responsibilities well. On behalf of all of the people that he has healed and counseled we would like to express our gratitude so we say Wopila! We would like to thank all of the wonderful individuals who have donated so graciously. These donations made it possible for James to have the food, gas, and lodging required to make these journeys from South Dakota. We look forward to many more amazing Ceremonies and teachings as we co-create this red road together.


     Oniyan Wakan Tipi, Breath of Life Lodge, is now the official name of our organization which was formerly known as Great Mystery Alliance. This all came about by our leader, Chris Long, who had been following a series of visions spanning over an eight year period. He knew he had found the source of these visions while singing at a Yuwipi Ceremony. Chris said the Spirits came to him and told him that he had finally reached his destination. The Medicine Man officiating over that Ceremony almost immediately began upgrading our organization. He has passed to us his Sacred Bundle and the tools that we need to help and heal the community on a whole new level.
     We would like to formally announce that the Medicine Man presiding over our organization is James Shot With Two Arrows Crow Dog. We will be hosting him as well as other roadmen to facilitate all night Native American Church Ceremonies. There will be upcoming Wopila Yuwipi Ceremonies, Vision Quests, as well as Sweat Lodges. The Wakan Hoye Yapi (Sending Sacred Voices) Sundance will take place June 26th through July 3rd in White River, South Dakota which will be led by our Chief Leader, James Shot With Two Arrows Crow Dog . We are in need of a general number of interested participants. There will be people from all over the world and we will be proudly be representing the Colorado Camp. A number of us from our group will be dancing as well as supporting. The various roles that take place in this Sacred Ritual work together and rely upon each other in order for everything to run smoothly. There are many blessings in supporting and this role should not be underestimated. Please contact us with any questions and/or to confirm that you will be attending. Aho Mitakuye Oyasin!

     We would like to thank Kevin Off for his generosity and his help with the purchase and butchering of the buffalo. In March we sacrificed a male buffalo bull in anticipation of the arrival of our Leader and Chief, James Crow Dog, also known as James Shot With Two Arrows. We are very proud to have had the support and participation of so many of our friends. The day started out with calm weather, although it had snowed heavily the night before. Kevin Off, the ranch owner, was especially reverent and prayerful. We sang songs and smoked the sacred Canupa allowing the bull to choose itself. A single shot rang out into the snowy sky marking the 48 hours of work that would stand before us. Once again, Jeff Winsett did more than his share and more than one normal human could accomplish. Also, Aliya was instrumental in every step of the process. The work continued on for several days. We are very grateful of the many people who participated in all of the various facets of this type of work. One of the main reasons that we did this is so that we can place his heart at the base of the sacrificial cottonwood tree at James’ Sundance. It will be very good for us when we are at that Sundance because most of us will be dancing there this year. The tail is used as a very special medicine. It was skillfully prepared and handed off to our elder. The hide will be prepared as a drum. We have been saving an elk hide for the opposite side of the drum for a very long time so we are very grateful to be able to create this new drum. The skull of course will sit on our sweat lodge altar. We will paint it skillfully with a hail storm design. Rattles and containers (cedar and tobacco bags) will be made of the various parts. Some people were very surprised to see Chris making a broth with the broken bones and tallow reduction with the fat. Even the hair straight from the hide will be felted into a wool blanket. The meat is all to be used in Ceremonies to feed the people. It is incredible to think that long ago this type of work would be accomplished without the aid of steel knives and freezers. Clearly, we would have had a lot more help long ago. We would have even finished eating it by now.

     We would like to thank Tatanka, the Spirit of the Sacred Buffalo, that gave to us so graciously. We would like him to know how special he is to be used in such a sacred way in this modern time. So many buffalo are butchered purely for culinary reasons. At least at the Off Ranch in Del Norte, CO, we know that Kevin will always be mindful, prayerful, and respectful of these awesome creatures.

 

Up close you can get a real feel for the love and energy that is put into these fans.

 

This fan was fun to make because it was a collaborative effort.

 

     What do we do at Great Mystery Alliance in the winter when things are a bit slower? These fans are a few examples of the beautiful creations that have been lovingly crafted for just the right individuals. Most of these Sacred items are actually given as gifts in Ceremony to those who are deeply involved in this way of praying. We would also like to make these accessible for people who do not get an opportunity to travel to Crestone.  All Night Prayer fans are part of our vision to offer handcrafted items as well as C.D.’s, T-shirts, and other relevant items. In the future we are excited to have finely crafted Ceremonial tools for those who have a genuine need.  There are a number of fans currently available and specially handmade Ceremonial fans are also an option. This is a wonderful way to support our congregation so we can further help the people. Please inquire if you or anyone you know is in need. Call Great Mystery Alliance at 719-256-5307.

    

     As singers of the Great Mystery Alliance Song Troupe we are able to attend many Native American Ceremonials. It is nice to be based out of the Crestone Baca area. Colorado is a centralized location that allows us to travel to where we are needed. We sing at Lakota Ceremonies all over the country. There is a high demand for singers in all of the various Ceremonies. The Lakota Ways may be the most popular of the North American Indigenous religions but it is also very rare and one of the last of the earth’s ancient treasures. Although songs have recently been lost the Lakota traditions have survived so well because they have always shared with others. Great Mystery Alliance is committed to sharing these ancient songs as well as what the songs mean, grammar, and pronunciation.

     The songs that we sing can be heard on several different occasions. The Sweat Lodge Ceremony is one. It is a hot steam sauna that takes place within a small hut covered in canvas tarps. The sweat lodge is a preliminary rite, it serves to prepare and purify the participants before a Ceremony, yet at the same time it is a Ceremony all by itself. It is said to be the oldest of all native spiritual practices. Most of the songs are interchangeable with other Lakota Ceremonies including the Sun Dance, Vision Quest, Yuwipi/Lowanpi, Ghost Dance, as well as songs directly for the Sweat Lodge. The sweat lodge is one in a trinity of Ancient Rites. The Vision Quest, Yuwipi, and Sweat Lodge make up a triad said to be 25,000 years old.

     Most people have heard of the vision quest. It is a way of directly connecting to nature in order to receive a communication from the Great Mystery (God). The quester purifies in the sweat lodge and then is left in a lonely place to receive a vision. The Yuwipi Ceremony is something strange and mysterious. It defies scrutiny and description. Like the vision quest, the Yuwipi rite begins and ends with a sweat lodge. It is usually held for the same reasons or to find something or someone. Yuwipi means “they tie him up”. This is a Ceremony where the Medicine Man is bound and later untied by the Tunkashila (Grandfather Spirits). Its participants encircle the Yuwipi man along with the singers. The room is plunged into total darkness and songs stream forth continuously for hours. Yuwipi is the most widely practiced Lakota Ceremonial.

     Perhaps the most wonderful singing experience ever is to sing at a Sundance. The Sundance is an annual four day event. Some of these songs are between 5,000 to 7,000 years old. Most of them are much younger though. The Sundance was founded by the White Buffalo Calf Woman who brought the use of the Sacred Chanupa or Peace Pipe to the people. In this rite dancers purify themselves and symbolically offer themselves by dancing around a sacrificial cottonwood tree. All the while the singers and supporters send the dancers strength and energy. Along with all of the other Lakota Ceremonies, the Sundance was banned and outlawed for quite some time.

     As Great Mystery Alliance we get to witness some pretty incredible things and also experience the wonders of Spiritual healing energy. These songs are the backbone of al the Lakota Spiritual Ways. Some of them are very simple with only a few words. Singing is so therapeutic.  It is such a joy to raise voices together in song. The Plains Indian style is nice in that it sounds best with many types of voices. The variety of combined voices really gives the songs their richness in depth. This type of singing breaks a lot of western musical rules. This allows the singer to go way beyond their normal range, at both ends of the scale.

     We are honored to offer these songs to the public. We invite all who are interested to join us in our weekly song classes every Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. We will commit to this day each week as long as we are in town to hold the space. We will notify everyone via email if any classes are cancelled for the week. This upcoming year we will be supporting various Ceremonies and singers are needed. Sweat Lodges and other Ceremonies are also ongoing at the home of Great Mystery Alliance in the Crestone Baca. We look forward to singing and praying together. Aho Mitakuye Oyasin!

Charter School Drumming Lessons

     What a joy to spend time with the young ones at our very own Crestone Charter School (our daughter Uma happens to be on the far left with blonde hair). We are happy to be teaching the children in kindergarten and first grade on a weekly basis which will really have a lasting effect on our precious children. It was interesting to notice their improvement in beating the drum just from one afternoon. This picture is one of my favorites as it captures the enthusiasm we were all feeling. You can see how Chris is showing them to hit the drum in a straight manner and in one particular spot. We also taught the children basic dance steps that are used for various Indian dances as well as other forms of movement. They really enjoyed the bear and eagle dance. We’ll get some good pictures one of these weeks to share of them dancing which is a real treat. We ended our visit with a thank you song and some Lakota lullabies which made them lie down and take a nice rest after such an active day. It was a good lesson for them  in paying attention which I’m sure comes up frequently in such a young class of 5, 6, and 7 year olds. Hats off to all elementary school teachers and all the rest for that matter. What an important role teachers play in shaping our future. We are grateful to share our passions with all the children at this time and for those who help to make this possible. Aho Mitakuye Oyasin!

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