October 21, 2014

Native people worldwide turn to 'Healing Our Spirit'


September 3-9 Gathering in Honolulu

The beaches of O‘ahu will echo with Native drums from around the Western hemisphere for a week in early September.  More than 3,000 indigenous visitors from around the world converge in Waikīkī on September 3.  There, Native people from Australia, New Zealand, U.S. and Canadian First Nation tribes—including governmental and tribal leaders--will join other indigenous people from around the world, welcoming a colorful fleet of voyaging canoes arriving from all Hawai‘i’s islands.

The welcoming ceremony will kick off a week of intensive spiritual and practical meetings designed to begin or continue healing from the damaging effects of world-wide European colonization.  “Whether it be substance abuse, family dysfunction, or violence, we have all suffered from amazingly similar problems,” says Hardy Spoehr, conference host and executive director of Papa Ola Lōkahi, the Native Hawaiian board of health.  This Gathering will bring together the warmth, the experience, the wisdom of many indigenous cultures.  We’ll share our stories, our experiences, our paths to healing.  It’s a moving experience for everyone involved.


There will be special tracks for “keiki”—children aged 5-12, youth from 13-24 years, and adults from many countries.  More than 300 sessions will be conducted, punctuated with spiritual events and a wide range of indigenous music.

The event will become the sixth gathering since the HOSW healing movement began.   Maggie Hodgson, a Carriere First Nations woman from Canada, began the movement with her advocacy at the International Congress on Alcohol and Addictions (ICAA) and the World Health Organization in the late 1980s.  Her energy and inspiration resulted in the first HOSW Gathering, held in Edmonton, Canada in 1992.  It attracted 3,300 people from 17 countries.  Since then, the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide movement has blossomed, with five countries having hosted Gatherings.

Before this year, the U.S. hosted the Fourth Gathering in 2000 at Albuquerque, NM.  Some 3,600 participants—mostly American Indians, including many elders—attended that event.

At this year’s Gathering, numerous prominent Indian leaders—including Buford Rolin, chairman of the Poarch Creek Band of Creek Indians; Julia Davis-Wheeler, former director of the National Indian Health Board; and Ethyl Lund, Tlingit community leader and health advocate, will make featured presentations.

“With more than 150 American and Canadian Indian presentations scheduled, the Hawaii Gathering should result in a real exchange of good Native ideas and stories,” says conference director Vicky Holt Takamine.  “Equally exciting, a dozen excursions will give visitors to the islands an intimate look at the people, Native cultures, and even the traditional healers of Hawaii.”

Making an exceptional attempt to provide affordable housing for low income Native attendees, the HOSW website, www.hosw.org, provides current information about all aspects of the Gathering.  Specific questions can be answered by the HOSW staff or by U.S. representative Dave Baldridge, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .          

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