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Ashland to host World Peace & Prayer Day

World Peace and Prayer Day, held in many sacred sites around the world since its founding, will be held here this summer, June 18 to 21, with events up in the Cascades at Howard Prarie Resort resort, east of Ashland.

Red Earth Descendents of Ashland, organizers of the 20th annual event, will host the event's founder, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, a Cheyenne of South Dakota and 19th generation White Buffalo Calf Pipe Carrier, and Grandmother Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, a Takelma elder, living in Grants Pass.

The four-day gathering features leaders of many religious faiths who will help promote awareness of the effects of global climate change, species extinction and how humanity “has lost its way and its connection with the earth,” said Dan Wahpepah, founder of Red Earth Descendants.

Arvol Looking Horse is chief and spiritual leader of the three branches of the Sioux Nation and will direct the prayers of the event.

Ashland Rabbi David Zaslow of Havurah Shir Hadash will be one of the speakers.

Staging the event in the Ashland area is an honor, as it has been held over the years in other sacred spots, including Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, Costa Rica, Useneach in Ireland, Grampian Mountains of Australia, Mt. Fuji in Japan, Brazil Earth Summit and Eklutna in Alaska.

The group is crowdfunding with a goal of $20,000 on www.gofundme.com/o2e1mk, which notes, “We are honored to host this auspicious and historic gathering, featuring elders, wisdom keepers, environmental and social activists, all under the guidance and instructions of Chief Arvol Looking Horse.” As of Monday, the fundraising page said $4,035 had been raised from 30 donors with four days to go to reach the "tipping point" goal.

The event will also feature the 10th annual Elder-Youth Conference, in which, Wahpepah says, the wisdom of the elders will be passed to younger people. 

“The goal is to effect global change, raise global consciousness and say prayers for future generations,” says Wahpepah. “We are at the crossroads of our prophecies. Birds are falling out of the sky, rivers are catching fire and spiderwebs are found in the sky. Mother Earth is going through major changes. 

“We view life as a road. There is a purification coming when the road of life will narrow and not everyone will be able to fit on this road,” he said. 

The gathering will feature Eddie Benton Banai, an Ojibwe from Wisconsin and Chief of the Three Fires of the Midewewin Lodge. He has a master’s degree in business, was raised to the sound of drums in an Ojibwe village and was active in the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. 

Arvol Looking Horse is the author of “White Buffalo Teachings.” He is the founder of Big Foot Riders, which memorializes the massacre of Big Foot's band at Wounded Knee in 1890. His prayers have opened sessions of the United Nations. He received the Juliet Hollister Award from the Temple of Understanding, a non-governmental organization with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The Peace Pole at U.S. Cellular Park in Phoenix will be taken to the event and then replanted at its original site, with much fanfare, after the event. 

Donations will go to transportation and housing of speakers. Donations may be mailed to Red Earth Descendants, 300 Creekside Road, Ashland, OR 97520. Wahpepah may be reached at 541-890-3529, zhawen@wildblue.net.

Additional funds to help make the event possible will be raised at a Mother's Day brunch at Pioneer Hall from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 10.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.