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Sweden The Arts of Life
2001 | 1999

The Arts of Life / Tracking the Roots of Peace

For two weeks in June, a team from The Tracking Project once again traveled to Sweden—just a few degrees south of the Arctic Circle—to hold several tracking courses, environmental gatherings and cultural events hosted by our friends Göran Gennvi, Håkan Eliasson and others in Natur Akademin.

A snowleopard at Norden's Ark, an endangered species center,
on the west coast of Sweden.

Our team included Native elder Andy Buster (Miccosukee Nation) and his wife Helene (Seminole), Louis Blue Cloud and John Stokes. Bringing many threads together, our work in Sweden has dovetailed with other projects Natur Akademin has undertaken with Det Naturliga Steget (The Natural Step), Santa Fe Council, and visits by Iroquois leader Oren Lyons, regarding "sustainable leadership," the Green Cross and work with Samé communities.

Saami community members from Mittådalen join The Tracking Project team for a ceremony of cultural renewal.

Though we only had two weeks time, our work included:

* A tracking/awareness class for almost 50 people at a pristine site in Kjolan, in the region called Jämtland near the Norwegian border. With daylight for nearly 20 hours each day, we followed tracks of moose and hare through swampy high mountain meadows, listening to the the calls of the cuckoos and sandhill cranes each evening. The cranes responded to the music of the didjeridu when we played the song of their Australian cousins, the brolga.

Göran told me that our class would include people from the cities as well as some top moose hunters and some very good healers! To my surprise I found that the burly guys drinking coffee by the fire who I thought were the hunters were really the healers ... and the ones who looked like healers were the hunters. One woman arrived by horseback over the mountains. We shared our knowledge with the Swedish people, who are tremendously gifted bushwalkers, and made many good friends.

A Saami girl in Mittådalen puts on antlers for reindeer games.

* A week-long environmental camp at Kjolan for youth from Stockholm. Funding for this camp was provided by Annifrid Lyngstad, one of the members of the group ABBA. Louis, who stayed on to staff this camp after the rest of us left for other jobs in the south, was joined by Chalo Wells from Santa Fe, Sara Nordengård from Svanö and others.

* An informal meeting in Vålådalen with Per Erik Jonasson to introduce ourselves and learn more about Samé culture.

* A gathering for 40 diverse educators, bodyworkers, writers and professional people on Moccasin Ön, one of the thousands of small islands in the archipelago off the coast from Stockholm.

* Two sessions at the Technological University in Stockholm, entitled "Seeing Nature through Native Eyes," for the national conference of the Svenska Natur Skydds Föreningen (Swedish Nature Protection group). We presented short classes on stalking and natural movement, noting that Nature protection begins with the way we place our feet on the earth and the quality of tracks we leave behind us, not only as individuals, but as groups, cultures and nations.

Tacksägelsen on the Move

Fjord near Smögen, western Sweden.

The Swedish translation of our Thanksgiving Address book—Tacksägelsen—was on sale in all the bookstores and gift shops that we visited in Åre and in Stockholm's Old Town. Göran and Håkan told us that a copy had been placed into the hands of the Swedish prime minister and that at an international meeting of the Green Cross in Stockholm, Oren Lyons had held up a copy during a televised program that went out to Sweden, Russia and many other countries. The words of Thanksgiving and the "attitude of gratitude" continue to open the hearts of people around the world!

We are very thankful to Göran, Håkan, Nancy, Pierre, Björn, Jonas, Ronnie, Sara, Olle, Karl Arne and all our friends in Sverige for their friendship and hospitality. Our work there has taken root and our partnerships continue to grow. In June, several members of Natur Akademin will join us for our mentor reunion in New Mexico, and in September, we will return to Sweden for another series of gatherings.

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