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January 6 , 2011


Greetings to everyone from the high desert of northern New Mexico, a land rich in history, culture, diversity and ceremony, where the shortened days of winter have once again given way to the return of the celestial light and the coming of a New Year. Our travels have ended, and since early November we have joined our friends from many traditions and communities to celebrate and give thanks through dances and ceremonies for the bounty of the year. We observed the Days of the Dead, the Feast Day of San Diego (November 12) with our friends at Jemez and Tesuque pueblos, Thanksgiving day, the winter ceremony at Zuni pueblo known as Shalako, Guadalupe Day (December 12), the Winter Solstice, Christmas and the beautiful Turtle Dance at Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan pueblo) on December 26.

deer ears
Jade Stokes demonstrates the effectiveness of directional hearing—Deer Ears—to the Kamehameha Grade 7 students, O‘ahu, October 2010. Photo by Mele Coelho.

The late Philip Deere, respected medicine man of the Muskogee/Creek, used to say that in the old days the people were highly developed in their thinking and that this land—North America—was constantly renewed and maintained by the ceremonies of the many Native nations. He said that it is very important to bring back the ceremonies so that we can have clear thinking and make good decisions. We are grateful to the pueblos and Native communities of New Mexico—and all the Native communities around the world—for their tenacious observance of the traditional ceremonies such as Shalako to help keep our world in balance at a time when balance is so badly needed. And we are doubly thankful to these communities for allowing us to step in and be part of something so life-affirming and grand.

Looking back over the past year, it seems that all of our camps in New Mexico were blessed with rain, powerful thunder and lightning storms, rainbows... and bears! And the rains seemed to follow us wherever we traveled, as the tracks of the turtle contined to lead us to distant lands and new adventures as we shared our Arts of Life programs with interested people around the world—from the massive stone marae of Huahine, French Polynesia to the dense rainforest of Mato Grosso, Brazil, from the turquoise waters of Makapu‘u on O‘ahu to the dry volcanic slopes and ponderosa pine forests of the Zuni mountains. This is our Annual newsletter reporting on our activities in 2010, with special reports: a tribute to departed Mohawk spiritual leader Jake Tekaronianeken
; our camps with Projeto Pegadas in Alta Floresta and Macaquinho, plus a new gathering with the University of Peace (UNIPAZ) in Brasília; our Arts of Life / Hawai‘i programs and the completion of a three year mentor training—TTPHI/NTR Mentor Outreach. Inside you’ll also find our Annual Project Summary for 2010, our Tracking Products pages and a Calendar of upcoming events through late Fall 2011.

Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World

The Thanksgiving Address series continues to move with a life of its own, spreading a message of respect and the “attitude of gratitude” for all living things. Throughout the year the orders pour in, sometimes for 100–200 copies at a time, from all over the United States, Canada, Hawai‘i and Mexico. We have lost count of the websites—both Native and non-Native—which have posted the text from the book, and we receive numerous requests through the year for permission to reprint or utilize the words for some performance, show or presentation.

In last year’s newsletter, we reported that Ha‘i‘o-lelo Ho‘omaika‘i: Ke Aloha i Ke Ao Nei, the long-awaited version of the Opening Words in the Hawaiian language, was nearly complete. It was not until August that the finished books actually came back from the printer. Translated by long-term associate and Hawaiian language teacher Miki Maeshiro, Ha‘i‘o-lelo Ho‘omaika‘i is the ninth language version in the Thanksgiving series, bringing the total number of books in print to 68,500 copies.

We have been presented with partial manuscripts of the Address in Italian, Latin, Burmese... and just prior to the publication of this newsletter, we received an offer to provide a translation in Hebrew.

E Ale E
The Hawaiian mentors greet the sun with E Ala E, a traditional chant and ceremony, at TTPHI/NTR, Cuba, New Mexico, June 2010.
Photo by Cary Odes.

Currently, the Thanksgiving Address book is available in English/Mohawk, German, Swedish, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Bisayan, French and Hawaiian. The presence of the Mohawk language in each edition is intended to remind readers of the source of these Thanksgiving words. It is also a statement that the Mohawk language is alive, with several thousand speakers at this time in Canada and the United States.

As funds allow, we will continue to develop this series dedicated to bringing the minds of the people of the world together in appreciation of the natural world and the gift of life itself. We extend our thanks to our many translators and to the Haudenosaunee— the people of the Iroquois Confederacy—for preserving these words “from the beginning of time” and offering them to us at this important moment.

Other publications, interviews and projects

In addition to the Thanksgiving Address series, several other writing projects presented themselves in 2010. We contributed photos and writings to author/educator Lizbeth Rymland’s upcoming book on education—working title, An Illumined Guide’s Book—for the chapter entitled “Cultivating Primordial Resourcefulness (The Way of Nomads, Hobo Kings and Queens, Aborigines, Trackers & Dowsers).”

A short profile of The Tracking Project (TTP) appeared in the “Flint and Tinder” section of Sacred Fire magazine (Issue #12) and we have been asked by the editors to contribute articles for future issues.

Jade Stokes was asked by her high school curriculum coordinator at the Oak Meadow School in Vermont to provide a profile of TTP for Living Education, their on-line newsletter. Jade’s piece, “A Profile of The Tracking Project: Positioning Ourselves in a Changing World,” can be found on the Articles/Interviews page of our website or in the original Oak Meadow newsletter at: pdf.

In September and again in November, John Stokes took part in a radio interview with old friend Bing Gong and others on KWMR–Community Radio for West Marin (90.5 FM Point Reyes Station, 89.9 FM Bolinas). The November show, “The Way of Tracking: A Conversation with John Stokes, Richard Vacha, Molly Myerson and Raven Gray,” is archived at:

Our website—

Like our trademark turtle, the Tracking Project website continued to slowly and steadily stimulate interest around the world, with an average of about 4,700 visitors per month. On New Year’s Day, the total of visitors since we posted the site in 2001 was 426,500.

This year more than others, old friends have emailed to say that when things got rough, they would visit our website for inspiration and renewal. If you have not been to the site lately, visit and learn about our staff, find news of our international camps and gatherings, as well as interviews, articles and many other exciting features.

Each year, this newsletter is posted to the site, and through the year, as time allows, we update articles and links to our friends’ and partners’ projects. This year we added a link to The Tracking Project / Hawaiian Inside (TTPHI) pages which Brother Noland’s recording company—Mountain Apple—added to their website. And anyone who has visited our Products pages and seen Renée Nobriga, the beautiful model wearing our shirts and hats, will not be surprised to learn that Renée was chosen to be Miss Hawai‘i in 2010.

Our site is still managed by our gifted webweaver in the southern Philippines, Geejay Arriola. We met Geejay through our Philippine mentor program Panday Buhat in March 2000, organized by mentor Gus Miclat, Director of Initiatives for International Dialogue. We were very impressed with her skills as a musician, poet, artist and community educator. At the conclusion of the program, she said to me, “If you ever decide to have a website, don’t ask anyone but me to design it for you.” We did call on her, and to this day she continues to do an amazing job for us. As always, we extend our thanks and our aloha to Geejay, Gus and all our friends in Davao City, Mindanao.

Your Contributions

Since 1986, we have maintained a rigorous schedule of community visits, speaking engagements, camps and trainings, inspiring and teaching thousands and thousands of people, young and old. In the past we could respond to a request from a community who had no funding and somehow, we would make it work. But now, the size of our “extended family” and the number of requests we receive each year is simply too great.

Your gift of any size can help us spread the word of natural awareness, cultural respect and the need to preserve wildlife among the many individuals, organizations, tribes and communities that request our programs. The Donations page of our website provides a menu of what we are able to accomplish with donations of varying sizes. Send a tax-deductible contribution… and watch the turtle work!

Wanting to donate shares of stock? Thanks to a good friend who contributed some shares to us in recent years, we opened and have maintained an account with a brokerage firm. If this is an option you would like to explore, please contact us for further information. And look inside this newsletter at our Products pages to see more of our t-shirts, hats, posters and books. Purchasing our products is another great way to support our work.


We send our special thanks to everyone who has pledged themselves to our work, to our many contributors, to the foundations who believe in what we do and to all our supporters—We thank you for enabling us to continue our work. For a full list of our projects and the foundations and groups who provided us with grants in the last year, please see our Annual Project Report.

To all our friends and guest artists who give so generously of themselves—Betty, Anna, Geri, Erin, Nancy, Jade, Kainoa, India, Suzanne, Cindy, Luara, Keith, Cary, Greg, Vicki & Dakota, Able, Solar, Renata & Karinna, Leandra, Jessica, Anne, Ibrahim, Jane & Scott, Shanetta, Joel & Erin, Steven, Paul, PAZ, Rita & the Zamora family, Karen, Noland, Heidi & One Tribe Aloha, Jamie, Gale, Jeffrey, George M., Ruth & Dave, Dan & Diana, John Densmore, Satara & Tai, Peter, Jenny & Don, Geejay, Devin & J, Chieko, Herb, Henk & Akemi, Duane, Ricky, Justin, Devin B., Forrest, Vicenta & Terry, Jon & Lisa, Noël & Marya, Bing, Scott, Sensei Debbie, Sensei Tara, Jake, Tommy, Andy & Helene, Joe & Carol, Teague, Kosma & the people at Gemini Farm, Mililani, Yuklin, Miki & Brian, George K., Dr. Chun, Mele, Kaimi, Jenny & Palakiko, Emily, Pi‘i & Lei‘a, Jon, Chandy, Pomai, Jackie, KES Grade 1 teachers, KES Grade 2 teachers, Pua, Brad & Mi‘i, the ‘Ohe team, the Lehua team, the Koa team, Ed at the Pagoda, Donnie, Renée, Mike M., Vergel & Paula, Alva, Jean-Claude, Vetea, Elvis, Marion, MJ, Nancy, Claudia, Irene & Marcos, José Alexandro, Doña Mercedes, Sergio & Martha, Duarte, Caroline, Moaçir, Mariana, Andreía, Isabel, Edison Luis, Bento, Renata (Natty Roots), Janaína, Edison Saraiva & Bea, Edison Lodi, Marina, Rodrigo, Frank at Down the Road, Terri at Westwind, Ken, Manuel, Frank G., Donna at Starline, Andrew… many thanks.

Warriors of the Rainbow

Rastreadores Brasileiros
Rastreadores Brasileiros—our trackers came from all over Brazil to take part in this course at Macaquinho, Chapada dos Veiadeiros, Brazil, October 2010. Photo by Bento Viana.

(This past week’s events in Arkansas and Louisiana—thousands of blackbirds falling from the sky and thousands of fish floating dead in the rivers—reminded me of this prophecy which came to popular attention in the 1960’s and influenced the thinking of many earth-minded individuals and groups, such as Greenpeace and others working for the environment. The notion or tradition of the Rainbow Warriors exists in several tribes here in North America: a group of people who see the value of ancient wisdom, stories and culture who play a leading role in bringing humanity and the natural world back from the brink of collapse. With so few positive prophecies being circulated today, the Rainbow Warriors provide a strong picture of healthy, rejuvenative action.

These excerpts come from Warriors of the Rainbow: Strange and Prophetic Dreams of the Indian Peoples by William Willoya and Vinson Brown. JS)

Last century an old wise woman of the Cree Indian nation, named “Eyes of Fire”, had a vision of the future. She prophesied that one day, because of the white man’s or Yo-ne-gis’ greed, there would come a time, when the earth was being ravaged and polluted, the forests being destroyed, the birds would fall from the air, the waters would be blackened, the fish being poisoned in the streams, and the trees would no longer be, mankind as we know it would all but cease to exist. There would come a time when the “keepers of the legends, stories, culture rituals and myths, and all the Ancient Tribal Customs” would be needed to restore us to health, making the earth green again. They would be mankind’s key to survival, they were the “Warriors of the Rainbow”. There would come a day of awakening when all the peoples of all the tribes would form a New World of Justice, Peace, Freedom and recognition of the Great Spirit….

Like the Indians of old who loved, understood and knew the powers of animals and plants, who killed or took no more than they needed for food or clothing, so the Indians of today will brighten the understanding of the ignorant destroyers. They will soften the hearts of would-be killers so the animals will once more replenish the earth, and the trees shall once more rise to hold the precious soil. In that day all peoples shall be able to walk in wildernesses flowing with life, and the children will see about them the young fawns, the antelope and the wildlife as of old. Conservation of all that is beautiful and good is a cry woven into the very heart of the new age….

Even as the wise chiefs are chosen, not by political parties, not by loud talks and boasting, not by calling other men names, but by demonstrating always their great love and wisdom in council and their courage in making decisions and working for the good of all. So shall the Warriors of the Rainbow teach that in the governments of the future men will be chosen out of the ranks by quality alone and then will counsel together in freedom of thought and conscience. In counsel they shall seek truth and harmony with hearts full of wisdom and prefer their brothers to themselves.

… Great are the tasks ahead, terrifying are the mountains of ignorance and hate and prejudice, but the Warriors of the Rainbow shall rise as on the wings of the eagle to surmount all difficulties. They will be happy to find that there are now millions of people all over the earth ready and eager to rise and join them in conquering all barriers that bar the way to a new and glorious world! We have had enough now of talk. Let there be deeds. (pp. 79-80)

Kaimi Rogers meditating
Kaimi Rogers meditates in the protection of a juniper tree on top of the mesita at El Morro, New Mexico, August 2010. Photo by John Stokes.

Now more than ever is the time when we need the Earth, the animals and the sanity that nature holds for us. In every aspect of Nature we can find a reflection of the Holy World through which we can remember who we are as people and why we are here on this earth.

With these thoughts in mind, we will continue to evolve, to work for the youth, the natural world, the preservation of wildlife and the growth of understanding among all people.


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