Our Arts of Life teams are drawn from a diverse group of artist/educators and traditional Native elders from around the United States. For our work in other countries, we also call on members of our international mentor network. Meet some of the people who are currently working with us.
John Stokes, founder & Director of The Tracking Project, Inc. in Corrales, New Mexico, is a well-known musician, performer, writer and teacher of tracking. Since 1980 he has worked and traveled extensively in his efforts to bring awareness of the natural world and the integrity of indigenous peoples to interested people around the world. Born in Lakewood, Ohio (1952), he spent much of his early life on the Gulf coast of Florida.
Lisa Bennett Matkin
Lisa has been teaching yoga and meditation for close to 25 years. She is known to many through her appearance on the Yoga Zone TV shows and their line of videos. She was the co-director of the Mind Body Therapy Department at Haelth, a complementary Health Care Center in NYC founded by Dr. William Fair of Memorial Slone Kettering where she co-developed a 1000 hour therapeutic yoga teacher training certification program.
Geri Ayrault has trained and taught with The Tracking Project for the last 20 years, after making an initial connection with John Stokes and his staff at Omega in Rhinebeck, New York in 1990. She has been a core staff member of the Dreamtracking wilderness camp for girls since it began in 1996 and has staffed Tracking Project school and mentor programs in New Mexico and around the US and in Hawaii.
Karen grew up on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Western Montana. Her Depression-era parents were thrifty; they gardened, composted and recycled. Hunting and fishing, gathering berries, herbs and mushrooms and putting them up for winter was a way of life. As a bored 11 year old, Karen learned to make baskets from one of her mother’s friends. In the same way, she learned many other skills: beading, leatherwork, tanning, crochet, knitting, spinning, weaving, felting, origami, paper making, and lots of other skills in the age before computer games.
Joel Glanzberg has broad experience in environmental design and ecological restoration projects, particularly in the arid regions of the southwest US and Latin America. He has also worked extensively in the field of regenerative agriculture. An active author and educator in the fields of permaculture and ecological restoration, he is skilled in cross-cultural communication and teaching. Joel has taught throughout the U.S. and South America, and worked with a number of Native American tribes and communities.
A native New Mexican, Kathleen grew up in a loving family next door to Albuquerque, in the town of Rio Rancho. Actor, signed-language interpreter, Montessori educator, pharmacist, and marathon dreamer are, “a few of her favorite things.” She has an extensive background in education—which includes a Bachelors in Theatre, completion of the Signed Language Interpreting Program, and a P.h.D. in Pharmacy, all obtained from University of New Mexico. She was serendipitously introduced to The Tracking Project when she attended the Cottonwood Montessori Nurturing the Roots Program in 2005.
Solar was born in the village of Truchas at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico. His parents, seeking a deeper connection to the land, developed a close to self sufficient farm where he fondly remember cultivating the garden in spring time and carrying wood to heat their adobe home in the cold winters. He has lived in such contrasts as the Puna jungle of the Big Island of Hawaii to within the maze of the Island of Manhattan. He now makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Cary Odes is the Tracking Project‘s on-call Professional Comedian and in-house Mortician. Cary has been performing as a stand up at clubs and colleges across the country since 1980. In 1989 he met John Stokes while they were both working at a men’s conference. That fall, John had him entertaining in a cave during a thunderstorm and teaching wilderness skills he had learned only an hour before. Cary’s career outside of the Tracking Project includes over twenty appearances on television as a stand up as well as several guest-starring roles as an actor.
Born into this work, India Stokes has been attending Tracking Project courses and traveling alongside John Stokes her entire life. She has travelled to and assisted with programs in Brazil, Hawaii, Tahiti, The Philippines, and across the U.S. She completed her first Nurturing the Roots Mentor Training Program in 2017 though she attended many throughout her childhood and life. She has attended the Dreamtracking girls’ camp every year since 2000 and is now a member of the Dreamtracking staff.
Jade grew up traveling with The Tracking Project. A homeschooling education allowed her to experience many cultures and cultivate her own personal Arts of Life skills in addition to teaching natural and cultural awareness through tracking and survival skills. Jade began assisting at courses in 2005, and became a full staff member in 2007 when she completed her first Nurturing the Roots Community Mentor Program alongside participants from the Cottonwood Montessori School (NTR Cottonwood, 2004-2007).
Keith Strever was born on a small farm in Illinois in 1946. He studied history at Illinois Wesleyen College from 1965 to 1967. He served in the U.S. Navy as a radar technician from 1967 to 1971, with two 6-month tours in Viet Nam. In 1972 he moved to New Mexico where he lives to this day. He has worked as a tree planter off-and-on since 1980. He is a member of the Southwestern Forestry Workers Co-Operative, a private co-op that contracts to the U.S. Forest Service. Keith has personally planted hundreds of thousands of trees.
Master Gregory Vaccaro has been involved with the study of martial arts since 1969, and established his own schools in 1980. Over the years he has influenced thousands of students, with diverse training in the traditional martial arts. A Master of TaeKwon-Do, he also holds black belt degrees in HapKi-Do, and Arnis, and is well versed in various other arts along with Taiji & Qigong. An eternal student, his open-minded approach has helped him learn from many masters throughout the world.
Able was born and raised in northern New Mexico. While growing up, he spent much of his time in the mountains, from which he developed a deep respect for the natural world. At a young age he was exposed to Eastern and Native American internal practices, which have helped him to be centered and open-minded. He began studying the healing arts from his stepfather in 1985, and in 1992, he traveled to China as a foreign exchange student and began to study acupuncture, ending with a Master’s Degree in Oriental Medicine in 1996
Geejay (Geej) Williams
A webdesigner, singer-songwriter, and theater artist from the Philippines, Geejay is The Tracking Project’s web designer of 20 years. She met the The Tracking Project staff during the TTP mentor training organized by the Initiatives for International Dialogue in Davao City, South of the Philippines. Geejay was involved with various non-profit organizations doing cultural, international, and peace work for 30 years. As a member of a theater group, Geejay worked alongside indigenous peoples in their quest for their ancestral domains.
NATIVE AMERICAN AND HAWAIIAN MENTORS
Andy was born in 1943 on the Tamiami Trail about 45 miles west of Miami in Collier County, Florida. He grew up around the Big Cypress Preserve and Everglades area, and was raised in the traditional Seminole and Miccosukee culture and way of life. While growing up, he was taught the traditional language, values, arts and skills by his parents and grandparents. Andy serves as a Traditional Judge of the Tribal Court, a member of the Corporation Board, and a consultant to the Business Council on matters of Miccosukee culture.
G. Peter Jemison
G. Peter Jemison is a Heron Clan member of the Seneca Nation of Indians. He is the Historic Site Manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site, the site of a 17th century Seneca town located in Victor, New York. Ganondagan is a National Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Peter is also the representative for the Seneca Nation of Indians on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). In addition, he is a professional artist, who in 1998 was honored for ³Excellence in Iroquois Arts² by the Governor of New York State.
A community activist of indigenous and Hispanic descent, PAZ has worked for indigenous rights since 1970. He has been a member of the Chicano Movement, AIM (American Indian Movement), Congress of the Fifth Sun, Huehuetlatokan (Elder’s Council), and Tehtlatol Chichiltik (Red Tradition), which is the dance and ceremonial aspect of the Mexika People of Mexico. PAZ has been associated with The Tracking Project since 1995 and participated in their Nurturing the Roots project as a Mentor.
Rita has danced with the Aztec Dance movement for 22 years. She currently serves as the Malintzin for Ehecatl Aztec Dancers.
She has been associated with The Tracking Project since 1994 and participated in their Nurturing the Roots project as a Mentor. She is a staff member of the Dreamtracking Camp and is on the advisory board of The Tracking Project.
Rita is the mother of four.