Message 2013

The Tracking Project

>>> Message from the Director ARCHIVES (2000-2011) <<<
(opens in new window)

December 12, 2013


Sandhill cranes who winter in the Bosque del Apache

Sandhill cranes who winter in the Bosque del Apache near Socorro, New Mexico, prepare for the night, December 2012. (Photo by John Stokes)

Greetings to everyone from the high desert of northern New Mexico, “in the heart of Aztlán, desert of the white heron and cranes.” Through stories and myth, the legacy of Aztlán is one of culture and accomplishment, of peace and art. This enchanted land holds centuries of inspiration. We have carried this inspiration with us as we travel, sharing our system of natural and cultural awareness with young people and interested adults around the world — from the frozen wetlands of the Bosque del Apache wildlife preserve to the pounding reefs of Huahine, from the arid ashfields atop Mauna Kea to the custard apple sloughs of the Everglades.

This is our annual newsletter reporting on our activities in 2013. Inside you’ll find our Annual Project Summary for the year, our Tracking Products pages as well as our Calendar of upcoming events through late fall 2014. Many people have let us know that they did not receive a newsletter in 2012. Due to personal losses last year, we were not able to produce this newsletter in a timely fashion. So, as we find the time we will upload our reports from 2012 to our website. For full reports on our work in Hawai‘i, Tahiti and Brasil through our Nurturing the Roots: Mentor Outreach project, please click here.

Our Facebook Page

We now have a Facebook page — for updates on our activities and notices of upcoming events, please visit and like us! (

Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World

Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World

Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World, now available in ten language editions, December 2013.

The Thanksgiving Address series continues to move with a life of its own, spreading a message of respect and an “attitude of gratitude” for all living things.

In January we received an email from Giuseppe Moretti, an organic farmer from the Po river valley in Italy and a part of the bioregional movement He had produced an Italian language version of the Thanksgiving words and we asked if he might be willing to work with us within our Thanksgiving Address series. He agreed and with the assistance of various friends and readers on his side, John Kahionhes Fadden, our designer Andrew Main and others on our side, we produced Parole di Ringraziamento: Saluto al Mondo Naturale. This version in the Italian language became the tenth translation in our series, which began in 1993.

In September Giuseppe sent us a copy of the bioregional magazine “Lato Selvatico” which contained a wonderful review of Parole di Ringraziamento written by poet Daniella Bardelli. With this edition and the fifteenth reprint of the English version, we now have 75,500 of the books in print world-wide.

Years ago we received a photo of Iroquois Faithkeeper Oren Lyons from an event sponsored by the Green Cross in Sweden where he had placed the Swedish version of the book into the hands of Sweden’s king. Around that same time some Diné students from New Mexico took some of the Spanish language versions to Costa Rica and presented one to Nobel Peace Prize recipient Oscar Arias Sanchez. And in 2011 one of our mentors — Julie Rogers — placed one of the books into the hands of the King of Bhutan, who opened the book, read a few pages and told her “Our country is based on these same principles.”

Currently, the Thanksgiving Address book is available in English/ Mohawk, German, Swedish, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Bisayan, French, Hawaiian and Italian. The presence of the Mohawk language in each foreign 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.

Celebrating the Life of Elizabeth H. Lusty
August 20, 1925 — April 28, 2012

Elizabeth H. Lusty at the dedication of a new building in her honor for Suncoast Center for Community Mental Health

Elizabeth H. Lusty at the dedication of a new building in her honor for Suncoast Center for Community Mental Health, where she served on the Board for 23 years, St. Petersburg, Florida.

From the very beginning of my ideas to found a not-for-profit corporation to assist me in fundraising for my work with the Native communities of North America, my mother — Elizabeth Lusty — proved to be an invaluable ally. At her request, Betty (as she was known) became the first Secretary/ Treasurer of The Tracking Project and she held the position from 1986 until 2010 when her health no longer allowed her to perform her duties. She was a gifted fundraiser, an outspoken advocate of our work with Native people and above all, she ensured that our finances were always well-kept.

Following a number of heart-breaking years with Alzheimers, Betty passed away at the age of 86. The program from her memorial service shared a few brief paragraphs regarding her life:

“Betty was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on August 20, 1925 to Vita and Suzanne Benezra Habif. She was raised in New York City, attended Northfield Academy and graduated from Oberlin College, where she majored in Anthropology under the tutelage of Loren Eisley. Her loving parents and brothers, Albert Habif and Dr. David Habif, all pre-deceased her.

She married the love of her life, John Edward Stokes, Jr. on August 30, 1947. Jack died unexpectedly on April 18, 1962 — a loss she struggled to deal with for the rest of her life.

While lovingly raising her family in St. Petersburg, Florida, she worked for Pasadena Community Church and Bay Island Condominium. A strong mind for business, she managed investments and was affiliated with her son’s non-profit company, The Tracking Project (New Mexico), for over 20 years. Although family always came first, community service was her passion. She chose to volunteer for a wide variety of charities, art museums, historical societies, service groups and centers for community mental health because it enhanced the quality of her life and contributed to the good health of the community.”

Betty was quite a Lady… and we will miss her!

Nurturing the Roots (NTR) Mentor Outreach 2011 – 2013

In 2003 we sat down with the Aurora Foundation to devise a strategy for an outreach initiative which would strengthen our existing global mentor network and expand our work into new areas. We chose the vast, culturally diverse “triangle” formed by the Hawaiian Islands, the islands of French Polynesia and the heart of Brazil as the focus of our work. Through a series of journeys into these regions over the last ten years, we have been able to grow exponentially — identifying new mentors, meeting new community artists/educators for future programs and locating new circles of interested people.

2011 brought us new opportunities to work with the graduates of our Hawaiian mentor program (TTPHI) on O‘ahu, continue our meetings with the Tahitian community on Huahine and hold courses in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina and with our friends at UNIPAZ (the University of Peace) in Brasília.

Damas Tuhei Faahu and Morgan, prepare for a morning of diving and fishing inside the reef on Huahine Iti

Our friends, paddler Damas Tuhei Faahu and Morgan, prepare for a morning of diving and fishing inside the reef on Huahine Iti, Society Islands, February 2012. (photo by John Stokes)

In 2012 our work on Huahine took a giant leap forward as some gifted young fishermen and champion canoe paddlers joined forces with us. During two visits to Brazil, we held a special course for educators in Florianopolis and more courses with UNIPAZ. We also hosted the first year of a new mentor program — NTR / New Mexico — with participants from the Iroquois Confederacy and educators from around the United States.

In 2013, the second year of NTR / New Mexico gave us the opportunity to bring in some important new mentor participants we had met in Hawai‘i, the Philippines and other places in our travels. The completion of each three year mentor training brings another 20 – 30 skilled mentors into our global mentor circle.

Our website — — and new Staff YouTube movies

Like our trademark turtle, the Tracking Project website continued to slowly and steadily stimulate interest around the world, with an average of about 5,000 visitors per month. It is interesting to note that our website, which we set up in the year 2000, reflects our projects since that time. But the foundation of our work actually took place from 1984 – 2000 and the reports from these times are largely archived in the file cabinets here in our office. Years of work with the Pueblo communities of New Mexico and Arizona, camps and Elder gatherings with the Iroquois confederacy, a decade of camps helping to create a “Mohawk-friendly” math and science curriculum with the Ahkwesasne Science and Math Program (ASMPP), national gatherings with Robert Bly, James Hillman and the Mens’ Movement, the creation of the Santa Fe Council for Environmental Excellence… Perhaps one day we will have the time to post the photos and the reports from these formative times.

Mentors in the Nurturing the Roots / New Mexico

Mentors in the Nurturing the Roots / New Mexico program visit the 1,000 year old piñon pine (the oldest known living piñon) at the Circle A Ranch, Cuba, New Mexico, June 2012. (photo by Cary Odes)

In the fall of 2012 we held a Staff Retreat at the Circle A Ranch Hostel, using the week to re-vision our Project from top to bottom. Lisa Bennett Matkin, a yoga therapist from New York who joined the staff in 2012, noted to us that when she tried to tell people about TTP and looked for movies on YouTube to share, there was not much to show.

Moved to action, we enlisted the assistance of our webweaver, Geejay Langlois, who in the past few years has moved from her home in the southern Philippines to Jacksonville, Florida. She was more than happy to help us re-design our site (something she had been wanting to do for years). Cary Odes, our in-house stand-up comic and technical wizard, joined Geejay to help us film, edit and upload a series of short vignettes featuring a number of our staff members. The result of our efforts can be viewed on the website or by visiting our YouTube channel — The Tracking Project — and the ten movies we have posted so far.

Your Contributions

The work of The Tracking Project is an outgrowth of the work John Stokes began with the Aboriginal community in South Australia in 1978. Since 1984, we have maintained a rigorous schedule of community visits, speaking engagements, camps and trainings in North America, inspiring and teaching well over one hundred thousand 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 Donation page of our website provides a menu of what we are able to accomplish with donations of varying sizes. Send us a tax-deductible contribution … and watch the turtle work!

And look inside this newsletter at our Products pages to see more of our t-shirts, hats, posters, DVDs 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 projects and the foundations who provided us with grants in the last year, please see our Annual Project Summary.

Our work has created a great circle of caring people who have joined hands to catch the world. To all our friends and guest artists who give so generously of themselves — Jade, Kainoa, India, Suzanne, Cindy, Keith, Cary & Karen, Greg, Vicki & Dakota, Able, Solar, Renata, Karinna & André, Leandra, Jessica, Anne, Ibrahim, Jane and Scott, Joel & Erin, Steven, Paul, PAZ, Rita and the Zamora family, Karen, Jeffrey & Stace, George M., Ruth & Dave, Dan & Diana, John Densmore, Satara & Tai, Peter, Jenny & Don, Geejay, Devon, Justin, Devin B., Forrest, Vicenta & Terry, Noël & Marya, Sensei Debbie, Sensei Tara, Tommy, Andy & Helene, Joe, Sean, Trish & Walt, Lisa, David B., Teague, Kosma & the people at Gemini Farm, Holger, Mililani, Yuklin, Miki & Brian, Mele, Kaimi, Henk & Akemi, Jon, Jackie, Pua, Brad & Mi’i, Pu‘ulu ‘Ohe , Pu‘ulu Lehua, Pu‘ulu Koa, Renée, Jean-Claude, Vetea, Brenda & Tuhani, Damas & Heirani, Tehina & Alex, Morgan, Pitori, Aka & all the people from Pension Mauari‘i, Elvis, Marion, Tom, Luara, Belinha, Luiz, Ian & Milena, Vanessa, Natália, Sergio & Martha, Duarte, Thiago & Marina, Rodrigo P., Caroline, Moaçir, Mariana, Andreía & Silvio, 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… and anyone we may have forgotten, Many Thanks.

Fare Pote'e group 2012

Joining our friends from the community for a cultural tour of Huahine and Huahine Iti, with a stop at the cultural center, Fare Pote’e, Huahine, Society Islands, February 2012.

The Great Work

A few weeks ago, Julie Rogers sent an email with some excerpts from cultural historian Thomas Berry’s book The Great Work: Our Way into the Future. It reminded me of the time in 1984 when I had accompanied my new friends from the First North American Bioregional Conference, saxophonist Paul Winter and Zulu tree planter Robert Mazibuko to the United Nations building in New York. Paul was to receive the Award of Excellence from the UN’s environment program and Thomas Berry was also present.

It was a great moment to be in the presence of these great personalities.

Thomas Berry was a primary advocate of deep ecology and “ecospirituality.” He helped to outline the “Great Work” of our time:

“History is governed by those overarching movements that give shape and meaning to life by relating the human venture to the larger destinies of the universe. Creating such a movement might be called the Great Work of a people…

In America the Great Work of the First Peoples was to occupy this continent and establish an intimate rapport with the powers that brought this continent into existence in all its magnificence. They did this through their ceremonies such as the Great Thanksgiving ritual of the Iroquois, the sweat lodge and the vision quest of the Plains Indians, through the Chantways of the Navaho, and the Katsina rituals of the Hopi. Through these and a multitude of other aspects of the indigenous cultures of this continent, certain models were established of how humans become integral with the larger context of our existence here on the planet Earth.

Meanwhile the incoming Europeans committed themselves to development of the new industrial age that was beginning to dominate human consciousness. New achievements in science, technology, industry, commerce, and finance had indeed brought the human community into a new age. Yet those who brought this new historical period into being saw only the bright side of these achievements. They had little comprehension of the devastation they were causing on this continent and throughout the planet, a devastation that finally led to an impasse in our relations with the natural world. Our commercial-industrial obsessions have disturbed the biosystems of this continent in a depth never known previously in the historical course of human affairs.

The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner… “

From The Great Work, Chapter 1

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.

John Stokes
© 2013 The Tracking Project, Inc. All rights reserved.