Message from the Director 2020

The Tracking Project

Message from the Director 2020

November 23, 2020

Greetings to everyone from Corrales, New Mexico where we continue to “shelter at home,” social distance, wear our masks and wash our hands as we have since March. How strange after 35 years of camps and travels to be sequestered and unable to gather in groups. But even though we had to cancel (nearly) all of our camps, we stayed open as a business and continued to manage our global mentor network and share our message of Natural and cultural awareness with our virtual friends around the world.

YouTube Premiere — The Thanksgiving Address with John Stokes

We are pleased to announce the Premiere of our new video at 4:00 am EST on November 25. Though the book Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World has been available for 27 years and has been translated into 11 different languages, I was finally coerced into presenting the words on video. I hope you enjoy the way I explain the origin of our edition for the general public and how to make use of the book to “bring our minds together as one” as we give thanks for the beauty of this world we live in. See video below.

Trees of Peace

We finished the year 2019 in a strong way. After our summer camps were done, we were asked by Ibrahim Loeks and the Mother Nature Center in Santa Fe, NM to plant a Tree of Peace as I had done so many times in the past with the late Chief Jake Swamp and the Tree of Peace Society. Fortuitously, Onondaga leader Oren Lyons was in town for the Indian Market and he joined us — together with other Native leaders — to make the Tree planting a memorable event. Traveling to the Xingu Indigenous Preserve, Mate Grosso, Brazil for the fourth time in September, we planted another Tree of Peace with the Yudja community of Tuba Tuba. (This event will be the subject of a special report in the future.) Back in New Mexico, we planted a Tree with all the staff and students of the Santa Fe Waldorf School for Indigenous Peoples Day.

Cultural Perspectives on Dreams and Dreaming

Our dream classes — Cultural Perspectives on Dreams and Dreaming — continue to attract a small, but dedicated circle of dreamers. In October 2019 we were able to gather in the yurt at Arco Iris in Santa Fe. But, for our May 2020 gathering, because of state mandates, we switched to a “hybrid” format, with just 8 actual participants and others joining in virtually. We continued to use this format in October as well. These photos taken by Ibrahim give a feeling for how this worked out.

Sadly, we canceled our June mentor gathering — Nurturing the Roots: Higher Teachings — and our long-standing camp for young men Hawkeye Training, which would have been our 34th year. But, we kept Dreamtracking, our camp for young women, on the schedule for July, hoping that restrictions would ease up by then. This did not happen, though, and we ended up in the end canceling all of our camps.

Tree of Peace 2019
John Stokes and Oren Lyons
John Stokes and Oren Lyons
Yurt dream class May 2020
Yurt dream class May 2020
Yurt dream class May 2020
Yurt dream class May 2020

Global Resilience Summit

The world of Zoom meetings and virtual classes began to open up soon after the pandemic began. In May, we were invited by Fleet Maull of the Heart Mind Institute to take part in a virtual Global Resilience Summit. When Fleet heard of our extensive work with Native youth and elders, he asked if I would like to invite one of our elders to join me for the presentation. I was joined by long-time friend, mentor and staff member PAZ (Mapitzmitl Xuikwetpaltzin) who described himself in his bio as a “community activist and ceremonial leader of indigenous and Hispanic descent working for indigenous rights since 1970.

Global Resilience Summit John Stokes and PAZ

Our presentation took place on the sixth and final day of the Summit. Fleet informed us that some 34,000 people joined in over the six days.

To visit the main page for the Summit where you could find access to our presentation, visit:

Our new, growing virtual world

In June we joined Eli Marienthal, one of our mentors in the San Francisco Bay Area, for a storytelling session with 100 staff and students he and his group Back to Earth had been working with. We also presented three short virtual Hawkeye Training sessions during the week we would have been out camping in the mountains in July.

Lisa Bennett Matkin — Tracking Project staff member, mentor and originator of the SHEA Tree Center (Sacred Healing Earth Arts)—asked if we would be willing to begin a monthly dream circle via Zoom on her site. Starting in June, we began to hold these circles which attracted attendees from Scotland, Brazil, Hawai’i and all around the mainland US… and it seems we will continue to hold these meetings each month through the next year. For more information and registration for future events, visit:

In addition to these collaborations with Lisa, we have also begun a new working relationship with Gabriel Kram, Founder of Applied Mindfulness, Inc., The Restorative Practices Alliance, and the Academy of Applied Social Medicine. We already have our Thanksgiving Address book and our workout video — Secrets of Natural Movement— on his website and in the coming year I will be a part of the faculty for a 2021 Yearlong Masterclass in Connection.

Lisa Bennett Matkin-SHEA Tree Center
Lisa Bennett Matkin-SHEA Tree Center


Our special thanks to the following foundations and groups– the Aurora Foundation, the Attias Family Foundation, the Edward and Verna Gerbic Family Foundation, the Ward & Eis Gallery — who supported us in the past year. And to the many individual contributors and friends who have pledged themselves to our work — THANK YOU.


Since 1986 we have maintained a rigorous schedule of community visits, speaking engagements, camps and mentor 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 services. The DONATIONS 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!

John Stokes, Director
© 2020