Prairie Awakening / Prairie Awoke 2020

Yesterday my Quaker Meeting, Bear Creek Friends of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), discussed the meeting’s long history of connection with Prairie Awakening/Prairie Awoke. This ceremony is held annually at the Kuehn Conservation Area, just a few miles from the meetinghouse in rural Iowa.

This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prairie Awakening ceremony occurred virtually, with a series of videos. The following table has links to those and other videos related to Prairie Awakening/Prairie Awoke, most done by my friend Rodger Routh with Chris Adkins, Dallas County Conservation’s environmental education coordinator and longtime organizer of the event, narrating.

YearTitleVideo linkDuration
2008Hope dance taught to children Dallas County Prairie Awakening5:15
2008Celebrating the land Prairie Awakening Celebrating the Land5:27
2009Owl release Prairie Awakening Owl Release Sept 20091:25
2010Hoop Dance Prairie Awakening Dallas Chief Eagle and Jasmine Pickner9:21
2015Monarch release
2015Bonfire Prairie Awakening Bonfire Sept. 12, 20150:48
2017BonfirePrairie Awakening 
2017Prairie Wakening/Prairie Awoke  Slideshow Jeff Kisling
2018Remembering our land. Honoring Elders Prairie Awakening, Prairie Awoke: Kuehn Conservation Area6:02
2020Prairie Wakening/Prairie Awoke Prairie Awakening/Prairie Awoke 20208:33
2020Irma Wilson White Prayer Ties DemonstrationIrma Wilson White Prayer Ties Demonstration8:09
2020Chris Adkins  Monarch taggingMonarch Tagging4:46

Having lived my adult life in Indianapolis, September 2017 was the first opportunity to attend. I had just retired to Iowa and was hoping to build up enough stamina to continue to live without a car, as I had done for about 40 years in Indianapolis.

I used the opportunity of traveling to the Prairie Awakening ceremony as a test. It is forty miles from home in Indianola to Bear Creek meeting. It is also about forty miles from the Iowa state Capitol building to Bear Creek Meeting. My bicycle and I were dropped off at the Capitol building in Des Moines, where I participated in a climate action on September 9, 2017.

Then I began the journey of bicycling from the Capitol to Bear Creek meeting. I hadn’t ridden that far, nor had I traveled that bike path before, so this was a test of my vision.

I did finally arrive at the Bear Creek meetinghouse that evening, around 5 pm, pretty much exhausted. There was one gigantic hill to climb near the end that practically had me crying. Well OK, I did cry. I was so grateful that Jackie Leckband had left water and food at the cottage next to the meetinghouse where I spent the night.

The next evening a few Bear Creek friends gathered to talk about native affairs. I showed some videos of Nahko Bear speaking and performing.

The following day, after meeting for worship, I attended my first Prairie Awakening ceremony and it was wonderful.

This blog post is a reflection on that journey.

Unfortunately last year when we were gathered at Kuehn, just as the ceremony was about to begin, a big thunderstorm rained us out.

This year because of the pandemic, several videos were produced for a virtual ceremony. One of the things we did at yesterday morning’s pre meeting via Zoom was to watch and comment about those videos.

I’ve written a lot about why I have been led to make connections with native people, many of whom are now friends. The most recent post about this is Stranger in a Strange Land.

The years of Bear Creek Friend’s work with Prairie Awakening provides us with an excellent foundation to continue to build relationships with Native Peoples. Other ways we’ve built connections have been Paula Palmer’s workshops, “Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples”, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) panel discussion “Building Bridges with Native Peoples”, some Friends participating on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, support of the Wet’suwet’en Peoples efforts to stop construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in British Columbia, and with Decolonizing Quakers..

This is a slideshow of photos I took at the 2017 Prairie Awakening.

Blog posts I’ve written about this:

This entry was posted in bicycles, Native Americans, Quaker, Quaker Meetings, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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