For our spring group activity in April, we met at the site of our new “home” — a remote tract of land in Adair county that has been designated as a tribal conservation area for education and the protection of abundant culturally-significant plants and animals. Students and staff began work in early spring to create a trail and clear an area where we will construct a permanent pavilion for future meetings and activities. Our work to connect the elders and youth at this special place is further supported by a generous grant from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation.
It was a rainy and cold day, so we set up at the perimeter of the site to discuss numerous medicinal plants with the elders. Elder and spiritual leader Crosslin Smith began the meeting with a prayer and blessing for the site and all our future activities there. We had a simple lunch around a fire and discussed the plants that some brought from home, and others that had been collected by staff at the site shortly after we arrived. We also had a chance to transplant a Dwarf Prairie Willow cutting from a roadside to our group home with the hope that this important plant will establish itself there.
We are blessed to be doing this work with the support of numerous organizations and individuals, and I’m excited to have inaugurated our new “home” that we hope will be a site of learning, relationship-building (with the land and with each other), and for the practice of our land-based knowledge today and into the distant future.