Fred Wahpepah on Eldership

Tiny - Posted on 03 October 2012



Native American Elder and Spiritual Leader Fred Wahpepah and his wife Laura are currently facing houselessness. This is part of the United Snakes of America’s continual culture-cide and genocide perpetrated on Native Americans.

Fred is 82 years old. They are living on a fixed income which recently was disrupted due to some bureaucratic bullshit. Now their monthly mortgage payments are approximately 5 times their income. Besides needing money to keep theor house, Fred had fibromaialgia, limited mobility, and heart disease and needs 13 medications and supplements. Laura has limietd mobility from an injury, and Fred needs full time care. The house needs serious work, including a new roof and taking care of mold problems which must be taken care of immediately. Their vehicles are old and tired.

Fred is consistent in leading sweats, ceremonies, and showing up for sobriety talks. This work is deeply needed in his communities and the entire world -  passing on traditions that are targeted for extinction. We must all support him so that he doesn’t stop a day before he has to.  This means making sure he has everything he needs, including the house - other wise he will be forced to move back to Oklahoma and not be able to spend time sharing his spiritual leadership.

Please donate and think of people you can ask for donations. Through monthly sustainers, we can raise Fred and Laura’s rent and medical money every month. There are also other types of support needed - to find out more contact ________

Biographical Sketch

We are fortunate to be living in an age when many people are seeking to re-establish meaning in their lives. While some are finding new paths for spiritual enrichment, many are also looking toward the more ancient traditions found in the indigenous cultures of our continent.

Fred Wahpepah, a Native American elder living in Richmond, California, is providing an opportunity for a growing community of people to participate in traditional ceremonies from  the Native American heritage. Born in rural Oklahoma in 1930, Fred is of the Kickapoo and Sac and Fox tribes. In 1975, he attended his first Native American spiritual gathering since his childhood. This inspired hum to spend the next sixteen years “on the road” studying with tribal elders and participating in ceremonies throughout the North American continent. He began carrying the Sacred Pipe in 1978 and has been involved in the Sacred Sundance Ceremony every year since 1979.

His life is now dedicated to the INdian ways and to the reawakening and preservation of the Earth-centered spirituality of his forebears, with a special interest in sharing native wisdom with people from all nations. By conducting traditional Sweat Lodge and Pipe Ceremonies, as well as leading “VIsion Quests.” Fred is galvanizing a community of people interested in nurturing and supporting each other on their spiritual paths.

Through classroom presentations, lectures and workshops, this respected elder educates and inspires children and adults to the present day importance of traditional spirituality and reverence for our Earth. His gift for speaking is reflected in his use of storytelling and warm interaction with his listeners. Fred is committed to serving the community with his compassion, skills, and knowledge.

My Perspective on What Elders Are

My definition of an Elder: A revered relative who is a link to our old ways, a teacher who brings lessons and food for thought. Elders teach in a way that gives us an opportunity to use our gifts of sight, hearing, mind and heart. An Elder is someone that - because of their rich life - has patience, tolerance, compassion and insights. They are also more vulnerable. Their bodies are more tired, they usually live with chronic pain, and they really care. They are always concerned about children, youth and all people finding a good spiritual path.

It has been said that our Elders and small children are closer to the Creator. They live in the Southerly direction - the “Path of the Creator.” They’re color-blind, like to play, have a great sense of humor, are soft spoken and have a great deal of dignity. Everyone learns from mistakes an Elders are no exception. Whenever they feel a need to “prompt” someone, it’s done with total love. Some of them can get grouchy and appear to be fools. Pay Attention!

Talking with an Elder from home, he said, “Wish I’d paid more attention to my old folks when I was young. I was too busy playing.” Once I told my elder Aunt, “It sure must  be great to have lived as long as you have and be a respected Elder. (She was 88 years old.) She told me, “Naw, it’s not that great - it hurts too much.” Another time I wanted to visit with a clan Elder and learn from him. He wrote directions to his home, and then turned to my son and daughter and had a nice chat with the. I waited, as I wanted an appointment. After we left, it dawned on me -- he had given me directions, I could come anytime.

Who are Elders? At home in Oklahoma at the tribal community center Christmas, the onese who are 50 years old and older are acknowledged with special gifts. They are also on the list for all the “Elder activities” in the tribe. When your Mother and Father have gone to the Spirit World and there is nobody in your family older than you, that generation has moved on and you are an Elder. You are an Elder if in your travels to spiritual gatherings and ceremonies you look around to see you are probably the oldest of one of the oldest. Young grandparents can be considered “Elder Trainees.: If someone is a day older than you, they have had one more day of life than you. The lakes, rivers, mountains and trees are teachers and elders. Elders serve the people, they have an open door to an open heart. They walk in humbleness and walk in truth. They deserve our love and respect as they are our role models. Much inspiration comes through them.

Elders die a lot from heartache as they see the old ways going, the children being disrespectful, and Mother Earth being hurt. How should we treat our Elders? Help make life easier for them. It’s a fair exchange; they did the same for their Elders.

-- by Fred Wahpepah


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