The collaborative project Stories & Songs of the People is holding an “InterNātional Grass Roots Gathering: ‘For the Generations to Come,’” August 22–25, 2019, in the sacred Black Hills (Paha Sapa) of South Dakota. Open to everyone, it is described as an interfaith, intercultural gathering “for people of all nations” as well as friends, allies, and relatives.
Emerging from partnerships formed at the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock, the InterNātional Initiative for Transformative Collaboration (INITC) invited the UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) to become a collaborative partner through a project called Stories & Songs of the People. Along with INITC, UUMFE is hosting the convergence and is putting out a call to cultural knowledge bearers, elders, water protectors, environmental science and environmental law practitioners, scholars, artists, and others to join the convergence, said Aly Tharp, program director for UUMFE and a member of the UU Council of INITC. The UU Service Committee, which has been connected with INITC for the past couple of years, is also involved in shaping the gathering.
“It is not your typical conference because it is rooted in intercultural dialogue and being together and looking at how we come together,” Tharp said, “and so it’s less focused on panels of experts and that kind of thing.” Indigenous peoples from Australia will be attending as well as other indigenous leaders and elders, Tharp said.
Organizers have also put out an “urgent request” for financial help to make the gathering possible, said Tharp, and they hope to raise at least $35,000. Anyone who is able to donate $50 or more is asked to do so and become an event sponsor and “Friend of the INITC”; in return, sponsors receive an event T-shirt and a copy of recordings from the event’s performances and presentations.
The gathering will be held at Cedar Canyon Camp, about a mile from Rapid City, South Dakota. There is tent camping for $10 a night and cabin camping for $30 a night. Meals are $9 per meal or attendees can prepare their own, Tharp said.