In the most fitting of ways, after the journey to Pine Ridge, YPW was brought back again this November for the 2018 Stewardship Council retreat to Los Angeles. YPW had been offered the use of a beautiful home in Malibu that had been used for a smaller retreat directly after the 2016 gathering. Much can be said of the time in California–updates on new SC members and what to expect in 2019 are forthcoming–but more than nearly anything, what is most present was the fire. The morning of the retreat, the Leadership Circle woke up the next day to a phone call from, wait for it, Becky Chief Eagle, letting them know the Woolsey fire had rapidly grown into an evacuation order for much of the Malibu area. The short version is that the house we were offered was thankfully not consumed by the fire but a new location had to be found and thankfully YPW is blessed with the individuals, resources, and relationships to be able to shift gears quickly to adapt to rapid change. Our hearts go out to all those who were not so lucky, and the many humans and non-humans who lost homes, possessions, and even their lives in the fires in California. (*thanks to Ashanti Branch for this photo from his flight to LA!)

After a full weekend, members of the SC headed back to Chuco’s Justice Center (of the 2016 Host Partners) for a reunion dinner and dialog and to come full circle with LA and its current reality. That very weekend Chuco’s participated in the Inglewood Open Studios to amplify activist art in a city that is rapidly being gentrified. Local artists and activists came together to tell the story of displacement, criminalization, and deportation. Those gathered were greeted with traditional song offered by Luis Rodriguez’s wife Trini and son Romero and then heard from the curator of the Chuco’s exhibits, Leslie Guardado, a community resident and artist, as well as from Yari Herrera, one of the amazing Youth Organizers that works there!

As Youth Passageways moves collectively into the future in partnership with organizations like the ones forged on this journey from the neighborhoods of Los Angeles to the bluffs of the Yellow Bear Canyon, the future as challenging as it may be, looks bright, united and ready for the kinds of change the young ones are calling for as we speak…

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This was a trip with two primary focuses that tied to each other, first on behalf of YPW to deepen relationship with All Nations while getting a working understanding of the place, its capacity, and ways of collaboration between our two organizations. Secondly, I went as an individual with my partner to deepen relationship with Becky and Dallas personally and in response to the start of our relationship at the Los Angeles gathering, and in gratitude, for the grief ceremony they provided for me on behalf of my mother.

In keeping in integrity with our core value of not simply seeking permission but grounding and offering gratitude to the place and the people in which we seek to gather, upon arriving we offered Becky and Dallas gifts of tobacco as well as a bundle of cedar and a talisman I had made by a local artist in Kansas City out of Tiger’s Eye, gemstones, bones, and driftwood from the Missouri River. Before arriving Melissa and I wrapped these in one of my mother’s scarves and prayed into it for protection and love for the folks that they had lost recently and for protection on their community. We presented it to them from us as individuals but also in honor of the invitation to YPW from All Nations.

The first day Becky took us on a journey across the breadth of Pine Ridge all the way to Rapid City. We started by visiting KILI Radio, better known as the voice of the Lakota Nation that reaches the Porcupine Butte, Pine Ridge, and Rosebud Reservations before heading to Wounded Knee and offering gifts and prayers to those buried there and again seeking permission to be in and work among the people there. We then stopped at the border of Nebraska in a town known as Whiteclay. Last November, after a decade of advocacy the state Liquor board revoked the licenses of the four liquor stores there. On top of that just four months ago now a Dollar General was opened providing easy and affordable access to food and supplies. Across the street is Camp Justice, where a group of Lakota who were tired of the police not investigating alcohol-related deaths would watch over the twenty mile stretch of road leading back across the border. Next, to the camp, a long tunnel-like permaculture and housing project bears a large painted sign that simply reads HOPE. We ended in the day in Rapid City by meeting one of Becky’s daughters, who is a community liaison for a CDC pilot project focused on surveying young people to inform state agencies what they actually need or want in the aid of creating better communities and she is actively working to raise awareness around traditional teachings as integral to that process.

The next day Dallas and I walked the grounds, learned about the land that All Nations rest upon, the history and life of the practices and ceremonies held there, and various plans and collaborations moving forward. Every other Tuesday in response to the politics of the tribal government, they host a get together of over 30 organizations working in areas ranging from economic justice to energy efficiency, that in coming together are building community in ways that address both the past and the present of their people, it’s a truly inspiring thing. Several youths from the community were there that day to sing traditional songs for a documentary being made on 5 Lakota women at 5 different life stages and after they were finished we sat and ate together and talked about the state of things in their home place. What came out of that conversation was that of the 30 organizations (and more) that are working together across the reservation, many of which have youth involvement, but not one of them is youth-led, nor is there a youth-led movement known by any of the elders, middlers, or young people I talked to.

One of the youth, a 21-year-old Lakota man named Jaylin, who is also a state representative for the Native American Church and I got deep into a dialogue about it and the potential for inviting young people across the 9 districts of Pine Ridge into the question of generational change. A large part of the conversation has been about what YPW can offer, as opposed to take and it seems there is a question there about what those young people want to see changed and what support be that financial, organizational, etc YPW could provide not as a facilitator of that change but simply in support of an effort facilitated and envisioned by them, for them. We were joined in this conversation by Naomi Lost Horse, a teacher at a Lakota language grade school dealing with an epidemic of youth suicide and both have since expressed interest in joining our organizing team.

We ended that evening by talking late into the night with Becky and Dallas about preparation and my overwhelming takeaway is acknowledging that these are not fragile people, but fierce and grounded ones who know who they are, what their ceremonies are, what they mean, and in clear rejoinder of the invitation to come and be with them in it. They have their own protocols that are offered to non-native folks when engaging in ceremony or traditional teachings, agreements about what is to be experienced as opposed to taken and recreated and just aren’t in the mindset of that being volatile of controversial, but instead, spirit led and rooted in a process of tust-building.If anything, it seems our work in preparation is to be with what it means to come into their place and in honor of their protocols while doing the work we need to do to make sure we are also mindful of our own, in trust of each other.

There is so much more both in my the connections I learned about leading up to the SC and those moving forward both personally and professionally but the gist is simple, it was fluid, of ease, it felt like family. They have a facility that can easily house who we would like to bring but that’s for us to decide and in collaboration, they invite us to be with them, as family with the love and also the dysfunction that entails and feels like a perfect next step for us.

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I was lucky enough to have been blessed to meet Becky Chief Eagle in late 2016 at the Youth Passageways gathering in Los Angeles, and soon thereafter, her Wasani, Dallas. We were introduced by way of the man who knows everyone, Frederick Marx, who invited her to our circle. I’ll be forever grateful for that gesture.

Over the past couple of years, Becky has come closer into the YPW family, most prominently jutting to the forefront of my awareness when she, alongside Hubert BlackWolf, performed a grief ceremony for me in Estes Park, a month after my mom died. It was there that Becky and her husband invited Youth Passageways to come to her and Dallas’s home, the All Nations Gathering Center on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The 9 months leading up to that gathering have been a slow and organic process of building trust, of deepening relationship, and of preparing myself, as a child of the western dominant culture, to give into the mystery, to be as Becky and Dallas say…spirit-led.

There is much story to tell and other places to tell it in, but after 10 days in South Dakota, working, dreaming, truth-telling, praying, unburdening, breaking down, building up, and healing, one of my most vivid memories is the end of our time together on a Sunday afternoon when I was honored to stand among 7 others and send our combined prayers by way of arrow into the lands below.

Some of you may know that I’ve been teaching myself traditional archery, with the intention of hunting by the fall of 2019, so as to place at least some of the responsibility for my animal consumption, on my own hands, to take that life with integrity, and in honor of the life ended. So I’ve been practicing as often as I can and showed up to All Nations with my bow and set to practice when a fee moment arose. As it would happen, Dallas had a whole collection of bows and we got to talking about archery and ceremony. He excitedly proposed we all get together with the bows we had and end by making prayer ties, affixing them to arrows, and shooting them out into the land.

So it was that on the last day of our gathering I was gifted the honor of standing among 7 others (Lakota and non-Lakota alike) in representation of each of the 7 generations, and at Dallas’s count, we loosed our combined prayers into the treeline below. As a young man, I sought adrenaline in a great many places, many of which, were destructive and dangerous. Yet, as those arrows flew out into the sky aimed at nothing but the unknown place where they’d find their ground, I felt a rush unlike any before, a sense of reverie and joy in the sheer act of being alive at that moment.

Part of my leaving the land before reintegration home was walking the land and forest line below, finding our arrows, collecting the 35 prayer ties and bringing them together, binding them with Sage and Palo Santo, Becky and Marisa gifted me before departing for safe travel in a new prayer, that whatever may come next, maybe in the spirit of the proverb that has been a core message in Youth Passageways as long as I’ve been a part of it, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

I stand today as I did then, in gratitude and awe of the human, animal, terrain and cosmic spirit. I also stand in the intention that we go far.

*Thanks to Sobey Wing for the video!

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*These are just some of the many voices that were present. We’re looking for more, please send your reflections or experiences HERE

Delacina Chief Eagle

The youth gathering held at the All Nations gathering center was an empowering experience within a safe & nurturing environment. I felt free to express who I choose to be all while being comforted with encouragement from those surrounding me. Pilamiya, thank you, to everyone who blessed us with the medicine of their spirit.

Siri Gunnarson

The healing balm of generous invitation and gifting supported a cross-cultural contact beyond my expectations… it felt like all participants showed up having done ‘their homework’ to be able to listen, honor and celebrate differences and breathe new understanding into our network and our individual and collective work with youth.

Akicita His Horse is Thunder

It was a great opportunity to meet kind and open-minded people. 1 word is awesome

Marisa Taborga Byrne

What brings together a diverse network? Shared time on the land, stories from elders, ceremony, games, and intention for healing. The gathering at All Nations Gathering Center was joy-filled, soft, and deep. Having been invited by Becky and Dallas, of the Lakota people who first stewarded those lands, created a holistic welcoming feeling, and the Lakota youngers and elders who joined us nourished that sentiment. Such deep gratitude for the invitation, and for how we all showed up, ready to listen, to share, to love.

JO Jett Cazeaux

What stood out for me from the beginning was the strong representation of Queer, Trans & gender non-binary folx in attendance, including myself. There were many moments I recall from our time that, in my opinion, led to mutual understanding and growth edges, safe space to be one’s authentic self and opportunities for allies to carry the labor of advocating for Queer/Trans/non-binary visibility at the Gathering. What stands out for me, personally, began our first night with the sweat lodge when we were instructed that women go in first, then men. Feeling the crux here and the support and opportunity to arrive in this sacred space empowered. Following the women & leading the men, landing in the hottest “seat” in the circle, with grace, humility and strength, set the tone for my time at All Nations. Learning from the Creation Story that the Half Moon is traditionally the time when Two-Spirit members hold ceremony was special to hear. And recognizing that the Lakota people, just like some cis settlers, are open and learning a language that does not erase the visibility of the community members that do not fall into the binary of brother or sister, but that we are all kin. And finally, those cis comrades that went to the table to advocate when erasure was happening, I am eternally grateful. With all that said, reflecting on our follow up call when Becky told us that those Two Spirit community members of Pine Ridge that were in attendance at the Gathering shared that they felt “seen” and saw others “like me”, meant the world to me and lots of relief & joy. A testament to not only those of us showing up authentically but a direct reflection to how our cis friends, mentors & elders elevated our presence and voices.

Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge the courage it takes for those of us who show up in these spaces that still, despite best intentions, face language, history & structures that are visibly binary. Advocating for our visibility to be spoken, incorporated into stories & weaved into ways we move forward in our gatherings is the hope. That the labor is carried by all of us- honoring our ancestors & future generations with clarity, kindness & kinship for all of the YPW family.

Dave Moskowitz

Read Dave’s Reflections HERE

Dane Zahorsky

Read Dane’s Reflections HERE

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This fall, in the Yellow Bear Canyon just outside of the Black Hills, Youth Passageways brought together a small intergenerational delegation, for relationship building, truth-telling and healing, and explored an alliance to support and uplift indigenous youth throughout the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This gathering was one of the many threads that have and continue to build the tapestry of Youth Passageways over the last few years and feels like a foundational step towards actualizing YPW’s mission.

The theme of the 2018 gathering was Spirit Led. What this meant for the group was to allow the unseen to be welcomed and incorporated into our time together and to guide the journey throughout. Those gathered let go of attachment to specific ideas of schedule or form that could block the Blessings from coming through.

Below are the intentions set as well as other images from some of the breakout sessions and activities from various parts of the weekend.



The Days Before – Hard Work and Healing: After more than a year of planning, Marisa and Dane got into a car headed for South Dakota, arriving in Pine Ridge the Saturday before the gathering. Becky met them with her legendary hospitality and joy, and after a great many hugs (and selfies) the work of getting the space ready was well underway. Early on, the organizing team invited participants to offer their labor along with their participation in the gathering. The YPW gathering happened just weeks before All Nations was to hold one of its annual gathering of over 300 folks. Part of their preparations for that gathering was a total overhaul of the kitchen space from pipes to ceiling and the YPW gathering fell right in the time that the bulk of it was underway. As more of the organizing team and other participants arrived over the next few days, it was all hands on deck alongside Yolanda and the All Nations work crew to put the kitchen together and prepare the land for both gatherings. It was a close call but the work was finished right on schedule with the cuts, stains, and smiles to prove it right in time to celebrate Dallas’s birthday!

Meanwhile, the organizing team was still looking to find another cook to use the beautiful new kitchen. Becky mentioned they were considering hiring someone for their larger gathering and that he would be available to help with the Youth Passageways meals. After driving into Porcupine, Dane met Filmore Richards, a two-spirited man, in his early 50’s with a laugh for days. Alongside Aidoneus Bishop, a Sámi man who generously volunteered his time to create the menu and lead in the cooking, the kitchen was finally complete. The finishing touch was making sure the most important part made it back in the newly upgraded kitchen which Marisa lovingly hung next to the brand new industrial grill– the sign for Becky’s Kitchen!

In keeping with her invitation of healing, Becky had arranged for one of their medicine man, Leksi’ Johnny Gibbons to hold a Yuwipi healing ceremony for the members of Youth Passageways that had arrived and for their larger community on the Reservation. It was an incredibly powerful evening for all those who took part, directly in the ceremony or in their own ceremonies alongside. Folks shared and prayed and were opened up long into the early hours of the morning, before heading to their beds in anticipation of the official ‘start’ the next day.


Day One – A Map, Emerging: Folks that had been in ceremony the day before found themselves still very much in that space upon waking. Others arrived at different times, and were welcomed to the land and began to weave into the flow of our time. Collectively, those present began to develop a “Map of Wholeness” (a term shared with us by Gigi Coyle). Grounded in how All Nations holds the components of Mind, Heart, Body, and Spirit, in their work, this map provided the outline for how we would share responsibility for our time together. The map continued to develop over the weekend and continues to evolve as it becomes a core organizing framework for our operations as a network.

That morning, we sat together in a round of introductions: who we were, where we come from, why we were here. Becky’s mother and father joined the group to share about their lives at Pine Ridge and beyond, which reinforced a desire by many of the folks who had arrived to see more of the surrounding reservation. That afternoon, Becky took a group to Wounded Knee and the Badlands National Park to see some of the history of the place, and to bring it fully into the opening.

That evening, after everyone ate the first of many wonderful meals prepared by Aidon and Filmore, the participants came together in prayers and blessings to officially open the gathering. The Youth Passageways delegates brought gifts from their ancestral lineage or the lands they lived. One by one, each delegate was invited to come to the center and speak to what their gift was and to offer it to the center table or to a specific person from Pine Ridge. There were so many gifts offered that they filled the table and the floor around it! The Pine Ridge residents were then invited to choose the gift they wanted and the rest were placed next to the altar for those who would arrive throughout the gathering. The invitation to gather on the ancestral lands of the Lakota people was met with gratitude; it was a special moment for many of the delegates that had been holding the story of YPW all the way back to its origins in Hawai’i or even beyond. The evening ended with a round of introductions and acknowledgments, a rich sense of exchange clear and present in the air.


Day Two – Mind, Body, Heart: The second day started with the Facilitation Team, Clement Wilson and Ramon Parish, alongside Becky and Dallas, inviting the larger body to break up into self-identified caucus groups of Olders/Yelders/Elders, Queer, Youth, Settler, Indigenous, and “?”. Each was then asked to reflect and share on the challenges and gifts they saw as part of the group they were in, see photos for what came out (including the modern art provided by the Olders/Yelders/Elders). This was also a time for folks to get some time to be in smaller conversations. After lunch, the YouthVoice group held by Marisa, Lia, Kruti, and Delacina invited participants out for a no-holds-barred game of Capture the Flag (led by 2 youth captains Michael and Khalil) and oh what a game it was! Arguably, one of the biggest takeaways from the gathering is confirmation that Orland Bishop will indeed divebomb the ground in order to advance a game for his team! Afterward, there was a debrief and then some needed time to decompress.

Later that evening after dinner, everyone met back in the central meeting space where Brother Larry Swallow, one of the ceremony and story holders of the All Nations community, gave a lively and interactive telling of the Lakota Creation story and the Seven Sacred Medicines gifted to the Lakota people by White Buffalo Calf Woman. The sharing of the traditions of the Lakota people opened conversation around the challenges and opportunities of the interfacing of these long-standing traditions with multi-cultural worldviews. One example that surfaced was how two-spirited and non-binary folks can feel seen and welcomed for who they are, across cultural differences.

As the evening closed, folks went to various spaces, with fireside conversations that emerged from the day weaving into the Dreamtime of the night and the gathering overall.


Day Three – Spirit Led: By the third day, the participants were living in the flow of “Spirit Led,” of letting go of agendas and accepting that what needed to happen will. That morning, Becky and Dallas invited community elders Leksi’ Chris Eagle Hawk and Leksi’ Cecil Cross to join the group and for a water blessing that would happen at some point during the day. Leksi’ Chris shared his story of being taken from his home and forced into a Catholic Boarding School and how that directly impacted the way he was unavailable for his children for most of their childhood, as well as the steps he took to come back to himself, his culture, and the lifesaving power of its medicine. Afterwards, the group convened to bless a freshwater spring on the property with the hopes for it to become an artesian well sometime in the next year.

The time in nature continued as Leksi’ Cecil and Dallas took a group up into the bluffs that line the Yellow Bear Canyon in which All Nations is perched. They spoke of the land, the medicines there, and the experiences they have had with young ones learning their traditional ways through All Nations. Through this the hike, the expansiveness of the land and of All Nations larger relationship to it, became infinitely clearer to the participants who walked the bluffs. It made for a breathtaking and nourishing time.

That evening was the Passion, or talent, Show. After dinner in the setting sun, Delacina met participants in the clearing at the center of the All Nations grounds on Horseback and spoke to her and the Lakota relationship to animals, dogs and horses in specific. For many people that were present, watching Delacina weave two traditions of her people–horse culture and hoop dancing–was a moving testament to the power of the ways young people can draw on their traditional ways to give birth to new cultural forms and their own unique expressions of creativity. Watching her father, Dallas, humbly and a little bit awkwardly support her added to the power of what she shared! Afterward, folks made their way back to the meeting space for the Youth MC team of Michael, Alex, and Khalil. From wholly raw and emotion filled poetry to uncontrollable laughter, many participants offered in a creative way a bit of who they are. This evening created a moment inside the larger moment of the gathering harkening back to the “Blessings and Beauty” public event held during the LA Gathering.


Day Four – What is Actually Needed – The Gift in Offering: The day began with movement held by Melissa Michaels. Participants began to move some of the energy and tension in our bodies from the weekend so far. As the gathering drew toward closure, there was a common sentiment that participants needed a chance to get to know what each present had brought in terms of skills and knowledge as one of the many ways YPW would live into the idea of alliance.

Simultaneously Dallas had started a conversation with Dane (and championed by sweet Khalil) about using their combined collection of bows to close the gathering with an arrow ceremony in which prayers were tied to arrows and shot out into the land. So as the morning session unfolded, each participant was encouraged to make a prayer tie, knowing that some folks had to leave earlier in the afternoon.

As each of the adults shared, one of the participants, Angus, recorded what each offered on a large drop cloth attached to one of the walls with a promise to translate to a spreadsheet and disseminate to the collective upon their return home. A common component of the sharing was a feeling of being under-resourced overall and simultaneously in need of more of the kinds of gatherings like those that Youth Passageways hosted. After each of the adults and elders had gone, everyone transitioned outside and formed a circle around the youth to center their voices and to hear what their needs were. Many listening felt humbled and heartbroken, listening to the challenges that the young ones faced. A common refrain the youth shared was a desire for more experiences like this weekend gathering. As each spoke, they lifted up the others and together began forming a protective and supportive bond, even while they offered clear and passionate appeals to the practitioners and facilitators surrounding them!

As the group headed back to the central meeting space, departure time was approaching. Dallas rallied a group of seven folks from Pine Ridge and YPW to take up bows, each with a bundle of the prayer ties affixed and on the count of three, they were loosed out into the bluff overlooking the land. The cheers and laughter were riotous and as the circle came together in closing, each person was invited to embrace every other in a beautiful chain of love and doksha (farewell for now in Lakota).


What’s Happened Since & Next Steps: Since the gathering, many things have been moving in those who attended, in the All Nations and Pine Ridge communities themselves and between them and the greater YPW community, here are just a few.

  • Participant Follow Up Call: Participants gathered for a call in the month after the gathering to reflect on their time and to discuss what was most impactful for them and some of the steps below. You can listen/watch the call HERE.
  • All Nations / YPW Alliance: Dane (and other interested YPW delegates) will head back to All Nations this coming April for the next All Nations Annual Gathering to keep dreaming into the alliance as well as to continue the arrow ceremony started with Dallas this fall.
  • Youth Council – Delacina along with youth from around the reservation have also formulated a Youth Council to meet each month at All Nations with male and female delegates from each of the 9 districts (As well as the invitation to two-spirited delegates as well) to talk about what they want to see happen in the coming months and to hold a Passion/Talent Show those same evenings!
  • Elders Council – In September, Dallas and Chubbs began going to all the Elders in the 9 districts and inviting them to start an Elders council in response to the Youth Council with the goal of eventually having them be informed by each other!
  • All Nations & Golden Bridge Yolanda has already made a trek out to the Front Range to continue building relationship with Golden Bridge and Becky is slated to head out in the coming weeks. There are also plans solidifying to integrate movement programs into the All Nations program offerings in 2019 and for a joint dance center to be built at All Nations at some point in the future.

Deep and Enduring Thank Yous to the Many Hands Who Made the 2018 Gathering Possible:

The warmest of thanks to Becky and Dallas Chief Eagle who opened their home to Youth Passageways in the spirit of generosity and healing, and to the whole All Nations family including Brother Chubbs Francis Thunder Hawk, Brother Larry Swallow, Sister Yolanda Cordova-Swallow, Sister Carol Iron Rope-Herrera, Leksi’ Chris Eagle Hawk, Leksi’ Johnny Gibbons, and Leksi’ Cecil Cross.

And a specific and poignant thank you to the youth who brought such vulnerability, trust, courage and grace to our time together including Delacina Chief Eagle, Alex Swallow, Michael Bull Bear, Brittany Poor Bear, Duane Two Bulls, Khalil Parekh-Richardson and to the whole His Horse is Thunder clan (Akicita, Tessie, Sol Mahpiya Zi, and Anina)!

Flow of Resources – the Financial Report:

The gathering cost $26,097. Our goal for this gathering was to break even, and we did exactly that. In April, we launched our Making Kin fundraising campaign and secured funding from the Kalliopeia foundation as well as a new grant from the Arbonne Foundation, combined with individual contributions that brought us to $17,600 with another $3,200 in registrations costs which gave us exactly $3 in net revenue! The success of breaking even however, should not be understated, even, for a fact, allowed us not only to bring folks from across North American to Pine Ridge but additionally, to contract with local folks for various logistical needs and to keep the resources close to Pine Ridge!

Individual & Organizational Financial Donations:

Mick Rhodes, Kruti Parekh, Munro Sickafoose, Scott Lawrance, Wendy Kaas
Darcy Ottey, Anna Coffman, Pegi Eyers, Rob Meltzer, the Schick Foundation, the Arbonne Foundation, the Kalliopeia Foundation, Golden Bridge, the School of Lost Borders, Gigi Coyle

Donations/Volunteer Time:

Including but not limited to: Kruti Parekh, Marisa Taborga Byrne, Darcy Ottey, Sobey Wing, Ramon Parish, Melissa Michaels, Gigi Coyle, Orland Bishop, Dane Zahorsky, JO Jett Oestreich-Cazeaux, Frederick Marx, Lia Bently, Clement Wilson, Siri Gunnarson, Will Scott, and Angus Maria Moore.

And a special thank you to Aidoneus Bishop who offered his hands and his amazing food alongside brother Filmore Richards in the kitchen, and to David Moskowitz who so graciously gifted us with so many beautiful images!


Marisa Taborga Byrne
JO Jett Oestreich-Cazeaux
Aidoneus BishopDarcy Ottey
Siri Gunnarson
Will Scott
Ramon Parish
Kruti Parekh
Cameron Withey
Yolanda Cordova-Swallow
Melissa Michaels
Sarita Rivard
Angus Maria Moore
Chubbs Francis Thunder Hawk.
Akicita His Horse Is Thunder
Tessie His Horse is Thunder
Sol Mahpiya Zi His Horse Is Thunder
Anina His Horse is Thunder
Manuela Welton
Mariah Tuffy
Lia Bentley
Gigi Coyle
Orland Bishop
Clement Wilson
Sobey Wing
Larry Swallow
Michael Bull Bear
Brittany Poor Bear
Delacina Chief Eagle
Becky Chief Eagle
Duane Two Bulls
Pedro H. Silva
David Moskowitz
Dane Zahorsky
Pınar Ateş Sinopoulos-Lloyd
So Sinopoulos-Lloyd

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Though Youth Passageways holding a gathering at All Nations would be a momentous gift and opportunity, it felt important to be very thoughtful saying ‘yes’ to the invitation. Embedded in the very fabric of YPW from the start has been a steadily evolving practice of permission seeking and the intention of coming to the places it gathers in service and in right relationship with those places and the peoples that reside there. Over the rest of 2017 and January 2018, finding that ‘YES’ was explored deeply alongside Becky, as a new SC member, and in collaboration with the Cross-Cultural Protocols Working Group. An organizing team formed consisting of Becky and Dallas Chief Eagle, Dane Zahorsky and Darcy Ottey, and supported Gathering by Yolanda Cordova-Swallow, Gigi Coyle and Sobey Wing. This team, in dialogue with the whole SC, decided that a small gathering of 35 to 40 people would best serve the place and people of the land. Half of the attendees would come from All Nations and Pine Ridge, and the other half would be a “delegation” from the greater YPW network. Becky, Dallas, the CCP, and others helped offer a mindful and heartfelt process of preparing and informing the YPW delegates to contribute and collaborate with the Place so that reciprocity would be at the heart of the gathering.

Below are some of the steps in this preparation and trust building process:

March 2018 – All Nations Site Visit:

In early March, Dane Zahorsky, YPW’s Director/Broom pusher, and his partner, headed to All Nations Gathering Center on behalf of YPW, to deepen the relationship with All Nations and get a working understanding of the place, its capacity, and ways of possible collaboration between the two organizations. Learn more about that journey and what came out HERE.

June – PC Episode 3 – The Spirit of Wellness & The YouthVoice Team Forms:

After the site visit, and in preparation of heading to All Nations later that summer, Becky and Dallas were invited to be guests on the newly launched YPW Podcast: Practicing Community.  You can listen to Becky and Dallas dive into their work HERE.  At the same time Marisa Taborga Byrne, YPW’s Network Mapper, had started to develop a bond with Dallas’s daughter, Delacina Chief Eagle and joined the organizing team as the Youth Voice Track point person.

July – August – Participant Calls:

The preparation process included two calls; the first shared historical and current context on Pine Ridge Reservation and All Nations Gathering Center and offered deeper awareness of the socio-economic and political issues affecting the community. You can listen to the first call HERE. The second, hosted by Sobey Wing and Gigi Coyle, focused on the relationships between settlers and indigenous peoples and provided examples of asking permission and consent to organize events on traditional territories that are not one’s ancestral homelands. You can listen to that call HERE.


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Youth Passageways Advisor Frederick Marx first introduced Rebecca (Becky) Chief Eagle to Youth Passageways in 2016, and she attended the 2016 gathering in Los Angeles. Over the course of the weekend, Becky fell ill and Marisa Taborga Byrne, JO Jett Cazeaux and Sharon Black Wolf (three amazing Stewardship Council members) nursed her back to health. Even a bit under the weather, Becky showed up in a strong way and it was made clear that tending this new relationship and the unfolding bond among her and those she met at the gathering was important for many people, and for Youth Passageways. There were many threads that came out of this gathering and wove together in a way that wouldn’t be made clear for nearly a year after. Here are two:

Drawing on what transpired in Los Angeles, the Cross Cultural Protocols (CCP) Working Group offered a six week web-based Learning Journey in spring 2017,  in which participants were asked to dive deep into the ways in which who we are and where we come from has an impact on our work as rite of passage facilitators. Topics covered included ancestral lineage, social and cultural change, queer initiation, as well as the ways that rites have been lost through systemic oppression and how they can be reclaimed through reconciliation and healing. This Journey had a significant impact on many of its participants, and ended with the call for the work of reparations in concrete ways.

Another thread was a call from practitioners working along the Front Range in Colorado to explore the possibility of the next YPW gathering taking place there. Through dialogue over a year and a half, it became clear that the timing was not quite right. The question of where the next gathering would be was opened again, with the focus being a localized, community-specific offering. At the same time, Becky accepted an invitation to join the Stewardship Council (SC) during the annual retreat in November 2017, during which she and her husband Dallas graciously invited Youth Passageways for a small gathering of healing and celebration at the All Nations Gathering Center. This center is their home and base of operations on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where for more than 10 years, Becky and Dallas, along with a growing team, have impacted and transformed lives through a “blending of modern practices with the beautiful traditions of the Lakota Way”.

Another thread was a call from practitioners working along the Front Range in Colorado to explore the possibility of the next YPW gathering taking place there. Through dialogue over a year and a half, it became clear that the timing was not quite right. The question of where the next gathering would be was opened again, with the focus being a localized, community-specific offering. At the same time, Becky accepted an invitation to join the Stewardship Council (SC) during the annual retreat in November 2017, during which she and her husband Dallas graciously invited Youth Passageways for a small gathering of healing and celebration at the All Nations Gathering Center. This center is their home and base of operations on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where for more than 10 years, Becky and Dallas, along with a growing team, have impacted and transformed lives through a “blending of modern practices with the beautiful traditions of the Lakota Way”.

< Back to 2018 Gathering Page

This month, join Becky and Dallas ChiefEagle, Marisa Taborga Byrne, and Dane Zahorsky as they discuss Whole Person Wellness and how their work is to sustain and reconnect spirit in peoples lives is impacting and transforming their community!

Read the Transcript

You can read and download the full transcript in PDF format HERE

About This Month’s Guests –  Becky and Dallas ChiefEagle

Becky and Dallas Chief Eagle are co-founders of the All Nations Gathering Center on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Both do work that’s hard to contain to any short intro, a few of the things we might mention are Dallas’s work as an artist-in-residence in schools across the nation since the mid 1980’s using Hoop Dancing and other techniques to teach the lessons of the Lakota Way or Becky’s work as the compliance officer of the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing where she helps manage 1500 low rent rental units across the 9 districts of the reservation.

Over the more than 10 years they along with a growing team of folks have impacted and transformed many people’s lives. The Center blends modern practices with the beautiful traditions of the Lakota Way in the lush and vibrant Yellow Bear Canyon just outside the Black Hills south of the Badlands in South Dakota.

From getting out of unhealthy relationships, stopping suicidal intentions to healing bodies and minds, their healing has been a powerful catalyst for many men and women of all nations to heal and live healthier lives.

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Health as a Whole Journey

Whole person Wellness is much more than the health of our individual mind, body, heart, and spirit. Yes, it’s all of those things, and also it is interrelated to place and community. There is a continual mutual exchange between our place on this earth and our unique way of being in the world. Expanding our view of Wellness can open a deeper connection with ourselves, with the land we call home, with the communities we are surrounded by.



Approaches / Tools




Where We’ve Been:

There’s a momentum that has come out of YPW gatherings so far, our most recent one in Los Angeles in particular, that centered the work we must do with cultural wounding and deep listening in order to bring everyone to the issues we hope to engage together. Additionally, since YPW’s inception, there’s been a running dialogue around how rites of passage and education could interface and inform each other both in the traditional models and otherwise. These two threads led us to host a small preliminary meeting with Naropa staff last year and planning for a larger conversation in conjunction with YPW’s recent Cross-Cultural Protocols Working Group retreat in Boulder.

Our First Meeting & What We Heard:

In April, a group came together on the Naropa campus, including Youth Passageways folks, staff and students from Naropa, various practitioners and youth workers from around the Front Range as well as Ava Hamilton, a local Arapaho filmmaker [see Full Meeting Notes for a complete list of attendees]. Ava was asked to open our meeting,  and Dane, Darcy, Pinar, and Ramon offered gifts and asked permission on behalf of our ancestors, YPW, and Naropa to gather in 2018. After permission was granted and gifts were exchanged we grounded and learned who was in the room then offered some history and context on YPW and our gatherings. We then opened it up to the circle to share questions, comments, and reflections.

What we heard seemed to confirm both of the threads we had come to the meeting with: education and facing/transforming wounds. Whereas there is an expressed desire and vocalized need for Naropa to engage in a deep conversation around rites of passage, there’s also the need to look at Naropa and Boulder in relationship to the other communities of the Front Range to foster collaboration, real conversation about difficult topics, and to co-create something together that brings in a rich and diverse group of multi-generational voices.

Key Takeaways:

  • This gathering should be designed in a way accessible to all Front Range as opposed to centric to any one community, program, or institution within it.
  • If higher education is a large focus of this gathering it would need to be equally accessible to those without access to that education or who have chosen alternative paths to the traditional degree.
  • We need to have a clear picture of the ‘what’s next” for youth but also for everyone involved, centering incorporation and long term change.

What We Propose as a Starting Place

Youth Passageways is moving forward toward gathering in the fall of 2018 in the Front Range that will bring together rite of passage facilitators, educators, changemakers, and youth/students engaged in ceremony, dialogue, experiential activities, and small-group workshops with a goal of further developing collaboration regionally and as an international network. At least in part some themes of this time will be how post-secondary education [and alternative paths] are held and facilitated as a defining rite of passage, regional collaboration and embracing real dialogue about the different communities that make up the Front Range,  and continuing to center POC and LGBTQ voices.

As part of the gathering, YPW and Front Range Partners will host a public event co-created by partner organizations from the Front Range and around the world featuring diverse approaches to youth initiation and well-being.

Next Steps/Call to Action:

Our biggest immediate focus will be figuring out a location, finalizing dates, and articulating a theme for the Gathering. In addition, we will start to establish our working teams.

We’re looking for folks interested in any or all of the teams detailed below. In addition we want to identify a core group of Front Range Host Partners who will work closely with the Design & Facilitation team to tease out the themes and continue to ground our visioning in the needs and nuances of the place.

You can read the Host Partner description HERE as well as see the Host Partners from our last gathering HERE.

Please reach out to: if you’re interested in becoming a Host Partner or know of a person or organization you think would be a good fit.

ORGANIZING:  Currently, Dane Zahorsky, Ramon Parish, Pınar Ateş Sinopoulos-Lloyd and Darcy Ottey are serving as the overall organizing team, with a desire to possibly add 1-2 more individuals to this team that will oversee:  overall big-picture, finances, invite list & development of invitation, and coordination between all teams.  

LOGISTICS:  We’re looking for folks to work with food, transportation, equipment, and ground support as a possible vision is engaging different partner offerings or generally important places in the area.

DESIGN & FACILITATION:  We are putting together a Design Team, who will solicit the input of local Front Range groups & the YPW network, develop the program for the event, coordinate with local groups, and secure facilitators.  

MEDIA:  Developing a team to provide multi-media documentation as well as garnering media attention for the event.  

FIRST NATIONS RELATIONS:  As per YPW’s Cross-Cultural protocols, we are working to develop relations with the traditional peoples of the region where the gathering will be held and to involve them in the gathering to the extent that there is interest.  

FUNDING:  We need a team to hold the seeking of funding to underwrite the whole event and scholarship donations funds that allow us to center participants from all socioeconomic situations. This is a deeply important and valuable part of the process and we’re eager to work with anyone who has experience or interest.

ADVISORS & WITNESSES:  We generally keep about 40 members of the YPW family informed through regular updates, including our Stewardship Council, Cross-Cultural Protocols Working Group, wider southern Colorado partners & related organizations, and key trusted advisors and allies.  If you would like to be added to this list or would like to bear witness to this process, please let us know.

Please contact for more info on any of the groups.