Dancing in the Sea of Life Hula Newsletter                    
"2015 Zen Peacemakers Native American Bearing Witness Retreat in the Black Hills."   Photo by Peter Cunningham

Pu'uwai hao kila. 
Heart of steel. 

'Olelo No'eau - Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings #2766           

Collected, translated and annotated by Mary Kawena Pukui   


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In This Issue
Chas Jewett Red Morning Star Woman

Upcoming Events 

Poliahu Shawls
Poliahu Shawls and Beanies now Available!

We have a beautiful array of Poliahu shawls in different colors.

Poliahu is the snow goddess of Mauna Kea. 
The mountain is Poliahu. 
Poliahu is the mountain. 
We are Mauna Kea,
Mauna Kea is us.

Shawls are $35 each and Beanies are $18 each.  Both go to support
 the effort protecting Mauna Kea

Email Kumu June or come to the Zen Life & Meditation Center at 38 Lake Street in Oak Park to purchase one.

 For information about what's happening check out
Mauna Kea Supreme Court Hearing Raw Footage 8/27/15

September 1, 2015
Two Junes
Photo by Peter Cunningham

I am still digesting my time at the Zen Peacemakers first Native American Bearing Witness Retreat held a couple of weeks ago in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  It was a huge experience and in the next couple of months, I will recount some of what happened there.

The Black Hills, known as Pahá Sápa to the Lakota, translates as Heart of Everything That Is and as Sacred Place of the Heart.  It's the entrance to Heaven. It's an area covered with dark green Ponderosa pines. Looked at from above, the Black Hills has the shape of a big heart surrounded by red soil.  Native Americans have lived there since 7,000 BC.  

"Truly be here with the land and all the creations that will speak up.  Allow your hearts to break wide open.  Let's live like that this week," said Grover Genro Gauntt, a major coordinator and one of the spirit holders of the Zen Peacemakers Native American Retreat.  So, I did.

The first night we all stayed in Rapid City's Motel 6 right next to a busy highway.  There were many motels in that area.  I slept well that night. Maybe because there were so many peacemakers in the motel?  That evening it drizzled, and a beautiful red rainbow appeared.  

The next day we rode in an old bus (with a manual clutch) traveling from Rapid City to the Pine Ridge Reservation, the poorest reservation in the nation with an average income of $4,500 - 5,000 per year. Next we traveled on to the Badlands and finally to Wounded Knee.  

It was a hot sunny day, dry and dusty.  We passed a few homes and many churches. In the Sioux Nation Grocery Store's parking lot, an older native woman with a weathered face was selling a few beaded items.  I learned that her name was also June.  Our Native tour guide told us that youth suicide is epidemic.  Infant mortality is six times the nation's average.  Alcoholism is rampant.  Homes can house up to 10 - 12 families.  

Then we drove past the Badlands - beautiful buttes, pinnacles and spires in the midst of grasslands. Among the buttes is the Lakota Stronghold Table where the last Ghost Dances were held.  Many Sioux thought that by wearing special "Ghost Shirts" the ghost dancing warriors would be unharmed by the white man's bullets and could openly defy the soldiers and white settlers.  They believed their dance could bring back the old days of the big buffalo herds.

At Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890, as winter closed in, a band of Minneconjou and Hunkpapa Sioux  (106 warriors and 250 women and children) led by Chief Big Foot, were surrounded by 470 soldiers of the U.S. 7th Calvary.  The troops attempted to disarm Big Foot's band. Gunfire erupted. Before it was over, nearly three hundred Indians and thirty soldiers lay dead.

The Wounded Knee Massacre was the last major clash between Plains Indians and the U.S. military until the advent of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s, most notably in the 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

National Historic Landmark - Wounded Knee Cemetary
Photo by Peter Cunningham

Wounded Knee is located in the center of the Pine Ridge Reservation on a little hill.  We walked silently on a dusty, uneven dirt road up to the top of the flat, to a small cemetery.  Halfway up the hill a small golden dragonfly caught my eye.  It was flying stationary alongside the path.  I paused to take in it's beauty as fully as I could.  How amazing - beauty in the midst of great sadness!

At the top of the hill stands an old archway that leads into the cemetery.  The first thing we saw was a chain link fence surrounding the rectangular mass grave of the 300 massacred Indians.  Our guide's wife, Doreen Two Bulls, was standing at the fence, silently weeping.  The sky was a clear, powder blue with a few white clouds that bore witness as did two hundred of us - to this awful massacre of men, women and children.  It was hard to take in.  There was a hush.

After leaving Wounded Knee, our bus started shaking a little, and our guide said, "You're gonna experience a regular Rapid City occurrence - broken down on the side of the road."  Luckily the bus made it to the Red Cloud Indian School Visitor Center where we were able to shop for Native art and handicrafts while they change the buses.  This eased my heart.

After nearly 12 hours, we got to the Flandreau Santee Sious campsite in the Black Hills.  It was dark.  There was a big bright, white tent where a solo generator hummed to provide electricity for the lights.  A sweet scent of pine trees and mowed grass greeted me. It was dark and hard to see our luggage.  There was a chill in the air.

We slept in a big women's tent for the evening. The ground was lumpy with grass clumps and  small rocks here and there.  We used flashlights to see.  There were no mosquitoes or ticks. The spider nation was present however, with numerous small spiders that thankfully didn't bother us. Eventually I found them to be quite sweet and gentle. I wonder if it's because they are honored here.

At about 6 am the next morning, I was the first to awaken in the tent where about 8 of us slept.  I dressed quickly and eagerly walk outside the tent.  I wanted to see these sacred black hills that I'd heard so much about.  Once outside I gasped, was overwhelmed by the natural beauty that greeted me - my heart broke open and tears fell!  

There was a little knoll to the south outlined with white morning mist.  It looked like a Hawaiian moon-bow to me. I stood as if in a dream.  A silver crescent moon hung in a pale blue sky low in the east.  The mist did a slow-motion dance moving down the hill and then up again as I silently watched.

To the left of the hill was a circular area where the Sioux perform their Sundance ceremonies.  We were instructed not to walk into that area out of respect.  Tiokasin Ghosthorse said that sundancers are men who commit to dancing the rest of their lives - metaphorically - first as a service to all life and also to keep that consciousness alive for those who do not have a voice.

Melodic Native American flute tones emanated from the main tent and echoed through the woods.   It was Tiokasin playing his flute - gentle yet undeniably strong.  That was our wake up call.  We had been instructed to leave our watches at home and to turn off our cellphones since there's no reception there.  We were now officially on Indian time on the Flandreau Santee Sioux sacred land - the heart's land.

Malama pono (take care of your body, mind and heart),

June Kaililani Tanoue
Kumu Hula

P.S.  Here's a slide show of photographs of my Bearing Witness trip. Thanks to Peter Cunningham and Darrell Justus for the photos and music by Tiokasin Ghosthorse.  Here are Peter and Darrell's complete photos
and Jadina Lilien's photos of the retreat.
Chas Jewett Red Morning Star Woman

"Not Knowing is also the ability to learn."
Chastity "Chas" Jewett was born in Winnebago, Nebraska in an Indian Health Service hospital.  Her father is Lakota and her mother is a white woman born in Merced, CA. Chas' Indian name is Anpo wichacpi luta winyan, Red Morning Star Woman.  

She's lived her whole life on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation.  She is Minnicoujou, band Shunkawotasni (people who don't eat dogs). Chas says that 'Eating dogs is a good thing.  They always come home.  People who don't eat dogs travel and wander. Minnicoujou means planters by the water and yet our band wanders.  It's a dichotomy.' 

Chas was raised Catholic and graduated from College of St. Benedict in Minnesota and hosts the No KXL Through Treaty Lands FaceBook page which has over 10,000 likes.

We met at the recent Zen Peacemakers Native American Bearing Witness Retreat in the Black Hills.  Chas calls herself a 'white person whisperer' and is able to communicate in both the White and Lakota world.  We spoke recently by phone.

Chas Jewett:  I grew up with a really intelligent father and it was easy to be educated by my father.  We grew up learning about the Treaty of 1868.  My white friends have no idea that the first article of the U.S. constitution talks about treaties.  I learned that the most important work of a nation is making treaty.  Keeping your word is important.  America is the first civilized nation state that included liberty for it's citizen. It came from indigenous thought of respecting one another - we slid that in there.

As a college student, I knew it all.  As I matured more I realized how little I knew and how I had to be open to what my dad was saying and all the lectures he was giving me.  It has made me the person I am.  Not knowing is also the ability to learn.

I have four sisters - I'm the lowest on the totem pole.  The oldest sister takes care of mom.  The second sister takes care of our ranch that we've had in the family since 1832 in the same spot.  The third sister had two babies.  The youngest sister is everyone's favorite.  

My tiwahe (immediate family) does the stuff that allows me to attend events, and be a white people whisperer.  i always was going to be the speaker of the family and all my sisters found their way too.  We do good.  My nieces and nephews have been raised by five mothers and a grandmother.  We fixed the things that we didn't get growing up.  Dad was raised in a boarding school and mom was raised by unaffectionate German people.  So between parents - dad was totally about love and acceptance and mom about requirements and duty.  It was a perfect little mix.  

Our grandmother lived with us until I was twelve.  Dad was the youngest of ten kids.  He was a momma's boy.  My grandmother was a powerful woman.  She installed into all of us that we had to work for the people and be proud of who we are.  Last night I was in my book club with four white women.  All are 50 and going into menopause.  The most beautiful one said she felt invisible and not attractive to everyone.  There was a genuine sentiment that their lives were not impactful enough to the world.  Even though they are all successful.  They can never do enough.

I realized over this past summer, that I've done enough.  If I die tomorrow, my life has been pretty fantastic. I've advocated for my people and the earth and was a voice for those who don't have one.  I can barely pay my bills and sustain myself with the quagmire of living in this world.  But as a Lakota, I've done all that I can and I feel at the top of my game. My people survived so I can do what I've done.  That's a life well lived.  I don't have to climb any mountains, or these crazy things that white people do in order to be recognized and be famous for five minutes.

June: What issues are you into now?

Chas:  Rapid City Community Conversations is about race.  We've been meeting for six months and will do it for another six months.  We're creating a safe space for a dialogue that has never happened before between Oceti Sakowin (Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people) and white people.  We are hosting this conversation to come up with solutions to problems together.

It's about relationship building - bringing Indian and white people around the same table. We live so divided in the community.  Just bringing them together is spectacular.  We bring powers that be - icons of community - together like the Chamber of Commerce, hospital president, bank president.  The chief of police called me and wanted to come.  It's going really well.  

I realize this is the ultimate conversation - if we can honor each other as human beings, we can honor Earth.  Indigenous people are rising throughout the world - we are considering earth, water, birds and trees as part of us.  That's where it is for us.  We have to solve the problems of race, class and environmental destruction. 

About Us
Successful Halau Fundraiser with Hawaiians Kumu Michael Pili Pang, Keikilani Curnan, Davin, Al, Ryan

Halau i Ka Pono - the Hula School of Chicago is a sister program of the Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago located in Oak Park, IL.  Kumu Hula June Kaililani Tanoue established the school in 2009 and has been teaching hula since 2003.


Halau i Ka Pono means School that Cultivates the Goodness.  We teach Hula which is defined as the art of Hawaiian dance expressing all that we see, hear, taste, touch, and feel.


Hula and healing go hand in hand in our Halau. The dance connects us to the grounding energy of the earth and opens us to the warm spirit of Aloha (love). 



Come join us!  We have wonderful introductory classes for adult beginners!  No experience necessary.


Contact Kumu June at june.tanoue@zlmc.org for more information.  May your lives be full of aloha blessings!