Two Schools — EarthWalk Vermont and Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa (at Standing Rock)


On  October 31st, I had the privilege of carrying from EarthWalk Vermont — — where I have volunteered for 9 years, to Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa, the school at Standing Rock, some stories, skills and games.

EarthWalk’s mission is to inspire and empower children, families and communities to reconnect with and care for one another and the Earth through long-term nature mentoring.”

Much of what we do at EarthWalk is inspired by various indigenous traditions, so bringing some EarthWalk lore to the school at the camp at Standing Rock felt to me like a wonderful opportunity to give back, to share skills that ALL our ancestors used, like making fire by friction with a bow drill.

Sitting on the ground with a group of children as I read the “Fire Race” story from the Karuk nation and as I taught a group to use the bow drill I felt right at home — not so different from being at EarthWalk or from being with the group of Inuit children in Greenland with whom I shared fire skills back in 2010.

Making fire is more than a skill. It is a ceremony, one that brings empowerment:


Empowerment. Embracing change and energy. Focus and intention. Skill and attention to detail. Honoring the tiny spark that will become a great fire. Providing warmth and light for the people. Honoring the source of all energy here on Earth—the Sun. All of this is part of the ceremony of Making Fire

Doing the ceremony of Making Fire is a good way to come out of self-doubt. When I doubt myself, it is nearly impossible to make a tiny coal by friction (hand drill or bowdrill) and to blow that coal into flame in a tinder bundle. Releasing doubt and coming home to myself in body, in mind and in spirit—then I can make fire.      — from The Ceremony Cards

Soon one or two of the mentors (teachers) from EarthWalk Vermont will be at Standing Rock. They intend to come to the school to follow up on my visit — sharing more EarthWalk lore and helping the children with their bow drill skills.

I am grateful for the time I spent at Standing Rock and at the school.

Ningijoq Jane English

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