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Elders & Presenters

Our Teachers.

At Flint Hills Wisdom Keepers, we hold ourselves to the highest standards of excellence with regard to our curriculum and teaching. We believe that education is about more than just academic learning - it is also about stewardship, healing, and connection. That is why our Elders/Presenters provide a cultural immersion into the history and traditional teachings of the Native and Indigenous cultures of the Americas.

 

Our agenda is designed to provide the perfect balance of critical and creative thinking and offer invaluable life lessons to help attendees lead fulfilling lives.

Please note that not every one of our Elders & Presenters are able to attend every year. Please select the below link to view the 2024 line-up.

Rupert Encinas', Ba’ag Da (Eaglefly), teachings are of the traditional ancestors in his tribe. He is of O'Odham tribe meaning Human Beings. He is from S-cuk son now called Tucson. He grew up knowing his first language and the traditional ways of his ancestors. His grandfather, Harry Ba'ag Encinas survived the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. He was not deterred by the treatment of the boarding school and continued to revive their traditional ways.

 

From a young age, Ba'ag Da sat with traditional men through all-night ceremonies. His formal education continued at Haskell National Indian School in Lawrence, Kansas. In 1975, Ba'ag Da met a Lakota Man in Oregon, Deavir, Tatanka Ohitika (Brave Buffalo), Eastman, with whom he apprenticed for traditional sweat lodge and Sundance protocol in Green Grass, South Dakota.  Since 1999, he has traveled to Estonia, Finland, Norway, Copenhagen, Warsaw, and Switzerland to share traditional teachings. He continues to make his pilgrimage every year and embraces the traditional way of life he lives to this day.

Rupert Encinas,

Tohono O'odham

Rupert Encinas Native American Medicine Man  Native American Church Ceremony

Della Romero, Flies High, (Pueblo/Ute Nations) has participated in the Lakota Way ceremonies as a Sundancer and pipe carrier for more than 30 years.  Before her passing in 2009 Grandmother Bertha, Red Earth Woman, designated Della to pass on her teachings, especially teachings about the water, the Giver of Life. 


Della recently retired after 17 years as a Supervisor of Family Therapy with emphasis on 'Youth at Risk'. She worked with hundreds of families, including many Native families. Today, Flies High is a grandmother and founder of Tiospaye, which means the making of relatives. She is a founder with her two daughters of a transformational and leadership non-profit company, which has been a big learning experience. Della continues to learn, to grow and to teach about our Panchamoma and the Feminine Principle in harmony with the Masculine. 

Della Romero,

Ute/Tewa Pueblo 

Della Romero Ute Tewa Pueblo Native Woman Medicine Woman

Arnold Clifford (Diné) is a Native scholar, field botanist, ethnobotanist, and geologist. From Beclahbito, New Mexico and the Carrizo Mountain Range, Clifford integrates his cultural teachings with his work. An associate editor for the Bolack San Juan Basin Flora Project, Clifford’s expertise is in flora of Navajo Nation and the Four Corners Region of the U.S. He is the one of the authors of Flora of the Four Corners Region, Vascular Plants of the San Juan River Drainage: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah with Kenneth Heil, Steven O’Kane Jr. and Linda Mary Reeves.

 

Clifford will present about his ethnobotanical work and his other field projects throughout the Southwest. His work is directly related to the land as our ancestors and integral to the teachings and stories of Native peoples. Land is central to Clifford’s work as it is important to protect land for future generations.

Arnold Clifford,

Dineh [Navajo]

Arnold Clifford Navajo ethnobotanist lecturer

Rueben Ironhorse-Kent is a member of the Buffalo Clan with the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and an Award Winning Contemporary Artist.

 

When giving presentations, he often speaks of indigenous cultures, both contemporary and those prior to contact with people of European descent, as pursuit of the subject has intrigued him, and provides inspiration for artistic expression. He has worked with children at several different venues, including Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa), and Native American Heritage Museum (Kansas), providing a small experience of some social activity of the past.

An avid reader, he views himself as a contemporary individual whose interest in history, including both indigenous and American will provide an awareness toward his goals in the future. Believing education to be the path to a better world for everyone as we are all indigenous to the earth.

Rueben Ironhorse-Kent,

Iowa KS & NE

Reuen Ironhorse Kent Contemporary Artist Pottery Artist and Speaker

charlee huffman is of the Ishtághe masíⁿha, meaning half French. She a highly regarded and award-winning writer, with accolades for her exceptional poetry anthology The Ending Hasn’t Happened Yet, which highlights her work as a member of the neurodivergent and disabled writers community.

 

Her experience as a writer and educator has made her a sought-after leader in the industry and her work with the Land-Based Indigenous Reconciliation Curriculum for Unitarian Universalist Sunday Schools reinforces her passion for providing others with the knowledge and perspective they need to grow.

She is also a Writer and Curriculum Designer for The Sacred Red Rock Project for Kanza Heritage Society- Education/Outreach. Her present-day projects include serving as co-editor for the upcoming publication ShokhÍ: How Iⁿ‘zhúje‘waxóbe Came Home and the Rematriation of a Stolen Monument.

charlee huffman,

Kaw Nation Citizen

Charlee Huffamn Adjuct Professor Kansas State Univeristy Kaw Nation Citizen

Eugene B. Joe, He With Many Feathers, is a Navajo artist responsible for taking traditional Navajo sand painting to a new level. He apprenticed with his father, James C. Joe, creating the more traditional sand painting styles. At age 13 (1963), he began to experiment, using sand more as an artist would use paint to capture landscapes, people, and images unrelated to ceremonial patterns.

 

Eugene was the CEO/President of the Shiprock Historical Society from 2010 to 2017. As a recognized Historian, he conducts presentations, lectures, and educational seminars on Navajo culture for various projects such as the Dahayoigii and Dineh Youth of Shiprock, NM. Eugene also works with the Consolidated School District of Dual Language on storytelling, native art, cultural values, and the preservation of Northern Navajo History. He is an Author, Educator, Husband, and Father, and a respected member of the Navajo Nation. In 2018, Eugene was awarded the Navajo Nation Hall of Fame.

Eugene B. Joe

Dineh [Navajo]/Pueblo

Eugene B. Joe Navajo Sand Painter and Historical Speaker

Dr. Debra Bolton is director of intercultural learning and academic success and faculty member in the department of geography and geospatial sciences at Kansas State University, plays a key role in fostering cultural advocacy, civility and intercultural learning through education to address historical exclusions of multiple identities socially and academically. 

Previously, Bolton served as an extension specialist for K-State Research and Extension for 13.5 years and as an adult educator for 12 years based in Southwest Kansas. She continues her passion for research by leading a multistate research group in community research in multilingual populations focused on leadership, education, health, well-being, community integration and social networks.

  

Bolton, a National Geographic Society Explorer, introduces geospatial analysis and geography to high school-aged females of color, a grossly under-represented population in the geosciences and other STEM disciplines.

Debra Bolton,

Ohkay Owingeh/Diné/Ute

Algonquin healer, storyteller, spiritual teacher, and author (with Mason Winfield) of Iroquois Supernatural (Bear & Co./Inner Traditions, 2011), Michael Bastine has trained within Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), Hopi, and Cherokee traditions for 30 years.

 

Today Michael travels all over the U.S. and Canada for lectures at conferences. A veteran of many media appearances, Michael was a guest in 2012 on the famous paranormal radio program Coast to Coast. A founder of "Touch The Earth" Natural Resource Center of South Wales, NY, and a co-founder of the East Aurora-based research organization Spirit Way Project, Michael also serves as an advisor to The Center for Algonquin Culture and as an advocate for the developmentally disabled.

 

Michael lives in South Wales, NY, with his special-needs daughter, Bailey–from whom he receives uncountable spiritual lessons every day.

Mike Bastine,

Algonquin

Micheal Bastine Algonquin Medicine Man Native American Paranormal NPR Interview

Terri, Flies with Bees Woman,  sits on the Board of Trustees at the Institute of American Indian Studies in Washington Depot, Connecticut. She is on the steering committee for creating a Commission on American Indian Affairs. She is a founding member of Women In the Spirit (WitS) and serves on the board. She facilitates workshops on “Meeting Death" at the Wisdom House Retreat Center. As an ordained minister she enjoys facilitating marriages, baby blessings, and funeral services.
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She has worked in an educational setting since 1991 with a focus on Multicultural Education for all students. Terri served as Secretary on the State Board for Multicultural Education and on the board for the annual New England Conference for Multicultural Education for 8 years and the Family Engagement Specialist at the University of Hartford Magnet School.  

Terry Delahanty,

Cree/Ojibwe

Arthur Short Bull was raised in a traditional family on the Pine Ridge Reservation. His great-grandfather was Grant Short Bull, uncle to famed artist and historian, Amos Bad Heart Bull and younger brother of He Dog, a companion of Crazy Horses’. Driven by a desire to help his people, Mr. Short Bull attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and became a substance abuse counselor. He worked as a counselor for 14 years, until he left the field to pursue his career as an artist.

It was Oglala Lakota artist Andrew Standing Soldier who first told young Mr. Short Bull that being an artist and painter could be a viable career. Unsure of his talent, he began to experiment with different media, and to seek the advice of more established artists in the Omaha area, where he lived at the time. After experimenting with acrylic and oil painting, drawing in various media, and clay sculpting, Mr. Short Bull eventually found his voice in watercolor painting.

Arthur Short Bull,

Oglala Lakota

Minisa, Dawn Woman, is an artist and craftsperson of several disciplines: painting, silversmithing, basketry, potting, as well as quilting, cooking, gardening and writing.
 

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the Year of the Earth Horse, to Lillian Hogue Crumbo and Woodrow Wilson Crumbo. Manisa is Muscogee Creek and Citizens Band Potawatomi Indian, Scots-Irish from her maternal Papa and French-German from my paternal Papa.

She considers her education, in the ways of the Mother Earth and the Father Sky-Sun, who were and remain her first, most important and beautiful teachers, is grounded in the black jack hills of Oklahoma and the high mountain valleys of New Mexico.

Minisa Crumbo Halsey,

Potawatomi/Muscogee Creek

William L. "Willie" Hensley (born June 17, 1941),  was born into a small community in Northwest Alaska, 40 miles above the Arctic Circle. His father was a Jewish Lithuanian fur trader whom Hensley never met, and his mother was an Inupiat Eskimo from Kotzebue. Hensley played a critical role in creating the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971, one of the largest and most important land claims by indigenous peoples in U.S. history. Hensley served a term in the Alaska House of Representatives (1967–1970), and then a four-year term in the Alaska Senate (1971–1974).

Hensley has also had an influential career outside of politics, as founder of the Northwest Alaskan Natives Association Regional Corporation (NANA), where he served as president for 20 years. He also helped form the Alaskan Natives Federation and was co-chairman, executive director, and president. He also is a founder of Maniilaq, a not-for-profit organization that provides essential services for the tribes of Northwest Alaska.

Since retiring from politics, Hensley has written a book titled Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People.The book entails Hensley’s childhood growing up in rural Alaska with extended family and his journey as an Alaskan politician and native rights activist.

William Hensley,

Alaskan Inupiaq

Daniel Wildcat, Ph.D., is a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, and an accomplished scholar who writes on Indigenous knowledge, technology, environment, and education. He is also director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center, which he founded with colleagues from the Center for Hazardous Substance Research at Kansas State University.

 

Wildcat helped design a four-part video series entitled All Things Are Connected: The Circle of Life (1997), which dealt with the land, air, water, biological, and policy issues facing Native nations. A Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma, Wildcat recently formed the American Indian and Alaska Native Climate Change Working Group, a tribal-college-centered network of individuals and organizations working on climate change issues. In 2008, he helped organize the Planning for Seven Generations climate change conference sponsored by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He is the author, most recently, of Red Alert! Saving the Planet with Indigenous Knowledge (2009).

Daniel Wildcat,

Yuchi Member of Muscogee Nation

Daniel Wildcat, Ph.D., is a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas

Unci Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance is Oglala Lakota, she was born in the SW corner of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. She still lives on the land that was allotted to her great grandparents over 100 years ago. Unci Rita cherishes and advocates her traditional Lakota ways and language which she speaks fluently.

 

Unci Rita is empathetic to single parents and their struggles to raise their children, because she herself was a single parent raising her children (and five of her oldest grandchildren) on her own. Unci Rita is skilled in survival knowing how to dry food and make clothing traditional Lakota style or contemporary wear.

 

Today Unci Rita is a grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother. Unci Rita feels that being part of the grandmothers council feels like family, like blood relation, like the other grandmothers feel like her sisters. Unci Rita said the most important job the grandmothers council has is to keep all the people in a straight line, "no matter what denomination or color they are".

Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance,

Oglala Lokota

Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance Native American Activist Medicine Woman

Sheldon P. Wolfchild is a member and former Tribal Chairman of the Lower Sioux Indian Community.

 

Drafted into the military in 1969, he served in Vietnam and was awarded the bronze medal while there. Returning home, he worked at the Walt Disney Studios in Southern California as an artistic consultant, developed displays for the New Disney World in Florida and various Disney movie productions, and participated in numerous art shows with the Disney organization.

 

In 1976 he moved to Hawaii, attending the University of Hawaii. Shortly afterward he made his television acting debut on Sesame Street (1969), where he was a featured actor for four years. Returning to Los Angeles, he affiliated with the American Indian Registry for Actors and participated in many of their productions. He appeared in two feature films: Dances with Wolves (1990) and Son of the Morning Star (1991), co-starred in an episode of "L.A. Law" and in "Miracle in the Wilderness".

He has also directed films, including The Doctrine of Discovery (2014).

Sheldon P. Wolfchild,

Dakota/Lower Souix

Sheldon Peters Wolfchild Native American Actor Producer and Director

Chiffon Lark (b.1989)  is a full time Artist/Illustrator in San Diego, CA. Her father is an enrolled member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe (b.1965 Texas) and her mother (b.1968 Arizona) is Mescalero Apache and Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan descent . 

Chiffon’s Great-Grandfather (b.1909 Coahuila) was a traditional peyotero, or Medicine Man. He was consistently in and out of jail for holding ceremonies before the The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (AIRFA). He found work in the 1940’s bringing indigenous peoples from Mexico into Texas illegally as a “Coyote”. He met Chiffon's great grandmother (b.1919, New Mexico) in Mescalero Apache territory and they had 12 children together.

 

Her mother, and maternal Grandmother (b.1946 Texas), raised Chiffon and taught her the ways of Sacred Earth. Being especially close with her Grandmother, Chiffon was raised to know how to grow food from the land. She learned how to use plants and other species to cultivate physical healing through indigenous food preparation. Her Grandmother encouraged her to continue this and eventually taught Chiffon how to rely on her Dreams and prayer for guidance.

Chiffon Lark,

Mescalero/WMAT, Coahuiltecan

Chiffon Lark Native American Wildlife Artist  and Illustrator  Apache Woman holding Yucca Basket Apache Baskets
Sky

Elders In Spirit

GRANDMOTHER BERTHA GROVE, RED EARTH WOMAN (SOUTHERN UTE)

BEAR HEART, (MUSKOGEE CREEK/CITIZEN BAND POTAWATOMI)

WALLACE MAD BEAR ANDERSON (TUSCARORA)

GRANDFATHER TED WILLIAMS (TUSCARORA)

JAY CLAUSE​ (TUSCARORA​)

GRANDFATHER LLOYD ELM, NEW HOUSE (ONONDAGA)

GRANDMOTHER SARAH SMITH (MOHAWK)

JAKE SWAMP (MOHAWK​)

​GRANDMOTHER DONNA JOSEPH (LAKOTA)

GRANDFATHER ALDEN NARANJO (SOUTHERN UTE)

GRANDFATHER CURTIS KEKAHBAH  (KANZA/KAW)

JULIA BROWNWOLF (LAKOTA)

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