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International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers

International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers

The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers is an international alliance of indigenous female elders that focuses on issues such as the environment, internationalism, and human rights.[1][2] The group met for the first time in October 2004 at the Dalai Lama's Menla Retreat Center on Panther Mountain in Phoenicia, New York, during which time they declared themselves a council.[3] Academic Suzanne Bouclin described them as "an alliance of thirteen women elders from across the globe that was organized to uphold indigenous practices and ceremonies and affirm the right to use plant medicines free of legal restriction."[4]

International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers
FocusEnvironmentalism, internationalism, indigenous rights, cooperation and peace

Council members

The grandmothers include:[5]

Former members


Several others have been involved in supporting the council's work, including:[5]

  • Pauline Tangiora – Māori elder from New Zealand and councillor of World Future Council
  • Jeneane Prevatt ("Jyoti") – 'Traveling Ambassador Charged with The Mission'
  • Madrinha Rita GregórioAmazon Rainforest, Brazil
  • Constance de Pauliac – France

Council meetings

The council meets every six months, visiting each other's homelands.[9] Their goals are to "build our relations and learn about each other's cultures".[10] During these meetings the grandmothers wear traditional dress and hold a seven-day prayer vigil.[11] The 2007 meeting in the Black Hills of South Dakota brought together 250 participants from the United States, South America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.[9]

In July 2008 the council met in Rome to address the Vatican regarding the Inter caetera, a Papal Bull of 1493 that authorized the conversion to Christianity of the indigenous people of the newly discovered Americas.[12] They laid a "flag of peace and conciliation" in front of Saint Peter's Basilica, as well as a written statement and gifts to Pope Benedict XVI. The grandmothers also lit smudging incense and prayed. The Vatican declined to receive them.[13][14]


In 2006 Carol Schaefer's book Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet was published by Trumpeter Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications.[15] In 2009 it released a Kindle edition.[16] A Spanish edition was published in 2008.[10]

In 2007 the Center for Sacred Studies, the parent organization of the Grandmother's Council, produced a documentary titled For the Next 7 Generations: The Grandmothers Speak. Directed by Carole Hart, it documented the Grandmothers as they met and traveled around the world.[17][18]

Fran Markover's poem about the group, The Grandmothers, is based on a quote by Bernadette Rebienot. It won first place in the 2008 Ithaca College magazine arts and literature contest.[19]

In 2011 Rita Pitka Blumenstein from Alaska and Mona Polacca from Arizona started a 22-city "Timeless Message Tour" speaking about the group and showing "For the Next 7 Generations".[20]


In 2013, the Fellowship of Reconciliation awarded the Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers the International Pfeffer Peace Award for their work for peace and justice throughout the world.[21]


  1. Polacca, Mona (2011). "Realizing our Roots and the Power of Interconnectedness," in Tyson Miller, Dream of a Nation: Inspiring Ideas for a Better America. SEE Innovation, pp. 399–400. ISBN 0615482260.
  2. Monaghan, Patricia (2010). Goddesses in World Culture, Volume 1. Praeger. p. 159. ISBN 978-0313354656.
  3. COMPAS, Rigoberta Menchú (2007). Learning Endogenous Development: Building on Bio-Cultural Diversity. Practical Action. p. 72. ISBN 978-1853396649.
  4. Bouclin, Suzanne, U. of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Judges, Women As (January 1, 2011). ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WOMEN IN TODAY'S WORLD. Available at SSRN
  5. About Us page Archived 2013-04-12 at the Wayback Machine at International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers website, accessed June 8, 2013.
  6. In Honor of Grandmother Julieta Casimiro Estrada
  7. In Honor of Grandmother Tsering Dolma Gyaltong
  8. In Honor of Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance
  9. Carson Walker, Int'l grandmothers' enviro movement, USA Today, July 29, 2007.
  10. Schaefer, Carol (2009). La voz de las trece abuelas: Ancianas indígenas aconsejan al mundo. LUCIERNAGA. pp. 129–136. ISBN 978-8489957930.
  11. Olp, Susan (July 29, 2012). "Indigenous Grandmothers group comes to Lame Deer". Billings Gazette. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  12. Chittister, Joan (2009-04-24). "The past is a very living thing: Try not to forget it". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
  13. Mona Polacca, Guest Voices: Grandmothers to Pope: Drop Edict, Washington Post "On Faith" section, September 11, 2008.
  14. Capriccioso, R, "Indigenous grandmas nearly kicked out of Vatican", Indian Country Today, July 17, 2008 (Updated: Apr 24, 2009).
  15. Grandmothers Counsel the World book webpage at Shambhala Publications.
  16. Grandmothers Counsel the World e-book webpage at Shambhala Publications.
  17. "LET THE GRANDMOTHERS SPEAK". Centre Daily Times. October 5, 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  18. Urbani de la Paz, Diane (January 24, 2013). "Film tells of grandmothers' healing journey". Peninsula Daily News. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  19. Markover, Fran (2008-11-19). "First Place Poetry: "The Grandmas"". IC View – The Magazine of Ithaca College. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
  20. Lynda V. Mapes, Grandmothers kick off Timeless tour in Seattle Thursday night; Indigenous grandmothers kick off a 22-city tour in Seattle Thursday night, Seattle Times, March 31, 2011.
  21. Linda Kelly (3 July 2013). "FOR's 2013 International Pfeffer Peace Prize Recipients: The Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers". Fellowship of Reconciliation. Retrieved 18 November 2015.

Further reading

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