Elders of indigenous communities from around the world paid Hostos a virtual visit on April 22 and led participants in a series of ceremonies in honor of International Earth Day.

Throughout the powerful event, titled “Blessing Mother Earth,” participants were led in a series of intertribal ceremonies to honor, reconnect, and reset our relationship with the four elements: earth, fire, wind, and water. Eight elders—four women and four men—led the sacred ceremonies in pairs. Grandmother Marsha Forrest (Turtle Island Grandmothers Council, Ohsweken, Ontario) and Tata Erick González Tata Erick Gonzalez (Guatemala, Mayan Elder) honored wind. Hoksila John (St. George, Utah) and Grandmother Moetu Taiha (Aotearoa North Island, New Zealand) honored fire. Kwame Sunhorse (Shawnee Indigenous Community) and Grandmother Susan Ka’Iulani Stanton (Native of the Six Nations of the Grand River, Haudenosaunee, Hawaii) honored water. And Elder Barbara Brant (Kamik Elder’s Lodge, Quebec, Canada) and Elder Kevin Deer (Mohawk Faith Keeper, Ontario, Canada) honored earth.

Presentations were provided in English and Spanish, and attendees were able to listen to them in their native language. Additionally, they were invited to participate in the ceremonies if they wanted to. There was also a special appearance from Mamo Dwawiku Izquierdo and Mamo Luis Eduardo Malo, spiritual leaders from the Arhuaco indigenous community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, The Heart of the World, Colombia. Rodney Rissanen provided music from Nicole Perez.

The special Earth Day gathering encouraged spiritual reflection, introspection, and a recommitment to honoring the earth. In her remarks, Interim President Daisy Cocco De Filippis urged everyone to protect and not take for granted what nature has provided. “Earth Day provides us with the opportunity to perceive the interconnectedness of all things,” she said. “It gives a chance to renew our commitment to protecting the environment. It makes us realize that we are only very small cogs in the great wheel of the universe. Humility, not arrogance, should inform our interactions with each other, with our planet.”

“Blessing Mother Earth” was part of a series of presentations held in celebration of Earth Week at Hostos (April 19-23) coordinated by the College’s Earth Day Committee: Professor Carmen Inda-García, Co-Chair; Professor Allison Franzese, Co-Chair, Professor Amanda Bernal-Carlo, Committee Member, Professor Kathleen Delgado, Committee Member, and Professor Irina Grishina, Committee Member.