Spotlight on Biocultural Leadership Day Two: A Spiritual Connection

By Kael Shipman 13 November, 2013

Setting up the Gun Hill Healing Ceremony

Setting up for the Gun Hill Healing Ceremony

Photo: Kael Shipman, Earth Train

Gun Hill Healing Ceremony

Day two started early: at 6:00am, we gathered at the base of Gun Hill—what used to be the US armory overlooking the Panama Canal—for a ceremony of spiritual healing and rebirth. Gun Hill sits as the centerpiece of Panama's City of Knowledge and has enormous potential as a place for learning and leadership development.

The ceremony—lead by Chief Phil Lane, Jr. as well as important elders from the Ngöbe of Chiriquí, the Guna from the Atlantic coast, and the Emberá/Wounaan of the Darien—represented a new beginning for this landmark and served as an opportunity to build a context for the much-anticipated show, The Reconnection of the Eagle and Condor which followed tonight.

Emberá girls dancing

Emberá girls in a traditional dance

Photo: Kael Shipman, Earth Train

Reconnection of the Condor and Eagle

Held at the Ateneo in the City of Knowledge, the Reconnection of the Eagle and Condor was a colorful celebration of cultural heritage from around the Americas. Eleven groups representing a number of indigenous cultures from North and South America performed for an audience of over 400 spectators, including Dr. Jane Goodall. The performances ranged from traditional dance and song to acts of theater and even featured an exciting fusion of traditional culture with modern rock in a performance by local Guna rock band La Tribu.

Dr. Jane Goodall with Nathan Gray

Jane Goodall with Nathan Gray

Photo: Kael Shipman, Earth Train

Words from Earth Train and Jane Goodall

After the performances, we heard inspiring and hopeful words by Earth Train founder Nathan Gray and Co-Executive Director Lider Sucre, as well as a performance by the Junglewood Band, lead by Shea Welsh on electric guitar with Juanito Pascual on flamenco guitar, Tupac Mantilla on percussion and Brad Barrett on bass. Dr. Jane Goodall delivered the final note of the evening as she expressed her thoughts and opinions about the important symbolism of this cultural demonstration. Among other things, she addressed the importance of the budding partnership between Earth Train and her Roots and Shoots program, which aims to bring young people into leadership roles regarding environmentalism and wildlife conservation.

The event closed with a spontaneous gathering of all participants on stage in a pulsating chant and dance lead by Earth Train's own Raul Mezua, himself a representative of the Embera people of Darien. Thanks for a great night everyone!

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