The Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources was founded in 1987, by Reverend
Betsy Stang, an Interfaith Minister who sought to expand her spiritual studies and practices beyond the boundaries of
the Judeo Christian religions by inviting spiritual teachers from various cultures to come to the Center and share their ways
with the people that came to hear them.
The Center quickly became a meeting ground for Native American Elders, who
came to tell of life on “Turtle Island”
in the early days. They shared their customs and their way of life with us, through
their traditional method of story telling. Over the years, the reach of the Center
widened and indigenous people and spiritual leaders from foreign lands began to come to visit.
As they shared their different spiritual practices with us, we saw that a common
ground existed with all of them. That common ground is a respect and reverence
for the “Mother Earth”.
They taught us to increase our awareness of the ways of nature. The Native people look to nature as their guidepost. They
use the signs of the birds, the animals and the trees to tell of what’s to come.
They all agree that is our responsibility, as Human beings to care take the land which sustains us. Their message touched
our hearts and our minds and has strengthened over the years.
Over the past years, we have co-sponsored The Cry Of The Earth Conference: The Legacy of the First Nations at the United Nations, where the prophecies and needs
of the first nations of North America were expressed for the first time in history and we continue to be active in bringing
the concerns of traditional Wisdom keepers to the United Nations.
We compiled and distributed copies of videotapes and transcripts free of charge
to indigenous groups, community Centers and policymakers.
We organized a working group: Earth keepers: Women of the Four Directions,
which brought together indigenous peoples and environmental leaders to the Preparatory Meetings for the Social Summit, the
Women’s Summit, Habitat II, and The Commission on Sustainable Development.
We also helped spearhead an initiative which helped stop the loss of accreditation
for the over five hundred environmental, human rights and women’s non-governmental organizations at the UN.
For over a decade, in conjunction with The Circle, The Wittenberg Center
co-produced a multi-day event in Washington, D.C.: Mending the Sacred Hoop of All Peoples: With One Heart, One
Mind, One Voice. In 1994 this included a 24 hour Prayer Vigil at the Washington
Monument in support of the Wisdom keepers of Turtle Island; A Healing Circle
around the U.S. Capital: Bless The Eagle, with ceremonies by the Elders of the Four Directions to reactivate the promised
between the founders of the United States and the First Nations; a Pow-Wow on
the Mall and meetings at the White House and the Interior Department on The Wisdom Of the first Nations: Towards a Partnership for a Sustainable Future.
In 1995 we had meetings with indigenous representatives from South America, presentations
on environmental concerns at the EPA, and meetings with high-level representatives from the executive, legislative and military
branches of the government.
As part of the Earth Reunion Project, in 1995, under the guidance of Arvol
Lookinghorse, we facilitated The First Interfaith Gathering on the Lakota Reservations, in Greengrass and Wounded knee, S.D.,
seeking to begin a process of reconciliation and understanding between peoples in a place of much recent wounding. Also, in 1995, we participated in The Sacred Assembly, called by indigenous M.P. Elijah Harper in Ottawa, Canada
and donated a full set of Cry of the Earth tapes and materials to youth there.
The Center is still
firmly committed to bringing together environmental, spiritual and indigenous leaders with policy makes of communities both
small and large, right on up to the policy makers of the United Nations. We have
become a hub for networking information on these topics. Our training programs
include an Interfaith Seminary Program for those who believe that all of Creator’s paths are sacred.
Over the past years, we have hosted elders from North and South America, Australia,
Asia, the Arctic and the Pacific Islands. These events were video taped and are being
made available to an increasing number of educational centers, including a number of reservations, universities and Native
American Studies Programs, as well as to the public.
By opening doors between the people and creating
dialogue, we hope to further a sustainable future for generations to come.