Native American spiritual leaders and other indigenous people will join with city and state officials in Medford at noon Wednesday at the Southern Oregon Regional Peace Pole for the opening ceremony of a five-day event celebrating the 20th International World Peace and Prayer Day. The remainder of the event will be held Thursday through Sunday at Howard Prairie Lake.
Among those participating in the Wednesday ceremony at U.S. Cellular Community Park in Medford will be Lakota Chief Arvol Looking Horse, founder of the World Peace and Prayer Day and the 19th-generation keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle. Pastor John David Gomez, founding member of Medford’s Multicultural Commission will provide a welcome.
Following the ceremony in Medford, the Peace Pole will be moved to Howard Prairie Lake for the remaining days of the event, which will include indigenous elders and spiritual leaders from around the world. The four days of ceremony, workshops and performances are open to the public at no charge at Howard Prairie Lake, 3249 Hyatt Prairie Road, Ashland.
The Ashland nonprofit organization Red Earth Descendants, regional Native American representatives and individuals from Southern Oregon are hosting the event.
Speakers will share traditional teachings, address issues facing the planet and offer solutions. Music, dance and feasting are part of the gathering and all are welcome at a mid-day community meal each day. Camping may be arranged through Jackson County Parks Department by calling 541-774-8183.
World Peace and Prayer Day was founded in 1995 by Chief Looking Horse, and has since been held annually around the world. Chief Looking Horse — who has established relationships with world leaders, including Desmond Tutu, President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama — is recognized as the spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota and North Dakota Sioux nations. He will lead the weekend’s ceremonies. Speakers and guests include Chief Eddie Benton Banai, grand chief of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge; Elder Agnes Baker Pilgrim of the Rogue Valley, who is also chairperson for the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers; Roy Hays Jr., the great-great-grandson of Chief Joseph and 7 Drum ceremonial leader; representatives of the Maori Nation; and Rabbi David Zaslow of Ashland.
Participants are asked to bring their own utensils and reusable or recyclable dishes if joining in the shared mid-day meals. More information is available at worldpeaceandprayerday.com, or call 541-631-1769 or 541-890-3529.