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Funding for the production of this project has been received from 

the Richard & Roberta Cummings Family Fund,

and the Humboldt Area Foundation's Native Cultures Fund

the Nathan Cummings Foundation,

 

RONALD GRIFFMAN

• KÁRUK • SHASTA • YUROK • ROGUE RIVER • MODOC • PIT RIVER •  

Click to see PEOPLE   Click to see VIDEOS   Click for the different MEANINGS of the name Walking Backwards

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As NATIVE WINGS Founder-Director, Ron connects with people from a diversity of cultures, ages, backgrounds, and tribal affiliations.

RON'S MISSION

• to create bridges of understanding between people of different cultures, religions and backgrounds

• to care for and protect Mother Earth, her waters, and all living things

• to support those who strive to protect the Earth's natural resources

• to increase awareness about Native Law and traditional protocol 

• to encourage people to learn about and uphold the healthy values of their ancestors   

• to connect people with reputable spiritual advisors and traditional healers

• to provide cultural support and advocacy to indigenous brothers and sisters

• to teach people to respect and appreciate Native sacred sites

• to bring Native Wings' stories, songs and drumming to students

• to inspire people to help and respect elders, visit them to alleviate loneliness and depression 

• to drive people to purification sweat lodge ceremonies, pow-wows, and other Native ceremonies

• to encourage people who have been abused or are addicted to come to the healing ceremonies 

• to continue on with his multi-dimensional quest for personal healing 

Listening to his grandpa, Káruk medicine man Charlie Thom (1928-2013), talk about ceremony 

In the past 20 years Ron has traveled a lot and experienced many things, good and bad. Always grateful to his Grandpa Charlie for the valuable life lessons he passed onto him, Ron offers this reflection:

"Everywhere I go I see disconnection and alienation in different ways and in different layers. A sickness has erupted in many of the communities I visit. It is a very big wound that is hard to heal. People feel friction with the dominant society. Many have a constant feeling of disappointment, negativity, and a need to fight to survive. Commercialism is choking traditional cultures… family values are becoming lost… children are fast entering mainstream ways of thinking.

 

"So what is the solution? 


"People need to connect with their own heritage. Open those cultural doors so that people can breathe, feel their connection to Mother Earth, and realize that they are connected to everything that is alive.

 

When people understand their relationship to the plants and the animals and to other forms of life, a deeper appreciation, respect, and valuing of who they are, and where they’ve come from is reborn.


"Identities, self-confidence, and self-respect are strengthened. Healthy relationships develop, providing fertile ground for the creation of sustainable communities. 


"Connect with the Earth... connect with the elders... connect with your heritage... connect with yourself!"

 

   - Ron Griffman

•   Call a trusted friend or relative

•   Ask for what you need - you will find help

•   Don't abuse substances or anything else

•   Join a group where you will be listened to

Are you suffering from...

•   Find healthy ways to help yourself

•   Pray in your own way - you will be heard

•   Go to a Native healing ceremony 

•   Connect with your own cultural heritage!

In this video, Ron Griffman talks about his memories of childhood, his healing journey, and the importance of a loving family

To learn the sacred songs of our people is to learn about our history. It is like reading a biography of my ancestors.     - Ronald Griffman

Cooking amma (salmon) in the traditional way, over an open firepit

RON'S STORY

Born in 1976 in far Northern California, Ron Griffman (Káruk/Shasta/Yurok/Rogue River/Modoc/Pit River) was a bright, beautiful, popular child. Blessed with relentless energy and a deep interest in his Native culture, he had an enthusiasm for life that was limitless. 

 

CHANGES

At age 13, while playing a traditional Káruk “stick game” with his young cousins, brothers and friends, Ron became critically injured when a stick became lodged in his brain. Barely alive, he was air-lifted to a hospital in Redding, California, where he struggled to survive. Neurosurgeons said that Ron’s head injury was so severe that if he ever woke up from his coma - and it was doubtful he would - he’d never walk or talk again. 

 

RECOVERY

Several months later, Ron did wake up - but to a new body. With his right side completely paralyzed, he was no longer able to walk. Unable to talk, the only thing he could do was cry and scream. During those critical days, and throughout much of Ron’s painfully difficult recovery, his beloved grandfather, Northern California Karuk medicine man Charlie “Red Hawk” Thom, was at his side. Charlie encouraged Ron to never give up. He also told Ron that the sweat lodge would be key to his return to health. 

 

FAST FORWARD to AGE 29

Ron amazed everyone by graduating from middle school, high school, and then California's Humboldt State University - with not one but three B.A. degrees in Political Science, Native American Studies and Anthropology. Partially paralyzed on his right side, he refused the aid of a wheelchair, choosing instead to hop and limp to propel his body forward. And though his injury left him with severe aphasia (the inability to speak clearly), his hearing and cognition were perfect. 

 

Following his Grandpa Charlie's advice, Ron became a devoted sweat lodge participant. He started learning about Natural Law, his own Native culture, and about other cultures and religions. He began to speak out for justice, his love for Mother Earth, the importance of environmentalism, and the need for equality between all people. 

 

GOALS

After his graduation, Ron chose an unusual (mostly self-funded) career: the creation of his non-profit organization, Native Wings. With the intention of traveling the Native sweat lodge-Bear Dance-sundance-powwow-ceremonial circuit from Northern California to Southern Oregon (with trips throughout California, and thus far to Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota and Mexico) Ron’s primary goal has been self-healing, helping people of all walks of life, ages and cultures, and creating bridges of understanding between people about Native Law, traditional values and eco-stewardship. And he has done it! Since his graduation, Ron has healed himself in many ways, made friends and tries to help people wherever he goes.

NATIVE WINGS