“Life is meaningless without art.” 
- Karen Finley

“Above all, you must remain open and fresh and alive to any new idea.”
- Laurence Olivier

“The body does not have memory.  It is memory.” 
- Jerzy Grotowski

“In everything, without doubt, truth has the advantage over imitation.”
- Cicero

“The actor must constantly remember that he is on the stage for the sake of the public.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“One wishes to know something but the answer is in a form of being more aware – of being open to a richer level of experience.” 
- Peter Brook


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Terry Knickerbocker Studio in New York City

“Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive – that you can touch the miracle of being alive – then that is a kind of enlightenment.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh

The American Indian Institute and Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth

American-Native-InstituteHeadquartered in Bozeman, Montana, The American Indian Institute and Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth continues along a wisdom-guided journey into mutual respect; following the Elders counsel that above all else, respect for self, respect for others and respect for Mother Earth must guide our lives.

The Institute serves as the administrative agency and support source for the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth, a coalition of grassroots spiritual leaders from Indian nations throughout North America.

In August 1977 at the Headwaters of the Missouri River, the Absaalooke (Crow) Nation hosted a gathering of approximately 35 Indian spiritual leaders. They had traveled to the gathering from the four directions. They worked together to forge the Two-Circles relationship between the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth and the American Indian Institute.

Recognizing traditional Indian wisdom as an endangered human resource that is relevant to today’s world and that holds keys to our common survival remains a large part of the American Indian Institute. They act as facilitators of gatherings of traditional peoples, promoters of healing of Indian communities, and supporters of efforts to educate non-Indians about the wisdom and harmony inherent in the traditional indigenous worldview.

American-Native-InstituteThe Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth is composed of grassroots spiritual leaders from Indian nations throughout North America. Structured in the ancestral way, the Circle is open to all traditional Indian people. It serves as a living repository of indigenous wisdom and values. Its focus is exclusively on perpetuating traditional cultural and spiritual values.

American-Native-InstituteIn accord with ancient ways, the Traditional Circle discusses indigenous issues in terms of traditional values, and comes to consensus. In certain cases, the Circle looks to the American Indian Institute to help find ways to implement possible solutions. In all cases, the Institute seeks to provide financial and administrative support whenever requested by the Circle.

Each year since the Missouri Headwaters meeting in 1977, an International Council of traditional Indian spiritual leaders has taken place. Each was hosted by an Indian Nation in a location of its choosing.

With the guidance of the Traditional Circle, the Institute established a unique intergenerational program, Healing the Future, for Indian youth and families. The program combines traditional healing and ceremonial experiences with intervention and counseling activities to build on the strengths of Native communities to care for one another and the Earth.

The American Indian Institute hosts during the year, Ancient Voices - Contemporary Contexts Forums, to fulfill a 2005 Elders Circle mandate: "to get the Elder voice out" and get dialogue started across cultures. The essential elements of the Elders' message include: 1. We are destroying the earth and the life on it. 2. We are killing each other. War and genocide are rampant in many parts of the world because of race, ethnicity, religion and greed. The same factors, along with drugs and alcohol, are at work in more subtle ways throughout the world. 3. The indigenous voice is the only one that takes a holistic view of both environmental and social destruction. The indigenous voice is ancient and proven. It is a spiritual voice unencumbered by religious dogma. It is not parochial or selfish, and can be a saving factor in meeting the issues that threaten the world. Many traditional grassroots spiritual leaders of Indigenous nations of North America come together to share their cultural and spiritual wisdom with non-Native people, addressing contemporary social and environmental problems with alternative approaches. Participants at Ancient Voices Forums explore their common concerns about the human condition in modern times, seek ways of living within the natural capacities of the earth, and try and recognize what the future holds for our children, and explore alternatives.

The ancient indigenous voice is relevant to today's world, and may hold keys to our common survival. Each three-day Forum offers participants a unique opportunity to sit with the most revered traditional voices from Indian country – to hear first-hand their perspectives and concerns, and to explore these ideas in close dialogue.

During the Forums, Elders begin each day with a ceremony of thanksgiving. A keynote address follows, laying the foundation for discussions in small group sessions, each led by one or more traditional leaders. These sessions provide the opportunity for close exploration and discussion of traditional indigenous wisdom and its modern relevance and implications. For info: www.twocircles.org, American Indian Institute 502 W. Mendenhall St. Bozeman, Mt. 59715, (406) 587-1002contact: Eric Noyes, Executive Director: Eric@TwoCircles.org. •


"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us.  - Harold Clurman

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