Meet the Elders Council:
The Wisdom Weavers of the World

Ilarion Merculieff

Unangan (Aleut) | Alaska
Founder of Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways
Ilarion “Larry” is the visionary behind Wisdom Weavers, the project founder, and ongoing key speaker. Raised in a traditional Unangan (Aleut) way and received his Unangan name “Kuuyux” at age 4. The name is given to one person in each lifetime amongst his people. Kuuyux means an arm extending out from the body, a carrier of ancient knowledge into modern times, a messenger. Today he is living the legacy of his name.

Kumu Sabra Kauka

Educator | Historian | Activist
Twenty years as a free-lance photojournalist working for publications such as Time, Life and National Geographic.
Hawaiian Studies Kumu of Island School on Kaua‘i, Kumu Hula of Na Pua O Kamaile, Kaua‘ coordinator for the Department of Education’s Hawaiian Studies Kupuna Program, Kumu Kapa on Kaua‘i who has taught many hundreds of students & team members of the Kulia i Ka Nu‘u Project at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Founding member and Past-President of Na Pali Coast Ohana, a grassroots non-profit foundation dedicated to the preservation of the natural and cultural resources of the Nāpali Coast State Park, Kaua‘i Hawai‘i. Emau‘ana ke o ka ‘aina i na, hanauna o kawa mamua. “Preserving the life of the land for future generations.” The work at Nualolo Kai by the combined efforts of the Ohana, DLNR and State Parks is considered one of the most successful curatorship programs in Hawai‘i. She serves on the Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development board and has worked tirelessly for years to restore and preserve culturally significant sites.

Dr Apela Colorado

Worldwide Indigenous Science Network
Apela has dedicated her life’s work to bridge Western thought and indigenous worldviews. As a Ford Fellow, Dr. Colorado studied for her doctorate at both Harvard and Brandeis Universities and received her Ph.D. from Brandeis in Social Policy in 1982. She founded the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network (WISN) in 1989 to foster the revitalization, growth and worldwide exchange of traditional knowledge and to safeguard the lives and work of the world’s endangered traditional culture practitioners. In 1997, Dr. Colorado was one of 12 women chosen from 52 countries by the State of the World Forum ( to be honored for her role as a woman leader. Dr. Colorado founded the first doctoral program in traditional knowledge (Indigenous Mind) at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She has authored numerous articles including several in peer- reviewed journals and is the author of Woman between the Worlds (2017).


Indigenous Tour Agency Co-Founder, Director
Tricia is passionate about providing empowering opportunities to other Indigenous tour operators to share their stories and grow professionally and personally. With over 5 years experience delivering Indigenous tourism workshops to domestic and international audiences, she brings practical know-how and a commitment to help others share their story. Tricia was a 2015 recipient of a Cassowary Coast Regional Council RADF: Regional Arts Development Fund grant, enabling her to refine her heritage quality weaving. These basket weaving skills open up doors that enable Tricia to become a Cultural Heritage Teacher—passing onto other people her Yidinji Tablelands Culture.


Canmore, Canada
Susanne is an artist, explorer, teacher and naturalist. Her artistic vision and passionate curiosity have led her to collaborate with renowned paleontologists, Bering Sea Aleut communities and modern dance choreo- graphers. Susanne has a BFA from the Chicago Art Institute and University of Chicago and an MFA, University of Michigan. She has taught art, photography and film in the United States and Canada. The recipient of Canada's highest award in the arts, Susanne has produced independent documentary films and published widely in periodicals and books. Susanne produced and filmed four documentary films with the Aleut peoples of the Pribilof Islands, Alaska and Commander Islands, Russia. She is a research associate at the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary. She has been invited to lecture and conduct seminars internationally on her film techniques and conservation efforts in the Bering Sea.


Kogi | Sierra Nevadade Santa Marta, Columbia LORENZO IZQUIERDO ARROYO
Kogi | Mamo Spiritual Priest | Colombia
Arahuaco Tribe
The Mamo are the spiritual priests of the Kogi trained in darkness by living in caves for first 9 to 18 years. They are trained in the dark to tune into“into “aluna” the Great Mother who creates all things. They are direct descendants of the Tairona culture which pre-dates the Inca and Mayan Cultures. The Kogi believe Aluna, The Great Mother creator, is the force behind all of nature. The Kogi understand the Earth to be a living being and see humanity as its children. They say our actions of exploitation, devastation and plundering for resources are weakening The Great Mother and can lead to our destruction. They believe their region is The Heart of the World and they are the Elder Brothers who care for it. They believe civilization was created by Younger Brothers who were sent away from The Heart of the World long ago. Their address will be to their younger brothers and sisters.


Executive Director | All One Sky Foundation
All One Sky is a Canadian charitable organization that focuses on climate change and its impact on vulnerable populations. Helen has worked as a writer, editor and documentary film-maker for three decades. She worked with Susanne Swibold on films and community development projects on the Pribilof Islands, Alaska and Commander Islands, Russia. Helen has worked in the climate change field since 2001, communicating complex environmental issues to the public. She has a BA, University of Alberta and Bachelor of Journalism, Carleton University. She is a research associate at the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary. Helen received a Ford Fellowship in environmental politics, University of California, Berkeley & 2 Mesa Refuge fellowships for environmental journalism.


Khomani San Bushmen
Lys lives in the Kalahari region of South Africa. She speaks the traditional Nama language and Afrikaans. Lys is a healer doing traditional energy massage using the n/um energy and going into the !Kia trance state.


Puna Dawson
Kumu Hula, Hawaiian Wisdom Keeper & Cultural Practitioner | Kaua’i, Hawaii

Puna is a shining community figure and is pivotal in supporting numerous programs, events and organizations that celebrate diversity and Hawaiian cultural values. From seed exchanges to surf meets and festivals to sacred ceremonies, Puna brings a gift of ancient Hawaiian wisdom and a family lineage that traces back through many island generations.
As one of the founders of Kanuikapono Charter School, in Anahola, Puna delights in her work with the keiki (children) and kumu (teachers). Puna has been involved in spearheading numerous community organizations, and is the former president of both the Canoe Association and the Mokihana and Emmalani Festivals. She was also a founding member of Leadership Kaua‘i and the Kaua‘i Planning and Action Alliance (KPAA) − to name just a few.
Puna Kalama embodies a pure, Hawaiian essence and delights in sharing her ancient lineage while infusing the message of aloha from her heart to humanity.


Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa Elder 
Founding Member of the International Council of Indigenous Grandmothers
The council is a group of spiritual elders and wisdom weavers whose mission is to preserve and protect Indigenous Earth based medicine and culture and promote “oneness” consciousness. Mona has a MSW and is a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes of Parker, Arizona. She is known for her social, spiritual activism and leadership and is a featured conference speaker nationally and internationally. She is the president/CEO and faculty of the Turtle Island Project, a non-profit program dedicated to promoting a vision of wellness and providing trans-cultural training to individuals, family and healthcare professionals. Her intercontinental work among Indigenous Peoples includes assisting First Nations of Canada in drafting of Water Declarations and South American Peoples in collaborative effort to “call for protection of the cultural and sacred waters” on the lands and territories of the Indigenous Peoples of the world. Mona served as an Indigenous delegate of the World Religious Leaders in drafting the Faith in Human Rights Statement that Religion and Spiritual Beliefs and Practices are a Human Right. She participates in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples Issues and for the last 12 years she has been a member and Co-Secretariat of an international group planning the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace.


Snow Leopard Shaman | Kyrgyzstan
Zhaparkul graduated from Jonaryk school and started his army service in Navoi, Uzbekistan. He worked as a livestock farmer in a collective farm named after Lenin and studied agriculture. He also worked as a zoo technician. Zhaparkul has dedicated himself full time to being a spiritual practitioner. He’s fulfilling his role as a spiritual practitioner through the following projects:

  • Established and ran a center of traditional medicine "Archa Tamyr Ruhanii" in the Talas provincial hospital

  • Is in collaboration with Worldwide Indigenous Science Network

  • Activated and reignited the 30,000 year old Uluu Oot Sacred Fire ceremony, uniting healers from over 70 countries

  • Worked at an ethno-cultural center "Dasmiya” for 2 years

  • Has been conducting field visits within Kyrgyzstan as a spiritual practitioner

  • In 2013, Zhaparkul was invited by the President of Kyrgyzstan to present at the United Nations Forum on Snow Leopard Conservation in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

  • In 2014 he participated in the Global Alliance for Big Cat Conservation meeting, bringing together big cat shamans and scientists in Timbavati, South Africa

  • In 2016 Zhaparkul was Invited to present at the United Nations Forum on Snow Leopard Conservation in York City, New York, USA. It was the first time a spiritual practitioner participated as an equal to scientists and government officials. As a Snow Leopard Shaman, Zhaparkul teaches us "To understand the snow leopards' messages, we first need to connect to the higher spirit and know who we are."

Djabugay Elder | Kuranda, Australia
As a traditional Bama rainforest dancer with the Djabugay Dance Theatre, Wally has traveled the world with his well known grandfather, Lance Riley. Wally's bushman skills come from deep knowledge past on by grandfather and father and carried down from their ancestors for generations. He was trained in botanical knowledge by the women of his family as a child walking the forest tracks in the coastal wet tropics of Far North, Queensland.