Jan 31, 2022
The sacred pipe, the Raven, and a peyote ritual were three touchstones of the path of Dr. Apela Colorado, traditional cultural practitioner and indigenous scientist of French and Oneida descent.
In this podcast, she shares stories of how each of these elements formed an essential part of her journey, from growing up as a mixed-race child in rural western Wisconsin to founding in 1989 the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network (WISN).
As she relates in this podcast and in her recently published book, Woman Between the Worlds, she as a teenager followed her grandfather’s advice and attended college, an action that rare for native women at the time. But while climbing the academic ranks and eventually attaining a Ph.D. from Brandeis University, she always remembered another part of her grandfather’s counsel: “Remember the pipe,” he told her, another way of saying “remember your roots.”
In this podcast, Colorado relates milestones from her remarkable journey, from her involvement in Indian Movement, through her encounters with indigenous elders in the south of France, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Central Asia. She also sheds light on native ritual and symbolism, such as the role of the sacred pipe in ceremony.
She also shares some lessons she learned from elders along the way, and mystical encounters with real and allegorical ravens, and how a peyote ceremony transformed her perception of life.
Dr. Colorado is in equal measure shaman and academic, and her accomplishments are many. She's a Ford Fellow, who in 1982 received a PhD from Brandeis University, and went on to create the world's first doctoral program in traditional knowledge at the California Institute of Integral studies. She also directed the Indigenous Mind Program, which for 20 years taught students into ways of exploring their ancestral and earth-based holistic consciousness within an academic framework.