Help return a sacred item to its Native people

$1,746 of $5,913 goal

Raised by 14 people in 1 month
Created May 18, 2019
My dear friend and soul sister Marie Dion is an artist and author who has been tasked with a mission: to hand-deliver an object sacred to her People, to its original home in the Black Hills of South Dakota from where she recovered it in Massachusetts. After 10 years as custodian of the object’s healing, it is time for her to make the cross-country journey, which is beyond her current means. This is where we could use your help.

*Note: Due to the sensitivity of Marie’s mission and in an effort to protect Native sacred ceremonies and objects, neither the item nor its final resting place can be named or described. (She explains why in the video). Thank you for understanding.

The backstory: How the sacred object came to Marie

Marie’s husband, like many New England farmers, keeps firearms for hunting. Marie accompanied him to a gun show, not expecting to find what she saw that day: a Native sacred object, intended for use only in ceremony, laying on the table of one of the vendors for sale.

It was assembled as if for ceremonial use, its protective wraps removed, a desecration. Due to the components of the object, the man could even be arrested for having it in his possession as a non-Native off reservation grounds.

Trembling with shock, Marie pulled herself up to her full 5’1” height and walked over to the man’s table. “What are you doing with that?” she confronted him. “You are not Native, you have no right to own it. You’re not supposed to have it put together like that!”

Now nervous, the seller refused to name his source. (Likely, it had been stolen from a burial ground or taken as a grisly battleground “souvenir” when yet another peace treaty was disregarded, trading hands over generations until this man purchased it to sell). “Well, what do you want to do?” he asked.

“I can’t purchase it from you,” Marie said. “A sacred item cannot be sold.” She made arrangements to meet the next morning to trade for it. She filled her car with her artwork, valuable rugs and paintings that form part of her livelihood.

As she and her husband got into the car the next morning, traveling no small distance to meet the seller, Marie felt herself powerfully flanked by warriors—not her own ancestors, but the ancestors of the sacred object’s People. And they were angry. She prayed that the man would be reasonable, and accept something in exchange for the precious object. He agreed to the trade, but took everything.

Marie shares more of the sacred object's story here:

Marie felt like she had rescued a baby, the item felt that precious and vulnerable. She also had no idea what she was walking into in doing so. She didn't know what kind of healing the sacred object now required.

Because she is 20+ years’ deep in training and ceremonies as a healer, Marie is allowed to carry such a sacred object for her people. But she didn’t know the protocol in this situation.

The first thing Marie did was take it to a sweat lodge run by a Lakota man. He communicated that the sacred object was to be put to rest in the Black Hills of South Dakota within 10 years.

Then she consulted with the Chief of her own Mi’kMaq ceremonies in Canada on how to heal the sacred object. They purified it through their ceremonies for four years.

Upon its return, Marie waited for a sign as to what to do next, continuing to take it into her own medicine wheel for healing. Then, a few weeks ago, she received the calling. It was time to go.

It has been 10 years since the sacred object came under her responsibility.

Her friends, the founders of the nonprofit Tribal Crafts, connected her with a reservation in South Dakota which will be her first stop. She will be guided by elders there as to where the sacred object will finally be laid to rest.

As she does on every trip to a reservation, Marie will not arrive empty-handed, nor without some contribution to the community, as many of them struggle with extreme poverty. She does this through her partnership with Tribal Crafts.

Tribal Crafts brings indigenous art and crafts back to New England for sale to provide income to the community, as well as contribute to keeping a beautiful culture alive and flourishing, sharing it with a broader audience.

Why this means so much to us

Putting the sacred object to rest in its Native home is more than a solitary act. It is an act that acknowledges and heals generations forward and back of unacknowledged genocide and trauma, for the ceremonial object and the indigenous peoples it represents. It corrects a past wrong with love and compassion.

The costs: What your donation will cover

The purpose of this campaign is to raise funds to cover Marie’s costs as she makes the journey to South Dakota, then up back to her home on the East Coast. The entire trip will take 3+ weeks.

Here is what your donation covers (updated!):

- Airfare: $940

- Hotel: $803, including
     +$357.63 (conventional hotel)
     +$126.31 (Airbnb)
     +$200 (5 nights at a campground)
     +$120 (conventional hotel)

- Car Rental: $1,900 (the biggest expense; we were able to find a much better deal and cut this number)

- Gas & Tolls: $220 (per tollguru.com)

- Art supplies & shipping (Marie has been asked to teach the young people on the reservation traditional crafts): $400

- Craft purchases to raise money for Tribal Crafts: $500

Due to the generosity of offline donors offering help with lodging, food and supplies, as well as hustling to minimize costs, we have been able to reduce the total amount needed significantly.

Any funds raised over and above what Marie needs for the journey will be donated to Tribal Crafts.

Marie flies out to South Dakota late June, with art supplies shipped in advance of her arrival. She will be traveling into July. Time is of the essence! Funds throughout her trip are appreciated.

How you can help

Kindly make a donation, in any amount you can.  Every one makes a difference, and we are so grateful for your support.

Help spread the word: Share our campaign via email and on social media, whatever that looks like for you: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… Wherever people as wonderful as you hang out. :) Please use the hashtag #ReturningWhatsSacred.

Whatever your spiritual practice, say a prayer, hold positive space, and/or send good vibes for the safe and peaceful passage of this beloved sacred object. May it reach its Native resting place with ease and grace, mending another stitch in the reconciliation between all Peoples.

Thank you so much for your support. For the good of all and harm to none, aho!

Here's the full interview with Marie, complete with bloopers ;)

+ Read More
We've reached 25% of our goal! Between the tremendous generosity of on- and offline donors, we've raised almost $1,500 so far. Thank you!!

We've been working hard on our end to reduce costs wherever possible, too. That leaves only $4,479 to go ... and Marie leaves in a few days.

We just need 50 people donating less than $90 to get her there.

Who do you know who supports Native causes, indigenous cultures, and restoring sacred items to their rightful place?

Who do you know who has ever been charged with doing anything so outside their comfort zone, without the means or knowledge of how to do it??

(I know I've been there--and was propelled by the grace and generosity of helping hands along the way.)

Kindly share this campaign with them.

Marie will be posting frequent updates on her journey on Instagram (@mariedionredsoul) so we can follow along on her epic journey. She will also be able to continue accepting donations even after she leaves.

Thank you for your ongoing support! I, for one, am so excited to see what Marie uncovers as she journeys to the Black Hills of South Dakota!

With so much love and gratitude,
+ Read More
We've raised over $600 so far! Here's a video answering some of the questions we've received on the campaign to help Marie return a Native sacred item to its resting place, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. (You have to hear her story!!)
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update

$1,746 of $5,913 goal

Raised by 14 people in 1 month
Created May 18, 2019
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
17 hours ago (Offline Donation)
Elaine Petkovich
23 hours ago
2 days ago
3 days ago (Offline Donation)
3 days ago (Offline Donation)
6 days ago (Offline Donation)
13 days ago (Offline Donation)
13 days ago (Offline Donation)
13 days ago (Offline Donation)
13 days ago (Offline Donation)
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.