What We Do

What do we do? Look at the picture in the header if you haven’t done that yet. It tells you everything you need to know, though you might need to think about what all you’re seeing there.

We are weavers. What do we weave? With respect to what we do, Tapestry Institute weaves Indigenous Knowledge to life. We do it through programs of learning that make Indigenous ways of knowing available to everyone, and through research projects that advance Knowledge acquired through the processes of traditional wisdom. We do all this work in partnership with the Land you see in that header image, the land of northwestern Nebraska’s Pine Ridge where we live and work, and we do it with the Mustangs and other animals who live on this Land. Finally we do it through collaborative efforts of team members from highly diverse backgrounds, cultures, areas of expertise, and experience: scholars, Elders, teachers, healers, and artists, most of them Indigenous.

Right now we are working to advance Indigenous Knowledge through two programs, the IKhana Fund and a Learning Software Project, that  are in early stages of development and need funding to move forward. Both programs support the Indigenous community whose relationship with IK provides a stream of learning and knowing that regenerates and supports a healed world — which of course benefits absolutely everyone. We produce original publications and presentations as part of our research and education efforts, and many of these are available free of charge in our online Occasional Papers series.

Though most of our research team members are Indigenous, most of the people who participate in our learning programs are not. Instead, these are people who have started to realize that Indigenous ways of knowing provide powerful keys to unlock the practical problems that shackle their lives, whether that’s an issue of career stagnation or grief about regional ecocide. The subjects, and the workshops and other opportunities that address them, change periodically. Right now most of our education programs focus on things like learning how to face daily stressors with more equanimity and learning to relate to a horse well enough that the two of you stop arguing about which way to go. Now you know why we say Indigenous Knowledge has practical application to life.

Many of our learning opportunities are available online so that persons who are unable to travel due to financial hardship, family responsibilities, or job demands can still participate in stimulating programs that help them learn key principles of Indigenous worldview and apply them in their own lives. A veritable library of original text is available online to support learning about Indigenous worldview and ways of knowing, Indigenous Knowledge, and concepts that reduce the confusion that often plagues cross-cultural communication. If you wonder whether we’ll do a sweatlodge and tie feathers in your hair at one of our educational programs, for instance (hint: no, we won’t), reading those basic information texts will explain why that’s not part of worldview or ways of knowing. They will also help you understand how and why the things you’ll learn in our programs are much more powerful and meaningful than the sorts of things people usually imagine they’ll “get” when they learn something from Native people.

Tapestry’s ranch property, to be purchased in the Pine Ridge region of northwestern Nebraska (that’s the Ridge in that picture on the header), will provide a meeting place for people coming together to advance Indigenous Knowledge once we raise enough money in our capital funds campaign to make a purchase. This land will be a home, one might even say asylum given what’s happening to BLM Mustangs these days, to the horse partners who help us accomplish our work. It will also serve people in need of stress relief, through video and special livestream events. Whenever we make such films, we do it in a way that shares Indigenous worldview and different ways of knowing. You might wonder how that’s possible, to which we would reply: put your $5 or $10 in our capital funds campaign and let us show you once we have a place to do it. There’s a lot more room for variation in video subject matter and method than you might guess there is. It’s all a matter of worldview.

You can use these links to explore the things we do in more depth:

  • IKhana Fund, which provides financial and other types of support to Indigenous people accessing and applying new Indigenous Knowledge from the Land;
  • A Learning Software Project that is starting to explore what such software would look like if it manifested Indigenous ways of knowing, and will then figure out how to develop that software and make it available to people;
  • The Land and the Law is an innovative program that provides information and education to attorneys, environmental advocates, and anyone who is interested in our connection to the natural world and the legal system.
  • The Horse-Human Relationship Program, which explores what happens to both humans and horses when the humans interact with the horses from within Indigenous worldview (which is where the horses already are);
  • Publications, which lists exactly what you think it does;
  • Resources, which lists the rich and ever-growing lode of text pages and videos on our website that explain basic concepts of Indigenous Knowledge and related subjects to people who aren’t sure exactly what all this means;
  • Our Capital Funds Campaign for a Land Partner and the Virtual Refuge, because the Land is literally the ground of everything we do. Remember: the picture in the header at the top of this page tells you who we are.
  • Online Learning of many different kinds, including text resources, videos, classes, and mentoring.
  • Past Projects shows you some of what we’ve done so far.

The first photo on this page is ©2002, Tapestry Institute, All rights reserved, and is from our conference Stories from the Circle: Science and Native Wisdom. The second, a picture of a creek in Colorado, is ©2015, Tapestry Institute, All rights reserved. The third picture is © 2005, Tapestry Institute. All rights reserved. Photo is from the Mythic Living for Modern Women workshop. The fourth photo is © 2006, Tapestry Institute. All rights reserved. The Mustang shown was part of Tapestry’s Mustang Freedom Project.