Festival of Faiths, Sacred Fire and Our Indigenous Cultures

On November 14, the 2012 Festival of Faiths officially begins with the lighting of the Sacred Fire during an Opening Ceremony, which will take place at the George Garvin Brown Park (415 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville, Kentucky) at 5:15 p.m. Representatives from our country’s Indigenous (Native American) cultures will light the Sacred Fire with coals handed down from the Eternal Fire of the Potawatomi, one of the Native American Nations that are part of the Three Fires Confederacy.

Fire keepers from the Ojibway tradition were granted permission to light a Sacred Fire in 1995 for an international peace conference held near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where the fire burned for four days of the conference. Coals from this fire have since been used to light Sacred Peace Fires around the world. They now come to light the Sacred Fire for the Festival of Faiths during the Opening Ceremony.

The Sacred Fire will serve as the focal point in the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, which will immediately follow the Opening Fire Ceremony and will take place at the Cathedral of the Assumption (433 South Fifth Street, Louisville, Kentucky). On the following day, the Sacred Fire will be transported to the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, where the Festival of Faiths programs and activities will take place. There, the Fire Keepers will tend the Sacred Fire throughout the entire Festival and will graciously share their wisdom and knowledge about the Sacred Fire with Festival attendees.

With the Fire Keepers’ guidance, Festival attendees can make tobacco offerings at the Sacred Fire. Tobacco is one of the traditional sacred plants of the Indigenous people and is used to give thanks and carry our prayers to the Spirit World. When tobacco is placed on the fire, the smoke becomes our connection to the World of Spirit and ultimately the Great Mystery.

This year’s Festival of Faiths will feature several programs that highlight the customs and faith traditions of our Indigenous cultures. These programs are free and open to all who wish to attend. Programs include the following:

Wednesday, November 14: Opening Ceremony – Lighting the Sacred Fire
5:15 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
George Garvin Brown Park (415 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville, Kentucky)
Ojibway Elders Bruce Hardwick and Duane Kinnart will bring the coals as a gift of respect to light the Sacred Fire. Assisting them will be Sundance Chief Steve McCullough; Cherokee Elder Momfeather Erickson; Rupert Encinas, a Spiritual Leader from the Tohno O’odham Tribe; and Anjit Telang of the eastern Hindu tradition. The opening fire ceremony will be accompanied by sacred music and drumming provided by Sarah Elizabeth Burkey and Frank van der Palen. An Interfaith Thanksgiving Service and Reception at the Cathedral of the Assumption will take place following the Opening Ceremony.

Thursday, November 15 and Friday, November 16: Teaching Circles Around the Sacred Fire
11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (Thursday) and 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Friday)
Kentucky Center for African American Heritage (1701 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville, Kentucky)
The Sacred Fire Keepers will lead informal discussions about how different indigenous traditions celebrate sacred Fire as a Source of Compassion. Each Teaching Circle Around the Sacred Fire is 30 minutes, and the schedule is as follows.

Thursday, November 15
11 a.m.: Sundance Chief Steve McCullough
1:30 p.m.: Ojibway Elders Bruce Hardwick and Duane Kinnart

Friday, November 16
11 a.m.: Rupert Encinas, a Spiritual Leader from the Tohno O’odham Tribe
1:30 p.m.: Anjit Telang, Eastern Hindu Tradition
2 p.m.: Ojibway Elders Bruce Hardwick and Duane Kinnart
2:30 p.m.: Sundance Chief Steve McCullough
3 p.m.: Rupert Encinas, a Spiritual Leader from the Tohno O’odham Tribe

Saturday, November 17: Indigenous Teachings and the Ceremony of the Sacred Fire
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Kentucky Center for African American Heritage (1701 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville, Kentucky)
Representatives from the Indigenous cultures will speak about the importance of sacred fire in ceremonies handed down from time immemorial. A sacred ceremony will follow the discussion. The ceremony will be accompanied by sacred music and drumming provided by Sarah Elizabeth Burkey and Frank van der Palen.

Sunday, November 18: Closing Fire Ceremony
4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Kentucky Center for African American Heritage (1701 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville, Kentucky)
Extinguishing the Sacred Fire that has remained burning throughout the 2012 Festival of Faiths will mark the end of this year’s Festival.

More details about these and other Festival of Faiths events are available on the “Festival Events” page of our website.

For questions, please call us at (502) 583-3100 or email us at festivaloffaiths@interfaithrelations.org.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2012 Festival of Faiths!

By | 2016-10-28T14:27:36+00:00 October 12th, 2012|Latest News|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Katie Jones March 22, 2017 at 9:32 PM - Reply

    Beautiful event with Sun dance Chief Steve McCullough. Thank you for this opportunity!

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