About Wisdom of the Elders | Mission and Vision

Martin High Bear

Wisdom records, preserves, and shares oral history, cultural arts, language concepts, and traditional ecological knowledge of exemplary Native American elders, storytellers, and scientists in collaboration with diverse institutions, agencies, and organizations. Our vision: Native American cultural sustainability, multimedia education, and cultural reconciliation.

Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. (Wisdom) was founded in 1993 by the late Martin High Bear, Lakota medicine man and spiritual leader, and Rose High Bear, Deg Hitan Dine (or Alaskan Athabascan), and Inupiat.

Wisdom’s primary initiatives:

  • Discovering Yidong Xinag* k-12 environmental science education initiative (*means “Discovering the Old Wisdom” in Deg Xinag dialect of Athabascan) provides culturally-tailored multimedia environmental science classes for public schools, plus a Native youth leadership initiative that offers engaging service learning activities in local natural areas. We also produced 36 sets of health and wellness curriculum titled Discovering Our Story designed to raise awareness of the hero’s journey of transformation as a vehicle for strengthening resiliency factors and healing from historical trauma.
  • Wisdom Workforce Development (WWD) provides Native American adults with environmental assessment and habitat restoration training and service learning in partnership with over a dozen collaborative partners in local natural areas. WWD has now expanded to include the Wisdom Agricultural Business Incubator (WABI) which is providing training at Wisdom’s Native Plant Nursery Academy in rural Marion County. Wisdom Workforce Development LLC now provides living wage work for interns who complete two three-month workforce trainings.
  • Multimedia Projects, including the Native Wisdom Documentary Film Series, Wisdom of the Elders Radio Program and Discovering Our Story Television Program. We have recorded over 400 Native elders, indigenous scientists and cultural leaders and shared their messages with Native communities and public audiences.
  • Two decades of public cultural events, including eleven annual Northwest Indian Storytellers gatherings and emerging teller trainings, Film Festivals, a series of Film Screenings and Community Consultations, and a Traditional First Foods Symposium that we held in 2017.