by Joe Montoya, chiricahua apache, Mystic Pop Magazine, February 2005
ch'inii yo'aal' diyinihii adidiihi Bringing Sacred Tradition to the World...
Apache diiyin (HolyOne) and author Maria Yraceburu has led the kind of nomadic life that's reminiscent of her ancestors. A recent survivor of a lightning strike, Yraceburu has been honored by the Inkan elders as “Laika” (holyone). She's held in high regard by her community. She is a highly trained and trusted individual, instructed by her grandfather the late Apache Juan Ten Bears Yraceburu, in the task of remembering and telling the history of her clan. Maria not only remembers the past and traditions of her clan, but she is something of an entertainer, historian, priest, counselor, eco-psychologist, storyteller, and understands and teaches the meaning and origin of ceremony.
“In 1973 my grandfather crossed over and passed his power to me,” says Yraceburu from her home in San Diego, California. “When I began sharing our earth teachings with others, it changed my life. There was so much feeling in the gatherings, so much healing, that I accepted the path of life my grandfather had led me to.
“So many young people come to us today, searching for a life philosophy that makes sense. I teach them about connection to the earth and her energies. A human isn't a separated entity, we are all interconnected with everything that happens on this planet, so I share what my grandfather and other elders have shared with me. I've studied with the late Matthew King of the Lakota, who taught me his way of White Buffalo Calf Woman; from the late Rolling Thunder (Cherokee/Shoshone); from the late Buffalo Jim of the Seminole; from my late cousin Lincoln Moves by Night, who also taught me about standing in my power and how that can not be an act of ego.
Yraceburu started her first women's group, the Butterfly Clan Women's Moon Lodge, in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also founded a spiritual community and has worked as a bartender, graphic designer, writer, as well as serving on Powwow Committees and raising money for the Gil Abeyta Scholarship Fund and various youth programs. “I've done what I could and I have kept busy all over re-turning people to a connection with the sacred landscape,” Yraceburu recalls. “I spent summers holding space for people wanting to vision quest and doing sweat lodges, and winters writing articles, creating ceremony, and making my jewelry. In about 1996, I decided to leave the normal workforce and devote my time 100% to my community.”
Yraceburu's books on Earth Wisdom, have made her one of Native America's newest evolutionists and storytellers, a woman with a passionate drive always searching for ways to help humanity heal.
“My grandpa was a holyman and made Holyway ceremonies. My ceremonies are for gatherings; they're old, some of them thousands of years old. The Earth has so many different kinds of ceremonies - life rites of passage, festivals of joy, curing ceremonies, ceremonies that speak of life and evolution.” In her ceremony making, Maria Yraceburu honors the traditions of her many cross-traditional family members worldside, while developing a contemporary style to help inspire and heal people - Native and non-Native.
“Some say there's no life in the land, but centuries ago our grandparents used to go out into the canyons and live in harmony with All Our Relations. You need to open to the energy, then you will receive the confirmation you seek. I help people understand this. I believe all our answers can be found in Nature, I see them everywhere, and I pass this knowing onto the people. I help them discover that place within themselves where the holy ones come, and then that's when personal truth is known. If you're sick or lonely, go to the land, and it will help you recall the voice you've only heard echo in your mind. Celebrate life and be reminded of your connection, then you receive the blessings everyday that empower a hope-filled future."