Prologue: First Nations and Indigenous communities can not rely only on the often biased governmental information and services. Self-responsibility, self-guidance and self-healing are warranted without ignoring modern medical insights from reliable sources.

Karen people revived their ancient ritual, “Kroh Yee” (village closure) to fight against Covid-19

A road access to the Karen village is blocked  / Khunmaeruam, Chiangmai, Thailand / Photo by Chuikait Hongarthan

Karen people in a number of highland communities begin to shut-down their villages one by one, not to allow entering nor getting out at all times.

These village shut-downs were announced in conjunction with the revival of the ancient ritual called, “Kroh Yee” (or village closure).

It was found that this ritual was used seventy years ago when there was an outbreak of cholera.

Local knowledge holders believe that there would be enough food for annual consumption if a pandemic occurs and the village needs to be blockaded, but the town’s people may run away to the forest for their survival.

What is “Kroh Yee”?

On an interview with Prasert Trakansupakorn and Wuth Boonlerd, the two Karen scholars, Indigenous Media Network (IMN) was informed about the origin as well as the meaning of this Kroh Yee important ritual. “Kroh” means “to close, to block, or to prevent” and “Yee” or “Hee” means “village”. Occasionally, “Kroh Klae” was referred to as “road block”. In most cases, the ritual is expected to be performed near the entrance to the village. There are two types of this ritual. One is performed annually called, “Bua Yee Bua Kho”, or ritual to remove community bad luck, by shutting-down the village from 3, to 7, or to 9 days depending on the decision of each community leader. At present, Karen communities in Thung Hua Chang district, Lamphun province are practicing this ritual mostly in the sixth month of the lunar calendar. If by any chance, during the community closure, an outsider happens to enter the community, he/she has to stay there to the end of the ritual.

Another type of more complicate ritual which is happening at this time, but not so often, is usually performed in serious cases, for instance, when several people die of unknown cause, or incurable pandemic occurs, each community is required to shut-down and to prohibit internal household visit. This ritual was used around seventy years ago when there was an outbreak of cholera. This type of ritual can be observed easily, even by an outsider, from the sign of six pointed star-shape made from bamboo called, “Talaew”; with more serious case the sign, “Talaew” is accompanied by the replica of spear, sword, or other weapons hanging at the entrance of the community and it implies the most serious incidence.

In addition, another ritual called, “Wee Doh”, or dispelling of communal malevolent spirits is performed by community ceremonial leader who has to prepare a bamboo basket containing chili, salt, tobacco, Acacia concinna, turmeric, and grains of rice to execute this ritual. The ceremonial leader, together with community members cast all malevolent spirits out of the community and take the whole bamboo basket with its paraphernalia to throw away outside the community to end the ritual and that spot is referred to as “Doo-eu” (or no-man’s zone). “Wee Doh” is performed when there are several illnesses at the same time, but no dying incidence yet, or when bad, but not serious, omen occurs in the community.

The road access to the village was blocked with the “Kroh Yee” ritual / Khunmaeruam, Chiangmai, Thailand / Photo by Chuikait Hongarthan

How to make a living when community is shut-down?

It is well-known that Karen communities are mostly located in the highland with difficult terrain and isolated from modernity. Many Karen communities may lack of buying power to launch their food hoarding. Then, how do these Karen communities make their living when they have to shut-down for several weeks or even months?

According to Dr. Prasert Trakansuphakon, Ban Hin Lad Nai in Wiang Pa Pao district, Chiang Rai province is a good example of self-subsistence economy. The community is capable of feeding all members throughout the year. There are rotational fields with multiple food crops, terraced paddy fields, and agro-forestry in the community. Without main line electricity, Hin Lad Nai makes use of firewood and solar panels for their energy consumption. Apart from farm products, villagers have an abundance of non-timber forest products to gather from. Thus, community forest is equivalent to the supermarket for the whole community. If the village is compelled to launch its community closure, its members can survive conveniently throughout the year. Only a few things the community has to depend on the market, salt for instance.

When there are illnesses, Hin Lad Nai is fully equipped with indigenous knowledge in traditional health care and remedy. However, Dr. Prasert admits that access to information and ICT is considered necessary for the community to catch up with the situation outside.

IMN English by Chupinit Kedmanee


Chief Arvol Looking Horse Speaks of White Buffalo Prophecy

•Aug 27, 2010


Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe.

The leader of the Lakota Dakota Nakota Oyate, the great Sioux nation, is a man with a vision.

A Great Urgency: To All World Religious and Spiritual Leaders

My Relatives, Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.

We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World; we are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things.

The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.

I asked, as Spiritual Leaders, that we join together, united in prayer with the whole of our Global Communities. My concern is these serious issues will continue to worsen, as a domino effect that our Ancestors have warned us of in their Prophecies.

I know in my heart there are millions of people that feel our united prayers for the sake of our Grandmother Earth are long overdue. I believe we as Spiritual people must gather ourselves and focus our thoughts and prayers to allow the healing of the many wounds that have been inflicted on the Earth.

As we honor the Cycle of Life, let us call for Prayer circles globally to assist in healing Grandmother Earth (our Unc¹I Maka), and that we may also seek to live in harmony, as we make the choice to change the destructive path we are on.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected. And that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.

So let us unite spiritually, All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer. Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please remember World Peace and Prayer Day/ Honoring Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church, a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for all life, for good decision making by our Nations, for our children¹s future and well-being, and the generations to come.

Onipikte (that we shall live),

Chief Arvol Looking Horse sees a great danger threatening "Grandmother Earth" and a great hope for restoring her wholeness. So he is calling all nations to prayer of any kind in an effort to return the planet to balance, the people to spirit. I asked him why this path is the right path to take.

"A man or a woman without spirit is very dangerous," Looking Horse explained in a recent phone interview. According to this Sioux chief, the absence of spirit is causing suffering everywhere. "We are in a time of survival," he said. "But we don't want to believe it because we have forgotten our spirits. We have forgotten that Grandmother Earth has a spirit." Disconnected souls are hurting others without even knowing they are hurting others." Those being hurt include animals, trees and waterways.

The Sioux have an inclusive worldview, but it was not shared by the transplanted Europeans who undertook genocide on Indian land, culminating in the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890. That final brutality broke the "hoop" binding Indians together; however, Sioux prophecy foretold that in a hundred years the people would be reunited.

Although surviving tribe members and their descendants were stripped of religious freedoms (returned to them only 32 year ago by the U.S. government), the rituals were kept and the prophecy not forgotten. So the Sioux nations set out on horseback to "mend the broken hoop" of their nation in 1986 at a sacred site known to non-Indians as Devils Tower or the Great Horn Butte; their ritual went on for four years and concluded in 1990, 100 years after Wounded Knee.

During the course of that long ritual, Looking Horse was surprised by a vision that came to him of peace and unity that included not only the Indian nations but all the nations of the world, each gathering with ritual plants around sacred fires on every continent. The Sioux chief felt called to oversee a much broader mending. But who was going to listen even to the chief of a people largely ignored in the country where they lived?

"It's everyday life for us that we hold Grandmother Earth sacred, we hold the trees and the plants, everything has a spirit. We need people to be really respectful for each other. The Great Spirit put us here all together. If we're going to survive, we need to have spirit and compassion. We're asking people to go to their sacred places or sacred spaces to pray."

"Sioux Indian chief calls all nations to action on June 21" by Juliane Poirier

Music gifted by Tony Gerber

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