Many hands and skill sets bring the Buckeye Gathering to life. We love working with the various crews, worktraders, and volunteers and loved ones that make it all happen! Thank you!
Work traders & Volunteers
BIPOC, QUEER, WOMEN, MEN
Words from the co-creators of the Buckeye Gathering
Words from Redbird
Wow! What a ride this has been! In case you were wondering, it is a lot of work to make this event happen. There are so many seen and unseen moving parts. It may seem like it just comes together magically. But the truth is it takes blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen. I can’t lie, there have been hard moments, there may have been a time or 2 when we wondered if it would even make it to the next year. But it did, to the delight of many. Through it all we had this trust in the goodness that is Buckeye, the goodness that so many of us feel as participants in the gathering. My struggle has been to share that goodness across racial and class divides. Good luck and blessings to the new leadership. I hope that they can continue to grow that vision. Let’s continue the struggle to keep ancestral skills and teachings alive and available for all.
hullo! thank you for landing here at my threshold tale. fyi, i’m white, he/they, cisgendered, some hybrid of working class / with middle class fam, ancestors from Ireland-England-Germany, a dancer and water lover.
I remember when i felt the gut knowing that ancestral skills was my new home community. It was a few days after shyly crossing the threshold into my first gathering in 2007, returning to the cactus and creosote desert where i was born. I could feel the marriage of my love of ‘wild’ land, my formative roots exploring sparkling Montana rivers & high desert Yavapai Apache country, with my twenties spent in colorful punk subcultures, striving for beauty amidst the mess of empire. Hitchhiking, riding freight trains, dumpster diving, were modern adaptations; here were origin technologies, and folks who loved them.
It only took a few years for our ragtag California crew to birth our own rustic offspring of the parent gatherings ~ Wintercount, Rabbitstick, Earthknack ~ back in Pomo and Coast Miwok territory. As soon as the Buckeye Gathering came to tender and hectic life, it was soaked up by ready west coast communities. During our first four years, generously hosted by YaKaAma Indian Education and Development, we sold out in days, then hours, then minutes. Our emergent organizing circle huddled up to navigate the way that the moniker of ‘primitive’ skills didn’t land well with Native folks, for good reason, and we chose ~ancestral~ skills as our core identity. The term took wing, and became intertwined with the energetic of ‘village’, of a reconnection with handmade lives, rewilding, of the joy and overwhelm of the dream of rebuilding culture amidst the realities of colonization and capitalism.
Tens of thousands of people have joined us for the week-that-is-more-than-a-week. I’m deeply grateful for the spiral over time, the multidimensionality of our growth together ~ there is a wild verdance to how many folks contribute. A few core organizers remain from the first few years; Redbird and i spent most of the years side by side, keeping the central flame lit and collaborating on the mountains of work. Jay helped midwife Buckeye to life and has been steady throughout. There are many. It’s beyond words to express my gratitude for the waves of staff and teachers who have offered their hands and hearts to weaving the fabric of the Buckeye community, who have collectively forged the best and weirdest parts of our practical magic. Deep ropes of family have been crafted, and i’m honored to have been one of the core channels ~ and stoked now to step into a different seat in the community!
At the heart of what we work for each year, and what bright spark keeps us parenting this labor-intensive offspring, is the mysterious ‘village’ field that comes to life during our quick week together. There is something real, visible and invisible, that invigorates the collective, a spirit of ancestral knowing, that is possible. It’s old. I can tell you, hundreds of parents say ‘Buckeye is my kid’s favorite thang all year.’ It may start with the connection to the land. The freedom to roam, the excitement of dozens of craft zones, the teeming barter fair, the young and the elder together, it’s all part. And there is a synergy running underneath, some cellular memory that sings out ‘this is how life could be.’ Perhaps i’m a dreamer; i know its not true for everyone, that being in the crowded mix is challenging for many folks for many valid reasons. But as someone at the center, it is stunning to feel the village humming, however temporary, however idealistic. I wish i knew the wisest ways to bring this back to life in a fuller way; and it is alive in many ways, in tribes and traditional cultures, in apartment buildings and neighborhood networks, in vibrant community movements.
Fourteen years is enough time for a bit of evolution, for a gathering and for those of us holding it. Before finding the skills community, I was humbled chasing turkeys with a hand-me-down bow and tanning my first funky deer hides alone. In the interim years, i have become a traditional bowhunter, and, like many of us, smoky buckskin, barktan leather and well-loved furs have become intertwined with my very identity. I get itchy after a week without wildharvesting or landtending. The deep callings of this journey have guided me to collaborate on sharing skills as an ~animist~ now, sourcing from ancestry deeply connected to earth gods and the wisdoms of plants, animals, elements. Cailleach, the Celtic crone goddess, gets an offering before the hunt these days.
Buckeye’s evolution has deepened into the earth as well. We moved to Konkow Valley Maidu land in 2014, alongside the lake, and have nested well. In 2019 the Camp Fire burned and sent us into three years of small, landtending gatherings. What that Chrysalis revealed is that we are deeply place-based, and oriented around land stewardship. Our whole core team felt this. Those three years we gathered with small crews to keep the spark alive by tending to the forest, the field, the creek, the lakeside. We mimicked fire, we did prescribed burns, we followed the leadership of Maidu, of ecologists, of experienced land lovers. Now, after a post-pandemic re-emergence, we dedicate a whole day of the gathering to land-tending; so far, we are unique among the gatherings in this (though we welcome more company, and sharing of learnings!)
As i step back into a more mellow seat in the Buckeye constellation, i continue to be a main support for our co-liberation and decolonization work. Though no one asked for this inherited legacy of empire, we are on the journey to be more aware collectively of the forces that shape our community. In recent years, the main stem of this looks like partnering with Holistic Resistance to intentionally integrate our white majority space, and do our part to dismantle the white supremacy culture that we are creative and resourceful enough to change. Not everyone gets to feel as at home as i did after a few years in this community, but together we are aiming to build a culture of reclaiming our respective earthy ancestral traditions that is truly welcoming. As we root in bioregional collectivism in times of great social and ecological upheaval, we reach across movements and geographies to foster a new global solidarity, with animism as a musculature connecting us. By rooting ourselves before empires and following the leadership of indigenous peoples, beautiful cultures & lifeways become possible.
And still, we are reckoning with the odd construct of one week together. My soul calls to a land based community project that spends the decades in the messy and nourishing work of rebuilding a multigen village field. Where land is held in collective stewardship, and land is given back, to those who were doing just fine before the settler colonial invasion. Where we engage complexity in our multifaceted ancestral technologies, in our conversations about what egalitarian really means, and in our reciprocal earthy relationships.
I write this in 2024: the elder gatherings have become grandparents, and new gatherings are being steadily born. If you are orchestrating one of those, feel free to reach for me as a consultant. You will still find me in the circle at Buckeye: advising transition, encouraging song and dance, fostering co-liberation, playing in the field of animist village together. As we let our teenaged child go, a new chapter unfolds. I’m so grateful that Regina and Nick have stepped into the center; i love them so. Like co-parenting together, now we are intertwined for the long haul. 🙂
Thank you to all who helped this strange creature be born, nurtured, extend roots, die back, go through fire, re-emerge, evolve. Some of you have an idea of how foolish we have been, and how gorgeous Buckeye is sometimes. What a ride it has been! When Buckeye began i was quite a different person, and as life has humbled and softened me, stepping out of a founder’s seat offers a mighty opportunity for release and renewal. I am so sorry for any harm i have caused; i am doing my best to make repairs and reconciliations as i dance into a different role.
My prayer is that the soil we have nurtured in the last 14 years, through collective play, work, dreaming and adaptation, will be deeply nutritive for the next generations of ancestral skills village building. May this fertile phase change be light footed, warm hearted, and badass for all!
NICK AND REGINA LAHAISE
We are honored, humbled and excited to be the new stewards of the Buckeye Gathering. We’ve been attending buckeye for the past ten years as participants, teachers and part of the organizing team. We’re holding the center right now, but this has been and will always be a community led event. We believe this gathering is a healing endeavor and an antidote to the increasingly fast paced, distracted times we are living in. To simply share meals, circle up around the fire, sleep under the stars and spend our days learning, practicing, embodying land-based ancestral skills is essential, and nourishing to our human existence. We look forward to being with you!
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT US
We are parents of two young children, Sonny and Ari. We are both dedicated nature-based rites of passage guides, committed to the ceremonies that mark and honor transitions. Nick is a basket weaver, wood worker, chef and is your typical hands-in-many-pots, lots-of-irons-in-the-fire kinda guy. He’s ultimately happy if he’s creating something beautiful alongside beloved people. Laughter is his favorite medicine. Regina is a nature-connection guide and creative facilitator of groups. She is a sex educator for youth and adults. She is also a tracker, and has a passion for permaculture, specifically growing food and flowers. Afro-Brazilian dancing and hiking up high in the mountains are a couple things that bring her the most joy.