The work of Kunsi Keya Tamakoce (Grandmother Turtle Land) began in 1987 when Beverly Little Thunder founded the Women’s Sundance to teach the traditions and ceremonies of her Lakota heritage. Beverly’s vision of sharing the ceremonies of her heritage with people of all nationalities allows many to learn and participate in the spiritual practice of the Lakota nation.
In 2005, Kunsi Keya Tamakoce (KKT) was incorporated, with a new working Board of Directors and a permanent home on 75 acres in Huntington, Vermont, followed by 501c3 status in 2008. Over the last 22 years, Kunsi Keya founders, leaders, and community have touched the lives of thousands of women and their families, providing a safe place where all can connect to native teachings through Sundance, the Inipi, and other ceremonies and activities. In particular, simply the existence of Women’s Sundance, its story and continuation despite many challenges, has provided an inspiring model for empowerment.
Started by a native Two-Spirit (lesbian) woman, Kunsi Keya’s working board, volunteer base, and constituency are multicultural, multi-generational, and of diverse sexual orientation, economic position, and walks of life. Many of our constituents are low-income women, and women are never turned away from ceremony due to lack of ability to support the ceremony’s costs. Elders, children, differently-abled, and women of all backgrounds are fully engaged in ceremony and all are honored for the gifts they bring. Kunsi Keya has provided a pathway for native women from Lakota and other nations to come and reconnect to traditional ways, a place for people of divergent backgrounds to learn and practice respect for each other and the earth.
In rural northern Vermont, this organization and ceremony led by lesbian and bisexual women of color, provides a unique expression of cultural diversity. Kunsi Keya’s active and visible presence in the area nurtures acceptance and understanding in the community as a whole, and many local residents have expressed appreciation for the sound of singing and drumming wafting over the hills during Sundance.