Of the Earth Institute of Indigenous Cultures and Teachings Non-Profit
Of the Earth Institute of Indigenous Cultures and Teachings provides intergenerational education around culture, ceremonial practices, and lifeways of indigenous peoples of Texas and Mexico. We are specifically working to Decolonize western ideas of healing by centering Plant and Animal Medicines and Traditional Healing methods which were passed down through generations of Medicine Women.
Marika Alvarado is a Lipan Mescalero Apache who was handed down Red Path Medicine from her grandmother, mother, and aunt. Through her guidance we host several programs including: Individual Healing Services; Traditional Healer Certificate Program; Raised-bed Medicine Garden Distribution; Women’s Health Community; and Ceremonial Gatherings. While we do have corresponding fees for Individual Healing Services and the Traditional Healer Program a person who seeks healing or education is never turned away for lack of funds. The money from these fees go towards paying rent for the Casita where we provide services and the cost of supplies for each program. At this time, our organization is entirely operated by dedicated volunteers who wholeheartedly believe in our mission.
When Shi-Choo Alvarado was growing up in Montopolis, Texas (now part of Austin) her mother was a trusted person who the community would seek out for health services. As a Medicine Woman, she listened to the people who came to her and provided teas, tinctures, and other medicines made from local native plants. She provided midwife services, cupping, body work, and ceremony for those in need. When her mother transitioned into the spirit world, Shi-Choo realized she was the only Medicine Woman left in the Austin area and needed to do something so the medicine could live on. She created the Traditional Healer Certificate Program, so that the medicine could be passed to younger folks who wish to become healers in their own homes and communities. While the Certificate Program attracts individuals who are on healing journeys not every student is ready to embrace a life dedicated to healing others. Those who feel called to commit themselves to the role of Healer may ask to apprentice under Shi-Choo Alvarado.
In partnership with the non-profit, Big Green, we have created a Raised-Bed Medicine Garden Distribution Program. The purpose of this program is to provide free supplies to low-income families who wish to grow their own plant medicine.
The Women’s Health Community is a new program where we provide a safe space for women and girls at all stages of their life to come together once a month, drink healing teas, and share their wisdom with one another. We want to help our communities remember their roots and walk in rhythm with their hearts and Mother Earth once again.
In addition to these programs, we are often invited by other local non-profit organizations and educational institutions to provide plant talks, classes, and workshops to students and the general public. For example, the University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School often invites us to speak to medical students about plant medicine as a way of supporting a more integrative approach to medical care. As a result of this outreach, we have several medical students and nurses enroll in our certificate program because they recognize the value of Red Path Medicine. Our hope is that those who listen will feel empowered to take what they’ve learned back to their communities so that this medicine will continue for generations to come.
Marika Alvarado (Mikella Castles), Lipan Mescalero Apache, Founder
Evie Carr, Alabama-Coushatta, board member
Maria Marenco, Maya, board member
Grover Mitchell, Scottish, board member
Cynthia Chapa, Mescalero Apache, board member
Eric Anguamea, Yaqui, apprentice, volunteer
Emi Cisneros, Lipan Apache, volunteer
Marina Islas, Apache, apprentice, volunteer
University of Texas at Austin, Native American and Indigenous Studies program; Community Health Fair; Contextualization and Commemoration Initiative, Native American History of Central Texas
University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School
Indigenous Cultures Institute; speakers series
St. David’s Foundation; Provide funding for scholarships
Austin History Center, Austin Public Library; Contextualization and Commemoration Initiative, Native American History of Central Texas
People in Defense of the Earth and Her Resources (PODER)
Big Green; Raised-bed Medicine Garden Distribution Program