Wolakota is a simple yet deeply spiritual film. The powerful imagery might bewilder some, for it is steeped in an inner language of the spirit.
The few words spoken resonate. The speaker is a traditional healer on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Jim Miller, known by his native name as Wanbli Omani.
Filmmaker Tim Sessler spent seven years on the project, recording at Pine Ridge, at Devils Tower in Wyoming, and in New York City. In 2015, Sessler felt stuck. The film was not yet conveying the deeper meaning he knew was there. Wanbli Omani gave him his most common advice: “You know what to do. Pray about it and it will come to you.” He did, and when through experimentation he found just the right form of infrared photography, he knew he was ready to finish the project.
“Wolakota” refers to the Lakotah people’s sacred way of life. This short film speaks a deep truth which, if we honor it, can yet prevent the worst of what is coming our way. And if we don’t, it still points to a way of seeing that will help the world recover over time. Everything is connected, Wanbli Omani says. This is a message that all healers, sages and scientists have been trying to tell us for a long time. Everything is connected.
I’m struck by Omani’s final words, “She’s speaking to us.” This is the same truth spoken by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007: “Our earth speaks to us, and we must listen if we want to survive.”
The climate crisis and all the other ways in which we are damaging the foundations of life is at heart a spiritual crisis. We will need healers of all kinds to help us recover and repair our common home.
This post emphasizes humility and truth, associated with the gold portion of the singing wilderness spiritual map.