Historical Perspectives

For five generations this Oral History and Wisdom have been preserved by a series of purposeful people. For countless generations before that, these learnings were developed and perpetuated through a continuing culture that cared that all may learn.

Paula Underwood, Turtle Woman Singing, in her turn, began the process of learning the Old Things from her father, Perry Leonard Underwood, Sharp-eyed Hawk, with the added responsibility that they be written down for “all those with listening ears” . . . to learn what may then follow. She was to begin this task when she reached grandmother years, acknowledging the wisdom and perspective gained in the process.

Who Speaks For Wolf was her first try at writing down the Old Things. It was one of three Learning Stories that she had learned from her father. Winter White Summer Gold and Many Circles Many Paths would follow. She tells us, “these Learning Stories grew from a culture which placed a high value on learning, such a high value that it kept a continuous record of that learning. This record is contained in The Walking People, one more of the Keepings.” Thus began her greatest task of all, writing down the vast history of an ancient people.

From these humble beginnings evolved the nonprofit, The Past Is Prologue: A Learning Way. Jeanne Slobod, long-time friend and editor, described the process in the introduction to The Three Learning Stories. “As each Learning Story was published, Paula wove them into her pattern of presentations, study groups, and retreats. These stories became integral parts of the educational program Paula developed out of the vast ancient wisdom, which had been a legacy from her father – and his father – and their Ancestors. Paula’s people had used these stories down through the generations as an educational tool. She was not surprised to find that this tradition proved to be effective in our own time as well. It was a privilege to walk in her company and enjoy the friends who gathered around the Ancient Wisdom, which she offered so generously. These diverse supporters of Paula’s tradition evolved into a nonprofit organization with Paula as the director. When disappointments occurred, as they inevitably did, Paula would say: “Remember, ‘that which enables, also disables; and that which disables, also enables.’” Life was always substantiating Paula’s belief that even failure almost surely might turn into a feast!

And, indeed, that is how it is turning out. Those of us who have worked with Paula are finding ourselves vastly disabled without her wise guidance and her joyous companionship. Yet those involved in the entity she organized also find themselves enabled to carry on with her work by her continuing legacy of Wisdom and are consulting together to determine how best to fulfill the promises made to the Seventh Generation hence.

Paula’s children, Laurie and Randy, are the inheritors of both Wisdom and copyrights and they are taking steps to ensure that all of that Wisdom will be presented as a gift to Earth’s children as was specified by Paula’s grandfather’s grandmother, Tsilikomah.

There is now a growing Circle of people across the country and around the world who have learned and benefited from listening to Paula tell her stories and from reading her books. They, in turn, are sharing the Wisdom of the Central Fire with the next generation.”

It is our belief that learningpeople.org is the next step . . . “in the evolving awareness which must, and will, become a part of our interconnected lives.”