Oh Shinnah’s teachers were Native American elders, among the most famous in North America. To name a few that come to mind at this time: Keetowah, Rolling Thunder, and Mad Bear. From her father’s people, she inherited the traditions of the Tineh (Apache); from her mother’s people, those of the Mohawk and Scottish (through her maternal great-grandfather).  Among the Tineh, “Osha” means “Earth”, and “Shinnah” means “to produce the sound, the cry, the heartbeat, the song of the Earth”. Her mission was to speak for the Earth and in the name of the Earth, and to help people who are on their own path of transformation.

Oh Shinnah was a poet, songwriter, and singer in her youth. Her stage name was “Penny MacKelvey”, MacKelvey being her married name in one of her marriages… She had, among other things, twice won the Chicago Critics Poetry Award.

When she was born, her father was asked what he wanted to call her. Oh Shinnah was not allowed by the government, so she was named “Johanna” (Jeanne) and then the government employee asked what the last name was, but in the Native American tradition of the time, there was none. Her father’s name was “Fast Wolf. So she was called Johanna Fastwolf. But everyone called her, and continues to call her, ‘Oh Shinnah.

She is also an activist, who most impressive contribution was at Wounded Knee in 1973. She was a ceremonial leader, and held ancient knowledge of the therapeutic use of crystals. Hundreds of health and alternative practitioners in the United States and around the world still use the practices she taught.

Oh Shinnah was one of my most important teachers, and many ceremonies and healing modalities that I carry come from her.

Oh Shinnah went back to spirit world on the 11th of January of this year. Her presence continues to be felt by family, friends and those who walked the Red Road with her. We will always hold her in our hearts.


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