There are many paths one can follow on a journey of healing and wellness. The Wumaniti Earth Native Sanctuary, located at 203 Ledoux Street, offers a variety of hemp CBD products, therapy services, job opportunities and other activities to help people, and especially the people of Taos Pueblo, in need of enhancing their entire wellness program.
Gemma Ra'Star, owner and founder of Wumaniti, talked to Tempo about the history of hemp and the many avenues to healing through her nonprofit organization.
"I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and moved here 20 years ago on my own path to my own healing and I started learning here by living off-grid and was given these beautiful medicines, hemp as well as other plant medicines. I have been working with these for about 20 years, making oils, capsules, body care products and edibles. We don't use any solvents, and we're a trusted source of hemp products."
She explained her connection to the local Taos Pueblo community. "I feel really blessed because I was spiritually adopted into Taos Pueblo families and with a grassroots nonprofit, Wumaniti Earth Native Sanctuary, I am able to give back. Because the people here saved my life in so many ways."
Her early vision to align hemp products with the sacred and the four-legged relatives was a significant part of Wumaniti Earth Native Sanctuary. She said, "The way of the horse and water is life, and the four-leggeds brought the hemp seed here in many ways, through [seeds stuck in] hooves, and by the merchants [who rode] on their backs. The Mongolians were the first ones to start spreading those seed over 12,000 years ago."
When asked if there were people from Taos Pueblo already using Wumaniti hemp CBD products, and if she sees hemp CBD products being used in conjunction with the new healing and wellness center that's recently been established at Taos Pueblo, Ra' Star replied, "Oh absolutely."
"Sunshine Duran, who works at the wellness program now, was interning here at Wumaniti Earth Native Sanctuary for a few months and she learned a lot. It was her vision to have a wellness center for Taos Pueblo -- a vision I shared -- and she came here to learn more about wellness," Ra' Star said.
"Now she is leading in that program and I am just so happy for her and so proud of her for being a strong woman from Taos Pueblo. Sunshine was an intern manager here for a few months and she did a wonderful job. She's an amazing woman."
Ra' Star also noted that there are employment opportunities available through the sanctuary. "We have people who work in production and we have members of our organization that are farming hemp seasonally-- seasonal farmers from Taos Pueblo, as well as others working in the office."
Many Native American people have experienced spiritual, physical and emotional hardships due to colonialism's long reach, and Ra'Star explained how the products Wumaniti offers may be able to help individuals with those historical traumas.
"In many ways a lot of historical trauma is still happening, especially with the commodity foods and pharmaceutical drugs that are given freely to tribal members. Also, pollution in the water caused by heavy industry weakens digestive systems and immune systems. Foods that are offered for free are heavily GMO, and heavily processed, [and] hemp products really help to balance that. We've been helping a lot of people at Taos Pueblo with arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia and chronic pain--four big things. Liver cleansing is really important as well because of pharmaceutical drugs affecting liver function. Prescription drugs are actually sometimes more damaging than helpful."
The accessibility of more traditional healing modes was also something she touched upon. "There's no place to receive traditional wellness that's free and and supported by Medicaid, but there are testimonials by people using CBD hemp products that have survived things that many people are dying from otherwise. Especially at older ages and even children. It can help with addictions. We've helped a lot of people, especially on Taos Pueblo."
As for the future of Wumaniti Earth Native Sanctuary and its connection with Taos Pueblo, Ra'Star offered a hopeful outlook. "I am the first person to openly grow hemp on Taos Pueblo in a long time. Eliot Lefthand and I first presented the idea to to the [Taos Pueblo] tribal government in 2014. Elliot is a wonderful Taos Pueblo man and a director of Wumaniti. We'll consult with the tribe when they're ready to move forward with their own hemp projects. We're very connected to a lot of resources and know a lot of people that are ready to contribute when they're ready to make that decision to help bring financial freedom to their tribal members through hemp agriculture."
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