Michael Stuart Ani has been a student of plant wisdom for fifty years. As a young man, the Lakota sage, John Fire Lame Deer, guided Michael through his first peyote ceremony and then sent him south to Mexico in search of the steps of the Ghost Dance. These steps led Michael to the Sierra Mazateca of Oaxaca, famous for its sacred mushrooms. From the end of the 1960’s era through 1970’s, Ani lived in the most remote part of the region. He became the only outsider who was ever allowed to collect Desheto, the sacred mushroom species of the deep tropical cloud forest of Chicon Nindo.
Michael was instrumental for years in fighting the epidemics among the Yanomami in the rainforests of Venezuela. He also helped to create a school to teach local indigenous people to be healthcare officers in the emerging Alto Orinoco Biosphere Reserve. His work in Venezuela was subsequently featured in the 1994 documentary, Yanomami, Keepers of the Flame, which won the US Environmental Film Festival’s Best Documentary of the Year. Keepers of the Flame also became the feature film at the 1994 Brazilian Earth Summit.
In 2002, Ani focused his attention back on the Northern States of the Americas and worked to repatriate some of the very last genetically pure Bison to the Brule, Lakota tribes on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. While on Rosebud, Ani responded to the requests of tribal elder Leonard Crow Dog and brought an eyeglass clinic to the reservation. Because of his efforts in South America and Mexico, and his work to build a ceremony house for renowned healer Grandpa Roy Stone, the Amazonia Foundation was honored by being included as an organization under the umbrella of the National Congress of American Indians.
Michael has fulfilled his promise to Desheto by writing the book, “The Ghost Dance; an untold history of the Americas. He is also attempting to bring his years of experience in the Amazon to help fight the fires in Brazil. His catchprase “TALKING PLANTS” refers to a small group of fungi and plants that he believes have developed the ability to communicate with both humans and animals. Michael feels that these plants are key to survival in an uncertain future.