Smoke the People’s Prayers: OdaBe (Northern Nevada)

landscape with teepee

Winding along a desert road just outside of Reno, Nevada, one may feel a moment of panic as they crest a large hill and are unable, for a moment, to see the road ahead. This is the road to OdaBe, and if you’re courageous enough to drive into the unknown, you may find new worlds opening up to you.

OdaBe reflects the limitless beauty of Northern Nevada. These 76 acres in the high desert foothills shelter a full-sized Lakota Teepee, a 33’ semi-permanent circular Dream Catcher structure, and the private home of Denise Sheehan of Sage Spirit Coaching & Reiki, Dana, and SunBear, an Australian Shepherd who is beloved to the community. OdaBe, based on the phrase ‘Oh to be’ said with a southern flair, represents a safe place to simply…be. I say simply, but perhaps it’s not that simple at all. This is a place to be authentic, leaving behind social conditioning and patterns learned from fear and pain, in order to lean into your authentic self. It’s a place where all wisdom is honored, meaning that those gathered are encouraged to speak their truth without judgment. It’s a place of acceptance, love, and expansion.

Denise’s eyes and smile shine as she tells the tale of OdaBe. “The original vision of it came during coach training in 2007… I had a full-blown vision of my future self and where I would be. And I knew geographically where it was… A couple of years later, Dana and I were exploring the possibility of purchasing property… This was the first place we went to, and right away I was like, ‘that’s it! That’s the place in the vision.’”  In 2014, Denise received guidance through oracle cards to, “create a teepee as a place to gather to create love in concentric circles and to smoke the people’s prayers.” With absolutely no idea how to build a teepee, and unsure even how to smoke the people’s prayers, Denise asked for one step that she could take. “Grow some tobacco.” Two weeks after she purchased her first seedlings, Denise was gifted a nontraditional Lakota pipe with Reiki symbols carved on it from an acquaintance who told Denise, “I wasn’t sure why I’ve been holding this for decades, and then I suddenly realized that it’s for you.” The Reiki symbols added extra validation, since Denise has been a Reiki Master since 2006.

During months of sanding poles for the teepee with Dana, who was the mastermind for the construction, Denise grappled with concerns of cultural appropriation. Having worked on a national program at the state university that served indigenous groups and others to create healthy communities and prevent addiction, Denise was keenly aware that many indigenous families live in extreme poverty and don’t have the resources to build their own teepees.  In fact, through the history of genocide and cultural genocide, many indigenous people have lost touch with their own traditional practices. “I think it’s so important to be mindful of honoring the wisdom that created these traditions and I realize that a lot of what I’ve created and taught has danced in the realm of appropriation… teaching shamanism that’s based on Peruvian traditions, that too comes from a culture other than mine and that of my ancestors. However, in times like these, it’s important for all nations and races to return to Earth-honoring ways and support thriving for all of life, all our relations. I teach what I have been gifted as an act of service and in utmost honoring of the wisdom keepers who have carried and shared these essential teachings.”

According to Denise, the key is to be inclusive, gathering wisdom keepers who can bridge the gap between cultures, who are willing to return to valuing all life as sacred. This resonates with the history of the land which was once a sacred, neutral place where members of the Paiute and Washo tribes could come together peacefully for trade and ceremony. For the past several years, Dahlahk Pahtahlngee (Mountain Eagle, of the Washo people, has also been sharing regional indigenous wisdom at OdaBe, to help the community connect with the Ancestors of this Land. OdaBe now represents a place where people of all backgrounds can come together, learn from each other, return to a sense of sacredness, and just be.

** Visits to OdaBe are by invitation only. To learn more about events held at OdaBe, Denise and her Sky Spirit Shamans program, and visiting wisdom sharers, please visit and sign up for her EZine. Also see


Published by Laureen Jordan

Laureen is a writer, a teaching artist, and a Reiki Master-Teacher. She has traveled to over 30 countries and hopes to add many more to that number in the future! She has a background in higher education, where she taught ESL and Italian. She can now be found exploring and sharing her talents and passions through her writing and her Reiki practice: Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness.

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