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Hanne Strong

President of the Manitou Foundation

Interview Conducted by: Jacob Reuter and Ben Copp on 2/27/2008


Hanne Marstrand Strong is the President of the Manitou Foundation, which she created with her husband in 1988. The Manitou foundation and its subsets focus on wildlife and environmental conservation efforts as well as support programs to advocate the sharing of the world’s wisdom traditions and sacred arts. In addition, the foundation manages the land grant that allows several spiritual communities to practice along the Baca in the San Luis Valley. Hanne was born in Copenhagen, Denmark into a Lutheran family and attended Catholic school until she was dismissed after renouncing the belief that those without faith would go to hell. Though she was raised in a Christian family, Hanne never felt a spiritual connection to Christian tradition. She stated in relation to this, “Well I just realized, maybe when I was four or five years old, I looked around Copenhagen and I said these are not my people, what am I doing here?”

Today Hanne affiliates herself with the Buddhist tradition, although incorporates elements of Native American beliefs as well as Taoism into her spiritual life. In the early 1970’s Hanne arrived in the United States in hopes of fulfilling a long felt connection to Native American spirituality. She said in our interview “I just had this sense. Later on I started reading a lot of books about Indians, I saw my first Indian movie, and thought, there that’s it. They’re my people.” In 1977, Hanne and her husband acquired 200,000 acres in the San Luis Valley. The next year, upon arriving in Crestone, Hanne received a prophecy from a Cree medicine man that she would bring together the religions of the world to this sacred place. As she stated, “I went up in the mountains and meditated for four days and four nights and was communicated to, and it [the prophesy] is correct.”

In religious groups from around the world started to come to Crestone. Today there are 18 spiritual centers represented by the CSA (Crestone Spiritual Alliance) and a number of other non-affiliated spiritual groups practicing in Crestone as part of the land grant created by the Manitou Foundation. Hanne continues to work with these groups, spending nearly half of her time in Crestone. She is actively involved in the movement against proposed exploratory natural gas drilling as well as many overseas humanitarian efforts. She said at the end of our interview, “I mean these Halliburton trucks are not getting in here! These are the big guys, this is Texas, this Halliburton, Chaney, Bush, Baker, you name it.”