As the sounds of trickling water filled the air from the nearby Sacramento River Headwaters Thursday morning, Karuk elder Charlie Thom spoke about coming together to heal the earth during an opening ceremony for The Best of Mt. Shasta conference.

As the sounds of trickling water filled the air from the nearby Sacramento River Headwaters Thursday morning, Karuk elder Charlie Thom spoke about coming together to heal the earth during an opening ceremony for The Best of Mt. Shasta conference.

"This mountain belongs to you and your grandchildren," said Thom, who stood at the center of a gathering of about 60 people at the Mount Shasta City Park.

After being cleansed with burning sage to drive away negative energy, Thom encouraged participants to bring positive vibrations into their hearts before singing a traditional Karuk song.

Thom, one of the few remaining people to fluently speak the Karuk language, was one of many presenters on the first day of the five day conference, which will run through Monday, July 30. Also participating in the ceremony was White Buffalo Stands playing a drum and singing Native American healing songs.

The ceremony took place next to a large teepee-like structure, though a sign informed visitors it was not a teepee at all, but a traditional bark shelter called a NorRel-muk.

While the first day of the conference concentrated on native healing, each of the days have a different theme. Friday presenters will concentrate on the environment, Saturday is about spirit and spirituality, Sunday about health and wellness and Monday about "nature's gifts." There are more than 40 presenters at this year's conference.

The Best of Mount Shasta was founded by Andre Morgana, who moved to Mount Shasta in 2008 and is working to showcase the people of the area to the world.

For more information or to see a schedule of the conference, go to thebestofmtshasta.com