"Sell a country? Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the Earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?"
-- Tecumseh, SHAWNEE
The White Man's way is to possess, control, and divide. It has always been difficult for Indian people to understand this. There are certain things we cannot own that must be shared. The Land is one of these things. We need to re-look at what we are doing to the Earth. We are digging in her veins and foolishly diminishing the natural resources. We are not living in balance. We do not own the Earth; the Earth owns us. Today, let us ponder the true relationship between the Earth and ourselves.
Great Spirit, today, let me see the Earth as you would have me see Her.
"Power comes and goes. It can vanish in the twinkling of an eye, like smoke dissolving in the air."
-- Archie Fire Lame Deer, LAKOTA
The East, South, West, and North are the powers of the four directions. The Creator makes these powers available to do things. We pray to the Creator to give us the power to do these things. Often, we are given these powers for awhile, then these powers disappear. Power is given and taken from us by the Great Spirit, the source of power. During the time we have this power, we should be responsible and use the power in a good way. Many good things can be accomplished when we realize where this power really comes from.
Great Spirit, today, show me how to use Your power.
"Humility is probably the most difficult virtue to realize."
-- Thomas Yellowtail, CROW
Two definitions of humility are; one, being aware of one's own defects of character, and two, giving credit where credit is due. This means if you do something and are successful because God gave you certain talents, give credit to God when someone tells you how well you did; this is being humble. If you are successful at something, but had help from friends, spouse, neighbors, give credit to those who helped you; this is being humble. If you have done a task and you alone accomplished it, give credit to yourself; this is being humble. Say the truth and give credit where credit is due.
"The land is a sacred trust held in common for the benefit of the future of our nations."
-- Haida Gwaii - Traditional Circle of Elders
The Creator made the Earth to support life so that life would continue to reproduce, everything would support one another, and future generations would have the same benefits of supply and beauty as the generations the proceeded them. This cycle will only continue to the degree that we make choices and decisions for the future generations. Today, we are too greedy and selfish. We are cheating our children, grandchildren, and the children unborn.
Creator, let me see the consequences of my decisions, and show me how to make healthy corrections.
"One of the things the old people taught me about the spirits was to never have a doubt."
-- Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA
The spirit world is sometimes hard to believe in because we can't see it. Our minds convince us to seek proof for everything. We need to believe that the Unseen World exists and the Unseen World is guided by principles, laws, and values. If we have doubts, we can pray to the Great Spirit to remove the doubt. He understands how difficult it can be sometimes, so He's always ready to help us during our doubtful times. We are lucky to have such an understanding and helpful Father.
"The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures, and acknowledging unity with the universe of things, was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization."
-- Luther Standing Bear, OGLALA SIOUX
There is a concept that says you move toward and become that which you think about. If we think about everything as interconnected and interrelated, we will begin to accept the greater whole and that there is a power who is in charge. If we see the cycles of life, if we see the inner powers, if we see the interdependence of the universe, then we will participate in a harmonious way. We all need to pray and meditate on this. We need to understand the property of unity.
My Creator, let me have the insights of nature and give me the power of acceptance.
"If you listen close at night, you will hear the creatures of the dark, all of them sacred - the owls, the crickets, the frogs, the night birds - and you will hear beautiful songs, songs you have never heard before. Listen with your heart. Never stop listening."
-- Henery Quick Bear, LAKOTA
The night time is full of life, full of song, and full of beauty. Have you ever gone outside at night and listened? One has access to serenity and peace. At night all our senses change their roles. Because we can't see, our hearing is much stronger, our smell is even more enhanced, our sight is different. We are able to join nature through sounds and smells, through the songs of the night birds, and through the night winds. We can close our eyes and experience interconnectedness in a different way. Try it tonight and experience oneness with the Creator.
Great Spirit, allow me to listen to the teachers of the night.
"...in Tunkashila, there is no time. Everything moves in the blink of an eye. It's as fast as thought. So there is no speed there. There is no time in between."
-- Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA
There is a relationship between thought and reality. Every thought is alive, and as soon as you think it, a result occurs immediately. However, to make something happen it may take a series of one thousand thoughts before you can actually see it with your eyes. This occurs because the Laws of the Great Spirit act immediately. When you tell a lie, you immediately experience fear. When you tell the truth, you immediately experience freedom. To the Creator, there is no time. For us to experience the meaning of this requires us to act on faith. Faith is belief without evidence.
"To me, if you're Indian, you're Indian. You don't have to put on your buckskin, beads, and feathers, and stuff like that."
-- Cecilia Mitchell, MOHAWK
The most important thing that determines who we are is on our insides, not our outsides. If we are Indian inside, that's all that matters. Being Indian means to think right, to be spiritual, and to pray. Feathers and beads don't make us Indian. Being Indian means to have a good heart and a good mind.
"The earth was created by the assistance of the sun, and it should be left as it was... The country was made without lines of demarcation, and it is no man's business to divide it..."
-- Chief Joseph, NEZ PERCE
There is danger when we start to draw lines and boundaries. This is true whether outside ourselves or inside ourselves. The danger is losing sight of the interconnectedness. When we lose sight of interconnectedness, separation, possessiveness (this is mine, I can do what I want) and infighting results. Even at an individual level, if we don't believe we are connected to all things we get self-centered and have self-seeking motives. We must think in harmony, balance and integrity. We must see our relationship to the great whole and conduct ourselves accordingly.
Great Spirit, today, let me think beyond boundaries.
"A vision could put you on a path you don't want to follow."
-- Archie Fire Lame Deer, LAKOTA
There is a saying, "You move toward and become like that which you think about." If we keep thinking about a bad thing, we will move in that direction. If we think about fear in some area of our life, we will probably experience this fear. We move toward and become like that which we think about. If we think about secret things, these secret things will come to pass. Our visions are very powerful. Visions determine our direction, our lives. If you think about lustful things, it's a matter of time before you'll be wrestling with it. We should think about our visions to make sure they include the Great Spirit in every area.
Great Spirit, today, give me Your vision to follow.
"...the sacred ceremonies given to us by the Creator are the Heart of our existence. These ceremonies are our first duty."
-- Traditional Circle of Elders. NORTHERN CHEYENNE
Hidden in the ceremonies are many truths, many principles, many guidelines for living our access to the Unseen World, healing and visions. Because the Indian People didn't have schools or books, the Great Spirit gave us Ceremonies. The ceremonies are handed down from generation to generation to learn their meaning. Today, many Indian People live in cities or urban areas where it's hard to learn the ceremonies. We need to go to the Elders and learn the ceremonies so we can pass them on to our children.
Great Spirit, teach me the Secrets of the Ceremonies.
"To be able to greet the sun with the sounds from all of Nature is a great blessing, and it helps us to remember Who is the real provider of all of our benefits."
-- Thomas Yellowtail, CROW
The Elders say we should pray to the East every morning. Just try it! Get up early in the morning, watch the sun and listen to the morning sounds, the birds, the winds; smell the air, feel the breeze and the warmth of the sun. Your mind will expand and you will experience oneness with the Great Spirit. You'll realize who is really in charge. You'll realize interconnectedness. You'll realize how much the Creator loves you! Just try it!
Great Spirit, today, let me feel the Earth, the Father Sun and your presence.
...Grandmother the Earth. That power is here all the time. It is continuous, and nobody controls it." -- Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA
There are certain powers that the human being has no choice but to obey. We cannot negotiate or barter with this power. Our choice is either to conform or to live out of harmony. Whatever our choice, it will be the end result in our lives that we notice. So it is with the powers of the Earth which produce life. The Earth has the life force power. If anyone plants a seed, the seed will grow. The Earth treats everyone equally. The human cannot interfere, only obey. We should all show great respect for the Earth and Her powers.
Great Spirit, today, let me honor and respect the power of the Grandmother, the Earth.
"If the Great Spirit wanted men to stay in one place He would make the world stand still; but He made it to always change..."
-- Chief Flying Hawk, OGLALA SIOUX
The Elders tell us change occurs in two directions. They say, "That which is built is constantly being destroyed; that which is loose is being used to build the new." In other words, change is constantly going on. Many times we hear people say, "I hate change." Does it make sense that the Great Spirit would design people to hate it? The Great Spirit designed people with change abilities such as visioning, imagery and imagination. Maybe we need to learn to use these tools and then we'll look forward to change.
Great Spirit, today, let me see the harmony of Yours, truly changing world.
"It's time. If you are to walk the path of heart, then it is time..."
-- Nippawanock, ARAPAHOE
If not now, when? If not me, who? To walk the path of the heart is a great honor. Every human has the choice to walk this path, but very few will decide to make it. Why? Well, because you can't act and behave like everyone else behaves. You must be the person who will learn to look within. You must be the person who will be fully accountable for yourself. You must be the person who prays and meditates. You must be the person who will sacrifice. You must decide to be a Peaceful Warrior. What will you decide today?
Oh, Great Mystery, lead me on the path of the heart.
"We must have respect and understanding for women and all female life on this Earth which bears the sacred gift of life."
-- Traditional Circle of Elders. ONONDAGA
At a gathering of Native Elders we were told that many men of today had lost their ability to look at the Woman in a sacred way. They said we were only looking at Her in a physical sense and had lost the ability to look at Her sacredness. They said the Woman has a powerful position in the Unseen World. She has the special ability to bring forth life. They told us to start showing Her respect and to look upon her in a sacred manner. We must start this today.
"Prayer is the best answer to all of the trials that face us, because without prayer, even if we succeed in accomplishing some great goal in the eyes of men, we have failed in our sacred responsibilities, and thus we have failed in what is truly important."
-- Thomas Yellowtail, CROW
What are our sacred responsibilities? One is to be of maximum service to the Creator, and two is to serve the people. In a way, it's like the Great Spirit is the employer and we are the employees. We live each day, do what we do, accomplish our goals, face our difficulties, overcome them all to the Glory of the Creator. We do these things to make Him proud! Even if we work for a company, agency or tribe, they are not really our employer; the Creator is our employer. Working for the Creator is better than working for a human being, because each night we can talk to the Creator and ask Him, "Well, how did I do today?". He answers back each night, "I'm proud of you, my child; sleep well, and in the morning I'll give you a new set of growing experiences.".
Great Spirit, today, let me work for you. You will be my new boss.
"But the great spirit has provided you and me with an opportunity for study in nature's university, the forests, the rivers, the mountains, and the animals which include us."
-- -- Walking Buffalo, STONEY
What we really need to learn is how to live life. Nature is the greatest university when we want to learn about balance, harmony, the Natural Laws and how to live life. But we will never learn unless we spend time in the "living university." Nature is full of examples, lessons, and exercises about life. Nature will help humans learn. Nature will help humans heal. Nature will help with Medicine, knowledge, and healing. The reason our Elders are so wise is because they have attended the right educational system - nature's university.
"All the stones that are around here, each one has a language of its own. Even the earth has a song."
-- -- Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA
To believe that every tree, plant, and insect can talk takes an open mind. Go by yourself into nature and sit quietly. Then pick up a rock and listen to your thoughts. After a while, put that rock down and pick up another rock. Your thoughts will change. These are the voices and wisdom of the Stone People. Each one has different wisdom and they are willing to share their wisdom with you. Many of the Stone People are very old and very wise.
Great Spirit, let every rock and leaf be my teacher.
"[The Old People] would gather words as they walked a sacred path across the Earth, leaving nothinig behind but prayers and offerings."
-- -- Cleone Thunder, NORTHERN ARAPAHOE
Whenever we walk on the Earth, we should pay attention to what is going on. Too often our minds are somewhere else, thinking about the past or thinking about the future. When we do this, we are missing important lessons. The Earth is a constant flow of lessons and learnings which also include a constant flow of positive feelings. If we are aware as we walk, we will gather words for our lives, the lessons to help our children; we will gather feelings of interconnectedness and calmness. When we experience this, we should say or think thoughts of gratitude. When we do this, the next person to walk on the sacred path will benefit even more.
My Creator, today, let me be aware of the sacred path.
"When you go inside that power, there's no fear. It's so beautiful!! There's no fear there. There's no pain."
-- -- Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA
Imagine you are standing on the edge of a stage. In the center of the stage is a spotlight shining from above. If you stand anyplace outside the spotlight, in the darkness, you will experience fear. But as soon as you step into the light in the center of the stage, all fear and pain go away. When we stand in the power, fear cannot exist. How do we find this place of power? We pray our way into it. We ask the Creator to take our hand and help us. When we get to that place, we will feel the fear go away.
"Without a sacred center, no one knows right from wrong."
-- -- Thomas Yellowtail, CROW
In the center of the circle is where the powers reside. These powers are called love, principle, justice, spirtual knowledge, life, forgiveness and truth. All these powers reside in the very center of the human being. We access these powers by being still, quieting the mind. If we get confused, emotionally upset, feel resentment, anger, or fear, the best thing we can do is pray to the Great Spirit and ask Him to remove the anger and resentment. By asking Him to remove these obstacles, we are automatically positioned in the sacred center. Only in this way do we know right from wrong.
Great Spirit, allow me this day to live in the sacred center.
"Anyways, with medicine there's a time and a place for everything. It only comes around once. You have to get it at the right time."
-- -- Cecilia Mitchell, MOHAWK
The old ones say two things must be present for a miracle to take place. One, the right time. Two, the right place. This is why we need to honor our ceremonies. eremonies are done in an order. This order is applied to open a "door" to the right time and place of the medicine. This door opens to the Spiritual World. The Spiritual World is available to us at the right time and the right place.
My Creator, let me be patient today so the timing is right.
Mother Earth is the source of all life. We should not only be concerned about the part of the Earth we live on, but we should be concerned about the parts of the Earth that other people live on. The Earth is one great whole. The trees in Brazil generate the air in the Untied States. If the trees are cut in Brazil, it affects the air that all people breathe. Every person needs to conscientiously think about how they respect the Earth. Do we dump our garbage out of the car? Do we poison the water? Do we poison the air? Am I taking on the responsibility of being a caretaker of the Earth?
Great Spirit, today, I will be aware of the Earth. I will be responsible.
"We must remember that the heart of our religion is alive and that each person has the ability within to awaken and walk in a sacred manner." ---- Thomas Yellowtail, CROW
The Native Spirituality is full of life. When we seek it we become alive. Even if we have gone astray and have conducted ourselves in a bad way, we can look within and have a new awakening to life. Maybe we have drunk too much alcohol; maybe we have cheated on our spouse; maybe we have done things that make us feel guilty and ashamed. If we look outside ourselves, we will not find life; if we look inside, we will find life. Anytime we choose to change our lives, we only need to look inside. How do we do this? Take some sage and light it, close your eyes and say to the Great Spirit, "I'm tired, I need your help. Please help me change".
Great Spirit, I know you exist inside of myself. Let me awaken to your teachings
"There are many things to be shared with the four colors of man in our common destiny as one family upon our Mother the Earth."
---- Traditional Circle of Elders, NORTHERN CHEYENNE The Elders tell us the time will come when the four colors of Man will unite into one family. According to prophecies, we were told this would happen when the Sun was blocked in the Seventh Moon. There was an eclipse of the Sun in July, 1991. We are now in a new Springtime called the Coming Together Time. Each of the four colors of man has knowledge that the other colors need to heal their families. Let us all be willing to sit in a circle and respect our differences.
The whole religion is like a preparation. It's a preparation for going to the Good Land or to the place of your ancestors. We all have to go through it. We all know this.
-- -- Horace Axtell, NEZ PERCE
There are two Worlds that exist. The Seen World and the Unseen World. Sometimes these worlds are called the Physical World and the Spiritual World. The Elders say, when it is time to go to the other side, our relatives will appear a few days before to help us enter the Spirit World. This is a happy place; the hunting is good; the place of the Grandfathers, the Creator, the Great Spirit, God, is a joyful place.
Grandfathers, today, let me look forward to the Spirit World. Bless all my Relations.
"But I have learned a lot from trees: sometimes about the weather, sometimes about animals, sometimes about the Great Spirit."
-- Walking Buffalo, STONEY
Nature is the greatest teacher on the Earth. Nature produces many different plants, animals, trees, rocks, birds, insects, and weather patterns. Nature designed all these various things to grow and multiply while at the same time live in harmony with each other. We can learn a lot of we observe and study Nature's system of harmony and balance. Today, go sit on a rock and quietly observe and ask to be shown the lessons.
Great Spirit, Nature is my teacher. Today, let me be the student.
If we let our minds wander, we will come up with a lot of junk; maybe bad thoughts about a brother or sister, maybe angry thoughts, maybe self-pity thoughts. Our minds are not the boss. We can instruct our mind to think about whatever we want to think about. We cannot stop thinking, but we can choose what to think about. The Elders say we move towards what we think about. That's why they say, "Think about what is holy, think about the Grandfathers, think about culture, think about values, think about ceremonies, and think about good."
Great Spirit, today, empty my mind and let me experience what it would be like to think about what is holy.
"All living creatures and all plants derive their life from the sun. If it were not for the sun, there would be darkness and nothing could grow the earth would be without life."
-- Okute, TETON SIOUX
This is why we call the sun, Father Sun. Father Sun shines life on Mother Earth and from this Father and Mother all life forms exist and continue to reproduce. The Sun shines on all; it is not selective. We should not allow anything to block the Sun from shining on the Earth. We must not pollute the air because the pollutants block the light of life to the Earth. If the Earth cannot receive this light, then life will start to be affected. We must live in harmony with the Sun and Earth. Otherwise, we are harming ourselves.
My Creator, give me the wisdom to live in harmony with all things.