INDIGENOUS SPIRITUALITY
& OTHER THEMES

 

WISDOM OF THE ELDERS

"Religion is for those who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there." (Vine Deloria Jr., Standing Rock Lakota, 1933-2005 

"They say we have been here for 60,000 years, but it is much longer. We have been here since the time before time begin. We have come directly out of the Dreamtime of the Creative Ancestors. We have lived and kept the earth as it was on the First Day." (Anonymous Aboriginal Tribal Elder)

"In a nutshell, First Nations Spirituality is based on our ties to the land and to the knowledge contained on the Medicine Wheel. It is a profound understanding of the deep connection between the temporal world and the upper world. It is a refinement of thought and feeling that rests above the profane. It is the growth of the soul to embrace mindfulness; staying in the present and acting in non-judgmental ways which creates an entrance to our souls, where our life's journey starts on a path of seeking the truth of our existence. First Nations spirituality is all good"
(S. Thunderbird)

 

 

SPIRITUAL PEACE IS THE 'HUM' FOUND BETWEEN VOICE AND DRUM


BLACK ELK SPEAKS

"So I dressed myself in a sacred manner, and I went among the people who were standing around the withered tree. Good Thunder, who was a relative of my father and later married my mother, put his arms around me...and...he offered up a prayer for me. 

He said: "Father, great Spirit, behold this boy! Your ways he shall see!" Then be began to cry....I raised my face up to keep them [the tears] back, but they came out just the same.  I cried with my whole heart, and while I cried I thought of my people in despair. 

I thought of  my vision and how it was promised me that my people would have a place on this earth where they could be happy every day.  I thought of them on the wrong road now, but maybe they could be brought back into the hoop again and to the good road....

I danced....By now I was crazy to kill, and I said to Protector: "Help me on my horse! Let me go over there.  It is a good day to die, so I will go over there!" But Protector said: "No....Your people need you. There may be a better day to die"."

 

WHAT DOES PEACE AND HARMONY REALLY MEAN?

 Natural Law does not come from humans, it comes from Nature. Have we been taught to behave in a way that is antithetical to our natural instincts, natural rhythms and feelings about our place in the world?

To what extent do our adversarial and competitive institutions require us to act in a contrary way? It is ironic that in our vastly electronic world we are more disconnected than ever before. We spend endless time text-messaging, blogging, face-booking, twittering, not actually saying anything but desperately trying to communicate. Choosing the path to technology is faster, but as Cree Elder, William Commanda warned, it does not enhance the mind, body, spirit or emotions. Taking the path to spirit is slower, but the "grass is still green there."

Sometimes situations, world events, occur that are not our choice, or so it seems -- that we have been victimized by a situation beyond our immediate control. How do we reconcile the mind, body, emotions and spirit with the painful involvement in such unasked for manifestations.

 

 

TRUST 

Tsimshian: Smhawks,     Lakhota: La Wačhinyan

Ojibwa: Apenimonodow

In the tribes, trust in yourself and your ability to do the right thing at the right time was critical for peaceful relations.  Trust also extended to daily survival. Each person had a job to do, and it had to be conducted seamlessly in order for the tribe to hum another day, the threat of raids, bad weather, amassing food, preparing for winter were constant reminders of the fragility of daily existence. Trust, that everyone, like good actors, would hit their marks at any given moment was a given. The fact that someone would not follow through or be there when needed was not even considered, it was simply expected.

There was an enormous amount of self-esteem building in knowing that no one questioned an individuals reliability. Moreover, in sacred circle, what went on there, stayed there. Gossip, jealously, needless competition was discouraged. Such attitudes violated an individuals right to speak his truth in honour and safety without fear of reprisal, ridicule or shame.

Storytelling and Truth were interconnected and it was with the utmost trust that my Ancestors received the tales from those that had gone before.

Trust formed the basis of relationships.

Example One: Following the teachings of Wolf, the entire tribe raised the children. Any child could go to any adult for safety, advice, food, shelter, etc. Any adult would lay down her life for any child, they were the future, to be loved and protected at all costs as one large family.

Example two: If a woman was on her menstrual cycle, she slipped away to a special lodge where for a few days she remained in seclusion meditating and resting (oh, that this could be the case today!) Her children would simply go to another lodge for that period of time and be taken in without question.

Example three: If a woman lost her husband in a raid or other circumstances, she simply moved her lodge back in with her family until she decided to take another mate.


ELDER WISDOM

"The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our Ancestors."   (Chief Plenty Coup, Crow) 

"Our land is everything to us... I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember that our grandfathers paid for it - with their lives."    (John Wooden Leg, Cheyenne)

 

 

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR!

Some Elders suggest that all that has manifested itself in world history was asked for at some level.  Those of you who are walking your earth walk, during such events must walk with strength, courage and wisdom, because you are needed as a counterbalance to that which is invading our world. 

No one is on this Earth who is not needed at this time. Your children need you; your families, other loved ones, your community and nation need you. Here is some wisdom from the ancient brains of my Ancestors:

  • Speak only on what you know; Share what you know.

  • Share what you have, after-all it is only stuff, and you can always get more stuff.

  • Care about what you know and what you do and say.

  • Raise your arms to the Universe and count to ten before you raise your voice in anger.

  • Do not shame: Do not blame.

  • Listen, really listen.

  • Take responsibility for your place in the world.

  • Take ownership of your feelings and actions/reactions. 

  • Hug your family, Hug your friends, co-workers and animals. 

  • Help the poor.

  • Do not trivialize the normal tasks of everyday life for they are the sacred threads that hold us together.

  • Elevate the world. (See Respect below).

  • There is work to be done. There will be another time to find a better day to die.

 

 

The Way it Was - The Way it Should Be
- Paraphrased from Rupert Ross', Dancing With the Ghost

1. ANGER MUST NOT BE SHOWN 

After all it is your own. Your reaction to any situation is your responsibility. The minute anger is imposed on another person the receiver is being interfered with. In the time of the Ancestors, showing restraint regarding displays of anger was a survival tactic in that it facilitated a cohesion of spirit and good will in tribes and clans. This was very important because people lived within such close quarters, it was vital that anger and other negative behavior remain outside the group. 

Without the burden of anger, it becomes easier and possible to accept what is rather than what ought to be (that comes later). Such conditions as blame, gossip, so-called statements of fact (actually judgmental assumptions/speaking on what you do not know) about someone or something is discouraged as they cause another person to assume responsibility for your feelings. To comment on another's behaviour is considered a gross breach of etiquette.

TALKING CIRCLE: Within a circle, and in the presence of the Talking Stick, the indulgence of personal hostility towards others threatens the viability and harmony of the circle and is actively discouraged. After all, the intent of circular-based spirituality as manifested in a Talking Circle is not to have it dissolve into an adversarial, blaming/shaming debating society. It would defeat the whole purpose.


2. NON-INTERFERENCE

Back in the time of the tribes, the Ancestors did not interfere in any way with the rights, privileges, and activities of another person. Non-interference quite simply meant that you were not your sister's keeper; thus if someone was on the verge of making a mistake, or acting irresponsibly action was not be taken unless the person was too young to understand, and then discipline was exacted in the form of a gentle story.  

Saving dignity and face was all important in Native cultures. Removing yourself from interfering in another life allows each person to remain truthful, and forgiveness (which is acceptance of deeds and thoughts) becomes possible. In the tribes, children were raised by example, and allowing them to make decisions at an early age. A mistake made became the child's responsibility and she would either learn from it or not.  It was her decision.  It requires tremendous respect, trust and honour on both sides.

In a circle, all members honour and listen without comment or interruption to the story of each speaker. As the speaker you take all the time you need. When the Talking Stick is passed to the next person, that person would never comment on your words, but speak only from his own truth. In other words, non-interference is practiced as each story is accepted and honoured as a teaching and a truth from the individual speaker. Each person, in other words, has the right to stand in his own truth in an atmosphere of sacredness, trust and safety without risk of criticism, shame and judgment from others. 


3. CONSERVATION/WITHDRAWAL

This is the ethic of thoughtful consideration and consultation before a situation is acted upon. In other words, thoroughly thinking things through before any action is taken. This is North on the Medicine Wheel, the Mental realm. Most tribes believed that calm, thoughtful, consultative and measured approaches to all things including crises was considered the wisest method. Ill-considered or hasty responses could end in someone being hurt or even dying.  

Therefore, there is an intentional slowing down, a conservation of energy in order to conserve physical, spiritual, emotional and physical energy, and to carefully consider all aspects of the situation.  More often than not, this is done in the form of speeches that contain only facts, not opinions (Trying offering an opinion with no adjectives!). As the conversation went round and round, the repetitiveness of certain facts start to emerge and eventually become the consensus.  

Important: Consensus did not mean that most participants have to agree; in some cases, it was not the end result that was important, but more the fact that everyone has an opportunity to be involved in the process. This method requires enormous patience, respect and acute listening skills.


4. RESPECTING PRAISE AND GRATITUDE

First Nations people do not generally fall all over themselves giving praise and thanks for good deeds done. In the time of the Ancestors, the highest form of praise was to simply ask that the doer continue on their present path. This is another one of those instances, where those who do not understand this type of interaction think that Native people are unemotional, and therefore unappreciative of gifts or actions meant to elevate their lives. Not so. 

Native Culture was based on a history where moderation, balance and harmony were the keys to survival. Thus, if one indulged in overt displays of praise and gratitude, then by definition, one had to engage in overt displays of disapproval or lack of appreciation, and these would be acts of interference. The overriding belief was that each person was respected for her talents and contributions to the overall well-being of the tribe.  There was no such person designated as the tribes "Praise-Giver" lest day-to-day tribal life end up being one very bad reality TV show!


5. TIME MUST BE RIGHT

When all the variables come together to provide the best result, then action is taken, for the time is right to do so. In the tribes, it was believed that each person needed to be prepared, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically for a successful conclusion of the action.  In other words, any action was not undertaken until there was total conviction that it could be performed successfully (hunt, raids).

There is a funny saying that says: "If you want to give God a good laugh, tell God your plans." In other words, it was understood by my Ancestors that the element of correct timing rested with their Ancestors and not with each individual. 

So, often as I have laid out my plans for short and long-term activities, my Ancestors have intervened and asked, "Excuse me, did we have a discussion about this?" My role is to listen and act accordingly. It would seem if we came into this world knowing how little control there is on our overall stay here, we would be much better off. But, then, that is the journey isn't it, which is to move around your personal medicine wheel, gathering knowledge and experience as you go, and when the time is right, applying what you know, hopefully for the greater good of yourself, family, friends, ancestors, communities, nations.


STORY There were two fish with adjoining nests on the ocean floor. One of them decided to intrude into the others space, it was driven back. Over and over the two fish repelled one another until they floated motionless staring at one another across the new boundary that had been established between their territories. On the surface it appeared they were fighting over territory but they did not actually engage in physical fighting! It was more a matter of each fish exercising its right to its own space. It was not the stronger dominating the weaker. In the end there was a tacit agreement to co-exist.

In the way of the tribes, as each group established its territory, there would be a lot of whooping, threatening gestures, and charging forward and charging back, but no actual hand-to-hand combat took place. It was more a matter of demonstrating that they were strong enough to repel if forced, and would fight if they had to.

 

 

TRUTH

Tsimshian: Adawx    Lakota: W'wičakhe

Ojibwa: Debwewin

Truth is the foundation upon which you need to base your existence. To walk an earth walk in an untruthful way, that is lie to yourself, others, live in denial diminishes the soul, fractures the emotions, mind, spirit and body.  To stand in the truth of your existence is to acknowledge and be prepared to accept accountability and responsibility for all verbal and physical actions.

It is gloriously freeing, but make no mistake, to stand for the truth requires equal measures of courage, honour, wisdom and respect in order to be honest and live with integrity. It can be a tough way to live, because there are no excuses for actions that fall into the 'wrong' category. Truth is equated with "Right Action'.  You need to find the courage and stand forward in the truth of who you are, and be courageous about where you currently are in your earth walk. Never underestimate the truth of what you know.

In the tribes, Storytelling and truth were interchangeable because community history and culture were based on oral telling and so it was with the utmost trust that each succeeding generation heard those stories and accepted them, without question, as the truth.


ELDER WISDOM

"I am tired of talk that comes to nothing.  It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises.  There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk. It does not require many words to speak the truth." (Chief Joseph, Niimi'puu)

"We the original peoples of this land know the Creator put us here. Creator gave us laws that govern all our relationships to live in harmony with nature and mankind. The laws of the Creator defined our rights and responsibilities."(Declaration, 1980, by Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders)

 

 

"Everyday people are straying from the Church and going back to God."
(Lenny Bruce, Comedian)

"No man with any sense of humour ever founded a religion."
 (Robert G. Ingersoll, Prose-Poems and Selections)

 

WHEN WE LOSE SOMETHING

When something precious is lost it affects all aspects of your earth walk. Native people almost lost our culture. This included:  Children being taken away to residential schools which resulted in virtual slavery, imprisonment and numerous types of emotional and sexual assaults at the hands of priests and nuns; the appropriation of ancestral land; fall of the matriarchy; loss of fishing and hunting rights; ceremonies; language, songs; food; regalia were outlawed.

There was a grieving process in all of this. Anger replaced the loss which was then expressed in two ways. External: individuals lashed out at themselves, other people and things. Internal: Individual voices were effectively silenced and the anger mounted. Alcoholism, and other self-destructive substance abuse problems were an inevitable result when those living in fear and unable to speak of their internal despair had been de-valued. Once rejected, depression took over and resulted in hopelessness. What emerged was a "fight or flight" attitude.  It is this sense of despair and hopelessness that many of my people fight everyday.

Native people are currently in a stage of revitalization and working hard to modify some of these destructive behaviours by returning to a state of MENE-DOH (Ojibwa - State of Revitalization), also called in Lakhota, Hanta Ho (Clearing the Way).

 

LOVE

Tsimshian: Si'ipnsk      Lakota: Theĥila

Ojibwa: Zaagidiwin

 

Indigenous children were taught from a very early age to live in a selfless manner. In the tribes generosity of spirit was what made great leaders. Great leaders are not megalomaniacs, such self-absorption has no place in a world view that fosters good thoughts, right action, kind words, humbleness and generosity. It was in this vein that the original world was created.

A good leader is never grudging with her time, things or talent. The greatest orators, medicine people and warriors are among the most humble, self-effacing and kind people one could ever have the honour of meeting. 

The following are what separate a caring person from an uncaring or self-absorbed person.

Actions: Being in service to others, being helpful, opening doors, raking lawns, shovelling snow, helping a younger child with homework, setting your needs aside in favor of someone else with no reciprocal expectations.

Words: Leaving yourself out of supportive comments (focusing totally on the other person), listening without judgment, saying kind things about someone, listening, listening, listening.

Thoughts: Positive thought, prayers for self, someone or something are powerful forms of communication, an act of kindness can simply be thinking good thoughts about someone, silence can be luminous. In other words, rather than filling the air with thoughtless words, silence is often the best medicine.

Gifts: Sharing what you have with others, cleaning a house or shopping for someone with physical or mental challenges, not limiting gifts to special occasions only.


ELDER WISDOM

"I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a  man to depend simply upon himself."
I One Man, Teton Lakota

"We have no buildings, there are no steeples. The lake is our church, the evergreen trees are our living saints if we must speak in your language. Leave us to see beauty everyday rather than find it only in our memories."
(Anonyumous Taos Pueblo Elder)

 

 

 

PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound, in
fear of what my life and my children's lives may be.

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests
in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things who do
not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water and I
feel above me the day blind stars with their light for a time.

 I rest in the grace of the world, and  I am free.

(Wendall Berry)

 

A WORLD IN BALANCE

 A very abridged version of a Tsimshian Story told to my by my mother, Elder, Gandoox, about when all living things were in balance and harmony:

Long, long ago when the mountains grew tall and put on their dignity, they thought they were people.....

Long, long ago, when the fish swam in the rivers, and the birds flew in the sky among the stars bringing messages from my Ancestors they thought they were people.

Long, long ago when the animals roamed freely in the great forests, they thought they were people.

Long, long ago, there were women and there were men and they thought they were people...Long Long, so long ago...

 

 

RESPECT

Tsimshian: Loomsk      Lakota: Oh�la

Ojibwa: Manajiwin

In the world of Indigenous People, respect meant to feel or show honour or esteem for someone or something; to consider the well-being of, or to treat someone or something with deference or courtesy, never interfering with their right to walk their earth walk in the manner they so chose.

In the time of the Ancestors, every person, from the tiniest child to the oldest Elder was treated with respect at all times, with special honour given to Elders, Parents, Teachers and Community Elders. (See Tribal Hierarchies)

No person was shamed or 'put down'. People never spoke of others in a negative way for this interfered with their lives, and diminished the tribe. The Anishinaabe people believed that every thought and action that went out into the world, affected the next seven generations of family!!!

ANCIENT WISDOM

  • Do not touch anything that belongs to someone else, especially sacred objects, drums, shakers, medicine bundles, regalia) without permission.

  • Respect for Privacy; Never intrude on a person's quiet moments or personal space.

  • Never interrupt or walk between or among people who are conversing.

  • Speak in a soft voice, particularly when in the presence of Elders or Traditional Teachers or to those whom special respect is due.

  • Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel impatient, or what they are saying is not relevant to you; Quiet your inner chatter and listen with your whole self.

  • Be truthful at all times and under all conditions.

  • Do not speak unless invited to do so at gatherings where Elders are present (except to ask what is expected of you, should you be in doubt).

  • Treat Mother Earth (Noo Halidzoks) and all her living children as your Mother. Show deep respect and love for your extended family, the mineral, plant, animal, four elements and human worlds.

  • Always receive your guests (including strangers) with a loving heart and as members of the human family; Greet them with an honour song and give them your best food, best blankets, best places to rest.

  • The hurt of one is the hurt of all; the honour of one is the honour of all.

  • All four colours of human (Yellow, Black, Red, White) are like different coloured flowers of one meadow. All are beautiful and must be respected.

  • To serve others is the main purpose that Humans were created; Do not be so self-absorbed that you fail to see and respond to the needs of others.

  • Moderation, harmony and balance in all things; know the difference between those things that elevate your life and those that do not.

  • Listen, Listen, Listen to your Heart.  


ELDER WISDOM

You are here not to assert dominion or to rise above the rest, but to make a contribution WITH the rest. We take what you need, but only what you need. Success is measured not by the degree to which you subdue others, but by the degree to which you serve as a conduit to sustenance for all components of creation. You sustain harmony, respect and balance within all creation by working together.

 

CRAZY HORSE
John Trudell

Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One earth one mother
One does not sell the earth
The people walk upon
We are the land
How do we sell our mother
How do we sell the stars
How do we sell the air
Crazy Horse
We hear what you say

Too many people
Standing their ground
Standing the wrong ground
Predators face he possessed a race
Possession a war that doesn't end
CHILDREN OF GOD FEED ON CHILDREN OF EARTH
Days people don't care for people
These days are the hardest
Material fields material harvest
decoration on chains that binds
Mirrors gold the people lose their minds

Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One earth one mother
One does not sell the earth
The people walk upon
We are the land
Today is now and then
Dream smokes touch the clouds
On a day when death didn't die
Real world time tricks shadows lie
Red white perception deception
Predator tries civilising us

But the tribes will not go without return
Genetic light from the other side
A song from the heart our hearts to give
The wild days the glory days live

Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One earth one mother
One does not sell the earth
The people walk upon
We are the land
How do we sell our mother
How do we sell the stars
How do we sell the air

Crazy Horse
We hear what you say
Crazy Horse
We hear what you say
We are the seventh generation
We are the seventh generation

 


MEMORY AND THE POWERFUL SONG OF
 DIVINE DISCONTENT

"I did this says my memory, I cannot have done this, says my pride. Eventually the memory yields." (Nietzsche)

Within all of us is the constant struggle among the ego, guilt and a need for spiritual peace.  The 'G-word' - Guilt, that insatiable mischief-maker who sits at the source of your sense of unworthiness and with great glee often rewrites personal histories and memories until you believe the new world-view you have created for yourself. 

The late humorist, Irma Bombeck once remarked that "Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving." Lack of self-worth causes the door to the truth to remain padlocked. The ego cries for peace, yet remains firmly entrenched in familiar patterns of self-deprivation and self-hate. The ego seeks and probes but insidious little voices whisper, "You are safe here in my dark heart, why change, it's what you know." You are comfortable here and know your predictable responses". "Do you really want to go into uncharted territory, stay with me, stay with me."  And so we do and remain within our predictable safe but illusory world. What if there was another way?

When you honour your memories, you are hearing the truth of your existence. You are acknowledging the words of the Ancestors and respecting them - it is disrespectful to ignore the teachings from the Spirit World for it holds your memories, your personal history.

Each day you walk in the real world you remember your Ancestors and their lives which created your memories. It takes courage to do this because often the memories are things you want buried never to be brought into the light. However, if you continue to define yourself by that which you do not want to see, you give it life and control and you become a walking, living bad dream in your illusory world.

But, when, you turn that which has frightened you into a welcoming, honouring teaching, it becomes an integral part of your existence, after all, both good and bad memories have defined who you are up to this moment in time; then you reclaim your life, and the memory(s) no longer have the power to control your present reality. Your head comes up, your shoulders square, and you step forward with confidence striding towards tour endless personal horizon. Such is the strength of your ancestral spirit.

 

HONESTY

Tsimshian: Adawk     Lakota: W�owatĥanla

Ojibwa: Gwekowaadiziwin

ASK YOURSELF:  Am I truthful at all times and under all conditions. Do I face the challenge of what it is I am afraid of, or, do I lie to myself because of my fear of the unknown? Truth is honesty, good faith, integrity and sincerity. Do I only see what I want to see? Do I speak the truth without criticism and most importantly, am I honest with myself? There is honesty in nature, which is something I can always learn from. The trust I have in being honest is "right action" in its highest and purest form.


ELDER WISDOM

"Whenever the white man treats the Indian as they treat each other, then we will have no more wars.  We shall all be alike -- brothers of one father and one mother, with one sky above us and one country around us, and one government for all."  (Chief Joseph, Niim'ipuu)

 

 

ON RECLAIMING PERSONAL POWER

FOUR THINGS STOPPING YOU FROM EMBRACING YOUR PERSONAL POWER
1. You are living in a time of instantaneous action/reaction. You have a thought, a feeling and your physical reality instantly changes if you immediately act on it through your electronics (Internet, Text-messaging). Have you imagined an event taking a specific course and then it does? Do you think about someone and she calls you. All of us have experienced examples of this type of occurrence in our everyday lives. You are starting to know what's going to happen before it does and it is scary.

2. You are hesitant to fully take your personal power into yourself because you are not clear about how your life might change. Fear of the unknown. Can you handle it? What if right now you were a thousand times more powerful? How would you be? How would that feel? What would you do with such power? Would you be safe? Would others be safe?

3. You don't realize you can create your own reality all by yourself!! If you choose to, you also have the ability to create it with others. Most of you were taught to believe you must co-create with others, yet you are all creators of your own destiny. Only when you first become responsible creators, aware of what you create in your own life, can you truly co-create with another person.

4. You choose to ignore your First Impressions. If an answer comes, Do it or Don't do it, Yes or No comes in that flash of instant enlightenment you elect not to trust it. It came to fast, and like a good Canadian you work hard to talk yourself out of it. What you failed to recognize was in that instant, your Ancestors were speaking to you!


You can have a relationship with yourself and the wider world without others telling you how to do it.  You are born with a 'perfect essential self,'yet over time you talk yourself out of it as you buy into the dominant opinions and beliefs that surround you (parents, siblings, politicians, co-workers, friends, neighbours, media).  This conditioning starts at birth. As a child you had not yet learned to cognitively think for yourself and as a result you looked to those around you for opinions and feelings. As you walk your earth walk this early conditioning has the potential to dominate your life. It is your responsibility to keep your heart open, and your eyes and ears sharp so that you can dance your personal dance, sing your songs and speak words that will elevate your life and those around you and yet still meld with the greater good.

With the gift of personal power comes responsibility and accountability.  How you walk in the world reflects on yourself and your community. How you conduct yourself creates a positive or negative world view. 

You already have everything you need to walk your earth walk. There will come the 'right' time when you will align with the twin elements of Wisdom and Courage to tap into all these gifts.  Wisdom to know that a change needs to be made, and the Courage to execute the change(s). 


QUIETING THE MIND
Loving yourself, being compassionate, creative, and patient are some of the most important reasons for being here on Earth. Never create when you are troubled. If you have a busy mind, get physical. The more physically active you are, the quieter and calmer your mind becomes. Another good way of quieting a busy mind is to look straight ahead and focus on something in the room. While keeping your head level, look up at the ceiling. This will immediately calm your emotions and quiet your mind. When you are calmer speak the following ALOUD.

"This too shall pass
If I can endure for this minute whatever is happening to me
No matter how heavy my heart is or how dark the moment might be...
If I can but keep on believing what I know in my heart to be true,
That darkness will fade with morning and that this will pass away, too...
Then nothing can ever disturb me or fill me with uncertain fear,
For as sure as night brings dawning, my morning is bound to appear."
(Anonymous)

 

 

HONOUR

Ojibwa:Bishigedan      Lakota: Yu�nihan

  Tsimshian: Loomsk

First Nations concepts of honour were ingrained and irrevocable. For an individual to break a trust or to bring dishonour by whatever means was to shatter the high regard and respect that had been freely given by the tribe. Each person, right down to the smallest of children had a keen sense of what constituted right and wrong action and adherence to right action was the life blood of the tribe. For example, a warrior, to die with honour was the ultimate and most glorious sacrifice they could make in service to their people.

To achieve honour is a process of careful study and maturation. It is a trait that can be gone in an instant depending on the temptation, or it can scale mountains depending on the challenge. The teaching is to know the difference between what is easy and what is honourable and to act accordingly. Honour can be misused by being couched in the self-serving intentions of an individual or group who have determined that their way is the best way. 

'Power-over' thoughts and actions are not honourable because they tarnish the luster of what it is to live in a good way. Honour is not the same as morality, because questions of morality can differ dramatically from person to person, to community to country. Honour is bound up in the Native Ethic of Non-Interference because it does not pass any judgments on what is perceived to be right action as it is based on action that springs from sound reasoning.


ELDER WISDOM

All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly.... We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way, the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two. (Eagle Chief, Pawnee)

"The earth is the mother of all people, and all the people should have equal rights upon it.  You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases." (Chief Joseph, Niimi'[uu)

 

 

BRAVERY

Tsimshian: Al'alx     Lakota: W�čhantet'inze

Ojibwa: Aakdewin

Personal courage is bound up with honour and integrity. To be honour-bound requires the courage to act with integrity in difficult situations. To Native warriors, to be in situations where they had to save lives was not necessarily an act of personal courage, because it was expected. However, to go beyond the call of duty was an act of courageous honour! Courage is not learned, it is in the DNA, it is as natural as breathing!  

In the tribes, it was not simply a matter of engaging in brave deeds and being considered courageous, although that certainly is part of the whole. Courage was not limited to just the warriors, or in today's world, police officers, firefighters or soldiers. Courage resides in everyday life, standing forward in your own truth, speaking for those who do not yet have their voices, acting in a manner that shows you are unafraid of those who seek to bring you down. Courage is also to be afraid. Yes, to feel fear, yet in defiance of it continue to move forward in the name of what is right.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in spite of it."
(Mark Twain)

Real courage is to be truthful, to own up when you have done something unworthy. It is moving beyond personal security issues, i.e., keeping your voice/head down in public, not drawing attention to yourself, staying safe at all costs. Balance cannot be achieved if you choose only one side of the pendulum. By keeping your head down is refusing to engage in your life and puts you in a reactive position rather than a proactive one. In the fight to stay safe and/or live with your view of perfection, you have become more vulnerable because you have not set your own pace, your goals and, hence, you have created a false environment. Like a house of cards it can tumble down at any moment because you lack the courage to build your own house brick by brick. That is why perfectionism never works.

Having personal courage does not mean being reckless. It is not recommended that you throw yourself in front a speeding car to save a chicken trying to cross the road! A powerful and authentic life comes from facing down your fears, real or imaginary and striding along the path towards your personal horizon instead of dodging from rock to rock hoping something or someone will come and save you.


ELDER WISDOM

"When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home." (Tecumseh)

 "Creator has given us the right to govern ourselves and right to self-determination.  Creator has given us the responsibility to care for the land and all who inhabit it. Such rights and responsibilities cannot be altered or taken by any other nation." (Unknown)

 

 

 

TO BE A HEALER

You do not have to climb mountains, fast for 40 days and nights, and have a near death experience in order to receive spiritual enlightenment or a vision. If a person drinks for 20 years and then quits, it requires tremendous discipline to change this "near death" experience and embark on a new path.  In other words, whereas it took someone 4 or 8 days to receive a message, it took the alcoholic 20 years - time is relative because it is the Ancestor's and in their time. 

HEALING - WEST COAST STYLE
The disease or problem is objectified in a symbolic fashion. It becomes an image, an animal or insect. To the Tsimshian such symbols are called CHARMS. A Spirit Doctor blows into a person's head to strengthen a weak soul and then fans the disease away with eagle feathers. She would also squirt cold water from her mouth onto diseased parts while Praying, drumming, singing, rattling.

SPIRIT AND SOUL


The spirit was meant to pour through  your soul and all matter, like water. Your soul is boundless and not trapped in the body.

The campfires of your Ancestors are the stars (the nearer stars are the new ancestors; distant stars are the old ancestors).

Your spirit goes far back before recorded time.

You possess an ancient brain filled with knowledge and wisdom that will enhance your life.

Look to the endless sky and see the dream time.  Call your Ancestors with a rattle.  They will come and be with you in time of plenty and in time of need for they are the mirrors to your past, present and to your future.  

THE CREE HAVE A GREAT HANDLE ON HEALING

Illness or any form of adversity is quite simply a predator.

 

BAD MEDICINE/GOOD MEDICINE

Gossip, Jealousy, Suspicion, Resentment are destructive actions; such negativity only serves to fracture your personal power.  Negative energy that is, attempting to power itself over another in order to achieve personal validation only serves to limit your own personal horizon instead of expanding it. Each person is part of an harmonious world, a world of your own making.  It is up to each person to do something to change the world and make it a caring/sharing place. Remember, if you think that you can abuse your electronics by text-messaging negative things about another person, think again. Your are a mass of energy which flies free into the universe, electronics is called "closed energy", and it has no place to go but back into you! Also, your Ancestors are watching. Whatever you say or do will affect the next seven generations of your family. Be judicious in the use of electronics.  Nothing is ever erased and what goes around comes around, it WILL come back to haunt you.


If you do not endeavour to raise the collective consciousness of Mother Earth then you are reduced to the full-time job of constantly looking for victims to suck the blood of their personal power in order to try and maintain your own.  It is exhausting and destructive to become "vampires of the souls of others" because it only reinforces your personal fears and renders you unable to find your own way. You need only look inward and find vast resources of spiritual nectar with which to build and grow.

Humans were meant to sit in circles and look each other in the eyes, to share stories in a non-intrusive and respectful manner. Singing with the Spirits sounds better with a chorus of voices singing in harmony, or unison, but always together!

 

 

WISDOM

Tsimshian: Wilgoosk      Lakota: Woksape

Ojibwa: Nibwaakaawin

The Knowledge of Life. Wisdom comes with age and experience; learning, listening, hearing, right action, walking your earth walk in a good way. It is the ability to pass knowledge along without criticism or judgment, to let the truth of the teachings stand on their own and the receivers make their own interpretations. Wisdom is humility, there is no place in the world of the wise for those with inflated egos. Wisdom speaks from the heart of the truth. It flies with Eagle, sings with the white bear and finds its way into our dreams and visions. Wisdom is also generosity, for to keep it close to the vest does not enhance the world, and does not help elevate souls. Wisdom is confidence in the knowledge given and the words spoken in a manner that pleases our Ancestors.


ELDER WISDOM

"I have noticed in my life that all humans have a liking for some special animal, tree, plant, or spot of earth.  If humans would pay more attention to these preferences and seek what is best to do in order to make themselves worthy of that toward which they are so attracted, they might have dreams which would purify their lives. Let Humans decide upon their favourite animal and make a study of it, learning its innocent ways. Let them learn to understand its sounds and motions. The animals want to communicate with humans, but Wakan Tanka does not intend they shall do so directly B humans must be the greater part in securing an understanding." (Brave Buffalo, Lakota, Late 19th century)

"Looda lagyigyeda txa'nii yets'isga waaldi da lax yuup ada txa'nii goo ada luwallm ts'm aks." (Our Ancestors respected all animals that live on land and all things that live in the sea." (Tsimshian)

 

 

SINS OF THE SPIRIT

ACEDIA: Means inertia, cynicism, refusal to begin new things. The Soul closes down through tiredness. The opposite of this is ZEAL - energy, intense experience resting in the beauty of things. Falling in love with everything, life, earth, trees, land, water, sky.

ARROGANCE: (Not pride which is a good thing!) shows itself in racism, sexism, gender bias colonialism. "I am better than you because....." Rituals are needed to detox our arrogance. Racism has not been washed away at the level of the soul. After all, a soul with a superiority complex is a very small soul.

AVARICE: Greed for gain; knows no limits and extends to infinity. Infinity i.e. Spirit (Thomas Aquinas). Heart must be fed by the mind in order to love everyday. Mind, heart, and imagination instead of stocks, bonds and power is the path to the spirit. Love lasts -- stocks, well, you saw what happened to powerful corporations when ambition and greed overtook a more reasoned approach!! How about economic recessions that causes once secure middle-class people to be forced out of their homes due to job loss.

ADDICTION: When lust takes over it holds the soul in a vise-like grip and narrows our personal horizons. Joy expands the heart. Without it there is no zeal, energy. We must return to the drum as Warriors of Peace.

DESPAIR: Lose hope and often self-destruction and violence towards self and others is the result.

FEAR: Carries you away from your path; it can be wielded to control other people, but at the same time, fear locks you into a box.

  • "Those in great fear pay no attention to the suffering of others". (Thomas Aquinas)

  • "Fear is the building of walls around the heart so love cannot enter." (Lakhota Elder),

  • "Very little can be accomplished under the specter of fear." (Florence Nightingale).

FALL OF THE GODDESS: Mothers quelled their daughters' passion in order to save their lives. 300 years later the winners have rewritten history. To change requires 'will' and 'cooperation'. However, anything is possible when you own and honour the possibility. In other words, if you do not estimate and own what you know, then time and space does not matter. Western minds militate against the possibility of getting well. However, one does not have to be cured to be healed.

 

 

FIVE NATIVE BELIEFS

EACH INDIVIDUAL IS A GOOD PERSON "How do you know you are a good person?" "What are the attributes of a good person?" (Universal respect (non-judgmental); Fairness to all; compassion/love; honesty; trustworthy; integrity; consciousness; accountability; sharing; courage; wisdom; honour, able to listen in an unbiased manner, supportive, generosity).

"Let neither cold, hunger, nor pain, nor the fear of them, neither the bristling teeth of danger nor the very jaws of death itself, prevent you from doing a good deed......"
(Dr Charles Alexander Eastman, in 1911, Born Ohiyesa (The Winner) of the Santee Sioux, in 1858, a great speaker and one of the first Native Americans to earn a PhD).


EACH PERSON IS GOOD ENOUGH Each persons value is for their existence and not for what they have, what they do and what they do not do. The circular-based nature of Native spirituality shows that all people were created equal; that each had a special and unique gift that was respected and celebrated. The tribe survived because all those gifts were brought to the daily dance of survival. 

"Learn how to withhold judgment Learn to listen Get in touch with your own inner self Look at life with joy. Don't ever cry over something that cannot cry over you."
(Elder
, Cheewa James, Modoc)


EACH PERSON IS LOVABLE AND LOVED You are unique. There is only one person in the world with your name and face; it makes  you unique in the universe. In the tribes everyone was loved, everyone was supported; the children were gently raised and loved madly. As a result, the support system was such that the need for validation, compliments, public recognition, accolades were not things that were seen as necessary to the enhancement of a persons life. 

"Whenever the white man treats the Indian as they treat each other we will have no more wars.  We shall all be alike -- brothers of one father and one mother, with one sky above us and one country around us, and on government for all."
(Chief Joseph, Niimi'puu)


EACH PERSON BELONGS - Native people have trouble with this because they are mired in a dominant non-Native society. The advantage of being tribal is that not only is there a tribe, but there is also a band, clan and house, depending on the tribe.  For example, I am not only Coast Tsimshian, my band is Gilutsaaw and my house is Niis-gumiik - it creates for me a sense of belonging. These 'belongings' are part of what forms the cultural grounding of Indigenous people. When these were taken away, Native people found themselves adrift in an uncertain sea of outside influences not of their own making. A sense of rootedness in a world gone awry is something that all people seek - a need to say, "this is my place, this is where I belong. This is where I feel safe."

"The Indian loved to come into sympathy and spiritual communion with his brothers of the animal kingdom, whose inarticulate souls had for him something of the sinless purity that we attribute to the innocent and irresponsible child. He had faith in their instincts, as in a mysterious wisdom given from above; and while he humbly accepted the supposedly voluntary sacrifice of their bodies to preserve his own, he paid homage to their spirits in prescribed prayers and offerings." (Eastman)


EACH PERSON IS CONNECTED TO THE UNIVERSE Most humans do not have a sense or feeling of being connected to the universe. But the Universe is Breath, we breathe, therefore we are connected. New air is in the lungs all the time; where was that breath two months ago? Was it in a penguin on the South Pole? A zebra in Africa? A panda in China or a polar bear at the North Pole? Was it in an elk or a hawk or a salmon or a porpoise? Where was it? We're all connected by breath, we're all one within each other, and that breath comes from that which is greater than us. Breath brings us home to our hearts. We connect and relate to each other through breath; we are relatives with the winged, the finned, the shelled, the crawlers, the four and two-leggeds. It is comforting to know that we are not alone.

"... I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself."
(Lone Man (Isna-la-wica) Teton Lakhota)

 

NATIVE  INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE'S SEVEN 'WHATSOEVERS'

Pray to the order of:  Say Your Name  Repeat this line before you say and answer each of the statements.

ANSWER

I pray for my soul and spirit to fill me completely through the love and in the Name and Wisdom of my Ancestors.

Therefore my Ancestors say to me whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. (Mark 11:24)

I pray for the Spirit World to come on earth as it is behind the white veil. Through the love and in the Name and Wisdom of my Ancestors.

And whatsoever you shall ask in your Ancestor's name will they do, that your Ancestors may be glorified in you.
(John 14:13)

I pray for my will to become completely and utterly the will of my Ancestors. Truly, truly I say to you, whatsoever you shall ask your Ancestors, will it be given to you. (John 16:23)
I pray for my actual needs to be met by the right supply, in the right way at the right time. Through the love and in the Name and Wisdom of my Ancestors. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of our Ancestors because we keep the Native commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in their sight.
(John 3:22)
I pray for the right persons to come into my life, at the right time in the right way. Through love and in the Name and Wisdom of my Ancestors. And if we know that we are heard, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we ask of our Ancestors. (John 5:15)
I pray for the right ideas to come to me in perfect order, in the right time, in the right way. Through the love and in the Name and Wisdom of my Ancestors. You have not chosen your Ancestors, but they have chosen you...that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever you shall ask of your Ancestors, will it be given to you. (John 15:16)
I pray for my soul's sincere desire to be fulfilled, in the right time and in the right way. Through the love and in the Name and Wisdom of my Ancestors.

But, I know, that even now, whatsoever you will ask of your Ancestors, will it be given to you. (John 11:22)

 

HUMILITY

Tsimshian: Mo'oxk      Lakota:  Osihapi

Ojibwa: Dbaadendiziwin

Humbleness and wisdom go hand in hand. Wisdom cannot be practiced through arrogance, dishonor or ego. Megalomaniacs have no place in leadership roles if their own self-aggrandizement is their ultimate goal and purpose in life. Native people have a profound respect for that which is greater than ourselves. We recognize that on the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental levels we are at the bottom of the food chain, behind the Four Elements, Plant and Animals worlds.

There is something extremely humbling in the realization that we are at the mercy of the rest of the living beings in our world (Four Elements, Animals, Plants). My Ancestors understood this equation which they demonstrated in their reverence for the land and respect for all those stronger than themselves. They also understood that friendships and marriages could be irrevocably ruined over angry words; that jealousy and resentments could split up couples, divide families, ruin communities; bring down nations; that prejudice could pit race against race and beliefs against beliefs; reputations and lives could be destroyed by malicious gossip; greed could put unnecessary barriers between the haves and have nots; wars could be fought over arrogant assertions that one groups way was the only way. All of this was avoided by the invocation of the Five Native Ethics.

The use of the Five Native Ethics make it easy to be humble because in pre-European times, each person was valued for what they brought to the dance of life. There was no need to be praised or puffed up when each person was secure in the knowledge of their own self-worth. The highest praise an Elder would give to another person was to tell them to keep doing what they were doing.


ELDER WISDOM

"We have lived upon this land from days beyond history's records, far past any living memory, deep into the time of legend. The story of my people and the story of this place are one single story. We are always joined together." (Anonymous Pueblo Elder)

We come from a shy race. Ours are the silent ways. We have always done all things in a gentle manner, so much as the brook that avoids the solid rock in its search for the sea and meets the deer in passing. You too must following the path of your own race. It is steady and deep and reliable and lasting. It is you. If You let it happen. (Chief Dan George, Salish)

 

DREAM TIME: REMEMBERING YOUR DAY & NIGHT DREAMS

  • Visualize an old stone well.

  • You rest beside Well, say the following: This is the well of (say your name) my unconscious.

  • Relax.

  • Imagine pen and paper and start writing: I, (Say Your Name) release whatever I need to release and accept whatever I need to accept to remember my dreams now.

  • In your mind, sign and date the note. Fold the note into small square. Drop it into the well of your unconscious

  • Watch the note as it floats down, getting smaller and smaller until it disappears.

  • Imagine you are in bed sleeping (if you are daydreaming).

  • It is a peaceful and restful night. Imagine yourself beginning to experience a dream. Make it a simple dream. Be acutely aware of the details.

  • Imagine waking up and being excited at remembering it. Imagine recording the dream.

  • Feel the sense of pride. Let the feeling flow through you, then allow yourself to drift off to a dream-filled sleep.

 

FOUR AGREEMENTS

Don Miguel Ruiz


BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD Speak with integrity . Say only what you mean. Avoid using words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

DONT TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you wont be the victim of needless suffering.

DONT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

 

TEACHINGS FROM THE DRUM

 

 

WORLD OF THE SUPERNATURAL  

 

 

 

SACRED SYMBOLS AND MEANINGS

 

 

 

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