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The Song of Wolf Brings the Magic of the Natural World &
Connects us to each other, our Ancestors and the Seven Directions.



"We once thought you came to live with us. You still could have that chance. We're still here, and we live on this land. We don't live in your libraries in the pages of your books. This project is not for digging up our pottery, or for digging up our bones, for that matter. It's not even for digging up data and statistics about us. We have a long surviving and sacred tradition and an experiential wisdom that's been passed on for more centuries than you can imagine. This is your chance to benefit from that. All you have to do is be quiet and listen and quit worrying about proving and believing."
(Mad Bear - Tuscarora Holy Man of the Tuscarora Nation of the Six-Nation Haudenosaunee Confederacy)




There has been lots of talk on Facebook about the origins of the Medicine Wheel. Wherein the Medicine Wheel is not the "tradition" of most of us, my people, the Tsimshian, included, I can't discount the fact that "real" loop tguye~lk (stone circles - my language Smalgyax) were discovered in the Great Plains regions, dating up to 3,000 years. Some sixty-five have been found, with more than half in Southern Alberta. This, to me, confirms that its origins rest with the Great Plains as they so claim; the areas where the circles were found, were common places to celebrate the Sun/Thirst dance.  They, in fact, look like ferris or bicycle wheels, so the English leap to call them wheels is not surprising.


As the circle evolved for different tribal groups, each stone was given a meaning, for example, hope, sharing, caring, respect, honour, patience, right action, inspiration, wisdom, courage, creativity, the bedrocks, in other words, of Native life. I certainly understand the argument about how "faulty traditions" have been adopted in recent times, for example: women not being allowed to play the big drums began in the early  1972. There is a lot of research that clearly shows the ban is wrong.  A lot of what we think as time-honoured are really distortions from the minds of those who would try to re-write history.

In the case of the loop tguye~lk, what many tribal communities have done is, rather than "reinvent the wheel", pun intended, they simply adopted the knowledge as a universal symbol of peaceful interaction among nations, and there is nothing unusual about that. However, the knowledge is expended, it crosses cultural understanding. My language has a word for "Medicine" but only as it is used in the context of physical healing (haldaaw, meaning to medicate, or ni~lgutxa'ootga, meaning poultice).


A Medicine Wheel represents the healing of the whole self, our word for spiritual healing, medicine woman/man, is "halaayt". Wherever the phrase "Medicine Wheel" came from, it is still a gentle term and one that is easily identified as a good thing, so I'm not going to try to fix what really "ain't broke." 

For the Great Plains, the Wheels were created to acknowledge and celebrate the power of the Sun, hence their central significance at the Sun/Thirst Dance.


 The Plains Medicine Wheel knowledge include the seven sacred ceremonies and the seven sacred teachings of White Buffalo Calf Woman. These, for example, were subsequently adopted by the Ojibwa, Chippewa, Potowatami (Anishinaabe) people and called the "Seven Grandfather teachings"); they changed the emphasis from female to a male perspective as part of their cultural world view. (Respect, Honour, Wisdom, Courage, Love, Humility, Honesty).



"Long ago, I heard my children cry. Four days later, I took on the shape of a White Buffalo Calf. Four days after that, I went to them. And over the next four days, I taught them Sacred Songs and Dances and I taught them the Seven Sacred Ceremonies. I taught them the Sun Dance. I taught them to Fast. I taught them the sacred and traditional ceremonies necessary for youth Coming of Age. I gifted them with the Peace Pipe and taught them how to use it. I taught them the ways of the Medicine Wheel. I taught them to seek their paths to The Good Red Road by reaching out to me through the Vision Quest. And I taught them how to build and use the Sweat Lodge." (The Seven Sacred Teachings of White Buffalo Calf Woman, by David Bouchard and Dr. Joseph Martin, 2009).


"From tribe to tribe, the details may differ but the basic teachings are the same. They have been followed and shared for many, many years. So we honour the ancestors, the ones that have walked before us, because they’re the ones that sat in circles many times before, and prayed that their children and their grandchildren would follow in their path. When we honour the ancestors, we honour ourselves." (Elder, Lillian Pitawanakwat, Ojibwa. Passed to her day of quiet, January 8, 2011)

So, to the Plains, I say in your language, "pi la may ya ye" (thank you) for your wisdom. As a Tsimshian Elder, I use the knowledge with honour and respect, according to my world view which really isn't all that different from yours.


For more on Tribal Beliefs, Ceremony, Supernatural




Scattered across the plains are a number of stone medicine wheels. Some are extremely large, greater than 12 meters across.  The term "Medicine Wheel" was first applied to the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, the most southern and the largest in existence. Big Horn is the largest and measures eighty meters across; on the June Solstice, a ray from the Sun cuts directly across it. Big Horn consists of a central circle of piled rock surrounded by a circle of stone; "Rays" of stones travel out from the central core of rock and its surrounding circle. The whole structure looks rather like the wheel of a bicycle.  


Despite their physical existence, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding them, because without written records, so little is understood as to their true meaning.  Many theories abound, including: (a) the wheels contain significant stellar and cosmological alignments, specifically designed in other words to point towards the rising sun or to certain star nation constellation(s); (b) the performance of specific rituals and ceremonies that have been lost to the mists of time.


There have been many books written about the Medicine Wheel with some of the knowledge placed in difference directions. For example, red people in the west and black people in the east; Anishinaabe version places the Red People in the South and the Black People in the West. They sometimes replace the yellow and white with green and blue. Others suggest the wheel is walked in a counter-clockwise direction. I dispute this because it is based on the rising sun and its travels are the sky which is clockwise.


As so little is really known, there is really no wrong way to build a wheel, A circular walk after all has no beginning and no end no matter which direction you start.  It is more of a question of what resonates within the world view of each tribal culture as they seek their own understandings through the expression of building a medicine wheel. 


I can only speak from my own knowledge, research and what has been taught to me. "Some things on the wheel", as one of my teachers once said to me "are simply based on geographical logic." For example, where the main colours of human moreorless currently originated' "Logic." he said, White in the North, Yellow in the East,  Black in the South, Red in the West. 





by Shannon Thunderbird, M.A.
Coast Tsimshian First Nations
Publisher: Teya Peya Books, 2010
(copyrighted). Currently Under Revision.




“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.” (Taos Pueblo Elder)

"Medicine wheel knowledge finds its bases in the seven directions (East, South West, North, life above the earth, life on the earth, life within each of us). Indigenous wisdom is being called back to the drum, as the knowledge[1] must be shared. It influenced tribal life for thousands of years and is needed now as our world is one of fractured families, countries at war, and the innocent caught up in the maelstrom of often brutal "power over" mentalities. Yet, it does not have to be this way; we can choose to live another way, although it requires a strong, collective voice. The Tsimshian call it Ama't'ilgoolsk, Ama'diduuls, or "Good thoughts, Good life". The Lakhota call it, Hanta Ho, or “Clearing the Way”, Ojibwa call it Mene Doh, or a "State of Revitalization", the Mi'gmaq call it Gsite'taqan or "Something to be Cherished or Valued", which extends to re-infusing the earth and its citizens with healthy attitudes and right actions.

Prior to European contact, Canada's Original People lived lives of dignity and integrity, we did not engage in sordid behaviour, subjugate women, or engage in ethnic cleansing. Instead, our lives had deep meaning that held at the centre an abiding respect for the medicine wheel[2] which gave us our physical (east) spiritual (south), emotional (west), mental (north) sustenance (from now on, known as the "four realms" of human existence). We came into our leadership by staying in our personal and collective power, by showing up and choosing to be accountable; by extending honour and respect to all living beings. We lived by the dictate: "Begin, in a good way, as you mean to carry on." This did not mean that we avoided arguments, or other tribes for that matter, that occasionally resulted in a battle royal; after all, many tribes were fierce warriors. However, it was the exception, not the rule. Arguments were usually about territorial rights. Differences were also decided warrior to warrior[3], leaving Elders, women and children out of the mix. If people were taken from a tribe for any reason, they were usually adopted into their new tribe at the same level of importance. This was, for example, common among the northern tribes of British Columbia. It was only after the arrival of the Europeans, that the concept of war changed; power-over mentalities resulting in massacres of women and children; winning at all costs became the rallying cry.[4]

After European contact, most of us continue to be guided by our Ancestors, and all that which was greater than us; to honour our heritage, walk proudly with flexibility and fluidity in our dealings with each other. We demonstrated by our behaviour, in a circular-based spirituality the power of right action, and its components that included: clarity, objectivity and discernment. We paid attention to what had heart and meaning because above all else we knew that it was the heart that held our memories. When we extended arms of love inward to ourselves and outward to others, we held a balanced view of the power of health, wellness and positive interconnectivity. We dared to dream but remained humbled in the process. We gave voice to the majesty of ceremony and prayer through songs, dances and stories. You see, we knew we were more than the sum of our physical parts, or our tribal names; indeed, we were water, land, trees, animals, swimmers, flyers, crawlers and the supernatural. And, so we accepted without limits or conditions our role as Mother Earth's caretakers and found joy and challenge in the journey. We did not need accolades to know that each of us was valued and an integral part of the whole. Every day we arose and offered our gratitude for a new day, for another step around Mother Earth. In the words of the great Shawnee warrior leader, Tecumseh, "if you have nothing to be thankful for then the fault rests with you." And, so we offered tobacco, songs and prayers and gave thanks for our lives. As the Great Spirit Prayer says, and I paraphrase, it is the responsibility of each of us to go to the spirit world with clean hands and straight eyes so that when life fades as the fading sunset we can move beyond the white veil without shame.

[1] "Called to the Drum" is a common metaphor used among Native nations to explain the need for us to once more take our rightful places within the North American cultural, political, social and economic mosaic by sharing our time-honoured knowledge. All drums represent the heartbeat of Mother Earth, and are, therefore, female.

[2] Medicine Wheel, although a real entity, is also describes the Earth.  Other terms: Mother Earth, Sacred Hoop, Copper Shield, Circle of Life.

[3] Lacrosse, for example, originally created by the Haudenosaunne, was a game that decided territorial disputes, among other things.  It did not become a sport until much later.

[4]  Ironically, despite their willingness to serve in the military, and their invitation to do so by both the Canadian and American governments. native warriors were not recognized as citizens, so they did not receive military pensions. On June 21, 2002, the Honourable Minister of Veterans affairs for Canada offered the sum of $39 million dollars as compensation for approximately 1,800 Treaty Natives who had returned to reservation lands following their war service. The government stated specifically that the offer should not be considered as an indication of liability on the part of the Canadian people (War Amps web page). In Canada, Native people did not receive the federal vote until 1960.


 NOTE: My book contains a chart to build a forty-stone Medicine Wheel, along with both a Character and Environmental teaching. Forty Stones = Eighty Teachings! The book is a valuable tool for Educators in helping to incorporate the teachings into their mindful character education curricula. It is also for all of you interested in wanting to know more about the rich knowledge of First Nations people.




"While American Indians have a grand past, the impact of their culture on the world has been slight. The time for the way Indians live is gone and it's doubly sad because they refuse to accept it. They hang onto remnants of their religion and superstition that may have been useful to savages 500 years ago but which are meaningless in 1992.

Sixty Minutes TV Show pundit, the late Andy Rooney in one of his tiresome, irrelevant televised diatribes. 1992).


Despite irresponsible views by public figures such as the late Mr. Rooney, my Ancestors possessed an enlightened consciousness that rested in the spiritual power contained in the highest and best of each of them.


"Spiritualism is the highest form of  political and social consciousness. Native people are among the last surviving teachers of this kind of enlightened experience." (Haudenosaunne address to the western world, Geneva, 1977).


 It is important to use spiritualism and the medicine wheel wisely and well in the 21st century - which is a time of bridging ancient wisdom into the creative tapestry of contemporary times. In other words, spirituality is not a religion. As a matter of fact, there is no word for the word 'religion' in First Nations tongues because it creates an unnecessary separation between humans and Mother Earth, whose spiritual essence resonates through her natural warmth, sound and visual sensations that heals souls and raises spirits. Our relationship with her provides for us a holistic road to peace and this goes well beyond any human-designed religion that often seeks to control and manipulate.


On the Pacific Northwest Coast where I am from, it started with Adaax (Stories or True Telling), when during Yaawk (Feast Season) elaborate oral narratives and dance dramas depicting our cultural history and knowledge were told. In a pan-Native sense, our Ancestors closely studied the natural world, becoming familiar with animal behaviour, plant medicine, darkness and light, the changing tides, and all other forms of nature. We treated each living being as a sacred and equal member of the living world; hence all living beings were referred to as People, given human attributes, souls and spiritual responsibilities. It was inconceivable for the tribes to view themselves as separate or above the natural and supernatural worlds; it was this vast and profound knowledge that sustained us, and we flourished for thousands and thousands of  years.



Most cultures throughout history have used symbols as stepping stones to "the memories of the soul". They were thought to be the key to unlocking the doors of higher understanding or oneness with the universe. The Elders emphasized the importance of looking at symbols and their coinciding meanings in order to link the past to the present and on into the future. All across Turtle Island, the truth of our existence was and is expressed in the knowledge that accompanies our sacred artifacts such as feathers, drums, shakers, pipes, sweatlodges, totems, dances, songs, ceremonies which are all encompassed by the profound-ness of Medicine Wheel knowledge.



 For more Symbols and their Meanings






The knowledge mirrors life; it sometimes requires courage to look and really see what is being reflected back because some experiences are painful, while others joyful and reflective. However, it is ultimately facing it all that creates a whole person.


My Ancestors were encouraged to think and walk in a positive ways.  "As you think so it is." In other words, what we believe about ourselves is reflected in our earth walks. Greet every day with sacred honour songs and respectful prayers because life is a fleeting thing. The knowledge forms the basis of what it is to be human. After all, we are the weakest in all creation and therefore, as the world’s ‘takers’, we must be cognizant of what we take, how much we take and why we take it, then being grateful for the bounty through song, sacrifice, and ceremony.  An Elder once told me that the grains of sand on a beach will never equal the number of teachings contained within the mysteries of the Medicine Wheel. 


The Medicine Wheel increases self-esteem and just simply makes you feel good about yourself; it grounds you in the truth of who you are as someone who matters.


ELDER TEACHING: "All birds, even those of the same species are not alike, and it is the same with animals and with human beings. The reason Wakan Tanka [Creator] does not make two birds, or animals, or human beings exactly alike is because each is placed here to be an independent individual and to rely upon itself." (Heháka Sápa, Black Elk)




ELDER TEACHING: "I have spent many hours listening to the waves crashing into the shore, hearing the overt and subtle musical sounds of the water. I listen closely to the trickles of streams, the roll of rivers and the rush of oceans. It is one of my favorite ways to spend time with myself.

If I move out of myself and listen closely, I can hear the
hum (rest) between the waves? OR in the blended connections between voice, rhythm, and changing patterns? OR in terms of individual notes, that is the millions of molecules that create the wave, each one separate and not related? OR only on the 'mass' side with one crashing cacophony of sound with no discernible texture?" (Waasmyeen Ganlaak Ts'its'amti Hana'a - Shannon Thunderbird)

ANCESTORS: They are your connections to that which is greater than you. By rising above the mundane world and embracing the idea that you are simply the next in a long line of Ancestors, helps to root you in your personal history. It doesn’t mean you "have to go home again", but knowing where you come from is critical in the journey of knowing where you are going. Does your ego get in the way of a connecting to an energy greater than yourself?



One of my greatest joys is to create a Human Medicine Wheel, using the participants as the 'Stones'. Participants receive so much more out of the knowledge in terms of understanding their own lives in relation to the bigger picture. By the end of the exercise the circle looks unify-ingly wonderful.

Workshops, for men. women, professional organizations



Tecumseh (Shawnee) Vision Statement

LivLive your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect all people and bow to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
Trouble no one about their religion, respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life.
Abuse no one and no living thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes to your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that 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.




The Medicine Wheel assists in helping to seek: healthy bodies (East); strong inner spirits (South), inner peace (West),  open minds (North). The term "Medicine" as it is used by First Nations people does not refer to drugs or herbal remedies. It is used within the context of inner spiritual energy and healing or an enlightened experience.


The central essence of the medicine wheel is that each of you must make your own choices. More often than not, however, these choices are often times influenced by other individuals (families, co-workers, friends, social and political environments). Not of all your experiences are good ones, there is a lot of hate, terror, jealousy, fractured families and societies in a very unsettled world which has resulted in an increase in various kinds of cancers. Sometimes you are not successful in working around the pain and you become caught up in a jungle of tangled emotions, followed by "not right action". It is difficult to walk the earth with care always looking to your future in healing, positive and understanding ways, when it is so easy to just give up. But, then, this is the challenge isn’t it? To learn from those experiences that have not elevated your life, (even though it can be a scary process!) keep moving forward in a manner that pleases your Ancestors.  Remember: time is relative to the process of building your life and is no one else's business unless you choose to share.


To emphasize, there is no right or wrong way to walk the wheel or live your life, how we do it is our choice, and how we do it should not be judged by anyone else. This is where Rupert Ross' Five Native Ethics come in, which is a whole other teaching. Suffice it to say that the Ethic of Non-Interference, advises that it is not our place to judge how we choose to live. It  our place to be there in friendship, love, balance, support and harmony when needed, and even then our personal opinions must remain our own. After all, it was never the intent that the world would be borne out of mistakes.  Each person is created as a "perfect soul" which reflects the central essences of the medicine wheel. I know, it is hard to accept perfect-ness when you are feeling decidedly imperfect on any given day. However, you are where are supposed to be at this point in time, and you are still perfect!

  Life is an ongoing journey of personal redemption and evolution.
If you wish to become a self fulfilling prophecy, it is best to think and walk in a positive way, for if you are angry, remorseful, and bitter, then your earth walk will reflect that anger. In ancestral times, Indigenous People greeted every sacred day with honour songs and prayers because physical life was a fleeting thing. There were songs to greet the morning Sun, songs to put Grandfather Sun to bed, Songs for Guardian Spirits, Prayers for Mother Earth.


Everyday day should be a good day with good thoughts, good feelings and prayer because being called to your day of quiet could be at any time. As one of my teachers once said, "If someone says to me, 'I'm not spiritual', I'll say, you breathe, don’t you’? If you breathe you are spiritual for Spirituality is breath and breath is faith in self." As the beginning of the Great Spirit Prayer says, "Oh Great Spirit whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me I need your strength and wisdom."

  The Elders say that you are never the same person coming out of a circle as when you went in because so many new connections have been made. All things that live within the Sacred Hoop are equal and protected. It is a place where you come together in safety, trust and sanctity to share stories and feelings and help each other heal through both communal and individual laughter and tears. Eventually you will return to your starting place older and hopefully a little wiser to begin the process of walking the Wheel again, this time with new understanding, insight and inner strength.




Image result for images of the great circle of lifeThe Circle lies at the centre of First Nations knowledge; it is simple logic, actually, as everything in the Universe is round. Father Sky is a great blue bowl, the Planets and Stars are round. Mother Earth and all that live upon her are round, i.e. the plant world with its four circular parts, roots, stems, leaves and fruit. Air swirls and water bubbles in circles. The human body is circular. In other words, the circle is integral to an understanding of the sacred and equal connections of all living beings. There is no beginning and no end in the cycle of life; it is an endless, respectful continuity from the past, to the present, to the future and to the plenitude of life. Mother Earth is often referred to as a Medicine Wheel, Copper Shield or Sacred Hoop because of  her circular nature.


Always remember that very sacred teaching as regards etiquette when in circle - "What goes on in a circle, stays in a circle!"  The safety and confidence with which people speak their truth is sacred and must never be spoken of outside the circle. Only those who were in the circle have the privilege of hearing that truth. It is not a debating society, therefore speak your truth from the first person and do not argue with another person's opinions or beliefs.


The circle is as sacred to Native people as the confessional is to Catholics. In other words, "ain't nobody's business but the members of the circle and the Ancestors!"









EAST (Element: Air)  Male Elder Speaks: "Ah-ho, this is where all Physical life begins, where Grandfather Sun begins his leisurely walk across the breast of Mother Earth's mate, Father Sky amidst the clouds borne by Air. Eagle flies in the East to assist my Ancestors in bringing messages to me.  East is MALE, and Men sit in this direction where stamina, logic, strength, physical protection thrive; where Warriors for peaceful purposes emerge in the fullness of their leadership skills.  It is the place where thoughtful decisions and selfless acts are made for the greater good of all. It is a time of action and positive accomplishment. I awaken to Spring which starts a new cycle of life and a new beginning.  I scatter Tobacco upon the sacred earth, give thanks for my health, for family, friends, and peaceful relations. It is also the direction of the Beautiful Yellow People (Asian) for they originated in the eastern direction. The origination of humans is logical geography."


SOUTH (Element: Earth) Female Elder Speaks: "Ay-ee this is where all life is reborn and infused with new and positive energy for health, wellness and living in a good way. A sacred tree was planted - which represented the 'Givers': Four Elements, Animals, Plants, Trees and their sharing/caring ways. They give themselves to me  as food, medicine, shelter and clothing. I let my spirit soar on the breath of warm winds and azure waters. The South is FEMALE. YOUTH sit here for they represent new life and the wonder of learning new things as they look toward their endless horizons. I glory in the Summer for it takes me into the magic of watching the green world come back to life. This is the place of the Healer  and the Spiritual realm within me. I give thanks everyday for the confidence I feel within myself. I light Sage and breathe in the scent and remember always that I am Well, I will be Better, I am here. It is also the direction of the Beautiful Beautiful Black People for they originated in the Southern direction. The origination of humans is logical geography."



WEST (Element: Fire)  Female Elder Speaks: "Ay-yee I speak for the Fire and the Sacred rocks (Grandfathers). I stand here for all humanity. I carry  the history, songs and knowledge of the great circle of life; In my sweatlodge I  pour life-giving, life-sustaining water onto the grandfathers; spiritual, emotional, mental and physical life regenerate through prayers that follow me through the mists of endless time. The West is FEMALE, the Emotional Realm. Women sit in the West., By balancing my emotions, I am able to stand solidly in the truth of who I am without embellishment. Keeping my emotions level helps me to stay calm, remain in the moment where I can be non-judgmental towards myself and others. The West is also the direction of creativity, the joy of spontaneity and artistic expression. I am open to hearing the knowledge from my Ancestors in both waking and sleeping dreamtime. West is the direction of the Visionary, I acknowledge the power of my visions/dreams, prayers and I am humble in the knowledge and application of themI revel in the Autumn months for the falling leaves take me to a place of quiet reflection.  I light Sweetgrass and breathe in its gentle, sweet scent and feel a sense of well-being. The West is also the direction of the Beautiful Red People (First Nations People) for they originated in the Western direction. The origination of humans is logical geography."


NORTH (Element: Water)  Male Elder Speaks:  "Ah-ho, through the Wisdom of the Element of Water, I hear my Ancestors. The North is the direction of the wisdom and strength of the "Mindful Mind"This is the direction of the Teacher in all of us. I am wise in dispensing what I know to be true.  Elders sit in the North for they represent the full circle of life and all the wisdom and experiences they acquired during their long journey. I listen to them, for their knowledge lives on and sings with their Ancestors, their stories echo on the waves of the water and out of their dreamtimes. Listen to the songs of white bears and know that the wisdom of the ages courses through them, they need the north and the cold just as I need it so I can rest and revitalize.  The season of Winter  is upon me, finishes the thirteen full-moon cycle, and is a time for the Earth Mother to rest. I reflect on all that I have learned and experienced during this time. I light Cedar, or drink Cedar Tea or have a Cedar Bath and float in the strong  healing water of my own reflections. It is also the direction of the Beautiful White People for they originated in the northern Direction. The origination of humans is logical geography."



Father Sky is the protector of the Universe and Mother Earth's mate.  The healing warmth of Grandfather Sun, the regulation of the tides and women's cycles with Grandmother Moon, Star Nation, the keepers of the wisdom of the ages. It is to him we thank when the healing rains come to heal the breast of Mother Earth. We thank him for the snows that blanket his wife so she can heal and regenerate.


Provides balance, cohesion, connections and rootedness with Mother Earth. I stand proud and secure in who I am. I give thanks to the four great winds that first found their origins in the lower world. I give thanks to the crawlers who keep the earth clean and regenerate the soil.



I honour myself and all life, for it is the mainstay of my personal journey. It is my essential INNER self which is ever-changing and transforming, that moves me beyond time and beyond seasons. I am not afraid as I welcome the changes and challenges that help forge who I am as a strong, sensible, loving, intelligent human being.



Following the directions in a sacred way commits me to not only talking the talk, but more importantly, walking the walk. I travel along my healing path embracing the unlimited knowledge and resources available to me. Connections to culture, personal and collective vitality, personal identity, spiritual strength, all of which become my everyday thankful acknowledgements.


This is what Indigenous Renewal Ceremonies and Knowledge are all about. This iss why legitimate Traditional Teachers and Elders are needed and who have respectful, sacred connections to each other and to all things in the natural world.


"Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations. We have spoken. Nii'sabbat, It is finished."





WARRIOR (EAST) - STAMINA, LEADERSHIP  You come into your leadership skills by staying in your power, by extending honour and respect. You do this by showing up and being responsible and accountable. In other words, do not hide or hold back, but, respect limits and boundaries. Do not, in other words, interfere and/or insinuate yourself into someone else's world without being invited.  Always demonstrate the right use of power. Listen to the messages from Father Sky and the four great winds. Empower yourself by using a shaker, dancing, meditating while standing, connecting to nature and finding your power animals. Watch out for the shadow aspects of leadership: Thoughtless rebellion, 'power-over' mentality, riding the coattails of other people. Remember, stand in the sweet territory of being present, using "right action", wise communication, and responsible position.

HEALER (SOUTH), REBIRTH Pay attention to the heart and its meaning. Attend to the condition and well-being of the four-chambered heart (full, open, clear, strong); when you extend acknowledgement and the arms of love to yourself and others, when you hold a balanced view of health you can experience all kinds of love;  Love between mates, between parent and child, between friends and colleagues, between professional alliances, love of self, Unconditional or spiritual love. Embrace the sweet territory of Storytelling, Singing, Dancing, Silence. Cradle yourself in your own self-love and acknowledge your strengths, and the qualities you like about yourself. Acknowledge the contributions you are making and that you have made. Acknowledge the love you have given and received and the love you are currently giving and receiving.  When you recognize yourself as a  person of worth, you can do the same for others. Avoid the following addictions:  living too intensely (lighten up, in other words), seeking perfection (this activity impedes the soul's progress), concentrate on what is working instead of what is not working, you  simply don't have to know everything, remember there is a fine line between self-love, self-absorption and self-indulgence!


VISIONARY (WEST) - INTEGRITY Tell the truth without blame or judgment.  Honour the power of prayer and live humbly. When you give voice to what you see internally and externally and when you bring forward your creative spirit and life dream you bring with you intuition, perception, insight and vision. Stand in the sweet territory of dynamism, magnetism, integration and strength/vigor. Meditate either standing, lying down, sitting up or walking.  Align your right words with right action, Honour yourself in equal proportion to others. Avoid the following addictions: Free yourself from patterns of denial and self indulgence. Never say, "I'm just a housewife, I'm just a postal clerk, I'm just a veterinarian. The word "Just" does not exist within the context of the Visionary. Avoid, in other words, self-abandonment, always seeking approval or love, trying to keep the peace, looking for harmony at any cost.

TEACHER (NORTH) -WISDOM When you express the Teacher, you develop your capacities for detachment in a good way. Honour your heritage, become flexible and fluid, like the ocean. Demonstrate wisdom and its four major components of clarity, rightness, objectivity and discernment. Find your inspiration from your Ancestors, immediate family, friends, inspirational and historical and contemporary public figures. Sit in the sweet and peaceful territory of silence. Immutable laws include:  Whomever is present should be there; When it begins, it is the right time; Whatever happens, it is the only thing that could have happened; When it is over, it is over. Avoid the following fears: Loss of structure, loss of turf, feeling out of control, feeling abandoned, looking always at a bleak future. Turn to your Healer Self to correct these things.







EAST  Today I acknowledge that my body contains a fantastic genetic code unique only to me. It is a vehicle of expression designed to transport and enable me to function within the physical realm. I do not devalue myself, therefore I will not devalue my body; it is the temple that houses the Mental, Spiritual and Emotional realms of my existence. I understand and accept that learning and changing takes time and that personal leadership and wisdom are ongoing quests. I may not be able to expect an overnight miracle but I can expect a miracle over time.


SOUTH Today I acknowledge that I am connected to a spiritual power greater than myself sometimes known as the Breath of the Invisible. It loves me and created me in perfect balance with Noo Halidzoks (Mother Earth). I place no boundaries on the love I give myself and others.  I am not defined by the opinions of the wider world because my self-worth comes from my soul. Besides, "if I care what people say about me, I won't be who I am." (Russell Means, AIM)


WEST Today I will acknowledge that changes in my life must begin with me. I will speak from the depths of my wise self because to lock up my heart locks up my emotions. I will listen to my dreams and visions and, if necessary, create a new reality for myself. I will stop denying that problems exist. Instead I will honour them for they have helped make me who I am at this moment in time. In other words, to deny my difficulties is to deny who I am. What I will do is dream new dreams, lift up my spirit and ultimately my life.


NORTH Today I acknowledge that to change my life requires the twin elements of honesty and wisdom. Honesty to understand  when a change(s) is necessary and good, Wisdom to change my patterns of behaviour even if they fly in the face of what others think and believe about me. I  have a sacred right to live my life as I choose, and I reject any roles imposed or assigned to me in dysfunctional situations. I will not waste the gifts freely given by my Ancestors.







We are part of a broken world. How evident has this been particularly in these past few years with super hurricanes, great floods, tornados and tsunami's sending warnings in dramatic ways. We are unwilling participants standing on the sidelines of a human world at war with the environment. What are we doing about it? It is our responsibility to care for the world which includes accountable environmental stewards. For thousands of years the world's Indigenous people did just that, until we were overwhelmed by other energies that sought to control the earth instead of working with it.


IMPORTANT NOTE: When building an environmental medicine wheel, each stone represents an aspect of nature and is placed in a specific direction. The placement is not how the builder 'feels' but what is right and logical, following the time-honoured Indigenous wisdom of the ages. (See my book for details)





Young people cannot learn if they are tired, hungry, frightened, feel unloved, and/or have been abused both in their personal lives and in school yards.




1.  Living in fear while at school or at home.

2.  On the receiving end of jealousy, cyber-bullying, gossip and resentment of any kind.

3.  Physically touched in a way that you do not want, including unwanted sexual advances.

4.   Isolated, hit, pushed,  bitten or any other form of physical violence.

5.  Victimized by racial slurs or because you are mentally or physically challenged, or made a different gender choice. Cultural and Human Diversity are strengths not weaknesses.

6.  To engage in any hazing activities that morally blackmails or humiliates you as a way of being accepted as part of the so-called "IN" crowd.



1.  Engage in any intimidating behaviour, i.e., verbal/physical threats, constant criticism that makes someone feel victimized, controlled, diminished or fearful.

2.  Make someone feel that everything they do or say is wrong.

3. Humiliate by text message, email, Facebook, Twitter  or any other electronic means (cyber bullying, in other words).

4.  Force someone to drink, take drugs or engage in any unlawful activity that seeks to bring her/him down.

5.   Lie cheat, steal and then blame your actions on another innocent person.


Spending peaceful time together creating a Character Building Medicine Wheel empowers our youth to develop creative, fulfilling and spiritually grounded relationships. The medicine Wheel provides a framework in terms of achieving an integrated, non-linear, non-judgemental approach to spiritual, mental, physical, emotional health and wellness. Change is always possible. To be a Warrior of Peace requires, courage, personal leadership, determination and effort.




"Thanks for the day! Building the Medicine Wheel using us as the 'stones' really opened my eyes to what it is to be a good person. I will take what I've learned into my job as a police officer. You are also pretty cool, and funny." (P.A. Student, Police Foundations course, University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

"What a fabulous day. I can't think of a better way to bring us all together than building a human medicine wheel. I laughed, cried, you were wonderful, your energy and compassion is simply inspiring." (M.E., Canada Employment & Immigration Union Conference, Niagara Falls, On.]

"Shannon, I hardly have the words to thank you and Sandy adequately. People have been buzzing since the workshop....I've received lots of positive emails about the event, and verbal 'enthusiasms' too. I knew we were going to have a wonderful day together, but who could predict that it would turn out as the single best example of teaching inclusive character-building that I have ever seen. Your personal power is awesome, and your ability to read the people in front of you is truly a gift." (M. Lee, Institute of Education and Learning.)



We are always going to need someone to stand by us. 
Listen and be inspired.