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Native American wisdom

  

AS she was recently appointed America’s first ever Native American Poet Laureate, it was a real coup for medium Robert Brown to obtain an interview with Joy Harjo.

To honour both Joy and Native Americans generally, until we meet again next month, let’s end with some truly inspiring examples of their quite superb philosophy:

DREAM expert Charlie Morley is invited to address over 200 staff at the Ministry of Defence.

JOY HARJO: “The spirit of poetry
came to me.”
 

  

• It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Children must early learn the beauty of generosity.

They are taught to give away what they prize most that they may taste the happiness of giving.

The Indians in their simplicity literally gave away all that they had – to relatives, to guests of other tribes or clans, but above all to the poor and the aged from whom they can hope for no return.
– Ohiyesa


• Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilised men, we didn’t have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. We had no locks or keys. Therefore, among us there were no thieves.

When someone was so poor that he couldn’t afford a horse, a tent or a blanket, he would receive it all as a gift.

We were too uncivilised to give great importance to private property. We didn’t know any kind of money. Consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth.

We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers and no politicians. Therefore, we were not able to cheat and swindle one another.

We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived. I don’t know how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things that, so they tell us, are so necessary for a civilised society.
– Lame Deer


• May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.

May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows. May the rainbow always touch your shoulder.
– Cherokee prayer blessing

ENTITLED “Master of His Land,” this inspiring painting of a Native American is by James Ayers. (Photo: James Ayers).

ENTITLED “Master of His Land,” this inspiring painting of a
Native American is by James Ayers. (Photo: James Ayers).
CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

• Oh Great Spirit, Whose voice I hear in the winds and Whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me. I am small and weak. I need Your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands respect the things You have made and my ears sharp to hear Your voice.

Make me wise so that I may understand the things You have taught my people. Let me learn the lessons You have hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.

Make me always ready to come to You with clean hands and straight eyes, so when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to You without shame.
– Native American prayer


• Honour the sacred. Honour the Earth, our mother. Honour the elders. Honour all with whom we share the Earth – four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones, swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people. Walk in balance and beauty.
– Native American elder.

Earth teach me quiet, as the grasses are still with new light. Earth teach me suffering, as old stones suffer with memory.

Earth teach me humility, as blossoms are humble with beginning. Earth teach me caring, as mothers nurture their young.

Earth teach me courage, as the tree that stands alone. Earth teach me limitation, as the ant that crawls on the ground.

Earth teach me freedom, as the eagle that soars in the sky. Earth teach me acceptance, as the leaves that die each fall.

Earth teach me renewal, as the seed that rises in the spring. Earth teach me to forget myself, as melted snow forgets its life.

Earth teach me to remember kindness, as dry fields weep with rain.
– Ute prayer


• There is a road in the hearts of all of us, hidden and seldom travelled, which leads to an unknown secret place.

The old people came literally to love the soil, and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.

Their teepees were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.

That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces.

For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly.

He can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.
– Chief Luther Standing Bear.


• Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
– Native American saying

 

 
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