November is Native American Heritage Month. One of the most precious gifts which Native Americans have given to us is their deep respect for God’s creation. They remind us that earth is a gift from God to be treasured and protected. As Chief Seattle said in his eloquent address to the United States Congress in 1854, “Every part of the soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished.” We listen to his words and we are grateful for the earth beneath our feet and for the remarkable variety of living things. We begin to realize that all is to be shared with others and that we are meant to accept our diversity and to recognize our human unity and live with reverence for one another
“Give us hearts to understand,
Never to take from creation’s beauty more than we give,
Never to destroy want only for the furtherance of greed,
Never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth’s beauty,
Never to take from her what we cannot use.”
Be aware of the disrespect and destruction we are giving to this earth. Support those who work to preserve and restore it. Use your civic power to demand elected officials to make decisions that protect the land and the waters.
Great Spirit, you have been always,
and before you nothing has been.
There is no one to pray to but you.
The star nations all over the heavens are yours,
And yours are the grasses of the earth.
Great Spirit fill us with light.
Teach us to walk the soft earth as relatives to all that live.
Help us, for without you we are nothing.
Earth teach me stillness as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering as old stories suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands alone
Earth teach me limitation as the ant which crawls on the ground.
John Yellow Lark
One does not sell the land people walk on.
What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground she returns to us….
Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun. Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear and sacred to us? I know you will cry with me, “Never! Never!”
From the 1927 Grand Council of American Indians
The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our ancestors.
When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots, we make little holes. When we build houses, we make little holes. When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don’t ruin things. We shake down acorns and pine nuts. We don’t chop down the trees. We only use dead wood. But the white people plow up the ground, pull down the trees, kill everything. … the White people pay no attention. …How can the spirit of the earth like the White man? … everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore.
We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.