Tag Archives: native americans

The Iroquois Thanksgiving Address

The Iroquois Thanksgiving Address

"Ohenton Kariwahtekwen"

Greetings to the Natural World
(You can hear this in the Cayuga language around 6 am (EST) every morning on http://www.ckrz.com)

The People

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

     The Fish

We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

  The Medicine Herbs

Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one

The Trees

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

   The Four Winds

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers

Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon

We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

    The Stars

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

  The Creator

Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words……….

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.

Native Villages © Gina Boltz


star, feather icon:   http://nativeintelligence.com/web-art.asp

Thanksgiving: The National Day of Mourning

Thanksgiving: The National Day of Mourning
Text of 1970 Speech by Wampsutta, an Aquinnah
Wampanoag Elder

Frank James (1923 – February 20, 2001) was known to the Wampanoag people as  Wampsutta, In 1970, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts invited him to speak at Plymouth’s  annual Thanksgiving feast. When the text of Mr. James’ speech was revealed before  dinner, Massachusetts "disinvited" him. Wampsutta refused to revise his speech and left the event. He went to the hill near  the statue of the Massasoit, the Wampanoag leader during the Pilgrims’ arrival in 1620.  There, overlooking Plymouth Harbor and the replica of the Mayflower, Frank James recited the speech that Massachusetts Commonwealth had refused to hear:

     "I speak to you as a man — a Wampanoag Man. I am a proud man, proud of my  ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict parental direction ("You must succeed –  your face is a different color in this small Cape Cod community!"). I am a product of  poverty and discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my  brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have earned the  respect of our community. We are Indians first – but we are termed "good citizens."

Sometimes we are arrogant but only because society has pressured us to be so.    "It is  with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration  for you – celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time  of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back
upon what  happened to my People.     "Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for  explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220  shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days  before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans.
Mourt’s Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that  this party took as much of the Indians’ winter provisions as they were able to carry.     "Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People  welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this  because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by  Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white  man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50  years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.     What happened in  those short 50 years? What has happened in the last 300 years? History gives us facts  and there were atrocities; there were broken promises – and most of these centered  around land ownership. Among ourselves we understood that there were boundaries, but  never before had we had to deal with fences and stone walls. But the white man had a  need to prove his worth by the amount of land that he owned. Only ten years later, when  the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less kindness in converting the souls of the so-called "savages." Although the Puritans were harsh to members of their  own society, the Indian was pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any  other "witch."     "And so down through the years there is record after record of Indian  lands taken and, in token, reservations set up for him upon which to live. The Indian,  having been stripped of his power, could only stand by and watch while the white man  took his land and used it for his personal gain. This the Indian could not understand;  for to him, land was survival, to farm, to hunt, to be enjoyed. It was not to be abused.  We see incident after incident, where the white man sought to tame the "savage" and  convert him to the Christian ways of life. The early Pilgrim settlers led the Indian to believe that if he did not behave, they would dig up the ground and unleash the great  epidemic again.     "The white man used the Indian’s nautical skills and abilities. They  let him be only a seaman — but never a captain. Time and time again, in the white man’s  society, we Indians have been termed "low man on the totem pole."     "Has the Wampanoag really disappeared? There is still an aura of mystery. We know there was an epidemic that took many Indian lives – some Wampanoags moved west and joined the Cherokee and  Cheyenne. They were forced to move. Some even went north to Canada! Many Wampanoag put  aside their Indian heritage and accepted the white man’s way for their own survival.

There are some Wampanoag who do not wish it known they are Indian for social or economic  reasons.     "What happened to those Wampanoags who chose to remain and live among the  early settlers? What kind of existence did they live as "civilized" people? True, living  was not as complex as life today, but they dealt with the confusion and the change.  Honesty, trust, concern, pride, and politics wove themselves in and out of their [the Wampanoags’] daily living. Hence, he was termed crafty, cunning, rapacious, and dirty.   "History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized, disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood.     "The white man in the presence of the Indian is still mystified by his uncanny ability to make him feel uncomfortable. This may be the image the white man has created of the Indian; his "savageness" has boomeranged and isn’t a mystery; it is fear; fear of the Indian’s temperament!     "High on a hill, overlooking the famed Plymouth Rock, stands the statue of our great Sachem, Massasoit. Massasoit has stood there many years in silence. We the descendants of this great Sachem have been a silent people. The necessity of making a living in this materialistic society of the white man caused us to be silent. Today, I and many of my people are choosing to face the truth.

We ARE Indians!     "Although time has drained our culture, and our language is almost extinct, we the Wampanoags still walk the lands of Massachusetts. We may be fragmented, we may be confused. Many years have passed since we have been a people together. Our lands were invaded. We fought as hard to keep our land as you the whites did to take our land away from us. We were conquered, we became the American prisoners of war in many cases, and wards of the United States Government, until only recently.     "Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting We’re standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud, and before too many moons pass we’ll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us.     "We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a
more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.     "You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life for the Pilgrims. Now, 350 years later it is a beginning of a new determination for the original American: the American Indian.     "There are some factors concerning the Wampanoags and other Indians across this vast nation. We now have 350 years of experience living amongst the white man. We can now speak his language. We can now think as a white man thinks. We can now compete with him for the top jobs. We’re being heard; we are now being listened to. The important point is that along with these necessities of everyday living, we still have the spirit, we still have the unique culture, we still have the will and, most important of all, the determination to remain as Indians. We are determined, and our presence here this evening is living testimony that this is only the beginning of the American Indian, particularly the Wampanoag, to regain the position in this country that is rightfully ours."

Ruining America’s Past????

Okay, so today Tom and I took a beautiful walk in the Wasatch Mountains.  We walked through terrain with which we were familiar and came across a new sign by a rock overhang that forms a cave we often walk by:


It’s hard to read in this photo, but basically it tells passersby not to disturb or deface ancient/prehistoric artifacts,(there are petroglyphs in the cave – see ablove) which would ruin “America’s Past”.

So my big question, then, is What is the difference between that and this:


The First Thanksgiving


In memorium. Lest we forget. The First Thanksgiving

From the Community Endeavor News, November, 1995, as reprinted in Healing Global Wounds, Fall, 1996

The first official Thanksgiving wasn’t a festive gathering of Indians and Pilgrims, but rather a celebration of the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women and children, an anthropologist says. Due to age and illness his voice cracks as he talks about the holiday, but William B. Newell, 84, talks with force as he discusses Thanksgiving. Newell, a Penobscot, has degrees from two universities, and was the former chairman of the anthropology department at the University of Connecticut.

“Thanksgiving Day was first officially proclaimed by the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre of 700 men, women and children who were celebrating their annual green corn dance-Thanksgiving Day to them-in their own house,” Newell said.

“Gathered in this place of meeting they were attacked by mercenaries and Dutch and English. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building,” he said.

Newell based his research on studies of Holland Documents and the 13 volume Colonial Documentary History, both thick sets of letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the king in England, and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years in the mid-1600s.

“My research is authentic because it is documentary,” Newell said. “You can’t get anything more accurate than that because it is first hand. It is not hearsay.”

Newell said the next 100 Thanksgivings commemorated the killing of the Indians at what is now Groton, Ct. [home of a nuclear submarine base] rather than a celebration with them. He said the image of Indians and Pilgrims sitting around a large table to celebrate Thanksgiving Day was “fictitious” although Indians did share food with the first settlers.

‘Why I Hate Thanksgiving’
Continue reading

Utah Navajos Sue State of Utah

The state of Utah and Southern Utah Navajos entered into a contract in 1956 which would provide services to the nation and its people in exchange for the right by the state to drill for oil, inclusive of digging up burial grounds.

The lawsuit states that the drinking water from once used local springs is unsafe to drink and that royalty money from 1955 to 1990 was not used the way it was contracted to be to benefit the Navajo people, to provide infrastructure, education, electiricty and other services.

For the past 15 years, Utah’s Navajos have been asking the state to account for how the money was spent – or pay some $150 million back into the trust fund.
In January, a federal judge gave the case a nudge forward by ruling the state must account for how the funds were spent in those years.
Assistant attorney general Phil Lott plans to appeal the judge’s recent decision.
“Until we get to the point where we can determine the number of years the state may be responsible for and where the state may have responsibility to pay, it’s impossible to . . . write a check and settle the case,” he said. “It’s not to be difficult or drag the case out, it’s that the state is responsible to protect the taxpayers’ money.”

Representing the tribe and its interests is Utah civil rights attorney Brian Barnard. Barnard states that because the state is creating a case of strong resistance, this lawsuit could take 2-3 years, according to the Salt Lake Tribune article.

According to the Aneth Chapter of the Navajo Nation, Jamie Harvey, In Aneth, 15 percent of the population has water, while the waiting lists for electricity and water funded by the chapter are years long. Many don’t understand the mammoth hurdles to extending power and water, Harvey said. Archeological studies must be done. There are materials and construction costs. And then there are maintenance costs.
Each project must go through the Navajo Nation itself, which in the past has told Utah’s Navajos to look to their trust fund for money.

The land that was once thriving with plant life and freshwater springs now has exposed, rotted in places pipeline, is sparse with plants and in place of springs there are murky pools of water with an oil cap jutting from the ground.

State attorneys want to appeal a recent ruling in favor of Utah Navajos. On April 27, a Utah federal judge will consider how much detail the state must provide in an accounting of funds spent in the past.

Sources for more information and from differing perspectives:
Navajo Nation Council
Independent Web Edition
Shundahai Network
The Political Mark Markboy
High Country News
Associated Press Article in Indian Country Today
State of Utah
Sate of Utah Government site