One of the primary reasons I felt led to be part of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March was to learn more about Native Americans, and especially their spiritual beliefs and practices. It is not my place to try to explain those beliefs, which vary from tribal nation to tribal nation. The only times I heard my Native friends speak about spirituality were during the prayers that were spoken each time we crossed over the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the black snake. I was surprised at the intense feelings of sorrow for what had been done to the land and people’s lives that arose in all of us at those places. The prayers spoke of concerns for Mother earth, and the well being of all of us and those who were supporting us.
I’ve been thinking more about this as I read “A Cherokee Feast of Days (Volume 2)” by Joyce Sequichie Hifler. From the cover of the book: “A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II attune the reader to nature and to the wisdom of native people. Along with the daily readings are quotes from Native Americans of all tribes, and quotes about Native Americans, which reveal an earth-wise philosophy.” The following in the Foreword of the book:
Alexander Pope wrote, “Lo, the poor Indian! Whose untutored mind sees God in the clouds and hears Him in the wind.”
I am an Indian. I am a Cherokee. And I see God in the clouds and I hear Him in the wind. When I was a child I thought I could hear time, and I knew what the dove and whippoorwill said when they called from the meadows and the woodland.
It is the nature of the Indian to hear with the spirit because his life is based on spiritual foundations, immovable foundations that motivate him to worship. Music is a part of this, music from rustling leaves and singing streams, but from gifted people as well. Tears came when I first heard classical music in my youth, for I was being introduced to the angels. It still happens whenever I hear strains of violin music.
Come to the table, come and feast with the Spirit, not because the Indian is good, but because the Lord is merciful.
Gv ge yu i — Love“A Cherokee Feast of Days (Volume 2)” by Joyce Sequichie Hifler
Following is part of a message from my friend, and Indianapolis #noDAPL organizer, Joshua Taflinger.
What has risen to the surface at Standing Rock is a physical/spiritual movement. Learn how to quiet your mind. To find the silent receptive space to receive guidance. To learn to adapt and follow the pull of synchronicity to guide you to where you will find your greatest support and strength.
What I have found in my time praying in the indigenous earth based ways, is that it’s not about putting your hands together and talking to god…. It’s about quieting and connecting with the baseline of creation, of nature. Tuning into the frequency and vibration of the natural world, the nature spirits. The beings and entities that have been in existence, for all of existence, the examples and realities of sustainability and harmony.
It’s about becoming receptive to these things. Being open and flowing with them. The spirit guides us, but we have to make ourselves receptive to feel, sense, and respond to this guidance.
Another place I have found discussion of Native spirituality is from the book,
The Sacred Tree: Reflections on Native American Spirituality.
“The Sacred Tree was created by the Four Worlds Development Project, a native American inter-tribal group, as a handbook of Native Spirituality for indigenous peoples all over the Americas and the world. Through the guidance of the tribal elders, native values and traditions are being taught as the primary key to unlocking the force that will move native peoples on the path of their own development. The elders have prophesied that by returning to traditional values, native societies can be transformed. This transformation would then have a healing effect on our entire planet. This handbook is being used by the Four Worlds Development Project to eliminate widespread drug and alcohol abuse in tribal communities. It is now being shared for the first time with all members of the human family desiring personal growth.”
From the first chapter, The Story of the Sacred Tree:The Sacred Tree: Reflections on Native American Spirituality.
“The ancient ones taught us that the life of the Tree is the life of the people. If the people wander far away from the protective shadow of the Tree, if they forget to seek the nourishment of its fruit, or if they should turn against the Tree and attempt to destroy it, great sorrow will fall upon the people. Many will become sick at heart. The people will lose their power. They will cease to dream dreams and see visions. They will begin to quarrel among themselves over worthless trifles. They will become unable to tell the truth and to deal with each other honestly. They will forget how to survive in their own land. Their lives will become filled with anger and gloom. Little by little they will poison themselves and all they touch.”
“It was foretold that these things would come to pass, but that the Tree would never die. And as long as the Tree lives, the people live. It was also foretold that the day would come when the people would awaken, as if from a long, drugged sleep; that they would begin, timidly at first but then with great urgency, to search again for the Sacred Tree.”