I had the great fortune to meet with the tribal elders in the Grand Canyon region, when I was part of a national team working on a new 75 year vision for the Grand Canyon for its 75th aniversary, which was 1991.
I chose this spiritual message because it represents the wisdom of the original human settlers in the United States. Their beliefs are fundamental to a regenerative future. It is a philosophy of life and a perspective on the role and place of humanity as part of God’s creation and Mother Earth. If we as a community cannot see ourselves in this way we are doomed. There is no legitimate spiritual tradition that does not subscribe to these fundamental ideas and way of living with each other.
The wisdom of these words is exemplified in the notion that respect for others starts with a healthy sense of self respect, taking the time to care for your body and spirit. My personal journey is grounded in the Story of the Garden of Eden. I believe that this biblical narrative is calling us to heal our relationship with each other and God’s creation. Their words exemplify that call as the call each of us have in our journey thru life.
I am posting this out of respect for the wisdom of these elders and the authors request:
“Please pass this on to as many people as you can, both Native and non-Native alike. These are the words of our Native elders, but the values expressed can be appreciated by all of humanity. Once you have read it, you are responsible for it. These are the elders’ hopes and dreams for the world you re-create every day.”
This message to America is the result of the National Indian council on Aging’s (NICOA) year 2000 Conference in Duluth, Minnesota. More than 1700 elders from 108 tribes across America attended and contributed to the words in this message. Think about your elders as you read this. They came together, setting aside tribal and political differences in order for you and your children to have some words of wisdom to help you in your lives.
A Spiritual Message to America
(Delivered during the NICOA meeting
in Duluth, MN, on August 19-22, 2000.)
As we stand before the dawn of a new millennium, we pray for America’s survival, our survival.
We pray that we will be given strength by the Creator to follow the footsteps of our forefathers to share our love, respect and compassion for one another. There is good in everyone because the Creator has put a little of Himself in all of us.
We pray for forgiveness for the pain and suffering we have caused one another.
We pray that our children will not repeat our mistakes.
We pray that we can respect the diversity of America; all life is sacred.
Every child born is a precious gift of our Creator. It is our sacred trust to embrace children from all walks of life because we are part of the same family.
We pray that children will honor and respect their elders-that is where the wisdom comes from. This respect will not allow forgotten elders. We are all equal, with each having our own special gift to contribute. These values allow our youth to become leaders and workers in our society. Children, you are our future and our hope for the people. Stand and be courageous.
We pray to learn and use the wisdom of all that has come before us, to achieve personal successes and to contribute to those of others. Only when our young ones learn respect for everything can they evolve.
We pray for respect and love of Mother Earth because she is the foundation of human survival and we must keep her pollution-free for those who will travel after us. Protect her water, air, soil, trees, forests, plants and animals.
Do not just take and waste resources. Make it a priority to conserve. The land is given to us by the Creator to care for, not to own. If we take care of the land, the land will take care of us.
We should have respect for each other. We pray for commitment and responsible behavior in order to help those in need and to give them support and friendship. Be an example in life that others may follow; serve people, community and country.
We should all strive to be leaders and contributors. Do not sit back and let others plan and do all the thinking.
Let us unite together so that we may have the strength to protect our future. Strength comes from working through trials and tribulations.
Spiritual health is the key to holistic health. We pray to have the discipline to set healthy examples for our children to follow.
Respecting everyone and everything in the universe starts with self-respect. Take time to listen and take care of your body and spirit.
FAMILY AND YOUTH
Family is important and precious. Always let them know that they are loved. Let your children and grandchildren know you are always there to love and support them and that they mean the world to you no matter what they do or say. Children are of infinite value.
Live what you teach. Spiritual values, honesty, and integrity start in the home.
We pray for the youth. We must teach the youth to work together and respect all that is living on our Mother Earth.
We need to convey to our younger generations that the survival of our people lies in spirituality.
We pray to learn ways to settle differences peacefully. Teach respect for each other’s ideas. Value honesty on all levels, from children to parents to community to governments. We will be happy when we create peace with each other.
To the 7th Generation,
– Keep hopes and dreams
– Take care of yourself
– Remember your spirit
– Be there for each other
– Respect courage
– Share knowledge
– Always keep learning
– Remember your true values