Thankful Voices

Dave Smith

I have much praise to give to a God who has taken such care of me all these years.  Just in the last two months His presence has returned health at His pace, in His teaching way.  I eat, I sleep, I have shelter, I have family and friends, and I travel.  Mostly, I live in the arms of love, God’s greatest gift in Grace.  I opt herein to let Native Americans speak, in their voice and in their way, in thanksgiving and praise of the world they know.

Heinmot Tooyalaket ( Chief Joseph), Nez Perce Leader

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(translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887)
published in Native American Prayers – by the Episcopal Church.

“Native American Prayer”
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.
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A Ute Prayer

“Earth, Teach Me”
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.
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Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950

Over a hundred years ago Black Elk had a vision of the time when Indian people would heal from the devastating effects
of European migration. In his vision the Sacred Hoop which had been broken, would be mended in seven generations.
The children born into this decade will be the seventh generation.

 

You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle,
and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles,
and everything and everything tries to be round.

In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop
of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people
flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop,
and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace
and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north
with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This
knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.
The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball
and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon
does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great
circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is
in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the
nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop,
a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace…
Treat all men alike. Give them all the
same law. Give them all an even chance
to live and grow. All men were made by
the same Great Spirit Chief.
They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it….
Let me be a free man, free to travel,
free to stop,free to work,free to trade where I choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers,free to think and talk and act for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.