This page will be dedicated to the passing of wisdom old and new, on to all people. We being a "Multi-Nation" not just Cherokee alone, will try to provide on this site a variety of knowledge, and answer as many questions about our people as possible, on how to and why.
We all come here in Peace - As with the symbol of the Sacred White Buffalo, we can gather together as one people again, whole and complete. Learning and sharing what the Great Mystery has taught each of us... "Each soul carry's a piece of the "Universal Puzzle" when joined one with another, forms a larger picture of the whole, and wisdom and knowledge illuminates all!"
WORSHIP, RESPECT, SACRED CIRCLE, DIRECTIONS, AND COLORS:
The first of our lessons is so very appropriate, a young man had wrote in asking about prayers. He had seen at pow wows and other places, elders doing a small ritual of prayer giving honor to the Creator. There are many prayers and ways of doing ceremony, I will share what was taught to me by my elders growing up.
As in all things that are truly spiritual and meaningful, they are done straight from a good heart. There is where the Truth and the Spirit dwells of the one who made us all. Whatever name you give the Creator of all, in whatever language or tongue, God is the one and only one in whom we worship! all others we give respect not worship...Big difference.
Turn your face always towards the Eastern sky to begin the Sacred Circle of Prayer, this is where we face the sun everyday with new beginning! As we face the Creator in Worship, and start a new day and chapter in our individual lives, in thanksgiving for another day of life granted to us by our maker. This is where we also give Respect, and ask the sacred guardian spirit (Arch Angel) of the East to help protect us from all evil or harm from that direction. From this Guardian we receive Strength and Wisdom.
As one once said that I personally have remembered throughout my entire life..."Gods' gift to us is the breath of life, our gift to God is what we make of that life".
The color "Yellow" represents the East in the (older ways) of the Tsalagi (Cherokee) four directional colors.
Next, Turn (counter-clockwise) to the direction of the North, the color "White" is for this direction. It means we face all things in life with Purity of Heart, Honor and Respect for all things, nothing is hidden there is only truth. We once again, offer our respect to the sacred guardian spirit (Arch Angel) of this direction, and ask for protection from all evil that might come from that direction. This is also the direction in which the we receive Peace and Understanding.
Turn now to the West, This guardian (Arch Angel) protects us from all evil that may come from that direction, it is also where the "Thunder-Beings" dwell. They are the "Protectors of the Souls" while we live here on Earth, and when it is our time to cross back over to the lands of the Creator who made us all. The color Black represents this direction, it is not a color of evil in any way, it is a color of the future, a unknown path in which we have not traveled down yet, or cannot see clearly yet.
Turn now to the South, This guardian (Arch Angel) is protector of this direction from all evil, by our giving honor and respect, gifts us with remembrance of the past, present and future through the continuance of the circle of life itself, and the four stages of life. The color of Red represents this direction.
To complete the Sacred Circle of Prayer, like the circle of life itself, whole and complete end without end. We direct our prayers back to the East once more. Now, giving Honor, Respect and Thanksgiving for Earth Mother from where we all were formed from by the hands of the Creator, and breathed the breath of life into!
We should never forget to thank our Earth Mother, for "Absorbing" our pains and woes and poisons we carry on a daily basis, that we just dump upon her with such selfishness! She takes all into herself with (absolute unconditional love) so that we carry them no longer.
Have you ever just sat down on Mother Earth, and placed your palms down on her? sitting very quietly and listen and feel (Nothing disturbing around you) You can actually feel a pulse/heartbeat at times! Earth Mother is and has always been very much alive!
Last, but certainly not least, remember at this point to give honor and respect to all your other relations...The winged ones, the four-legged ones, the ones that swim, and the ones that crawl.
Now in closing, seal the circle completely by lifting your face totally back to the Creator, and thank Him once again for His Great Love and Understanding, that you are willing to do the very best that day, and every day He gives you here.
Our Father whom did created us and the entire universe, STILL being a father to His children, wants us to face Him face to face. Not showing disrespect or dishonor, but out of Love of a parent and child. So it is not disrespectful to lift our faces up to our father, and reaching out with our arms and hearts as a child does. And children we will always be, in His eyes or any of our Earthly parents eyes as long as we exist!
Note: This all sounds long and drawn out, but; it really is a very short and very powerful way to Worship in prayer to the Creator, and give Honor and Respect to all others. The guardian spirits (Arch Angels') are just that. The Native people knew them as the "guardians spirits" because we had never heard of "Arch Angels'" until English and the Bible was introduced to the people. Then it was realized, that they were the same. The Creator (God) assigned four "Arch Angels" to each corner of the Earth.
Also, this "Prayer Ceremony" is used on a daily basis in most of our lives. By some, we use a "Smudge Pot" that consists of a turtle shell or abalone shell, with a little bit of sage, cedar and sweet grass and tobacco, that is burnt so as to send the Sacred Smoke up with our Prayers. This same "Prayer Ceremony" can also be done with a Sacred Pipe.
SMUDGE: Is a blending of physical and spiritual together, to create a “bonded prayer” that is sent to the Creator of all from our spirits to His spirit.
The smoke from the blended herbs and ingredients and prayers are fanned with their hands towards them, to help to be breathed in by an individual and to fan the smoke all around them to help Physically and Spiritually put the person(s) into a “focused prayerful frame of mind” Removing any and all evil or negativity from around them and inside them.
SAGE: The leaves of this herb is burned to create a smoke, that symbolically rises to the heavens with our prayers to the Creator of All.
Medically, this herb is used to heal the inward body as well as the outward. Spiritually, it helps the soul to heal from evil toxins that we have a great tendency to collect in our everyday lives, from ourselves first, then people and situations around us.
CEDAR: Physically, this wood is well known to deter all “Wood Eating” bugs and insects from harming it. Spiritually, Represents Life and Strength and Protection from harm or evil.
TOBACCO: Medically this plant (just to name a very few) has been used for a great many salves, poultices and cure for internal worms of both human and animals, smoking it for pleasure, the list goes on and on...
Spiritually, this plant represents “Truth” or "Speaker of Truth" to us as Natives. Whether smoked, or burned as part of the smudge for purification, or given in wrapped cloth to someone in Respect and Honor. It speaks only truth.
Natives believe, if one smokes the blessed smoking pipe called in the Tsalagi (Cherokee Language) “ga nv no wa” pronounced phonically in English: (gah-nuh-no-wah) with the sacred Tobacco, one can only speak truth among one another.
SWEET GRASS: Is a wild prairie field grass that is gathered and braided together while it is still green and fresh. Then is hung up to dry to a brown color, then it can be lit and burned to create a
“Sweet Smelling Smoke”. It is used Spiritually, to give respect and honor to all our Good Ancestors who have walked on this Earth before us. This helps in teaching us what we need to know in life, through our visions and dreams. When we burn this Sweet Grass, the smoke is to “Spiritually” call them around us to participate in what ever sacred ceremony we are conducting at the time.
It is stressed very highly, that when praying for the Ancestors to come and be around you and others, you ALWAYS BE SPECIFIC in requesting the “GOOD ANCESTORS AND GOOD ANCESTORS ONLY)”!
By doing this simple thing, you or anyone else will not invite “just any” Ancestor to come visiting.
Prayer is a good and very powerful tool when used in the right way, but it can be twisted into something else if we do not follow certain protocol.
Now, with all the ingredients that have been listed, you have what most Natives use to start a ceremony. Usually, it is the Holy Person (Male or Female) also called by other names: Medicine People, Spirit People, Elder, or by the (Central American Term) Shaman.
Note: Older Traditionalists, do not use the word Shaman.
The Holy Person, Medicine Person, Spirit Person, or Elder, conducts the smudging of each person involved in the ceremony, by taking a container (either a turtle shell or abalone sea shell) that has the blended ingredients of sage, cedar, tobacco and sweet grass. They light the mixture so that it starts to burn, then lightly blow the flame out so it will just smoke. They usually have a fan that is of a left wing (Heart-Side) of a Eagle, Hawk or Pheasant or whatever winged one they use for a “Prayer Fan,” to “Fan” the smoke toward an individual to purify them (inside and out).
LIFE AND HOW WE LIVE IT
When I was but 13 years of age, my mentor and elder took me to the old swinging bridge at the end of the Rez. in Cherokee North Carolina. We went out to the middle and stood looking down at the very torrid and rushing water.
My Elder asked me the question "What do you see?"
Knowing this was not just a general question but one that I really needed to have some thought about, I did take a harder look around and this is what I re plied..."Elder, I see the rushing waters as thousands upon thousands of people all mixed up and going in one direction nowhere fast!"
"Very good!" he replied back. "Now what else do you see?"
I looked down one more time and I seen off to the sides the quite eddies, so peaceful and completely calm from what was happing in the middle. I thought about it and replied to my Elder this..."I see the eddies Elder, and that they stay calm all the time from the middle of the river. They are part of the river, but; are separate too."
He smiled his toothless smile at me with a twinkle in his eyes of pride. "You are right again WhiteFeather, as you were right about the people getting caught up together swirling and mixing and all jumbled up in confusion, discontent, doubts, indecisions of what life can and does throw at you on a daily basis. Not knowing which way to turn or go."
He paused a moment and took a deep breath then continued."The quite eddies as you said, are very much a part of the whole too, separate but part of. When one learns about the eddies of life which is the true center of our spirits/souls, we find ultimate peace. There is where we can go when everything is so crazy around us, pounding and beating at us like that rock out in the middle of the river. Our spirits/souls are steadfast as that rock, deflecting the water and what is thrown at it because we have focus and calm in our centers. The Creator of all who made us dwells there, He is our eddy to go to."
Then he said; "Life in general will always be like the torrid waters underneath us, we as human beings can and do get caught in it so very easily. What we have to learn as human beings, is how to place our selves where we can hear the voice of our Creator speaking to our spirits/souls, and then be able to follow our true paths and become the human beings we were meant to be."
I have shared this story with hundreds of people throughout my life, and I had been asked to place it up on our Nations site, so maybe it can help others to see what I seen as a young girl and for others of all age groups to help find their own quite eddies in life.
When you are at work and the boss is barking at you, or a co-worker or a family member chewing on you for whatever reason....Life in general is getting you down and dragging you into that torrid, rushing waters...
There is an older lesson a lot of us learned some time ago, that goes along with this....
Just smile, it makes people what you are up to and a soft word turns away anger!
In this confusing time of impending war and uncertain future, we turn our faces upward asking the Creator of All praying and asking questions. As our Father has answered us in many ways, by watching and taking note of what goes on around us on a daily basis. We were told to watch the heavens, the stars and ever changing weather.
We were told to watch all of nature and how they are reacting differently, and we were told to watch mankind. Yes, our answers are there before us, already foretold through words and deeds and actions.
Like many, have been given visions and dreams throughout early childhood into adulthood, some we thought as being way out there and far fetched! Others we realized being a message of inspiration and reality lessons for us personally. Then there are the visions and dreams we are meant to share to help teach others.
My mentors that taught me how to cope with this gift, of visions and dreams, they taught me that mankind in general, will not listen or take advise very well, especially when it is uncomfortable and hits "too close to home".
Whenever certain subjects that are "socially" not proper to talk about, like religion, politics, or death, the realities of life, it will always stir up multi faceted feelings within each individual human being.
The fact that where some will listen and others will not, we are only the "mail person" of the Creator, delivering His mail to others, some will be received as a dun or bill owed, other mail will be received like a check in the mail to pay those bills....
So, don't try to take out the deliver of the message, take all complaints or hopefully all the phrases to the one whom sent it.
I am sharing with all of you a very profound vision that came to me around 3:00am in the morning, take it for what it is... a message.
HOW A PERSON USUALLY RECEIVES A NATIVE NAME:
In the "Older Days and Ways" of the Original Native People, where we grew up being among the people, it like all things was done in the proper order of things and cycles of life.
There being an order to life in Infant, Youth, and Adulthood, Elderhood . We followed the same order in Nature in all our ways of doing things.
Most Nations and Tribes ran a common-thread of how these things were done...
One order was the name giving, this was usually in four stages. At Birth, a name was given to the child by the parents. Contrary to popular belief with "Hollywood Versions" the parents did not name their child by the first thing they seen when the child was born!
This name was one the child was called until they reached the age of becoming a woman-child, or man child around the time of puberty. Then a ceremony is conducted by the Elders and people, and the "Youth" is given a new name by the Grandmother or Grandfather depending on if the Nation/Tribe is Matriarchal or Patriarchal.
Now in these "Modern-Days," our families are disconnected and apart from each other or has passed away. So, it is up to other Elders maybe not of your immediate family to bestow these names. It is usually not proper to just name yourself, whatever name sounds good or after some animal name you just happen to prefer. And do not feel slighted if an Elder does not name you after the Eagle or Wolf. These do not make you Native, once again, it is what is in your heart and how you conduct yourself in your life.
An Elder even in these days and times, knows that if they accept the task of naming someone, it comes through much prayer and spiritual fasting for that individual to give a name that is right for that person in every aspect of their lives.
In older days, the name given stayed with you for life unless otherwise changed by the Elders. This could be through an Intertribal Marriage or Clan change. In rare occasions, recognition and honor of some special deed done for the survival of your entire people and tribe. Or unfortunately, a person could be given a new name of disgraced by the Elders and people for something unspeakable that person did against the people as a whole. Fortunately, that name could be only temporary until that person corrected the wrong.
There is one other name you can be given in life, and it is given by the Creator/Great Spirit Himself.
This one is a very sacred name that is only used in "Silent Prayer" between you and your maker. It is given usually to you during a fasting and sacred sweat-lodge ceremony done in the "older ways" of doing. Not all receive a name when they seek it, but when it is given, you never speak this name to no one as long as you live on this Earth, it is that Sacred!
It is the name that the Creator/Great Spirit calls you by.
Now, since we all do not live in the villages or communities as in the past where we are among our Elders from youth on.. The "Modern-Day way to recieve a name from an Elder is this..
First off, you will need to write down on a piece of paper a small Bio about yourself, such as for exsample: Your likes, dislikes, what you like to do, your favorite colors you might wear that you feel very good in, what do you do as a living?, what are your philosophies/beliefs in this life?. These are but a few suggestions that you would give in your story about you.
Then you would buy a pouch of loose (chemical free) pipe tobacco found in any grocery store or regular tobacco store. Wrap it in a piece of red or white cloth and tie it with leather lacing, send the Bio of yourself and the tobacco in the mail to the main office. This then will be handeled by the Head Medicine Chief to do the name giving or by one of the many Elders within the Nation itself.
Here is the hard part! PATIENCE! you must then wait untill it is accepted by the Medicine Chief or another Elder to take the responsibility to do the "Spiritual" and or "Physical" fasting for seven complete days on your part to recieve your name. SOMETIMES, it will take longer for individuals for whatever reason at the time.
Note: these are very sacred names and should not be taken lightly, plus they are not just pulled out of thin air or it be the first thing seen somewhere outside as diplicted on Hollywood Television programs. One other fact here, not all names will be of a wolf, eagle, buffalo, panther etc or some past chief of any tribe or nation. The name will, believe it or not, will fit you and your personality and life pretty well.
HOW TO PROPERLY APPROCH TWO OR MORE PEOPLE SPEAKING TO ONE ANOTHER:
In this fast-paced modern day world, most people have a bad tendency to forget what is called "Manners." In the Native World of Elders & People, it is always very wise to remember you just DO NOT walk up especially on two people in conversation and just butt right in!
Usually Elders or others, that are talking in private, they are usually teaching in some compassing or maybe sharing a personal "Spiritual Experience" that if interrupted could have been a great help to that other person. Always remember how you would feel if someone just butted in on something of importance to your learning and sharing. It is a two-way street either way!
The Proper and Respectful Way is to stand back out of earshot, (To Give Them Privacy) and wait till you are invited to come closer. An Native Elder or Native Person will usually give you a nod of his/her head or look at you, to acknowledge that they do see you are there waiting to speak to them.
Then when it is alright to come to join in, or that they are finished with their personal conversation, they will then invite you to come closer.
HOW TO GIVE A GIFT TO SHOW HONOR AND RESPECT:
This gift can be what you wish to give to someone older or younger. Usually and most often is a gift of tobacco wrapped in either red or white cloth, tied with leather or sinew cord. The color (red), represents the blood of the people, past, present and future. The color (white) represents the purity of ones' heart and spirit.
In previous lessons, you were taught that tobacco represented "Truth" or "Speaker of Truth". Given as a gift to someone in this matter, shows Utmost Respect and Honor to that individual person.
This being a "personal acknowledgement" should always be done in as close (as possible) in a "private environment." even though you may be at a pow wow or other event with crowds of people around, this can be done without making it a public spectacle. Natives are usually a "private people."
Keeping this in mind, You approach this person with the proper respect and honor as also taught how in another previous lesson.
Once you do this, and you are face-to-face with this individual, you present this gift within in your (Left) hand (palm down), reaching out with your Left Hand to their Left Hand and in doing this you place the gift of tobacco in their hand. Usually the person will take the gift and you or both of you may say a few words to each other, or just a simple nod the head in recognition of what took place between you two in this gesture.
NOTE: This is also how you would approach an Elder to ask something of them.
As being given a name or some special knowledge from that Elder.
NATIVE COMING OF AGE CEREMONY
OR) RITES OF PASSAGE CEREMONY
This article will be dedicated to “The Seeds Of Our Very Existence” to all children and grandchildren everywhere.
There have been several requests asking for information, of how the Native Americans give honor to their youth that pass from childhood into young adults.
What rites of passage do we give for them, and what are the family members responsibilities to them?
The coming of age ceremony is also called the right of passage ceremony. If compared to other cultures, we would have many similar beliefs and ways of conducting these. There is “Four Cycles” of Life in every Human Being... Infant, Youth, Adult and Elder.
When a young boy or girl becomes of age, around 12-13 years of age, a very special ceremony within the Nation or tribe is conducted.
First and foremost, the young girl is taken aside with the elder women, and the young boy with the elder men.
The young girl is advised of what her “passage” from childhood into adulthood will consist of and undertake in her life.
She will be instructed by her Mother, Grandparents, Aunts, and all of her Elder women relations of the Nation and Tribe. Along with, if at all possible,
the Head Nation or Tribes’ Medicine Woman/Holy Woman.
Some of these subjects taught, consist of the (young woman now) “Moon-Cycles” or said in the English term “Periods.” She will be instructed on how she needs to keep up her personal hygiene, how to prepare certain “Herbal Medicines” to ease her pains during her monthly times. Also what she needs to combat the “Emotional and Chemical” imbalance that can happen during this time. They were taught what to look for incase of irregularity or possible signs that could mean there was a medical problem the young girl would defiantly need to tell her Mother about or the Medicine Woman/Holy Woman of her Nation or Tribe.
It is an older tradition, not used in modern times as we know today, the reason most young and older women kept to themselves during this time, wasn't’t because they were considered unclean, it was just the opposite, they were consider to be in a “Holy Time” of renewal of the spiritual and physical time of a woman (Re-Birth) so-to-speak. Women being in tune with the “Cycle” of the Earth, but most of all because they are the “Life-Givers”.
Note: This time “being apart from” other people and the everyday hectic cycles gave the woman a “personal time” to reflect and to balance herself again physically and spiritually between herself and the Creator, and all around her on a day to day basis. If the older married women had children, the Grandmothers or Aunts would take care of the infants or younger children, when this time was in effect.
The next step was to instruct the young woman, of her responsibilities as a young “adult” woman, and what is expected of her. No longer from that point on, was she to be looked on as a child.“Elder” women would then pledge their responsibilities to her as her Elders, to teach her the “Ways of Women”. The Holy Woman/Head Medicine Woman, would instruct the young Adult woman in teachings and give “Spiritual” advice along the way from that day on, so she would stay on the “Red-Road” all her life for her sake, her family and children and people.
The young “Adult” woman, would then be told that during the ceremony , she would be purified by her first “Sweat Lodge Ceremony” and afterwards be “presented to all the Nation/Tribe of people”
and be given her new “Adult Name” to be known and called by her people from that day on.
This name is usually given by the Grandmother or Head Matriarch at that time. If not, the Medicine/Holy Person gives it.
Lastly, the young Adult Woman is instructed of the added responsibilities that will come along with “Maturity”, and with this knowledge, the people call this the “Wisdom of the Ages”.
As the same with the young Adult man, he would be take aside by the Father, Grandfathers, Uncles, and Elder men. Also, if possible, the Main Medicine man/Holy Man of the Nation or Tribe. The young Adult is also told of his new responsibilities and what is expected of him as a young Adult male among his people and peers.
He would be instructed in the ways of being a provider and protector of his immediate family and of all his people. The Elder men would pledge to teach him of the “Ways” of his Ancestors and Fathers that walked before him.
Then, he also would be taken through his first sweat lodge ceremony, and presented to the people. Given a “New Name” by which all would know him as and call him by from that day forward.
The Holy Man/Medicine Man, would work with the young Adult man throughout his entire life, instructing and giving “Spiritual” advice as how to stay on the Red-Road for his sake, his family and his people.
Both Young Adult Woman and Young Adult Man, will be given presents at this ceremony to show Love and Support for them on their new journey in the “Second Cycle of Life”.
Conducting A Sacred Pipe Ceremony:
Start a smudge bowl burning with Sage, Cedar, tobacco and sweet grass, before you start the ceremony of the pipe, smudge the area you will be doing your ceremony in, the circle around you going "Counter-Clock wise because you are doing medicine in a good way.
Lift the pipe bowl up to the Creator, say a prayer asking for His Blessing that no evil ever be taken in or through the sacred clay of the bowl which was made from our Living Earth Mother. This is the female. Hold the part of the bowl that fits onto the stem, over the smoke of the smudge and allow the smoke to filter through it and come out on its own, this is the Creator blessing it if it does!
Lift the Stem up to the Creator, say a prayer asking for His Blessing that no evil ever be taken through the stem which represents all Life being as one.
Next, join the two together. This is the male.
Take the sage leaves out of the bowl, save to put back in after you are through using the pipe. Do the same thing you did with the bowl, hold the end that joins into the bowl over the smudge, and allow the smoke to go through it and out. Again, this is the Creator's breath blessing the stem when the smoke come out of it!
Load the pipe with the traditional (4) pinches of tobacco to give honor to the four directions. If tobacco is mixed all together in one pouch (like most do), then take only (1) pinch and offer it in honor and respect to the four directions, then fill the pipe. Note: (1) pinch is equal to what an individual can hold between their forefinger and thumb.
After lighting the pipe and getting it going, face East towards where the sun comes up and the East is the Creator's Direction whom we face day by day in Truth. Take a puff, turn the stem up to the Creator and blow the puff towards the sky. This is Thanking the Creator for His Blessing, and Also represents the first of the "Four Directional Spirits" whom we give Respect, NOT worship to for protecting from evil.
Then turn "Counter-Clockwise" towards the North, Do the same and take a puff of smoke from the pipe, turn the stem around towards the sky and blow the smoke in that direction, thanking the Northern Directional (Good Spirit and Good Spirit Only) For the Protection against evil.
Then turn toward Clock-wise towards the next West and do the same as before, and South and do the same, and back to the beginning face East.
Now, this is how you end the ceremony.
AS you blow the puff of smoke towards the sky, and turn the pipe bowl back towards you, you will now (BLOW GENTLY) air back into the pipe itself,
This is where we all remember,,,,,"Never just take and take, but ALWAYS GIVE SOMETHING BACK!"
(Especially from the Good Spirits and Earth Mother).
Respect for Respect.
Note: In the Christen belief compared to the same similar ways of our people....The Good "Directional Spirits) of the Four Directions that protect us all from evil, are the "Four Arch Angels" appointed by God the Creator of All to guard the four corners of Earth.
4. After the pipe ceremony, clean the bowl, put your sage back into the bowl. Save the burnt tobacco to mix with the next (New) tobacco for your prayers in a pouch you will be adding to, the used as the first pinch of tobacco, then the new for the other three pinches of tobacco to pack your pipe with.
Then separate the bowl and stem. (This "used" tobacco can also be used in blessing and healing ceremonies for other times) Wrap them separately as before, but this time White around them and also Red wrapped around the White. This is to represent the Heart, the Creator and purest of the purest is the Center of ALL things, and the Red is the Blood that connects us All.
Burial Ceremony For Native Loved Ones:
There has been requests sent in on how to do a Native ceremony to place Loved Ones to rest traditionally.
First off, as you will know, all are not the same nor or they ever really conducted exactly the same.
So much depends on the diverse beliefs of other family members, and how to conduct a ceremony so as to not shock or offend and do respectfully. For all to have an understanding of what is being done in honor of the one whom has made their journey.
Keeping all in mind and heart, there is a basic way to give the proper honor to abide to all Native beliefs along with other faiths. Below will be a listing of steps to take before and during a Native Ceremony for Burial of a Loved One.
1) Pray about this, and do talk this over with the immediate family.
2) If agreed upon, then a Blanket must be bought or provided to have the Loved One placed upon in their coffin before the body is placed by the funeral home. It must be big enough to wrap the body and to be able to cover the face entirely (After) the service or before if it is a "Closed Casket"
This Blanket can be of of the families favorite handmade quilts, or usually is a "Pendelton Brand" Native blanket that are specially made just for that purpose.
3) At the service, if a separate ceremony is to be conducted, then there should be someone to announce that there will be an "Extra Ceremony" to give honor and respect to the fact that the Love One was Native American, and ask all attending to please take this in consideration. It is not in any way to disrespect any other faiths or beliefs, but; our beliefs although may seem strange, are still the one belief in the Creator of all the Universe, however one sees Him, and that we do be live in His son, no matter what tongue or language is spoken.
4) Next, you are to acquire these items from most herbal stores that sell these items locally or on the Internet:
a) White Sage, Loose Pipe Tobacco, Cedar Shavings and (Sweet Grass Cut into small pieces) Add altogether .enough to be able to make a path of it from the head of the loved one to their feet (If possible) usually the coffins are covering the feet. But the one conducting the ceremony will sprinkle as far as they can towards the feet.
Then to complete, with the sage mixture, they will sprinkle across the chest to form a cross.
Make sure that there is still enough sage mixture for the one conducting the ceremony, to have to lite for a small smudge pot to burn. This is to purify the entire area of the coffin BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE IS DONE.
b) As the one whom is conducting the ceremony, should pray out loud for all to hear clearly , and ask for "The Creator of all come and join with all gathered, the good and good only Ancestors that has walked this Earth before us to join to give honor, for one of the Blood is coming home in the ways of the people passed down from generations to generations. AH-HO and AMEN!"
c) Before the service, the family members (usually have already told verbally or have it put into the notice of crossing of the Loved one), that they will be allowed to bring a small "Remembrance Items" for that Loved One. These will be placed around the Loved one (within) the coffin (If Opened)..If not these items can be placed on top of a (Closed Coffin) at the service at the church or funeral home, or gently thrown into the hole at the "grave-side ceremony". NOTE: There has been a "Special" area set aside with a picture of the loved one, where people can place their "items of remembrances" at that place alone if the family prefers that way better.
5) Lastly, after all has been done, then the one conducting the ceremony, will finish in the close (If the coffin was opened) (IN OLD TRADITION) to place A single Eagle Feather to be placed on their chest. This is the highest honor of all to that loved one, sending them to the face of their Creator with honor and respect of their people and ancestors. But; in today's society and laws, not all Native families have access to Eagle feathers anymore. A single "White Goose" feather can be used insted to represnt "purity" We hide nothing from the Creator.
Now cover the face and upper body with the blanket. This last step is a signal for the funeral directors to close the coffin, to get ready for the graveside burial. This is because most burials are done by the funeral homes now, not in our traditional manners of plains platform burials, or woodland burials.
Hope this was a help to many,
In all Love and Honor and Respect
RESPECT AND CARE FOR SACRED FEATHERS:
First of all, an individual person must be taught what the meaning of "Respect" is and how it is applied to several aspects of "Life" in general.
When a "Sacred Feather" is given to someone, it is given out of love and respect of a certain individual, acknowledging and giving honor for some special deed done or for certain ceremonial purposes.
Usually, the "Sacred Feather" or Feather's are wrapped in a cloth, which includes the following ingredients: Sage, Cedar, Sweet Grass, and most of all Tobacco.
1) Sage represents: a purification from any evil or evil intentions
2) Cedar represents: Life and Strength Eternal
3) Sweet Grass represents: The sweet incense or smoke when burned, that calls upon the Creator Himself, and the GOOD Ancestors or GOOD Spirits ONLY, to come and Bless the gift given or the Ceremony being presented.
4) Tobacco represents: The speaker of TRUTH, when such a wondrous gift is given out of honor and respect and love, it comes from the Pure Heart or Spirit.
THE COLORS OF CLOTH IT IS CAN BE WRAPPED IN ARE:
1) The color of RED represents the precious Blood of Life, past, present and future.
2) The color of WHITE represents the Purity and Innocence of ones' heart. It is all that is Good and Honest and Pure without evil.
TO STORE OR PERSERVE SACRED FEATHERS:
1) Keep the Feather or Feathers wrapped in cloth with the (4) items mentioned before.
Place into a container with Cedar shavings, or place into a box MADE OF CEDAR. This serves a purpose two ways.
A) It protects the Sacred Feathers from any kind of evil influences attaching itself to them.
B) It serves as a protector against bug mites or pestilences that could destroy the Feather or Feathers.
Behold I speak a prophecy to your great Civilization.
Your great civilization is built upon the blood and bones of those you
murdered and ravaged.
Your great civilization has grown strong because of your trickery and deceit.
Your great civilization has prospered at the expense of the poor, weak, sick,
Your great civilization appears decent and honorable while it has no concept
of decency or honor.
Your great civilization offers peace with one hand and murder with the other.
A warm smile on its face with lies dribbling from its devouring mouth.
What is planted is all that will grow.
The birth, and growth, and life of a civilization that foretells the manner of its
My brothers and sisters, please have pity and compassion for the grafted
white branch, for the death of their civilization will be as terrible as
their civilization is.
Heed the warning of this Prophecy.
It is not for us to strike the spear of justice into the ribs and hearts of
our fellow siblings.
O' grafted white branch! You were given the same chance to live and grow, though
instead you became diseased and unhealthy with envy, greed and conceit for
all unlike you.
You and your great civilization, to become greater than and controlling of,
all other siblings. Siblings whom loved and cared for you as one of the
whole...instead you were bound and determined to destroy and genocide the
very branch who gave you their place to be grafted to the precious tree of
life itself, with a tap root that goes into infinity!
Your great civilization has or never will understood how much we wanted you
to share and be part of us all, you never seen past the negative to the
positive, only what you decided for all.
Sadly now for you, it is nearing time for the Great Spirit Creator of All, to
remove the grafted withering diseased branch, and replace it with the still
living healthy branch that was believed to be lost forever by your
civilization of sibling hatred, greed, and jealousy, the one you thought you
Your great civilization has risen and fallen for the last time.
Your great civilization that brought greater doom to yourself multiplied by
The Great Spirit knows of Justice and only He sits in the seat of Justice
Note: This was seen and heard in my vision in a sweat lodge cermony, done on the (Full moon 2000) in the time when Buffalo Cows Drop Their Calves/known also as The Moon of the Snowblind or The Sore Eye Moon.
This is an answer to a question from a member about what are the differences between Medicine people, Spiritual Medicine people and Priests of the Native (Original Peoples).
The Medicine people and Spiritual Medicine people are taken aside at an early age to learn the ways of such, to become a LIFETIME dedication of being a servant to the Creator and to all peoples. The "Medicine" are usually just the herbal and medical doctors of the people and concentrate on healing thereof the the body. They can do council but usually leave that up to the next level of medicine which is the "Spiritual" Medicine Person.
Spiritual Medicine People are the ones whom have learned the first level of medicine, as would a good example be like a general MD to a specialist Surgeon in many other fields of knowledge. The Spiritual Medicine are called also, "Spiritual Warriors" which they literal walk between the physical realm and beyond the spirit realm as we know it. They fight for the very souls of people's and combat evil at the source where it came from, and drive it back or destroy it by the power of the Creator working through them.
One of such caliber still could very well loose their immortal soul in the process, if they are not properly trained correctly. They have to be humbled before the Creator 24-7 so that ego or self pride does not come into play that they have any powers on their own, their abilities are GIFTS by and FROM the Creator period.
No medicine or priest can do anything without the full approval of Him who bestowed the gifts and acquired knowledge to begin with.
These paths of life are very sacred and are very lonely paths at times indeed, with no rewards or recognition of thanks to follow as one might think. All these paths too, can be ridiculed or doubted at any given time. If one truly stays on these paths, then from the beginning taught by their Elders before them, they are told as I was when very young starting out. My Elder/Mentor, taught me, "Never, to always expect a "Thank-You" that should always be given back to the source and it is NOT YOU, you are only a tool".
The Medicine paths and Priesthood paths, are not easy in any way, and are not jobs you can lie down at YOUR convenience You are on call 24-7, 7-days a week, 365 days a year, morning, noon and well into the night. Neither are these jobs of status just to be admired by all, just because of their titles alone.
Again, neither should these positions be bestowed on one lightly in any way, shape or fashion. They are quite EARNED in every aspect conceivable!
It takes one heck of a strong mind, body and soul to handle hundreds even thousands of different individuals from all health problems to their spiritual problems on a daily basis, and you yourself come out whole again after working with some. You NEVER know what you can and do run into!
This is exactly why it does take those long hard years of training and preparations, of ones who have walked on this Earth before you. Also, the ones whom have walked in the Spiritual realms of experience of themselves and their Mentors collected experiences before them.
So to actually have true knowledge thereof to able to teach you, and how to cope and handle each situation that may rise unexpected. To eventually pass all this and more down to the new generations coming along to when it is the Creator will to end the eternal cycle of life.
Out of no disrespect to all in general, but; there are some so-called schools out there that say within 6-8 weeks of classes under them, you can come out a certified priest or shaman. Sorry folks, but to just beat on a drum and learn and sing a few songs, take a small course in herbs and mixing tinctures does not cut it.
Even modern-day professionals who deal with people and get paid for it, will tell you how many years and hands on experience it took them to get a PHD in that department of study.
Even some of them are turning to the Native people for help in areas of the mind, body and soul and usage of what is called "Older Ways" of herbs and medicines for certain patients they treat, where modern-day practices does not work.
It is not that we have more intellect or better than anyone other, it is just we have had to deal a lot longer and more in depth than ones whom started later in life. Our collected knowledge does date back further and has been proven to still work better in many cases.
The "Priesthood" can be just as dangerous if not trained properly, one can by just works and words alone misguide or misdirect a human soul to destruction.
Being a Spiritual Medicine as well as a Priest of the peoples, I personally am well aware of these facts on a everyday basis, I know through my life training from early age, the faith one entrusts in you to help them, becomes a responsibility more than can be imagined!
Your very soul has to be in constant check, as you have to be on top of all aspects of what is said and done in your INDIVIDUAL LIFE as well as others around you.
It all goes back to what we were told all over the world at childhood, in similar words but with the same meaning.. "Even though you may not see someone watching you, and you THINK you are getting by with something, there will always be someone that sees what you are doing! Especially the Creator, and He keeps notes!"
Last but not least we as believers of the Eternal Father know very well too, as Priests, and Spiritual Medicine/Medicine peoples, when we stand before our maker to atone for all our deeds and words here on Earth. We are held more accountable for those actions and decisions than any other human being!
Reason being, even though we make mistakes as well as any other, if we "intentionally" misguide one soul by our negligence and irresponsibility away from the path of the Creator's will for their lives for lack of what we should have said or done, we will be judged with so much more severity and held accountable for that soul period.
So, hopefully this all does explain why one should not or cannot just jump into these lifestyles mentioned above, just to receive some kind of recognition by other people to ooh and ah over.
Respectfully and with great humbleness,
THE CONCEPTS OF THE BLACK ROBES
COMPARED TO THE NATIVE AMERICAN THEN AND NOW
WHY SOME ACT AND FEEL THEY WAY WE DO:
By: ShaunaSay WhiteFeather
I begin this article, as an answer to several questions on the same subjects of the Native Americans. Many has asked do we believe in God? Jesus Christ? Christianity as a whole? What does our Spirituality consist of? What was the truth about the “Black Robes” to the Native people?
Those questions I hope, will all be answered in this article in a way, to help understand how and why the Native people believe the way we do, from then until now..
First off, as with multi-languages all over the world, all may be saying and meaning the same thing, but in a different tongues. In the (Tsalagi) Cherokee Language, one of the words for the English word (God/Jehovah) is: “Yowa” or “Yahweh” Sounds the same way as the Hebrew “Yahweh” does it not? Just spelled different.
(Jesus) as said in the English language, is pronounced in the Tsalagi Cherokee Language as: “tsi sa”
Many have a hard time with the concept that the Native people knew already, who God and Jesus was before the black robes came among the people. In the Holy Bible of the Christens (Followers of Christ) faith, it does state how Jesus Christ appeared to multitudes around the world, before He ascended up to the Father in Heaven.
Jesus or “tsi sa” said in the Cherokee (Tsalagi) Language, made His appearance to the Native people, long before it was ever recorded on the Talking Leaves paper of the English...
The verbal history of Legend Keepers/Story Tellers, told of the time long before the “u ne gv” (white) came with the black robes, had already been visited by the Great Sky Fathers’ Son and told of His love for all His Earth Mother children and what events were to take place in time. Natives were even told of how the “un ne gv” (white) would come as the many herds of buffalo, so many in fact that one could not count them. Natives were told of how “tsi sa” (Jesus) himself would be put to death by these “u ne gv” (white). Also told of how even the people of all Nations and Tribes, would suffer much at the hands of some, because of their greed and want to destroy if they could not control.
Even so, as the children of “Yowa” (God), it was meant for all to welcome the “un ne gv” (white) ones as brothers and sisters in peace, respect and love. Because all are from the same Sky Father and Creator!
Keeping this in mind, the chain of events that I will go into in this article, as well as all other articles written in this column or others, is not to cause you the reader to feel a projection of a pure negative attitude of hatred or racism. These articles still only reflect what came from the Native Ancestors of older days, passed on into the present. These are to help you see our side of the story, not someone assuming what the Native may have seen or felt or know. Again, I am not an authority on any subject, I am only a Legend Keeper/Story Teller of my people, the knowledge and experience
was passed down for me to tell you...
As history records, the Europeans were looking for a way to have freedom from taxes, and freedom of religion, along with other issues. When the first Europeans met with the Natives of that area, it did not take long for the communication between one another to break down to where one could understand the other. A genuine friendship and wanting to share with one another took place.
Sharing of ones’ beliefs and spirituality came to the conclusion, each did believe in the same one true God! They thought. So many of the Natives embraced the black robes practices (as well as their own).
The black robes were only convinced the Natives were truly “Converted” if they laid aside all their practices of how they worshiped the Creator God, and only followed the patterned rituals they taught them. When they seen the Natives celebrating certain seasonal festivals, dancing and wearing carved face masks with skins or heads of certain animals, feathers of birds in our hands, burning wild sage and tobacco up in the sacred smoke of prayer. All ways of worship to God the Creator was paganism, songs sung by our people was blaspheming, the “Native” social structure was unheard of and uncivilized, The clothes was improper and shameful! Because Native language was not understood, became nothing more than gibberish! and not the correct proper English. Once again, it was not of the “civilized” human race.
The black robes became very angry! and in their opinion, the Natives people would always be uncivilized heathens undeserving of forgiveness.
The black robes then so decreed that all Native people who had lived on the lands, even though it was since from the beginning of time, was not worthy to have such fertile lands or to own any possessions of worth of any kind.
Slavery to them and all Europeans, was to become the peoples fate, or die for not obeying the rules and will of their “so-called” civilization. What began as a labor of love and friendship, of building churches and homes, sharing food, ways of life and how to balance their lives with all of Nature. The black robes and others, caused everything to become a cruel hard task of sorrow instead, for all the Native people. Love soon turned into confusion then a bitterness and then into hatred. Wondering what had the people done, to so anger these new brothers and sisters? Ones who supposedly believed and taught about the same God of love and friendship and unity? To turn like the snake only to poison and kill.
All the young was taken from the Native people, and put behind barred fences that adults and elders built! To be held there to go to their schools of learning. The black robes decided that the older ones were unteachable and forever lost. The Native babies and infants became their project of converting and brainwashing and molding them into what they deemed as a proper and correct human being.
The children’s names were change to Christen names, their hair was cut short, their buckskin clothing and sacred medicine bags were stripped from them, along with any trace of their own heritages and cultures of who and what they were.
They were forbidden to speak their own languages ever again, or be whipped severely for doing so! If caught doing anything against their rules, the children were treated worse than what any animal would have been, beaten to a bloody pulp or starved to death or shot in front of others! Even worse, was that the children was subjected to do sexual favors, girls raped, boys sodomize over and over, by these same “Holy People” of God the Creator, all done in the name of “Christianity”.
Many ask, “What has all this to do with the Native people of today”? That all was in the past you think? No my friends, not just the so distant past, but even into present day. The memory and hurt are still very real, and there are generations still living from when some of this took place.
People have told the Native, “Don’t dwell on the past” it is not that the people dwell on it, it is a fact it still exists into present day! Granted there are a few changes here and there, but it has only been recently in this age of modernization. It is only because the Native Americans “Blended and Mixed” so well into the melting pot of civilization becoming the “Hidden Indian” of today.
Do you realize that Native “Americans” under the Constitution of the United States, were not made American “Citizens” until the late 1900's? A country and land that the Original Peoples had lived on since from the beginning of time. What if the tables had been turned around? How would the Europeans have felt if the Natives had invaded their lands and people and religious belief, changing everything they had ever known and loved for centuries of generations?
The Native “Americans” in some States even to present day, are segregated and still classed lower than any other minority or race of human beings, on the face of this planet! No other race of human beings has to have a “Government” card, to prove to even their own people and race that they are Native! Treated as if like animals, that had to have “Pedigree Documents” to show they are not mongrels of lesser breeding and worth, to even be counted as a human. The brainwashing never ended did it? Think about it. In the everyday work place today, every company, business, factory etc. has a “Minority Quota” to fill for the “Non-Discrimination act”. What is not told, that each minority that is hired, that organization or company receives $500.00 for each head, like a heard of cattle. Then after the 90-day probationary period one is given to prove their worth as a productive asset to that company or organization, the shuffling begins all over! Some are kept working for maybe a year or so ( only to make it look legal and above board) then the cycle begins again with new hires and lay offs.....Sound familiar to some of you? The only way to succeed and have a decent chance to advance in any field, is to bluntly lie on the job applications about their own race and claim to be that of the Caucasian race.
Sure, being mixed is no problem, but, some have too many “prominent features” on the outside to do this.
Now the suicide rate among the Native people to recent date April 2005, is up to 400% than any state level, young and old alike. This is not counting the birthrate that is declining along with it. Alcohol, drugs, combined with utter hopelessness among the people is soon to become unmeasured by any standard known.
Ever been to an Indian Hospital? Granted some has nice facilities, appear to be quite modern and up-to-date, but behind the scenes are quite different! They usually are staffed with the ones that are irresponsible social rejects of what are suppose to be Doctors and Nurses and Physicians. Those that could not meet the par and social standing, in any of their fields in other “regular” non-native hospitals. Ones whom either have an attitude problem from day one, or just plain do not care for anything but a paycheck. This goes for all of our Nursing homes as well.
Other hospitals on the reservations, The one or two native with maybe one non-native staff members are usually so overworked, under equipped, that they cannot handle the increasing overflow of patients on a daily basis. Either way, many die needlessly, or do not receive proper care and treatment in the agonizing process.
The few (very few) Doctors and Nurses and Physicians that do honestly care, are swept up in that same madness of pure hopelessness and despair that they cannot seem to do enough, or to even make a dent in all of it!
Yes, religion and faith in the Creator God, has become stained to a point over the years. Not to the point of being wiped out in daily lives totally, though it has at times made one doubt humanity.
The Native people have learned harsh lessons indeed, and found what was taught by the Sky Father’s own Son has truly come to pass on the people.
Because Native Americans are human beings just the same as anyone else, become weak in spirit at times and despair. Specially when one is constantly down trodden and ridiculed openly in front of people, or even from behind the masks of prejudices, jealousies, deceit or hatred. Told and made to feel over and over, they will never amount to nothing but alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, and “Sit around the Fort Indians” always depending on the government for a handout!
But, in the mist of everything, there is an “inner strength and knowledge” that still burns brightly as the sacred fires burnt centuries ago of all the ancestors. That fire and knowledge is the wisdom that all will be made right once again! No more evil and destruction physically or spiritually, of man or beast or Earth Mother!
This is what Spirituality has always consisted of as well as others of the same faith. Standing and Believing in the Love of the Sky Father’s for All His Children Everywhere! where All are Truly Equal and can Truly Care and Love Each Other! Not to become just talk or wrote on a piece of talking leaves paper, to eventually disappear into nothingness as soon as it is said or wrote down, with never having any meaning or purpose.
History speaks very loudly! of the lie that was presented to all people everywhere of equality of all men...When the “Liberty Bell” was to toll as a sign of freedom and liberty for all...Cracked! Everything was a lie! When the bell was repaired, tried once again to be sounded for truth and justice and equality of man...The Creator showed to all one final time, these people lied.
Hopefully, now maybe some can realize why, if one asks a Native American questions about their beliefs and faith and spiritually, and ask if they are “Christens”...
That if you see a sour look on their faces, or hear a negative response, you will understand, that the “God” and “Jesus Christ” presented to the Natives by the “Black Robes” did not turn out to be the same ones the Native people knew.
All races, all cultures are different and special and all are very important. But none so special or important as to dictate an entire “One-World Mold” to become something people are not, it goes against the true nature and balance of the universe which was set up by the Creator not man!
We all want to live in peace and harmony, turmoil and strife has went on long enough, and has took on the same as the “Liberty Bell” cracked and wounded. The only complete healing will come about, when the hands of the Creator God Himself will reshape this world as we know it now -
one last time!
THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT THE TRAIL OF TEARS
AS TOLD FROM A NATIVE POINT OF VIEW:©
By: ShaunaSay WhiteFeather
| “What is the real truth of The Trail of Tears”? This question was asked recently by a group of school children on my email. They expressed that they were tired of hearing only a one-sided viewpoint of the issue, and it was not from the Native American what they were being taught.
You know as well as I, there has been numerous variety of books written on this subject for years. Only, this is the very first time that someone, young or old alike, has asked point blank the Native American people, of what actually took place without assuming hearsay or just plain guessing.
I personally do not claim to be an authority on this issue. It’s only that I am a Legend Keeper of my people. I will gladly share what was passed down to me to you, the readers.
It is a welcome relief that people, of all cultures, are going to the main sources and finding out the “Rest of the Story” as that wonderful columnist/author/radio talk show host of many truths “Paul Harvey” used to say.
The experience and trauma of our loved ones and elders who did live through it all, told a totally different and gruesome story all together…this is what my elders passed down.
Many know of the most talked and read about “The Trail” From the Appalachian Mountains to Oklahoma. There was more than the one; several took place from different directions. Also, there were several Nations and Tribes not just Cherokee alone.
These forced marches were like a snowball of lives of young and old alike. Being rolled together to form the largest relocation mass of human beings in the world at that time. Not just full blood Natives, but also included people who had “mixed” into the Native Nations and Tribes.
It was considered then the time of the “Great Cleansing” by the European race. They hoped and believed it would decrease the population to a “controllable number”. To the point of extinction, if possible, along the trails.
Let’s go back in History now and learn the real story. Andrew Jackson was President. He was the first President that went against the Supreme Courts’ ruling concerning the relocation of the Cherokee and other Nations and Tribes.
Which made this an unlawful action. In other words, he broke a Federal Law and was never prosecuted or reprimanded in any way.
In fact, he was rewarded by placing his image on a piece of currency (like Caesar) and used by every American citizen. They made him a hero, for what he did to the Natives, for all to revere and admire as a Father of this country.
This is the same as rewarding “Hitler,” and all his atrocities and actions, by also placing his image on assorted things. This slapped the Jews and victims in the face over and over. Remember the “Swastika”?
One very important fact is that the blankets contained the “Small Pox Virus” of his soldiers. Andrew Jackson purposely sent to the Native people as false gifts of honor and trust. This was to help in his plan of genocide. He wanted to make room for the European race. He considered our race as less than animals and pagan heathens unworthy of living on such rich and fertile lands.
It almost worked! He destroyed over two-thirds of our Nations and Tribes! But; this was not good enough for Andrew Jackson. He wanted more, much more! So, he went against the courts and decided for a massive roundup, during the harshest part of winter, of the Native Americans. In the middle of the night, the soldiers herded all of the people up like cattle to the slaughter. Many were not allowed to even put their moccasins on to protect their feet from the cold and snow. Few were able to grab their blankets to keep warm. No food was allowed to be gathered to take along.
Only a select few of the elderly were put into wagons or on horses so they did not have to walk the entire way. Once again, the plan was for the old ones and sickly to die as soon as they could. Women, who were with child, were forced to walk. If they gave birth on the trail, it was a favorite thing of the soldiers to throw the babies up in the air, as sport, and see how many times they could shoot the newly born. Any age that died along the trails, were just left where they died. The families were never allowed to have time to bury their relations.
The women and young boys were used for sexual pleasures anytime the soldiers desired. They as well as the Blacks were placed into slavery and prostitution and sent all over the world. The women were given a special name by the Europeans, that even to present day, is still used to describe an Native American woman. Also the word is used by many authors of written novels and books in present day. These authors may or may not know that this “Special Name” still burns into our very souls, showing complete disrespect and degrading contempt of us as less than human beings…. That word is “Squaw” which actually translated, meant a woman’s private anatomy.
There were some soldiers that were part of the forced march, which kept records of these horrid events. They also had to admit that if it had not been for the Native men, they would have literally starved to death! The Native men that did the hunting for food, were more adept in the winter conditions and surroundings than the soldiers.
The March of tears, over a thousands miles, that were nothing but a murderous, bloody trail! Leading to more death and destruction…
They no sooner get settled on the land appointed to us, and then there would be oil or gold or something that would be discovered. They would be raided and killed forced to be moved again! False hopes, false promises, false truths. Their so-called land deals were set up by guess whom? It was supposedly given to us as long as the water flows and the grass is green. On a piece of paper that was called a “Treaty” that had words on it with a gold seal of the “Great White Father” in Washington.
Words, we did not understand in any of our languages, scattering our people once again to the four corners. As a result of this scattering of our people, they were mixed even more with other races, creating a paradox. This was the start of the “Hidden Indian” which slowly caused the dominant features of our people to blend more and more into the European…
The “Mixed –Bloods” of today are a strong backbone of all our Nations and Tribes. They do feel the urgency more so to preserve the cultures and heritages of our people before it is blended right on out of existence! Just what was wanted all along, complete genocide! It has not been a little more than three hundred years that all this started in the first place! And still to present day goes on! Civilization is not as old as people think, in theory maybe, but not in method.
Now, this article is not to stir up old hates and discords. It is to tell the truth in all aspects.
To be truly civilized is to live in peace and harmony with one another no matter what race one may be descended from. It should be enough to just be a human being and counted as such among all.
This, friends, has not been truly accomplished to the present day. It is another lie to be added to the bone pile, I am afraid. We are, in every aspect, brother and sister to the sacred Buffalo…If someone cannot have complete control over us, then we are to be terminated, wiped out of existence.
Why our people are so feared? It is because that we sit back very quietly, and we neither say nor do nothing to fight back against the wave upon waves of injustice.
We are feared because we have always known the outcome of this invisible war. We know that it will be our people, in the end, that our enemies will have to turn to for their continued existence.
Our people, who have kept the knowledge of the “Older Ways” that was thought of being uncouth or uncivilized.
They will be in the end, the only way to rebuild the mess and damage done to this world as a whole, both physically and spiritually.
TIMES THEN AND NOW
By: ShaunaSay WhiteFeather
OSIYO! (O-SEE-O)! In the Cherokee (Tsalagi) Sal-la-gee Native Language. You see, you have already learned two words of a Native Language. Ugh! And How! Was not a part of our vocabulary, only in Hollywood.
The glamour and glitz of the "Hollywood Image" of all of us having jet black hair, dark brown eyes, and dark skin, is just as ridiculous then as it is now. Some "B" grade movies were quite interesting though, with all the make-up (or lack of) and the hair (wigs made out of horse tail). And of course let us not forget the famous line, said in broken English in almost every movie..."White man speak with forked tongue!"
Also, in the movies, they have all of our people dancing around a huge bonfire, whooping and hollering and wailing into the night. Last but certainly not least...the image of how we as Natives, ambushed wagons filled with families, raided and burnt homes, killing other human beings just to be killing for no reason.
In this issue, I would like to explain how those "images" you remember growing up with, watching on a big screen at the movie theater, or on the television at home were so terribly one-sided.
Please bear with me folks, this is not to be a criticizing, pointing fingers of blame for what has happened in the past or even into the present. As with all articles, these are only to be help mates of understanding and teaching what we truly are and how we did and do live today. Why we want to hold on to our beliefs so tightly, just as with any other culture. As in the famous words of Paul Harvey, "Now for the rest of the story"...
First off, the stereo-type that all us looked like the brother and sisters of the "Plains" being mostly in the open western regions, and the desert areas, would of course be of a darker pigmentation of skin.
The brothers and sisters of the "woodland" regions, where there are more mountains and tress and foliage, and are not out in the direct elements of the sun, would be of a lighter pigmentation. Both would be completely up to the individual either way, as to how dark or light one might become, and to the "natural" tone and color one might be to begin with. As far as hair and eye color, that always varies in degrees however you look at it with any race. The facial features also vary, some more prominent than others, some high cheek bones, some rounder faces, some longer noses, shape of the eyes, and some with the shovel teeth. These are all heritable traits from previous generations of our race. The stationary fact is, these outside variations do not diminish who and what you are on the inside.
The way the Plains dress compared to the Woodland, is a huge difference also. The Plains way of dress is mostly what you will relate to and have always seen portrayed, with the beaded buckskins and large feathered headdresses. The Woodland people did not usually wear the headdresses of the plains, and they wore mostly clothes made of cloth, not just buckskins alone. The Cherokee men wore a style of turban, with feathers attached to the side. The location of any Tribe or Nation, generally did denoted the style of dress, also depending on the climate at the time.
Lets’ speak now of the language all of us is suppose to speak. The European/English language was and is not spoke universally as some may think. That kinda was changed at the tower of Babel...
The English language itself is one of the most difficult to learn, ask any instructor of any well known university. However, any new language a person is not accustomed to speaking fluent, will sound broken and faulty. English even today is generally a secondary language, next to ones’ own racial origin. In the homes when I was growing up, the English Language was forbidden to speak.
When we as children was taken to the schools outside our Native homes, we were forbidden to speak our own languages of our own Native tongues. Talk about confusion!
Thank Goodness, present day, it is required on the reservations that children from pre-school on through high school, to read and write their own Native languages and pass the courses of each, before one is allowed to graduate to go into a collage. This does insure maybe through a few, that our Native languages are not forgotten and die completely away. Even now, there are some of the Native American collages that require students to learn their own individual tribal languages fluently, to promote the usage, and increase the continuance of such, further on in their lives and future families.
The English language was harsh sounding to us, as well as ours to the English speaking people that made way to a lot of short cuts, or what we call today "slang". The English made up many names for our tribes and Nations, by shorting or condensing our names down, so they were easier to pronounce, to a description of where we lived, or how we appeared to them.
Understand that a lot of what is considered simple words in English, becomes very complicated translated into our tongues of speech ...Sample: the word "work" in the English language, compared to the same word in the Tsalagi (Cherokee) language: di ga lv (wi) s da ne di. Although much adaptation has taken place, we as Natives still do not have certain words for certain things. We are asked frequently, how we say certain words or phrases in our languages, only to reply we have no such words.
On the subject of dancing around a fire, whooping and hollering...we love to dance and cut-a-rug like any other human being anywhere on Earth. This does not make us any different preferring the light of a good bonfire at night to dance around, compared to the light of a ballroom dance floor, or dance hall. Some of those places sure have us beat on the noise!
There are some very important differences, I would like to share at this point. Yes, we do dance for enjoyment, but the "Dance Circle" or "Dance Arena" is also a sacred place to us as Natives. This is our place of worship and prayer to the Creator of all, it is our Church. We enter it with reverence and humbleness as most does in a establishment of brick or wood. Our roof is the canopy of the universe, the walls extend as wide and far as the whole universe extends to...never ending! And our floor is Earth Mother whom we were formed by the Creators’ own loving hands, and where the Creator breathed the breath of life into our very spirits or souls. We as Natives believe we are in Church EVERYDAY, not just one or two days a week. We also believe that the Creator is only perfect, and he knows we as human beings make mistakes everyday. He loves us His children so very much, that all He asks of us in this life is to do the very best we can, and to live right and do good among our fellow human beings. By doing so, we can cross over and stand before Him and all our Ancestors that went before us, and no fault will be found in our lives in the judgment.
Now speaking of animals, we Respect them and are their caretakers just like Earth Mother. There is a big difference between worship and respect. So many times when people look at us Natives then and now, it has been a complete misunderstanding and misinterpretation of our relationship with the animals. When there is a need not just want, we wear their hides to clothe our bodies and their meat to nourish us. In return, we offer tobacco to the Creator for bringing us the animals for such purposes. But also we offer it in honor and respect to the animal that gave us its life to do so. Our beliefs are, you never take something without giving something back in return. When we as Natives, wear pelts, or claws from animals, or carry a fan made out of plumage from birds etc., it is done out of the utmost respect and honor of that animal(s). They were here on the Earth long before mankind arrived.
Lastly, the one sided image of all Native Americans, raiding and killing all the white people in the movies and on T.V. without any mercy for any age group... The full truth is rarely ever shown , where it was our homes and families that was totally destroyed by the invading settlers and military force.
It was never explained in these shows for years, why we fought. It was out of defense not offence.
Treaties of so called Peace was never kept. We was only handed a rolled up piece of paper with writing on it, that we could not read, telling us we had to leave lands that we grew up on, and our ancestors before us, and ancestors before them generations of generations of generations. If we did not, we all would be wipe off the face of the Earth....Just so the "Foreigners" who left their lands could push us off ours for their greed. It is also conveniently forgotten at times, we did offer to share our lands and food with the multitudes, instead we were slaughtered and lied to. When we fought back, then we were labeled "savages and animals", not worthy to live on our lands, but to be exterminated to make room for others not of our race. All of this is not just in the past, but sadly is in the present, just in different forms always raising its ugly head up!
This is where changes has to be made for the betterment of all! This is where learning from one another the whole truth, and whole history, become aware of each others feelings and beliefs, not just assuming or quick judge. This is how wounds old and new can be healed. Sure, we don’t live in the past of what our ancestors on either side did, but until the past is healed through understanding, the future cannot be healed for our children or our children children.
"Let us face the winds together"
TIMES OF THE SEASONS
By ShaunaSay WhiteFeather
In the times of the seasons, when some of us celebrate different holidays, the one time of all celebrations, that brings our collective thoughts and hearts together more than any other time is, the celebration of a tiny infant's birthday.
That infant grew into a young man, that showed the world what Love truly means, by loving us as none other ever has, giving His very young life for an entire world's salvation from death and destruction.
Every culture, has their own way of honoring and respecting this "special time" set aside for the world to come together at the same time in harmony and worship, and to give Honor for this man who was the Son of the Creator of All.
No matter what language one speaks, or what name is given this one, He will always remain the same to all human beings upon this earth. The most common name given this man of all our hearts is Jesus Christ the Son of Man.
I wish to tell you a story about this man, told in the way of my native people....
When the world as we know it, was so very young and full of new life and people, we did not know your language as we do now called "English" we only spoke our language of our tribes and nations then.
In my tribe the "A ni yv wi ya" you, the English now call, "Cherokee" were passed from generation to generation this story of the great Chief of all Chiefs, and the Son of the Chief of all Chiefs, our Creator and Father of all.
There came a time when all our people were of one people, no divisions or separations like now. A great Chief came and visited our people, he sat in the circle with the elders, and told us of the greatest Chief of all, the Creator of all good things His Father and ours.
He told us of a time when there would come like the herds of many buffalo, that could not be counted in number, a people much different than ours, a people of light-skinned men and women and children. Who would have different ways than our own; there would be good and bad alike.
Some only will want what does not belong to them, and will try to destroy all things in their way to get what they want, there would also be good ones who only want to live in peace among us and the lands.
As there is good and bad in all things there will always be a balance of both.
We were told by the Son of the Greatest Chief of All, that even He would be destroyed by some of these light-skinned ones, who would not want to believe or hear the Father of all, words and wisdom to all His people everywhere of every race and color, to live in peace and harmony together, not to fight or kill one another in anger or hate or jealousy.
But the Father of all wanted his children to always listen to our heart of hearts, where He would speak only truth within each of us. We were to do the very best we could in all things, that was all He would ever ask from each of us. To treat our brothers and sisters of all tribes and nations, and Earth Mother and all things of nature with utmost respect and honor, for they are also of our Father's Creation.
If that honor and respect was not shared in the right manner, with good hearts only, then turn and walk away in peace, and pray for the dishonorable one to find peace within again.
As we say today, "Go in peace, NOT pieces"
The story of my Ancestors came very true, and the Son of the greatest of ALL Chiefs was murdered for trying to tell the world of the Fathers’ love for us all. The light-skinned ones came and did what we were foretold about, what they could not control they destroyed.
But, we still try to live in peace, trying to keep alive the harmony and balance we learned from our Ancestors, although the cruelty, and hatred and prejudices and jealousies have not stopped even to present day, only hid now behind false masks of so-called society and humanity.
We are the “Lost Tribes” and like the Hebrew children of Egypt, we are still wondering when our time will come for the promised lands of our people again.
Yes, the seasons will still come and go as well as time itself, and mankind as a whole is headed for that time of rebirth and cleansing once again for the final time.
The promised lands will be returned to all good people of all races on this earth. The Greatest Chief of All, our Father Creator, with such love for us, will see that it will all be fixed and made all right and much better than ever.
All that can be done is to live closest to humanly possible, the way we were asked to by our Father. Growing, and learning from each other, loving, even fighting sometimes among each other as siblings do, that is what will always be, until... "Father" decides that is enough...
Because, we are exactly like what our children will ALWAYS be to us no matter how old they get, and what we will ALWAYS be to our parents and their parents and their parents, all the way back to the original parents........Children.
By: ShaunaSay WhiteFeather
|In this day and time, so many people are taking other people through the court systems at a drop of the hat, to settle personal differences that could be solved one-on-one if the parties would try to communicate with each other.
According to definitions in Webster's Dictionary, the word "Communication" means: 1) Make Known 2) Transmit 3) Exchange News, etc.
In the society we know today, communication between "LIVE" human beings is almost obsolete like the T-Model Ford.
In this world of "Automation" we spend more time pushing buttons to get through a very long list of recorded "Automated" instructions, just to be able to talk to someone. By the time you wait, and finally hear a "Real Human Voice" you have a tendency to forget why you called in the first place! That's Communication..........
From the beginning of Creation and mankind, there was installed within each of us, the gift of "Choice" from our Creator. Along with this gift came "Responsibility" of making decisions, that not only concern us personally, but; everyone and everything around us day by day. Life itself, casts ever growing ripples out wave upon wave, like a pebble thrown into a pond. Each wave like life, connecting to another and another by touch, sounds, emotions and actions.
Our actions do speak louder than words, as someone once said. Our "Intentional" thoughts put into actions, be it positive or negative, come directly from our true spirits and hearts.
Learning how to interact, react or just let things take a natural course, is part of our humanity we are taught from birth. Some of us who are considered nostalgic -- compared to others of today, trying to still be a part of this human race in some way -- continue to use what was once called, using your plain "Common Sense".
But sadly, we see that common sense is being programmed out of our youth and adults, and being replaced by machines that think for them.
What happened to "Ciphering" your mathematics and life's problems in your own heads and hearts, instead of depending on calculators and computers or psycho-analysts?
Nature is not always a smoother way to go either.....Mother Nature, is true to her form always, she holds NO bars! Take time to look around you, see how she deals with day to day situations, things can get pretty gruesome to say the least!
Like a prairie fire in the plains, all seems as if all life is destroyed by the action of fire, however, when nature is allowed to run its course, and the rains come and rinse the ashes away, there you will see a "Rebirth" of growth, a new beginning.
Therefore, must mankind go through a "Prairie Fire of Life" sometimes to continue to grow spiritually and physically. Sometimes too, it seems some of us go through more than others, and we wonder why? While others go trip, trip, tripping through this life without too much effort on their parts as human beings.
We as individuals, often feel at times we have to carry more than our fair share and can never get ahead in anything. Because, like in some ancient mythical ritual dance, we step two-steps forward and five steps backward.
On a good note, not all is doom and gloom folks! Life is and very much can be a wonderful experience. IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT! by your choice, don't become so caught up in this rat-race or continual ruts we so easily slip into, as a pair of old sneakers or favorite pair of jeans.
My Grandmother like most of yours, had a saying for everything in life. Here is one I would love to share.........
"There will always be someone out there in this world a whole lot worse off than you think you are, count your blessings not your problems".
WISDOM OF OUR ELDERS
By: ShaunaSay WhiteFeather
Elders have and do play such an important role in the spiritual and physical development of our very nature and lives as a human being.
We can reflect back every day of our lives on the advice and wisdom, sometimes; having to be given a very stern glance, because of our mule like stubbornness at times, when we tried our wings too soon....
So often, in these modern days and times, we forget loved ones, and allow people and things of this world take precedence over the special times with them.
Even if it means we sometimes listen to the same stories of long past, for the thousand and one time again, but; no matter how many times, they are still are as rich and full flavored like a hot cup of coffee in the morning.
Each one containing a true lesson of life if we only listen and pay attention, to the moral at the ending of a favorite fable.
In this fast paced society, there arises situations that may force families to place their beloved elders into health care facilities or nursing homes.
The unforgivable crime is to put off and make excuses with how much time we spend with these precious treasures. After they are dead and gone from this world, wishing we had spent more time with them, not just on holidays and birthdays.
The Native Americans have a special way of honoring our elders still to this day. We listen to their council and wisdom in our gatherings and communities, and by allowing our children to be taught by them on a daily basis, especially when we as young parents then and now, were busy making provisions for the family as a whole.
We took the young boys to the elder men to learn of the responsibilities of manhood and the social ways of the tribe, as well as the young girls to the elder women to learn what they needed to know as a young woman and what her responsibilities would be in life as a woman to her husband and people.
The reason we did this is because of their wisdom and "Elder-Standing" with the people or Nation. For even a more simpler reason, they as elders have walked on this earth longer than we, and have experienced so many things of this world we have yet to experience. As some may say, like my sweet Grandmother; hope and pray there are a lot of things we will never have to experience.
So, when you go to the nursing homes and such, instead of showering those loved ones with just gifts of candy and such, and bid a quick and fond hello and goodbye, Give what is so desperately needed more of......... Your time, to let them pass their thoughts and wisdom on to you.
Remember, one day, you may be where they are today......
May the Creator of All Bless and Keep you and yours Always
By David Wolfe
English Words Cherokee Words
Cold Moon…January Unolvtani
Bony Moon…February Kagali
Windy Moon…March Anvy
Flower Moon…April Kawoni
Planting Moon…May AniSguti
Green Corn Moon...June Tihaluhiyi
Ripe Corn Moon…July Guyegwoni
Fruit Moon...August Galoni
Nut Moon...September Dultidsdi
Harvest Moon...October Duninudi
Trading Moon...November Nudadequa
Snow Moon...December Usgiyi
TRADITIONAL EVENTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE MOONS:
JANUARY: Cold Moon Unolvtani
This time of the season is a time for personal and ritual observance, (Physical or Spiritual) fasting and purification.
During this season, families prepare for the coming of the new seasons, starting in the Windy Moon Anuyi or March. Personal items and tools for planting are repaired, and new ones made. Stories about ancestors and the family are imparted to the younger ones by the Elders. A mid-winter or "Cold Moon Dance" is usually held in the community as well, marking the passing or ending of one cycle of seasons and welcoming of the new cycle. Hearth fires are put out and new ones made. The putting out of Fires and lighting of new ones anciently is the duty of certain "priests" of certain clans, and coincides with the first new-arrival of the morning star in the East.
FEBRUARY: Bony Moon Kagali
Traditional time of personal-family feast for the ones who had departed this world. A family meal is prepared with place(s) set for the departed. This is also a time of fasting and ritual observance. A community dance officiated by a "doctor" Didanawiskawi referred to as a Medicine-person/Holy Person. Connected to this moon is the "Medicine Dance".
MARCH: Windy Moon Anuyi
"First New Moon" of the new seasons. Traditional start of the new cycle of planting seasons or Moons. New town council fires are made. A special dance and ceremony is done to give honor and respect to the "Four Directional Spirits" also known as the "Four Arch Angels" that the Creator God (He is called by many names in many different tongues and languages of the world, Yowa, Yahweh, The Great Spirit, The Great Mystery, to name just a very few of the Native terms) He is still all the same one and only God of the entire universe whom gave charge, to the four Directional Spirits/Arch Angels over the four corners of the Earth.
They are also responsible to help in protecting all from evil and total destruction.
NOTE: Native Americans "The Original People" DO NOT worship these beings or any animal(s), they only give full and absolute worship to the Creator God only and His Son .
Respect and Honor is what is given and shown to mother earth and animals and other human beings and spiritual beings (Like our Ancestors/Loved ones before us) Also, the spiritual beings created by the Creator of all called "Angels".
APRIL: Flower Moon Kawoni
First plants of the season come out at this time. New births are customary within this time frame. The first new medicine and herb plants are blooming and are easier to find to prepare for harvesting later. Rivers and streams are are renewed from the winter, cleansed fresh and free flowing once again.
A dance and ceremony is performed in honor of the "Long People"(Water People/Spirits) called by the Tsalagi (Cherokee) people, the "Knee Deep Dance or Water Frog Dance".
MAY: Planting Moon Anisguti
Families traditionally prepare the fields and sow them with the stored seeds from the last season. Corn, beans, squashes, tomatoes, potatoes, yams, and sunflowers are just some of the basic foods planted at this time. A dance called the 'Corn Dance" is traditionally held at this time.
JUNE: Green Corn Tihaluhiyi
First signs of the "corn in tassel" and the emerging of the various plants in the field. People traditionally begin preparations for the upcoming festivals for the growing season. This is one of the many times throughout the entire year that, that the needs of the Elderly or in firmed of the villages and towns of the Tribe(s) or Nation(s) needs are seen to and met.
JULY: Ripe Corn Moon Guyegwoni
First foods or the new planting and the roasting ears of corn are ready. Towns begin the cycle festivals. Dances and celebrations of thanks, honor and respect are given to Earth Mother during this time. In the old times this was the traditional time of the "Green Corn Dance" or festival. A common reference of this moon is the "first roasting of ears of corn" also called the "Sweet Corn Moon". This is the customary time for commencement of the Stick Ball games traditionally called AniStusti, "Little War". Today known as "LaCross". Stickball dances and festivals are commonly held at this time.
AUGUST: Fruit Moon Galoni
Foods of the trees and bushes are gathered at this time. The various "Paint Clans" begin to gather many of the herbs and medicines to make into salves, poultices and tinctures etc.
Green Corn festivals are commonly held at this time in the present day. The "Wild Potato" clans AniNudawegi, begin harvesting various foods growing along the streams, marshes, lakes and ponds.
SEPTEMBER: Nut Moon Duliidsdi
The corn harvest referred to as "Ripe Corn Festival" was customarily held in the early part of this moon to acknowledge Selu the spirit of corn. Selu is thought of as the first woman (Mother Earth). This festive "The Brush Feast" done at this time is to give Honor and Respect to Earth Mother for her yielding and providing all foods during the growing season. Most of all for the fact that we are all from the dust of Earth Mother from the very beginning of time formed by the Creators' hands, and breathed the breath of life into by the Creator of the entire Universe. It also is a time of remembrance that we as all things, go through "four cycles of life". Birth, Infant,Youth and Elderhood/Maturity. Then the cycle begins again as does Spring, summer, fall and winter.
All the fruits and nuts of the bushes and trees of the forest and surrounding areas were gathered at this time. These usually went into many varieties of foods and breads. Hunting began at this time for storage and preparation of the winter to come.
OCTOBER: Harvest Moon Duninudi
Time of traditional "Harvest Festival" Nowatequa when the people gave thanks to all living things of the field and earth that helped the people to live. The "Great Moon" festival was held at this time.
NOVEMBER: Trading Moon Nudadaequa
Traditionally a time of trading and barter among different towns and tribes for manufactured goods, produced and goods from hunting. The "Original People" traded with other nearby tribes and Nations from all over the world, by land and sea long before the European came to be known.
This was the time of the "Friendship Festival" Adohuna means "New Friends Made". This was also the time, that all transgressions were forgiven, except for murder. Murder was traditionally taken care of according to the "Law of Blood" by the individual clans of that murdered person. The festival results recalls a time before "world selfishness and greed". This was a time also again, is a time when the needy among the people are given whatever is needed to help them through the impending lean winter season.
DECEMBER: Snow Moon Usgiyi
The spirit being, "Snow Man", brings the cold and snow for the Earth to cover the high places while the Earth rests until the "Rebirth of the Seasons". Families traditionally were busy putting up and storing goods for the next cycle of seasons. Elders enjoyed teaching and retelling stories of ancient times and present of the people and things to the young to pass on to their young later on, keeping history and beliefs alive.
NOTE: THESE TWO STORIES WERE PLACED HERE UNDER THE LESSONS PAGE, BECAUSE OF THEIR TREMENDOUS IMPACT ON LIFE.
THE WOODEN BOWL:
A frail Elder man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four year old grandson. The Elder man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faulted.
The family ate together at the table. But the Elderly Grandfather's shaky hands and failing eyesight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about Grandfather," said the son. I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor. So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather sat alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.
When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp and very harsh when he dropped a fork or spilled food.
The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with some wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?" Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making little bowls for you and momma to eat your food in when I grow up."
The four-year-old smiled and went back to work. The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then the tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork dropped, milk was spilled, or a tablecloth soiled.
THE FENCE AND NAILS:
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day, the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence..
Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it, and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him by the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.
You can put a knife in a man and draw it out, it won't matter how many times you say " I'm sorry", the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.
Woman and a Fork
There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had
been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things 'in order,'
she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects
of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service,
what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman
suddenly remembered something very important to her.
'There's one more thing,' she said excitedly.
he Pastor's reply.
'This is very important,' the young woman continued. 'I want to be buried with a fork
in my right hand.' The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing
quite what to say. that surprises you, doesn't it?' the young woman asked.
'Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request,' said the Pastor.
The young woman explained. 'My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time
on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of
encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when
the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,
'Keep your fork.' It was my favorite part because I knew that something
better was coming...like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and
with substance!' So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand
and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them:
'Keep your fork ..the best is yet to come.' The Pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he
hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he
would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp
of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people
twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.
She KNEW that something better
At the funeral people were walking by the young woman's casket and they saw the cloak she was
wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the Pastor heard the question,
'What's with the fork?' And over and over he smiled. during his message, the Pastor told the people of
the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about
the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about
the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.
He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so
gently, that the best is yet to come. Friends are a very rare jewel,indeed They
make you smile and encourage you to succeed Cherish the time you have , and
the memories you share .... being friends with someone is not an opportunity
but a sweet