If you know me well enough, you can imagine that while I have fond memories of Thanksgiving as a part of a wonderful, loving family, I have come to understand that what I was taught in elementary school, per the original Thanksgiving and it's meaning, was at best a glorified story with minimal truth to it. Simply a product of dominant culture and its Manifest Destiny through the ages, so I've learned to accept the situation for what it is. For our First Nations peoples, this is no holiday worth celebrating, for understandable reasons.
Being thankful at a special time is Good, though I would suggest that EVERY day should represent EVERY holiday and special thought wrapped up into One. And, so, I pass along to you an Iroquois Thanksgiving prayer/address that, for me, hits home as we all try to come to grips with what is our unavoidable Oneness...of which we all are, but few truly embrace. I welcome this time of Thanksgiving...given the rat-race pace and materialistic bent many live, this earthen Native perspective rings truths all of us would do well to hear...
GREETINGS TO THE NATURAL WORLD
Iroquois Thanksgiving Address
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life
continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and
harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we
bring our minds together as on as we give greetings and
thanks to each other as people.
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives
us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we
walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to
care for us as she has from the beginning of them. To our
Mother, the Earth, we send greetings and thanks.
We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching
our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We
know its power in many forms waterfalls and rain, mists
and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send
greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.
We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They
were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also
give themselves to us a food. We are grateful that we can
still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send
our greetings and thanks.
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as
the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They
sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together,
we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for
many generations to come.
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food
Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of
time, the grains, vegetables, beans, and berries have helped
the people survive. Many other living things draw strength
from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one
and send them a greeting of thanks.
Now we turn to all the Medicine Herbs of the world. From
the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness.
They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy
there are still among us, those special few, who remember
how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we
send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the
keepers of the Medicines.
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks
to all the Animal Life in the world. They have many things
to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give
up their lives so we may use the bodies as food for our
people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests.
We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.
We no turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many
families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses.
Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit,
beauty, and other useful things. Many people of the world
use a Tree as a symbols of peace and strength. With one mind,
we greet and thank the Tree life.
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds
who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them
beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and
appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To
all the Birds from the smallest to the largest we send our
joyful greetings and thanks.
We are thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds.
We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh and
purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change
of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us
messages and a giving us strength.
With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four
Winds. Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder
Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they
bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our
minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our
Grandfathers, the Thunderers.
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the
Sun. Each day without fail, he travels the sky from east to
west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of
all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and
thanks to our Brother, the Sun.
We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest
Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the nighttime sky. She is
the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the
movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face, we
measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the
arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send
greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky
like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to
light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and
growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home.
With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings
and thanks to the Stars.
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened
Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When
We forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way
were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send
greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.
Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit,
God, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of
Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on
this Mother Earth. For all the love that is around us, we
gather our mind together as one and send our choicest words
of greetings and thanks to the Creator.
Now our minds are one.