Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Native American wisdom

"...I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches, we want peace and love."

"It is strictly believed and understood by the Sioux that a child is sacrifices and promises. Therefore the child is considered 'sent by Wakan Tanka,' through some element - namely the element of human nature." Robert Higheagle, early 20th century (Teton Sioux)

It is good to listen to other people's wisdom. "...we do want to train our children right." The people of the Plains knew that to survive they must inculcate their values into their young people. What do we know today? Apparently, it is right to imbue our children with the beliefs of others even if those others do not speak your language or what is right in your view. It seems to me to be a fundamental dais of democracy that we teach our children our codex of living, that when another claims to speak for you, that he should be warned "This is not my way. These are not ideas that my children should be taught. My thoughts are different to yours and that does not make them wrong. It makes them different."

Many children are jeered at in large groups for being different. They cannot run as fast or talk with the same ease about what everyone else thinks essential. They are uninterested in whatever fascinates the group. Does that then mean we have to ostracise them? Have we devolved so much as a society that we cannot tolerate difference? That we abhor those who do not share the interests that we enjoy?


A child is sacrifices and promises. A child is what you give up for love; what you abjure for your child's sake. You cannot have it all, and, in trying, you may lose the very heart of your heart -your child. A child is sacrifices and promises. What a wonderful phrase.

Should we then have to sacrifice our civil rights because a few greedy men are lost enough to think that we will not notice the absence of them. Or perhaps it is to accustom our children to the gradual loss of their own rights - their rights to live unafraid, to own their work, their writing, their maths, their art and their poetry and their dance, and to retain their privacy?

Our children are sent to us by Waken Tanka. Will we fail to help them to fulfill their promise? Will we hand them a legacy of sacrifice?

Wakan Tanka, I dedicate to you the fruit of love which is our children. Without you, they would not be. Make them strong to run through the deep dark of the forest; make them wise to see through oppressive and dangerous webs of wicked words from evil men. Make them heed their humanity. Make them celebrate difference and diversity. May they never grow less, and may they be governed by you in love and peace. Forever.

1 comment:

  1. Native American wisdom is THE wisdom. I don't know why it isn't quoted more, or referred to more in daily life. It seems such a shame to not spread such sense around, and I'm glad you quoted here how you did. Thumbs up as usual!