The Iroquois Thanksgiving Address

 

Ohenton Kariwahtekwen
(Greetings to the Natural World)
Native Americans believe that to be human is a gift and an honor, requiring mindful gratitude. Still spoken at Iroquois ceremonial and governmental gatherings, this Thanksgiving Address dates back more than 1,000 years and elegantly recognizes the many gifts in our lives.

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 one 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 time.

We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life.

As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. We give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

We send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their 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 are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us 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 giving us strength.

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.

We give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time 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.

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.
 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 we were instructed to live as people.

Now we turn our thoughts to the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator, or Great Spirit.

Now our minds are one.

To read the entire address, which has been shortened above, visit www.NativeVillage.org/Inspiration-/iroquois_thanksgiving_address.htm.

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