Our culture and our lives were not as complicated as today. There is so much negativity in today’s world. Negativity breeds confusion. Most confusion comes from lack of knowledge and a complicated life. It comes from books, tapes, and people as supposed teachers. Our people based their lives on order and logic. Everything had its place in the world including plants, animals, birds, and man.
Many people today are looking for "the answers". It is a shame that they get tied up in witchcraft, voodoo, tarot cards, and ouija boards. So many books have been written about native culture. Some of them are a good source of history, but that is all. When they cover the spiritual side of our people, they were not taught and are what we call "New Age Indians". They make up things and say it is the truth. One way to look at things is the old "test of time" adage. If the teachings have stood the test of time, then that is good. If it is a new concept, there may be problems. Our culture has lasted for thousands of years and has done most all the changing that needs to be done before the whites came. Our beliefs HAVE stood the test of time.
Our children are taught from birth some concepts that have lasted and should be in everyone’s life today, but sadly, they are not. Respect, peace, spiritualism, logic and order are maintained in all aspects of our lives. We see order in nature and apply this to our lives. Logic is also in nature and as stated, our old ones put all "things" in nature in neat, simple categories. This order stopped confusion in nature and explained why the bat lived in two worlds, the Lower World and the Upper World. Peace was prayed for in order to stop troublesome confusion in our lives. The Great Sun, our leader, was to pray for peace and cooperation. This was the warriors' prayer as well, "peace above all, peace at all cost."
Today, each person can reach peace in many different ways. It can be found by going to the woods and quietly meditating. You can also go to a quiet place in your home and meditate (or talk to Grandfather). While you are in deep thought, think of a fire burning at night in a wooded area. This may help you find peace through solitude. Peace can come out of discord. After going through turmoil, one may experience a type of peace. Going through "rough waters" can teach peace, but it is a hard lesson. Inner peace comes from knowing one's self and accepting who you are with a feeling of well-being.
Some Ceremonies can also assist one in finding inner peace. Going to an authentic sweat lodge is very good to rid one of stress that is stopping inner peace. As the body purifies itself through the process of sweating, a relaxed feeling may be felt and can help stop stress. Remember, men and women are NOT to sweat together each have their own sweats as their medicine is different. Sagging one’s house, or having someone smudge you, is also helpful in reaching inner peace. Above all, stress and confusion must be dealt with and disposed of to find inner peace. Accepting and a feeling of self-worth are most important in keeping inner peace. Respecting self, nature, and others, keeps peace in our lives and helps in our culture to keep order. Respect is taught at an early age. It is instilled in our children’s life and follows them as they grow and strive to become an adult.
Our ancestors held the concept of respect very high in the culture. Nature is respected in many ways. It is shown by the hunter who thanks the animal he killed and Grandfather for the meat. After cooking the food, a piece of meat was given to the "little people" out of respect and to say thank you to the 'angels'. The person collecting the feathers said thanks to the bird and left tobacco, all the while thanking Grandfather for the feathers. The people collecting herbs and other plants also left tobacco and thanked God out of respect. Respect was in everyday life, and one never made a comment if they thought it would offend. Harsh words were not as common place as they are today. When we gather, we hold this idea foremost in our hearts and minds. Each is allowed to speak his/her opinion without fear of harsh words being returned. Our elders are respected and taken care of and fed - not like in many other cultures which lets them fend for themselves. When an elder was working, the young ones would rush to help to make their task easier. They may even be taught something by the elder and this was reward enough. When the white priests came, they thought it strange that we let our children "run wild" and then help the old people. Anger was dealt with in silence and prayer - never vented upon someone. This was out of respect for one's self and others. Who wants to be the object of an angry person?
When our people gather for dance, eating, ceremony, or any event, one can see the respect given to others. When we eat, respect is given to Grandfather and His angels for providing for us. The order we eat is important: the children eat first, then the visitors, the elders are next, then the men, the women and last, the Great Sun is fed. (The Great Sun eats last because his prayers are for the people first.) This order is never broken and is for several reasons. It makes sense that the children eat first for they are the future; we honor all visitors as in the old days; next the elders, who hold the wisdom of the people which needs to be preserved. Let someone disrespect a child or an elder, or any of our people, then the Sacred Fire will "eat them up."
A person's honor is tied together with respect. Honor is something our people still hold highly in their lives. It can be seen by the way Indian people treat others and the lack of 'me' being so important. The 'BIG ME' leads to all kinds of problems. There are some aspects of honor that should be in all of our lives. Sadly it is missing in todays fast pace world. An example would be the "white lies" people tell in their jobs, families, and to each other. The lies in the job are justified by the person trying to save the company or themselves from embarrassment or loosing money. Many people have their priorities all backwards as it seems it is me first and others last. This includes everyone. We sure can not take responsibility for our actions for this shows every one we are lacking at something. I would tell people that if you fall just get up dust yourself off and walk on. The same applies in all aspects of life. If you make a blunder then accept it and apologize (if necessary) and go on and try not to do the same thing again.
One thing I have found out over the years is that lying and Honor do NOT fit together under any circumstances. I'm sure you know that once you lie you have to tell a dozen or more to keep the first lie a 'truth'. Then we forget what was said as people look sideways at us. Yes it is inevitable a liar is found out. Honor is shown when a man gives his word on something and he means to keep it. He does not have his fingers crossed behind his back. At all cost he is going to try and keep this 'verbal contract' with himself going to the end. You did not need a written contract with Native people long ago. All they expected of you was to give your word and sometimes a handshake. Today this type of action is not trusted in business. Each person mistrust the other as respect and honor are thrown out the window. Cold an calculating is most of the business with the white man. Hang around a few native people for a while and you will see this respect and honor in action. I sure wish others would pick this up and apply it to their lives. The world would be a better place to live.
These words were written to explain respect, peace, order - to help you get an idea of each as they apply to our lives. It is a shame that some of the native people of today, especially the young ones, have lost these basic concepts of our culture. It seems that the "tribes" are concerned with "me" and not with getting along as we did in the old days. Too much of the negative aspects of today’s society have touched us, and we must work hard to keep peace, order, and respect in our lives.