New Years Resolution

Make a New Year resolution to ‘spend time with a Native Elder.’   There can be no value placed on the teachings of our elders.  It will feed your mind, your soul, your creativity, your very being and what they pass on to you will multiply.   The wisdom of great teachers is that they let those who seek knowledge find them.  Native Elders do not need to seek pupils.  It is our task –and our duty– to seek out and find our teacher(s), and the journey in search of our teacher(s) is most times part of the lesson.  How can we know what we need to learn if we continually allow others to determine our lessons and our gifts for us.  Elders add such texture and richness to our lives.  And regardless of where we may be, there are always Elders to be found.

Nature teaches us simultaneously through all of our senses and we can learn much from nature.  But it would be of  great benefit to also seek out the deep knowledge and wisdom we could acquire from our Elders, who are solidly rooted in the old ways and can teach us how to live in better harmony with nature.  Our Elders have wisdom that spans so much living.  We lose perspective by limiting ourselves to one or two generational living.  If we do not seek out their teachings, the teachings are lost forever.  Seek and preserve what must be passed on for the good of all.  Absorb all you can while the option is yours.  What you learn and do in your life (or do not learn or do…) will affect a minimum of three generations.  The wisdom we gain on our journey will be mulipled many times over when we assume our role as Elder and share the teachings that were shared with us.  This is why they call it a ‘living heritage.’

I challenge you… find your teacher(s) in the new year.

Woogee & Eva

“A warrior who had more than he needed would make a feast.
He went around and invited the old and needy. . .
The man who could thank the food—some worthy old medicine man or warrior
—said, “. . . . look to the old, they are worthy of old age;
they have seen their days and proven themselves.
With the help of the Great Spirit, they have attained a ripe old age.
At this age the old can predict or give knowledge or wisdom,
whatever it is; it is so.” 
Black Elk, Oglala Sioux holy man
Published in: on December 29, 2007 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Native American ‘Give-Away’ Tradition

In the spirit of Christmas, I thought it would be nice to post something on the Native American custom of the ‘give-away’ which is practiced at honor dances, weddings, and on many other occasions. It is a beautiful practice. For example, when an honor dance is held for a particular person, that person (or the family of that person) is the gift-giver and the gifts are given to the guests. In most other societies, it is the exact opposite, in that the honored one is the person who ‘expects the gifts from the guests.’

In the Native culture, many times ‘the most valuable’ is saved to give away and ‘storing or hording things’ is not understood. There is a high value placed on giving away and sharing what is ours. Once something is given away, all strings to that gift are broken. The gift is given with no expectations. Native people believe that what is given always comes back to the giver in one way or another in another form of good. Native people also believe that bad (intentions, actions, etc.) results in bad returning to the doer. I believe that one of the greatest gift is when you give your time to others, in whatever form it is given. Although it is now the season for giving, it is good and healthy to be generous in spirit throughout the year. It is always the giver who receives the greatest blessing.

I found a post, which puts it beautifully: Enjoy.

The following post can be found at:
Posted by Sizzle –on 18-12-2007 @ 05:12 PM

Give-aways can be traced back to the tribes/nations of the mid-western and high plains. As with fry-bread, we don’t know the specific tribal tradition of origin. In the broad sense, a give-away is nearly the reverse of the majority culture’s understanding of gift giving. In the majority culture, the expectation is to receive gifts when being honored, recognized, or celebrated on special occasions, such as birthdays, graduations, retirements, political elections, or special appointments. Historically, in the Native American tradition, many nations/tribes have conducted a give-away when being honored. One gives to strangers, not simply hoping to make friends, but because it is the honorable thing to do. One gives to honor a relative, and this in turn honors that person in the eyes of the community. One gives when one seemingly has nothing to give.

Today the give-away practice continues in the communities and gatherings of many tribes and nations. It is being practiced more and more as Native Americans reclaim their traditions.
Ray Buckley, who is a Lakota/Tlingit, said that in many Native American cultures, what matters is not what someone has but what the person is able to give away to others.

“It is not the value of the gift, but the giving itself that is culturally relevant,” he said. “Giving a gift that may not have significant monetary worth, but significant spiritual or personal value is a sign of a giving heart.”
In the Lakota tradition, he said, all living things created by God are often referred to as “people.” The Lakotas have a phrase, “mitaque oyasin,” which means “all my relations” and refers to all human beings, four-legged animals, and those that can fly, swim and crawl. “In The Give-Away, the four-legged and those that can fly gather for council to discuss the needs of the two-legged (human beings). In an attempt to meet the needs of humanity, they offer the most precious parts of themselves. In the end, it is the Creator who chooses to give away the greatest gift for humankind — the Son of God,” Buckley said.

Because of a love for Christ that defied persecution, Native Christians survived “the cultural dismemberment that the church often brought,” he said. Native Christians have existed for more than 500 years and have left a legacy of music, testimony and art, he said.
Most of the Native cultures found the message of Jesus to be consistent with the “truth that God had given their ancestors,” he said. Some Native people found that the story of Christ’s birth fulfilled tribal prophecies. Some of those who chose Christianity also wanted to maintain their culture and worship God with expressions that were relevant to their traditions.“In many ways, Native people are beginning to gain confidence that the work of God within Native people has cultural significance not only to the church, but to the world at large,” Buckley said. “Native people, including Native Christians have much, and the desire to give away to the world.”

O’ Great Spirit

O’ Great Spirit by Cheryl Davis ©1989

Native American Prayer
by Emilia Walking

Oh Great Spirit
May we cherish the gifts of our creator
May we hold the beauty of the world close to our hearts
May we embrace the spirit of peace on earth.
May there come to all people during this sacred
season an abundance of the earths greatest gifts:
health, happiness and enduring friendships.

End of Post

Very nice, Ms. Walking…

Another Interesting Post Relating to ‘Give-Aways’:


News Archives

Giving ’Til It Heals

By Ray Buckley

If he hadn’t mentioned it, no one would have noticed that Bishop Bruce Blake was wearing moccasins. No one really looks at the feet of a bishop. Standing in front of the 2004 General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh, Pa., was a bishop wearing moccasins. They were not for show, but the honoring of a gift, demonstrated by the wearing.

With the moccasins came a story. It was a story that would change those listening.

“Many of you knew Tom Roughface, who was superintendent of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference for many years and an insightful leader who stirred us to action,” Bishop Blake began. “His death left a gaping hole in the life of the church. His loss was apparent, but now I want to share with you the rest of the story.”

He described for the crowd the honoring, give-away traditions which accompany Ponca funerals and those of other Native cultures. He spoke of the Roughface family, who in their time of loss chose to give-away to the community, offering gifts in the name of their father and grandfather. He said, “We were accustomed to friends giving to a bereaved family. We experienced the family giving to us.”

A year later, as the Ponca period of mourning ended, family and friends again gathered in White Eagle to offer gifts in honor of Tom Roughface. There Bruce Blake, the friend and colleague of Tom Roughface, was given moccasins to help keep him on the journey. Holding those moccasins, Bishop Blake was struck by the theme, “Give until it heals!”

Speaking to the United Methodist audience gathered from around the world, Bishop Blake spoke of giving as a means of healing. He spoke of giving with joy and of raising the standard of giving. He spoke of organizing lives around the Good News. He spoke while wearing moccasins and a beaded cross.

Throughout the crowd, like woven beads, were those who had seen the moccasins. They were Ponca, Kiowa, Tlingit, Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek, Lumbee and others. They had seen the moccasins and were quiet. Never in the history of the United Methodist Church had a bishop worn moccasins. Never had a bishop worn moccasins to honor his friend. It was a quiet moment, but it was not unnoticed.

There was a memory of those in the audience that morning. There was a memory that for a time in the United States and Canada, the tradition of “giving-away” was against the law. Churches had condemned it as “squandering resources” and “impoverishing oneself.” To Native people, the give-away was a means to redistribute wealth among the community. It was a way to honor the life or memory of a loved one, and share with those around them. As Bishop Blake recalled, “The sharing was not in the form of words, but in the form of giving. Thousands of dollars of gifts were given to members of the tribe and friends. If persons needed food, the Roughface family gave them a basket of food. Others needed household supplies. The family gave them a basket of supplies.” As the Roughface family prepared for the give-aways, members of their community who were able donated blankets, money, cooking skills and prayers, so that they might give-away. Giving-away is a means of circular giving.

Some who were in the crowd had survived Native American boarding schools operated by denominations and the U.S. government. There, their hair had been cut. They were not allowed to speak their languages. They were taught to read by reading the Bible, and those who taught them to read the Bible beat them with sticks if they spoke their language. Their clothing, jewelry and traditional names were taken away. They were told that if they were to be Christian, they could not be Native. Some believed what they said. Some would not teach their children. But others believed that God could use their culture and lives to refresh the church. They waited, living out their faith, as Native people, who loved God and their cultures.

The moccasins that morning had become a gift of healing. They had become an affirmation that Native culture could be an offering, a give-away to the world. They became an affirmation that what God said was good, was good.

It was a quiet moment. Many would not have singled it out. A bishop stepped up to a microphone wearing moccasins. They were a gift from the family of a friend, but the gift had been much more. It had been a gift of sharing, of giving from the heart. And one believer had responded to another, put on the moccasins and shared them with the church. They were soft footsteps, but they were heard.

*Buckley is director of the Native People Communications Office at United Methodist Communications.


Totem Poles were a way for Northwest Native Americans to share information. They were part of their oral tradition and helped to tell other people about themselves and their families. Memorial Poles were carved to celebrate special events such as births or weddings. Totem Poles that are actually part of a house are House Post Totems, a Mortuary Pole is carved for the dead and the most common Totem Pole is the Family Totem Pole.

The Family Totem Pole used symbols to represent the power, wealth and standing of a family within their community. Often these poles were erected during a potlatch ceremony. Potlatch means to give away. These ceremonies could last for several days and would take months to plan and prepare for. During the potlatch, a clan would give away gifts and property to show their wealth and status. Sometimes they would even destroy their own property to prove that they were wealthy enough to replace it. The more a clan gave away the higher their status would go. The Kwakiutl was the most extravagant version of the potlatch. A recipient of a Kwakiutl potlatch gift would have to give away twice as much at the next potlatch. If someone were given two goat hair blankets at a potlatch they would be expected to give away four at the next potlatch. Sometimes, in order to repay this debt of kindness, a man might be forced to give away all his belongings. The potlatch could be used to honor friends or ruin enemies.

Each Totem Pole tells a story using magical creatures that can transform from human to animal or animal to human. They live in the Sky Realm, the Realm or the Underwater Realm. Some can travel between the realms and some are stuck in just one realm.

Each mystical animal/human has special or unusual characteristics. Beavers hate humans, Wolves are good drummers, the Devilfish or Octopus is attracted to the color red, Bears hate Thunderbirds and Frogs are associated with bringing great fortune or wealth. If you insult Frog he will tattle to Copper Woman who lives in the Undersea Realm and she will cause volcanic eruptions.

Many Europeans had the wrong idea when they first saw Totem Poles. They thought that they were horrible monsters that the Native American Indians worshiped as gods. Many early missionaries helped to destroy Totem Poles and discouraged the people from carving more. The art of carving Totem Poles almost died out but is now flourishing again as many people are now recognizing the beauty and significance of them.

Village Totem Poles in Alaska

End of Related Post

Published in: on December 27, 2007 at 6:21 am  Comments (7)  

Paying it Forward: The 2007 Persons of the Year

The news is always full of all the “bad stuff” happening in our world.  How about some of the “good stuff” that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, if any at all, from most of the media!  I say BRAVO, guys!  And hey folks, as you read this, don’t just sit back and applaud them.  Please try to look around and find a situation or a life where YOU can do something to make a difference.  Pay it FORWARD!    Here’s the great article!  Thanks, Mr. Imrem!

It’s time to honor ‘The Other Athlete’
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 12/26/2007 4:55 AM

OK, it’s time to recognize my 2007 Person of the Year: “The Other Athlete.”  Too often we overlook him amid the rubble that is pro sports.

The media — including this space — tend to focus on the bad behavior that transforms the image of athletes from famous to infamous.

You know, the ones who become the deadbeat dads, drunk drivers, recreational drug abusers, gunslingers, barroom brawlers, promoters of dog fighting …

Baseball alone has the Mitchell Report, and the game’s best pitcher of our time issuing video denials on his Web site, and the best hitter of our time indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

Nearly every day last NFL off-season, Commissioner Roger Goodell felt he had to suspend a player for breaking rules or laws.

There are enough NHL goons and NBA loons and NFL louts and MLB losers to make it seem all athletes are creeps or criminals.

Ain’t so, folks.

While it’s tempting to judge the whole by the worst among them, no brush is wide enough to paint all athletes with one broad stroke.

As in society overall, the society of sports has more good people than bad despite what the bloody headlines indicate on most days.

Heck, sometimes the alleged evil-doer and alleged do-gooder co-exist within the same person.

ESPN aired a feature this week on San Diego Chargers all-pro linebacker Shawne Merriman, who was disgraced last season by being suspended for using performance enhancers.

Well, the ESPN piece centered on Merriman also being the man who helped a family rebuild after their home was destroyed in a Southern California wildfire.

Bad guy, good guy, same guy.

Athletes aren’t simple, one-dimensional, cardboard characters. Most are as complex as the rest of us, capable of performing both commendable and condemnable acts in and out of the workplace.

Yet we tend to emphasize the negative because it’s more sensational and, let’s face it, the decent, solid, law-abiding citizen is taken for granted.

Today, here, he isn’t because that “Other Athlete” is my 2007 Person of the Year.

Several times every week, e-mails arrive publicizing a local athlete who has done something positive in the community.

This being football season, recent messages have been mostly about the Bears: The entire franchise contributing to the USO, Tommie Harris and Devin Hester supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, Charles Tillman being named the team’s nominee for the NFL’s “Walter Payton Man of the Year” service award.

I usually delete the messages without even opening them. I’m more inclined to open the sports pages to read about what athlete was arrested for what on that given day.

But many Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks give of themselves routinely. So do Fire, Wolves, Cougars and Flyers.

They donate money, devote time and lend names to worthy causes. They drop off Thanksgiving turkeys to underprivileged families, distribute Christmas gifts to needy children and collect winter coats for the homeless. They aid battered women, advocate literacy and speak to school classes.

These “Other Athletes” have forums the rest of us don’t have and many — maybe most — embrace the opportunity to serve.

These men don’t get enough credit for being the positive role models they are.

That alone is enough to make them my 2007 “Person of the Year” before they fade back into the background.

Published in: on December 27, 2007 at 5:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Christmas Blessing

The Creator gives us all so much…

…each and every moment of every day. How simple it is to celebrate life in everything we do! Don’t save celebration for “just the special occasions.” Live life by celebrating each breath, each gift, as it is given to you. Life is not a destination, but a journey.

This day I want to celebrate my gifts from the Creator & say I am thankful for each of you… and pray for showers of blessings upon your lives, as you travel your journey & begin this new year.

May the bounty of the earth be yours and peace come for us all.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Be Blessed!

Published in: on December 25, 2007 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment