Two Medicine Lake


Native American Wisdom


TWO: Native American Nature Philosophy

The purpose of these monographs which comprise the Native American Wisdom to provide an exposure of the old philosophy and teachings to all who feel the Call of Nature and wish to be ''Wiaki,'' a Real Person, a true Indian. This philosophy is not advanced as a religious doctrine which prospective students must believe. The Indian has always felt that each person must come to know the Great Spirit for him or herself, for it is through this personal relationship that we discover our own Medicine, and thus determine our own path in life.

There are, however, certain truths which are inherent in every religion, in every tribe which teaches and practices Native American Philosophy. The acceptance of these concepts will free the mind from crippling restrictions which have been imposed by the society of the white race and the religious doctrinal practices found in that culture. There are included here, quotations by Indian leaders and wise people from several different tribes over a two hundred year period which clearly show the widespread acceptance of these concepts.

An Overlying Spiritual Feeling

In his observation of Nature, the Indian not only enjoyed the beauty that abounded in his environment, but was also aware of an overlying spiritual feeling that exists throughout all of creation.

"When a man does a piece of work which is admired by all we say that it is wonderful; but when we see the changes of day and night, the sun, moon and stars in the sky, and the changing seasons upon the earth, with their ripening fruits, anyone must realize that it is the work of some one more powerful than man. Greatest of all is the sun, without which we couId not live... We talk to Wakan tanka and are sure he hears us, and yet it is hard to explain what we believe about this."

Mato-Kuwapi or Chased by Bears, Santee YanktonaiSioux (1843-1915)
'Everything as it moves,
now and then, here and there,
makes stops.
The bird as it flies stops in one place to make its nest,
and in another to rest in its flight.
A man when he goes forth stops when he wills.
So the god has stopped.
The sun, which is so bright and beautiful,
is one place where he has stopped.
The moon, the stars, the winds, he has been with.
The trees, the animals, are all where he has stopped,
and the Indian thinks of these places and sends prayers there
to reach the place where the god has stopped
and win help and a blessing. "

-Anonymous Dakota Sioux wise man circa 1890

"We were lawless people, but we were on pretty good terms with the Great Spirit, creator and ruler of all. You whites assumed we were savages. You didn't understand our prayers. You don't t try to understand. When we sing our praises to the sun or moon or wind, you said we were worshipping idols. Without understanding, you condemned us as lost souls just because our form of worship was different from yours. "We saw the Great Spirit's work in almost everything: sun, moon, trees, wind, and mountains. Sometimes we - approached Him through these things. Was that so bad? I think we have a... stronger faith than that of most whites who have called us pagans...

Indians living close to Nature and Nature' s ruler are not living in darkness.

"Do you know that trees talk? Well, they do. They talk to each other, and they'll talk to you if you listen. Trouble is, white people don't listen. They never learned to listen to Indians so I don' t suppose they' ll listen to other voices in Nature. But I have learned a lot from trees: sometimes about the weather, sometimes about animals, sometimes about the Great Spirit."

-Tatanga Mani or Walking Buffalo, Stoney Indian, Canada (1871-1967)


TreeRed Back to Native American Wisdom Part One
TreeRed Back to Native American Wisdom

Native Rule

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