All My Relations – Aho Mitakuye Oyasin

…continuation of yesterday’s We Are All Family post.

Do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

I usually do.  It’s not about pilgrims or European settlers for me.  It’s about taking a pause and being grateful for what I have.    For Rollo and I, it’s usually about the time he finishes another too-busy paving season.  We are grateful we had the work.  And, grateful to have a chance to get away from it and recharge.  It’s about turkey and pie.

I wanted to post the Native American Prayer, Aho Mitakuye Oyasin.  It’s all about gratitude and seemed really fitting for Thanksgiving.

But then, I ran across…native appropriations.  The adoption of a specific element of a culture by another culture.  I wasn’t sure it was appropriate to appropriate the prayer for Thanksgiving (whew, there’s a mouthful) given at least some Native Americans don’t much care for the holiday.  With good reason.

Here are some alternatives to Thanksgiving and good links to why, exactly, “Pilgrim Thanksgiving “might not be popular with Native Americans.

Unthanksgiving: Held since 1975 to honor the 1969 Native occupation of Alcatraz. It commemorates the survival of the Native American people despite the invasion of the “pilgrims”.

National Day of Mourning: (From the Facebook page)      Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture.

2012_Day_of_Mourning This link is the flyer from this year’s event.

I  agree with the sentiments of both these days, the outrage. Probably no one at either of these events cares what I think.  I am just an ignorant white girl. I dressed up as an Indian for Halloween as a kid.  Not just once. I don’t know much about Native American culture, not as much as I’d like to.   But, I would like to.

But what to do as a non-native?  What could help?  Give up the turkey?  Fly to Alcatraz?  Not borrow the prayer?

We could call this day Pilgrim Day, which I would protest too.  Then, we could have another holiday called Gratitude Day, which should be every day anyway.  The dilemma is not solved.

I am going to share the prayer.  I mean only respect by my appropriation.

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin
All my relations. I honor you in this circle of life with me today. I am grateful for this opportunity to acknowledge you in this prayer.
To the Creator, for the ultimate gift of life, I thank you.
To the mineral nation that has built and maintained my bones and all foundations of life experience, I thank you.
To the plant nation that sustains my organs and body and gives me healing herbs for sickness, I thank you.
To the animal nation that feeds me from your own flesh and offers your loyal companionship in this walk of life, I thank you.
To the human nation that shares my path as a soul upon the sacred wheel of Earthly life, I thank you.
To the Spirit nation that guides me invisibly through the ups and downs of life and for carrying the torch of light through the Ages, I thank you.
To the Four Winds of Change and Growth, I thank you.
You are all my relations, my relatives, without whom I would not live. We are in the circle of life together, co-existing, co-dependent, co-creating our destiny. One, not more important than the other. One nation evolving from the other and yet each dependent upon the one above and the one below. All of us a part of the Great Mystery.
Thank you for this Life.