In this second chapter, you ‘ll learn why each and every particle in Nature is individual; even every leave of grass is different from the other. Why Native Americans prefer to walk barefoot and sit and sleep on the ground. Why Native Americans hunt, and the meaning of song in the native North American mindset.
The Red Indians see the Earth as a mother taking care of you. In earlier days, no Native American would feel poor, for all they wished for Nature could provide, and this was quite enough for a comfortable life.
Earth is like a woman. Hills like breasts and hips, grass and plants her hair, pools and rivers her blood. When mother Earth and the Great Spirit collided, living nature was born. The Great Spirit instructed every living being. All plants and animals remember these lessons. Het taught the apple tree to bear apples in autumn, the wolf to get little wolves. That’s why a bear never gets little lions, and the pineapple never gets pears. Their task is to get bears and pears.
Buth though creatures possess such an inner lifeline, all individuals are different. Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, teaches birds to build nests, but all birds make different nests. Wakan Tanka only tells the big lines. Some make better nests than others. All birds, even of the same species, are different. It is the same with animals and humans. The reason why Wakan Tanka doesn’t make two animals, two men exactly equal is, because everyone is is brought here by Wakan Tanka to be an independant being, that has to trust itself. Okute, an ould Teton Sioux, tells: “Since I was young, I looked at foliage, trees and leaves of grass, and never found two of them the same. In big lines they may look equal, but when I watched closely, I found out they were slightly different. Plants belong to different families. The same with animals, with men: for each is a place where they suit best. The wind carries the seeds of plants until they arrive at a place where humidity and sunshine is most beneficial for them to grow. All living creatures, all plants are a blessing for something. Even the snakes have a reason for their existence. “
Shooting an elk
Native Americans want to be as close as possible with their Mother. They like walking barefoot because they believe that direct contact with the Earth is healthy. If possible, they sit and sleep on the ground. When a Native American shoots an elk, and the arrow penetrates the skin at one side, he does not believe it is only him that makes the animal die. He says: “When animals are wounded, they go lying on the ground, on the earth, with the injured part. In most cases it helps to heal the wound quickly. But when an arrow sticks in it, it goes deeper each time he lies down to touch the earth. Deeper and deeper, until he dies. So it is not only me, also his own nature that makes him die.”
When an Indian shoots an animal he does so only to stay alive, only when he really needs it. He will use all its flesh and skin. Only the bones remain. When he wants a fire, he only takes dead wood, fallen branches that lie on the ground. If he needs a tree for constructing a canoe, he sings a song for the tree and throws little pieces of wood on the place where the tree wil fall after cutting. For many things the Indians have a song.
The American ethnomusicologist Natalie Curtis says in The Indian’s Book: “Not all songs are religious. But there is hardly a task, easy or hard, there is hardly a happening, little or great, or there is a suitable song for it.” In almost every Indian myth, the creator sings the things into life. For the Indian truth, history, tradition and thoughts are kept in a ritual of songs and poetry. The song of the Indian includes the lessons of his wise men, the great deeds of his heroes, the oracles of his seeers, the honouring of his gods. A Navajo farmer once said: “I am just a poor man. I don’t know any song.” He means that the heart of the matter is not the fluctuating quality of the soil. It is controlling Nature by rituals.
A great hunter, Orpingalik, once said: “My breath, that’s how I call this song. Because for me, singing is just as important as breathing. ”
“Songs,” Orpingalik said. “are thoughts, sung with the breath of the moment when man is moved by great forces, and normal speak is not enough. Man is moved like the icerock that on certain places, you can see floating in a stream. When he is glad, when he is sad, his thoughts are driven by a stimulating force. Thoughts can overflow him like a flood that will let him gasp for breath and make his heart bang. Something, like the weather calming down, can make a human calm down. Then it can happen that we, who always think ourselves as small, will feel even smaller. And then we are afraid to use words. But sometimes it occurs that the words we need, come up in us from themselves. Then we have a song.”
© Frank Flippo, October 2018
(This is an article I wrote almost 30 years ago. It has never before been published)
(Soon to be published… Part 3 Living the Circle: The Great Spirit)