From the Heart with Rabbi Liebowitz
“We saw the great spirits 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 true belief in the Supreme Being, 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.” Walking Buffalo Stony
Of late I have become interested in Native American spirituality and culture. At the annual Rotary Thanksgiving meeting, I was honored to address the gathering with a message about that holiday. The history of the Pilgrims and the Indians is far more complicated than Grammar school version. I recommend the following you tube summary called The Real Story of Thanksgiving:
One of the cogent points revealed is that the holiday was actually a day of fasting, not the more gluttonous celebration that characterizes our observances. Additionally, it records the political intrigue that led to a peace which was only sustainable for less than a half century. Our holiday of thanksgiving is also relatively new having been originated with Lincoln’s proclamation. There is a cynical Israeli saying; “A nation is founded when a group of men get together and lie about their origins.”
It is said that slavery is the first sin of America. Given the racism that continues to this day, that is not hard to assert. Another assertion is that the treatment of the American Indian could easily contest that view. It is sad to say that the plight and suffering of Native Americans, First Nations etc. continues unabated. Mortality is very high, along with alcoholism and other afflictions that mark the condition of these peoples. In my charitable efforts I support a Catholic orphanage that sustains Native American culture and helps “lost children.” (St Joseph’s Indian School, see page
It strikes me as a far cry from the obscene practice of taking young children in the 19th and 20th centuries from the homes in order to convert them, westernize them and “civilize them.” It is a dark history.
I also tend to focus on the gift of Native American spirituality. Called by one scholar “Religions of place,” their faith is centered on feeling a part of Nature, not over it or beneath it. In our climate challenged times we would do well to celebrate such attitudes summed up by statements like “My brother the river!” Here is one sensitize Native American review:
“Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the clouds, the great sea, as well as the earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children? “ Tecumseh (shooting star) Shawnee