Thoughts from the Elders of Vnewetv

Compiled from various Native American Source Files

                                                                                                    

If you do anything, sincerely believing you worship One Above, then you are worshiping Creator. Your worship must be treated with respect, so long as your worship does not trespass on another's rights. You need not understand nor agree with another to respect their ways. Freedom of thought and worship must extend to all, not just to those with whom you agree. There's always more than one meaning, one under­standing or one voice. Life's road is traveled by many, side by side. You cannot know all the secrets, joy or shame of their hearts nor they know yours. You are only fellow travelers, not judges.
 

Elect those in whose presence it is easiest to reach agreement; no good can be conducted in the presence of those with whom it is easiest to argue. To know a man's character, listen to his female relatives. To understand his character, watch him with children and pets; his true nature will show and the quality of his memories will be known. There is no future without the past and no past without honest memory. The present only connects the past and the future. None can exist without the others.
 

Live your life so the fear of death never enters your heart and guides your feet. Give thanks for every­thing when you awaken each day. Give thanks for life, strength, your relations, the joy of living, sus­tenance and even problems. Problems give you opportunities to be a better person. If you find no reason to give thanks, rest assured the fault is your own and not another's. For traditional Creeks, every day one awakens is a holiday--every morsel a feast.
 

What is Silence? It is the Voice of One Above. Sound is the voice of the created, not the Creator. Keep a Silence often to hear Creator's Voice. The fruits of Silence are self control, strength, courage, patience, endurance, dignity, wisdom and reverence. Silence is the foundation of character. Silence is the perfect balance of Mind, Body, Spirit and Soul. There is more than one kind of Silence. A beautiful flower is silent to the ears but music to the eyes.  Silence is the voice of Creator--sound, the voice of creation. Laughter is the voice of the Soul--love is the voice of the heart. Silence can be like food--know what hunger to fill.  Listen loudly but speak in whispers. Let Silence be your motto unless duty calls you to speak. Guard your tongue--your most dangerous weapon. Unlike the blade, word wounds are not clearly visible nor easily healed. Guard a youthful tongue and in venerable old age you may speak a thought that would be of service to your people. What you do tells more than what you say. Own words or they will own you.
 

Understand and use the "talking stick" in council. Quick will be your work but slow will be your anger--right will be your actions. Speak but one word for every hundred you hear. When you address the council, carry cedar or willow in your hand closest to the heart, so that yours may be living words. Be careful when you speak: Words make thoughts prisoners or set them free. Either way, once loosed from a tongue, words are no longer one's own. In council, listen to everyone's words as though they were of great wisdom however much they may be otherwise--thereby you also learn. Words are a great treasure. Don't cheapen their value by misuse or thoughtless abundance. The body is home to the Spirit but memory's clothes are woven of words. How do you dress them--in rags or fine raiments?
 

There is only One but many are the Names: Master of Breath, Creator & Source, God, Ruler and Author of all that is, was, or can be. One Above is eternal: invisible to the eye but not to the heart. Creator is omniscient, omnipotent, pure power without equal or match--self wrought by restraint called natural order. All that is, lives and moves within that order. One Above is impersonal yet able to be known by all things in creation personally.  One Above may be individually experienced through all creation: through animals, birds, reptiles, clouds, mountains, rivers, lakes, plains, forests, women, children, men, dreams--stepping stones of reality--through anything with form, substance, purpose or place. Creator and Power are inseparable, impartial. All things in creation have equal access to Power. One Above is awe-inspiring. Approach the Power of Deity, One Above, with reverence, prayer, sacrifice, fasting, gift-giving and self-kept quiet vigils.  One Above thought well enough of all things to cause them to be.   Thus, all things have purpose and meaning to One Above, however little we may understand. Love and care for all Creator brought forth. Further, all things, all divisions and all parts of all things or divisions have two natures--just as Power has two natures. All proper choices result in balance; all selfish choices lead to destruction of first the part then the whole.
 

One's life has four divisions: Infancy, Youth, Maturity and Old Age. Each of these has four parts which in turn has four parts and so on until all parts become the Indivisible Whole. The first four parts are really four pathways joined together; they form  the Circle of Life in which all things connect. One who breaks the connection of anything in the Circle for any reason, is the destroyer--one without love for The Creator. If a destroyer weaken the Circle, all then become less because all pathways connect in this Circle.  You travel the fourfold path of the Circle of Life in segments. Each segment--Infancy, Youth, Maturity and Old Age grants opportunities to develop every part or power you have - among them: Mind, Body, Spirit, Service and Personality. Not all your parts will travel the same segment at the same time or the same pace; thus, some Old Ones remain childlike while some Youth are called Elders. Love is the cement that binds life's parts into the Whole. Where love is not there is only existence, not life. Love is not an emotion--it is an attitude, it is both a moral choice and commitment.  Memory defines individual life while collective memories define a people; dishonest memories are a nation's greatest lie and worst crime. Love is the purest form of memory; express it by deed--not word. Service, love expressed without judgment, is the highest expression of love and the greatest of human experiences--it is a form of worship. All Children of One Above are all called to some form of service. Love unexpressed is not good--often, it is dangerous.                                       
 

You own nothing; you are only a custodian. Your Body is physical. It is from Mother Earth and there will return. Your in-dwelling life, called Soul, is from the Author of life & Source of Creation. Your Spirit is the interaction of your Soul and Body. The boundaries of your Spirit are the boundaries of your life. The longevity of one's Spirit is found only in the memories of others--it cannot exceed beyond when those memories cease. Soul is immortal and does not depend on human memories for its existence because Soul is part of One Above, whose memory has no end. You are only a Soul's trustee. One day, you must give full account of your actions, accomplishments and failures. Soul's immortality should be reason enough to embark on the right road--a life of Service. Eyes are windows of the Soul. Soul is a private matter; a thoughtful Indian does not invade another's privacy. To stare into another's eyes is to be greedy for power. Soul theft is sin. To look into the eyes of one you love is a different matter; it is the deepest of sharing--intercourse for the soul. To steal memories is to steal life itself from others--the weight of which weakens your own life and memories. Whatever you steal will be taken from you in time.
 

Sin is trespass against One Above's law--natural order, which brings its own punishment. It is no concern of yours unless it be your sin. Crime is trespass against the Tribe's law, the will of the people. It is to be fairly punished, corrected or forgiven by the Tribe. The crime and the criminal are not always the same. It is unjust for the guilty to escape punishment but more unjust if an innocent person be punished. One Above is not like a hungry beast demanding victims. One Above does not thirst for destruction. Creator caused us to discover Love--an attitude, Service--a pattern of living, Understanding--a responsibility, and Thankfulness--an action. One Above did not teach hate, greed, envy, lying, and fear. We discovered these on our own by forgetting our Original Teachings. We sometimes choose darkness over light and fail to heed our memories. Our choices do help make us become what we are.
 

A great person quietly foregoes self to do the nation's will when needed; few will know it. A great one does not seek such attention.  The petty make a great show of what they think and what they do; they never mention the needs of others. Their constant question: what is there for me? Their constant theme always begins with sounds that mean "I," "my" and "mine;" their breasts fill with sour milk. The great or noble forgive but never forget; they remember the lesson and do not repeat the error. Forgiveness is mother to moral strength and father to righteousness. The fool never remembers and always repeats the offense in countless new ways. Memory is one's most valuable asset; it is a sacred tool. Honor it!


 

The mixed-blood's worst enemy is doubt--be it doubt of self or others. Yet, to be metis is to have double responsibilities, double opportunities and double dangers. Actions speak, words speak--do not be double tongued; know which language to speak. The Native American's worst enemy is not government, white men, other half breeds  or even poverty. It is those Indians steeped, like bad tea, in ignorance, hate, self pity and filled with the false notion that someone else owes them everything. Those are the ones who have lost their red hearts by using Power without education--learning its traditions and wisdom. In the end, we each are our own worst enemy--our own best friend. Show respect for all but grovel to none. If you cannot solve a problem - beware - it may solve you. The Soul of an Indian can be one with the land even though the Indian holds no title to the land. If you own title to land and your Soul is not one with it, you cannot be Indian regardless what you are called or the identity of your mother. Stereotypes are hollow shadows behind which the ignorant stand. 
 

Ceremonies only mark the boundaries of life; they do not define life. Medicine Bundles are only catalogs of Power, not the source. Keepers of the Bundles are really Doorkeepers and Torch Bearers who guide beams of light into darkness. They open doors to other Worlds so you may step through. However, to journey there without a guide is to risk breaking your connection to all things because you chose dark ignorance over the light of experience. Everything rests on earlier foundations. You are the foundation of what will come. You strengthen or weaken the future by what you do in the present. Ceremonies, like the Power they express, are geographically specific. Sunflowers do not grow from the back of fish nor does corn sprout from pebbles; plants flourish only from their roots. Thus, beware of teachers who travel about with no attachment to their own roots or who mix traditions and cultures; they do no good.  Strong roots produce beautiful flowers; to know a root study the flower. Words are like blossoms on trees. They wither and die if detached. They live longer on the tree. Then, when their life is done the seed remains.
 

There are no problems to which there are no answers. Creator doesn't spoil the created by too many gifts or easily obtained answers. Everything has purpose; seek purpose always. Without seeking purpose and giving thanks, life remains only an existence. Purpose is not a gift but may be purchased by action, deed or quest. Create a purpose if you have none. Wisdom is a gift; an Elder's wisdom that challenges is the best of gifts. Old Ayo said, "When I sought quick answers, Elders insisted I dwell on understanding the questions. When I sought cures, they insisted on prevention." Own things; do not let them own you. You are more than what you were born; you are what you become, for you can remember and create. You know that all things are connected. Easily spoken promises are promises not easily kept.
 

Animals talk--can you not hear them? They are wiser; they speak and teach without words. To become wise--learn to listen, to become stupid--talk. Everything is part of One Above's memory.  Understand first silence, then the sound--first the symbol, then the word. In everything is a lesson. Tell no parable, story or fable if you find no meaning in it. Telling a story is to give a gift. A gift without meaning has no value. If you let One Above, Creator and Source make Sunrise in your heart you will live in light--not darkness.

Back to Creek Culture