I have been reading ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ which is just one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time.  In it is Haudenosaunee Thanks Giving address or ‘The Words That Come Before All Else’ and I wonder how it would be if we all started our day with it, if we started every meeting with it, every session of parliament, every board room gathering, every assembly? How might it make a difference to the world?

Listen to it being spoken beautifully whilst you read through

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address – Greetings to the Natural World

The People

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the
duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our
minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She
supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us
as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with
strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms- waterfalls and rain, mists and
streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of
Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish

We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and
purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find
pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow,
working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we
give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden.
Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people
survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods
together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs

Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to
take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are
still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one
mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world.
They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up
their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes
and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one

The Trees

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their
own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty
and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and
strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our
heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and
appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to
the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the
moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change
of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength.
With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers

Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and
thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they
keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one
to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he
travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the
fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.
Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon

We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the
night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement
of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches
over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our
Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the
night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing
things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as
one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help
throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we
were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these
caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator

Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all
the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all
the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest
words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named,
it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each
individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.

Thank you to Jon Lydon for the photo

This translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address was
developed, published in 1993, and provided, courtesy of: Six Nations Indian Museum and the
Tracking Project All rights reserved.
Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World English version: John Stokes and
Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk) Mohawk version: Rokwaho (Dan
Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf
Clan/Mohawk)