We say the words before all else first because it is important that we set down all our concerns and agenda’s and be of one mind that will honour and celebrate our relationships, not just with one and another but with all the energies in Creation.
The Ohenton Karihwateh’kwen acknowledges each element in Creation for its role in sustaining life. As humans we thank the people first, as we are always reminded to be in that state of gratitude and give thanks for their continuation, ultimately giving thanks for our own continuation. We need so much to survive and all the elements need nothing.
These ancient words are powerful because they remind us as we give thanks to the people first because we are the most vulnerable and therefore humble and without Creation, we would cease to exist, and therefore it is our main responsibility to the natural world and to the Creator and is so integral in how we support that web of Creation.
And so I begin…..
Ohenton Karihwateh’kwen – The Words Before All Else
The People: Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. Without them we would not be standing together today. 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 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 and all water Creatures: We turn our minds to all the fish life and all water Creatures 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 their many wonders as 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 honour and thank all the food plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the 3 sisters, corn, beans and squash, the grains, vegetables, and berries have helped to sustain us. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the plant foods together as one and send them a greeting and thanks. Now our minds are one.
The Medicine Herbs: Now we turn to all the medicine herbs of the world especially remembering, tobacco, sage, sweet grass and cedar. From the beginning, they were instructed to bring messages to Creator and take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy they are still among us, and 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. Of which the leader is the deer. As they still give us their bodies for sustenance and clothing. They have many things to teach us as 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 especially the Great Maple. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many peoples 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 of which the Eagle is the leader. The Creator gave them beautiful songs.
Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. 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 for 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 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 Thunders: 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 bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our grandfathers, the thunders. 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 and give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the moon, who lights the night time sky. She is the leader of women 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 spread across the sky like the most beautiful 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 all the stars. Now our minds are one.
The Enlightened Teachers: We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened ones who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way of our original instructions, to live as a loving 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 most choice words of greetings and thanks to the Creator. Now our minds are one.
Finally, if something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way, and now our minds are one.
To be said at the end of the gathering to close the business of the day.
Closing Words: We have now arrived at the place where we have finished the business at hand. We depart in each of our directions and all go with grace, goodness and safety.
Nyawen kowa (thank you)
All my Relations (All of Creation including the People)