Sunday, March 4, 2012

I died and went to the World Above and saw it.
You knew me.  I was a sinner, I was a drunkard.
I have come back cleansed. I am as we were in the beginning. In me is a shining power.
In the beginning, we were full of this shining power, strong because we were pure.
We moved silently through the woods.  With a silent arrow we killed the animals and ate pure meat.   In silence the fish swarm in pure rivers and we caught them in silence and ate them.  In silence our corn and beans and squashes grew from the earth, and those we ate.  We drank only clear water after the milk  of our mother's breast.
I have heard that lost silence.
You have not heard it because you have been dead.  Up under the roof of the sky there is that pure silence.  In the beginning our people broke that beautiful silence only to pray to the  great good spirit or speak wisely in  council or to say  kind  words  to our children and our elders or to give war cry.

follow me through the door that I am opening for you

Our creator put us on this wide, rich land and told us we were free to go where the game was, where the soil was good for planting.
That was our state of true happiness. We did not have to beg for anything.  Our Creator had taught us how to find and make everything we needed, from trees and plants and animals and stone.
We lived in bark, and we wore only the skins of animals.
Our creator  taught us how to use fire in living and in sacred ceremonies.   She taught  us how to  heal with barks and  roots and  how to make sweet foods with berries.
Our creator gave us tobacco and said, send your prayers up to me on its fragrant smoke.  She taught  us how to enjoy loving our mates and gave us laws to live by.  Our creator  sang to us in the wind and the running water, in the bird songs, in  children's laughter and taught us music.

Thus were we created. Thus we lived for a long time, proud and happy.
We had never eaten pig meat, nor tasted the poison called whiskey, nor worn wool from sheep, nor struck fire or dug earth with steel, nor cooked in iron, nor hunted and fought with loud guns, nor ever had diseases which soured our blood or rotted our organs.
We were pure, so we were strong and happy.
But beyond the great sunrise water there lived a people who had iron and thosedirty and  unnatural things, who seethed with diseases.
Who fought to death over the names of  their  gods.
They had so crowded and befouled their own island that they fled from it because excrement and carrion were upon it.  They came to our island.
Our singers had warned us  that a pale people would come across the great water and try to destroy us but we forgot.  We  did not know they were evil so we welcomed them and  fed them.
We taught them much of what our Grandmother had taught us.
They saw how much room we had and they wanted it.
They brought iron and pigs and rum and disease.  They came farther and drove us over the mountains.   Then when they had filled up and dirtied our old lands by  the sea, they looked  over the mountains and saw this Middle Ground and we are old enough to remember when they  started rushing into it.  We remember our villages on fire every year and the crops slashed every fall and the children hungry every winter.

For many years we traded furs to the English or the French, for wool blankets and guns and iron things, for steel awls and needles and axes, for mirrors, for pretty things made of beads and silver.
And for liquor. This was foolish, but we did not know it. We shut our ears to the great good spirit. We did not want to hear that we were being foolish.

But now those things of the white men have corrupted us, and made us weak and needful. Our men forgot how to hunt without noisy guns. Our women don’t want to make fire without steel, or cook without iron, or sew without metal awls and needles, or fish without steel hooks.
Some look in those mirrors all the time, and no longer teach their daughters to make leather or render bear oil.
We learned to need the white men's goods, and so now a People who never had to beg for anything must beg for everything!
Some of our women married white men, and made half-breeds. Many of us now crave liquor.
He whose filthy name I will not speak,
he who was I before,
was one of the worst of those drunkards. There are drunkards in almost every family. You know how bad this is.

And so you see what has happened to us.
We were fools to take all these things that weakened us. We did not need them then, but we believe we need them now. We turned our backs on the old ways.
Instead of thanking the great spirit for all we used to have, we turned to the white men and asked them for more.
So now we depend upon the very people who destroy us! This is our weakness! Our corruption!
Our creator scolded me, 'If you had lived the way I taught you, the white men could never have got you under their foot!'

And that is why our creator purified me and sent me down to you full of the shinning power, to make you what you were before!
No red man must ever drink liquor.
No red man shall take more than one wife in the future.
No red man shall run after women.
If he is single, let him take a wife and lie only with her.
Any red woman who is living with a white man must return to her people, and must leave her children with the husband, so that all nations will be pure in their blood.

Now hear what I was told about dealing with white men.  These things we must do to cleanse ourselves of their corruption!
Some of these steps will be hard.

Do not eat any food that is raised or cooked by a white person.
It is not good for us. Eat not their bread made of wheat for our creator gave us corn for our bread. Eat not the meat of their filthy swine, nor of their chicken fowls nor the beef of their cattle which are tame and thus have no spirit in them.
Their foods will seem to fill your empty belly but this deceives you for food without spirit does not nourish you.

There are two kinds of white men.
There are the americans, and there are the others. You may give your hand in friendship to the french or the spaniards or the british.
But the americans are not like those.
The americans come from the slime of the sea with mud and weeds in their claws and they are a kind of crayfish serpent whose claws grab in our earth and take it from us.

Wear only clothing that you have made from skins and sewn with sinew.
In  our towns there are dogs  of the white  men's kind, those whose ears hang down.  I saw such a dog watching us from a tree with white men's eyes and I knew.  These are bad animals. These are prowling in our towns with the white man's spirit in them.  And there are cats that you got from the white man.
Yes, I told you-some of these steps to purification will be hard.

The fire struck by white man's steel is not sacred fire. You must put out such fire in your lodges and kindle a new fire using the old way and this will be a sacred fire.
You must never let this sacred fire go out for it is your reborn spirit beginning now and if it goes out so will your life go out. When you move from place to place you must bear sacred coals with you as we did in the ancient times and rekindle the fire when you arrive.
The great good spirit wants our men to hunt and kill game as in the ancient days with the silent arrow and the lance and the snare, and no longer with guns.

If we hunt in the old ways, we will not have to depend upon white men for new guns and powder and lead or go to them to have broken guns repaired.
Remember it is the wish of the great good spirit that we have no more commerce with white men.
We may keep our guns, and if we need to defend ourselves against american white men, the guns will kill them because they are a white man's weapon.
But arrows will kill american intruders, too!
You must go to the grandfathers and have them teach you to make good bows and shape arrowheads, and you must recover the old hunting skills.

I will tell the people I see and you will tell those you see.
The great good spirit will appoint a place to be our holy town and at that place I will call all red men to come and share this shining power.
For the People in all tribes are corrupt and miserable!
In that holy town we will pray every morning and every night for the earth to be fruitful and the game and fish to be plentiful again.
We will no longer do the frolic dances that excite lust.
The great good spirit will teach me the old dances we did before the corruption and from these dances we will receive strength and happiness.
I will go  and  be  alone for a while.
Turn your backs on the whiskey sellers and the traders and do not listen to the Jesus missionaries.
How will you know witches?  They will be doing commerce with the americans.
They will start whispering to you that  I am not a true holy man or prophet.
THAT is how you will know witches.

tenskwatawa 1811

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