Allegiance to Gratitude

by Gray Harrison

In the spirit of working towards a world where people can hold kindness and gratitude above our inevitable differences, I bring you a Native American version of a “pledge of allegiance”, also known as the Allegiance to Gratitude…I first was introduced to these words by the book “Braiding Sweetgrass”, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  The original pledge, or address, is called The Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World. These words of thanksgiving come to us from the Native people known as the Haudenosaunee (also Iroquois or Six Nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora) of upstate New York and Canada. The Thanksgiving Address has ancient roots, dating back over one thousand years to the formation of the Great Law of Peace by a man called the Peacemaker, and perhaps before that. Today these words are still spoken at the opening and closing of all ceremonial and governmental gatherings held by the Six Nations.

The more I consider the power of kindness, the more I want it to be the defining characteristic of my interactions with the world.  One of the difficulties I run into is my old programming, which seems to always be there to trip me up, and the next thing I know I’ve said something snide, sarcastic, or thoughtless.  This Native American “Thanksgiving Address” has been an inspiration: it resonates with me in a way few other collections of words have, and I hope it is meaningful to you as well.  

There are many stanzas, each focusing on thanksgiving for all of creation; the people, the water, the trees, the animals, etc.  Here are three of the stanzas; the first for the people, the second for Mother Earth, and the 3rd for the Creator.

Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us 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 let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. 

Now our minds are one.

We are thankful for our Mother the Earth, for she gives us everything that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about  upon her. It gives us joy that she still continues to care for us, just as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send thanksgiving, love, and respect. 

Now our minds are one.

We now 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 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.

The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address.
Credit to Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and John Stokes and Kanawahientun, 1993. AMERICANINDIAN.SI.EDU

Gray Harrison is a Colorado transplant, originally from Worcester, MA.  Involved in many environmental and social justice projects for most of his life, he is a musician, builder, welder, bicycle mechanic, fix-it kind of person who loves being outdoors, hiking, sailing, bike touring, and porch-sitting.  Always working toward a love revolution on planet Earth.

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