“We Indians know about silence.
We aren’t afraid of it.
In fact, to us it is more powerful than words.
Our elders were schooled in the ways of silence, and they passed that along to us. Watch, listen, and then act, they told us.
This is the way to live. Watch the animals to see how they care for their young.
Watch the elders to see how they behave. Watch the white man to see what he wants. Always watch first, with a still heart and mind, then you will learn.
When you have watched enough, then you can act.”
Charles Eastman – Ohiyesa, later in life Charles Eastman–Ohiyesa–states in The Soul of an Indian: “…
silence-the sign of perfect equilibrium.
Silence is the absolute balance of body, mind, and spirit.
The man who preserves his self hood ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence…
is the ideal attitude and conduct of life. What are the fruits of silence?
They are self-control, true courage or endurance, patience, dignity, and reverence. Silence is the corner-stone of character.”
The Lakota elder continues:
“With the white people it is just the opposite. You learn by talking.
You reward the kids who talk the most in school.
At your parties everyone is talking all at once. In your work you are having meetings where everyone interrupts everyone else.
You say it is working out a problem.
To us it just sounds like a bunch of people saying whatever comes into their heads without listening to others.
Lakota elder continues regarding the sensibilities of traditional First People: “
You don’t convince anyone by arguing.
People make their decisions in their heart.
Talk doesn’t touch my heart.
People should think of their words like seeds. They should plant them, then let them grow in silence.
Our old people taught us that the earth is always speaking to us, but that we have to be silent to hear her.
I can understand all the trees.
All the animals.
I can tell what a color of the sky means. Everything in the natural world speaks to me.
Teaching our children well
- American Hunger Lakota elder continues:
“I watch TV and every ad I see tells me something is new.
That means I should get it because what I have is old.
There’s no reason to get something just because it”s new.
Your way teaches people to want, want, want. What you have is no good.
What you don’t have is new and better….
White people have an endless hunger.
They want to consume everything and make it part of them.”
Things and Food.
Credit card debt & obesity in this country has become epidemic.
Eastman’s words echo many Native writers throughout decades:
“The native American has been generally despised by his white conquerors for his poverty and simplicity.
They forget, perhaps, that Native religion forbade the accumulation of wealth and the enjoyment of luxury.
Eastman continues: …
“the love of possessions has appeared as a snare,
and the burdens of a complex society a source of needless peril and temptation.
Thus the Native American kept his spirit free from the clog of pride or envy…”
In Profiles in Wisdom,
Grandfather William Commanda concurs: “Dominant society has forgotten their Creator. It’s the money that rules today, even though God in their book tells them you cannot serve two masters.
Either you serve Creator or you serve the money.
So who are they serving?”
Regarding possessions Eastman continues:
“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to overcome.
Therefore, the child must learn, early, the beauty of generosity.
He is taught to give away what he prizes most, and that he may taste the happiness of giving. If a child is inclined to be grasping, or to cling to any of his little possessions, legends are told to him, teaching of contempt and disgrace that fall upon the ungenerous person.
Also, public giving,
known as give-aways,
is an important part of ceremony.”
Families give-away much of their treasured possessions in honoring weddings, funerals–yet,
Another example of Partnership model of society.