Interviews with our Spiritual Leaders

  1. The student of the late Bill Reid is Guujaaw, he is the leader of the Haida Nation. He is the political and spiritual leader who has been chosen to lead his people in this history of the Earth, Guujaaw is a keeper of traditional knowledge and songs. He shares the Spirit, Force and Peace when he is asked to lead a song or dance in community social gatherings. He has insights into the problems society faces pertaining to justice, peace and environmental protection and spirit of creation, animals, fish, birds, and insects.

    l-r: Audrey Shenandoah, Onondaga Nation; Pricilla Vigil, Pueblo Nation; Diane Brown, Haida Nation; Marcus Vigil, Pueblo Nation.
    Photos by Danny Beaton

    Clan Mother, Audrey Shenandoah, explains that we are told from the beginning of our time here on Mother Earth that we must treat this Mother Earth respectfully and not to abuse her but to use the gifts in the right way and be thankful. I have to repeat because it is so very simple that people can not understand it, for people are used to living a very sophisticated unreal kind of lifestyle.

    Our messages from our people are the messages from our Creator that have been very explicated in explaining what could become of this Earth if it is not used the right way. That the abuse of the waters, water is life and if we do not take care and clean up the waters there can be no life here on this Earth. We are told in the messages to our people that in order for this to go on, all of these things that we depend on so much everyday that we might live, that we as humans here on this Earth must be sure to tell this to our Grandchildren. For it is for our grandchildren that we are protecting Mother Earth. Working to save Mother Earth and to save all the gifts that our Creator gives us so that they might have a good life also.
    Within every one of the messages that is brought to our people. At the very end, it always states that all of this will last for as long as the people will keep it. That all of this will be bountiful and will give us life, will give our grandchildren life for as long as we will take care of it and it is up to us, the people, how long it will be. And so then in so many words our same message is the Earth is Sacred. Every spot on Earth is Sacred, not just certain places that is regarded as Sacred sites because something happened there. Something happened all over this earth, people, our grandfathers and our great-grandfathers have worked hard to preserve this. Because this kind of life, this kind of belief, this kind of living has been under persecution for all time. People who believed in Mother Earth, who believed that all the goodness that comes from the Earth is our livelihood, is our life, have been persecuted.

    We have not been worshiping the Earth, we have not been worshiping the Sun, we have not been worshiping the Elements. We have been giving thanks for Mother Earth, we have been giving thanks for the Sun, we have been giving thanks to the Moon and thanks to our grandfathers who bring the rains and the winds. That is much different than from worshiping them, we do not worship in that way the elements of the Creation. We are ever mindful that it is from all of the Creation that we can maintain our lives, that our children can maintain their lives and their children. So we have a duty to look after the Earth and what we have here and not think of ourselves and what we can do with the Earth here and now.

    It is now evident to all that we are not progressing in the right way. Changes must be made in the way we look after the Earth. The way we look at all the life giving elements of the Earth. We have to make sure that we are doing this in the right way. We cannot force people to do this, but we must give the message over and over again so that people will begin to understand and the very simple and factfull, truthful way that we are guardians of this Earth all our lives for the generations of people who are coming, for the faces yet unborn.

    That is our prophecy. It is in every message that we have received from the Creator. That it is up to us how long we will have this, and how long all of this will last. So by telling one another by spreading this message and hoping people will hear it and understand it. We know that it must be heard over and over again. Just as all of our messages would tell us how to live and how to move about on this Earth. We have heard time and time again, I have heard all of my life since I was a child, I heard the same messages, and then finally if you hear it enough times, hopefully it will begin to take meaning and we will be doing a duty that is given to us when we were given life.

    Traditional circle of Indian elders and youth, Sappa Dawn Centre, Janet and Don McLoud's home.
    Photo by Danny Beaton 1993

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