"It's very important that we be connected to the elements as a human race. As a Native person, I am connected to these things, because I can hear their voices, coming from all these elements. I hear all their songs and everything else. I'm asking each thing to continue on in a good way. I have to DO something so that all this continues on. In order to connect with all these things, our forefathers had to have ceremony and pray. That was our duty. I think everyone is now coming back to realize that the Indian people have the authority to talk about the right way to care for the earth. I talk to rocks in my prayers. I ask the rocks, 'Make sure that you ARE in such a way that we hear from you. Make your voices heard, make sure that I hear what you're saying . Mountain, make sure the water comes out clean from you. And now I ask you, today, Mountain, to continue to have a voice, to have songs.'
"If the mountain doesn't have a voice, then we as a people are not going to have a voice pretty quick. The mountain is where the people are, the little people up there, the mountain people, as we call them, or the rock people - they're up there listening to us. They're the ones we have to pray to; they're the ones who take care of the mountain. We have to ask what's out there, the rocks, the land, the living things, to unite together; everything has to work together.
"Long ago, the land, the mountain, used to have more voice, a clearer voice, clearer than it is today. The land, the rocks, they used to continue to tell us over and over again to take care of them, and to ask us to do those things. But today, we're lost, and I think its's the reason we're not concerned with anything; we just look at a mountain as if it's just there, nothing more. But the mountain's got a life to it. Everything's got a spirit, the mountain's got a spirit, and all the living things on the mountain have got a spirit. It's one of the reasons why their voice is not clear and loud anymore - because we haven't been taking care of them."
Western Shoshone Elder
This day, let us be especially thankful for the indigenous nations who inhabit this land. Let us remember that it is they who - for countless generations - have blessed the earth, air, fire and water through their prayers and ceremonies, and through a continuous attitude of gratefulness. We STILL need those prayers and ceremonies if any of us are to survive the devastating onslaughts of the corporate-industrial system. Indigenous peoples have put up with a lot over the centuries, but - fortunately, for the sake of the Earth and all of her inhabitants - they are still here. May you and your families be blessed in a special way this day and in the coming decades.
Photo: Aspen trees and peaks of the Ruby Range near Kebler Pass, CO, September 26, 2015
Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.