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by Chief Oren Lyons

Two things were told to us: one was to be thankful, so we built nations around it, and you can do that. And the other thing was enjoy life. That’s a rule, a law. Enjoy life. You’re supposed to. You can only do as much as you can do and then when you do that, you’re supposed to get outside and enjoy life.

…And an extract of his speech at UN in New York in 1993

Our societies are based upon great democratic principles of the authority of the people and equal responsibilities for the men and the women. This was a great way of life across this Great Turtle Island and freedom with respect was everywhere. Our leaders were instructed to be men of vision and to make every decision on behalf of the seventh generation to come; to have compassion and love for those generations yet unborn. We were instructed to give thanks for All That Sustains Us.

Thus, we created great ceremonies of thanksgiving for the life-giving forces of the Natural World, as long as we carried out our ceremonies, life would continue. We were told that `The Seed is the Law.’ Indeed, it is The Law of Life. It is The Law of Regeneration. Within the seed is the mysterious force of life and creation. Our mothers nurture and guard that seed and we respect and love them for that. Just as we love I hi do’ hah, our Mother Earth, for the same spiritual work and mystery.

We were instructed to be generous and to share equally with our brothers and sisters so that all may be content. We were instructed to respect and love our Elders, to serve them in their declining years, to cherish one another. We were instructed to love our children, indeed, to love ALL children. We were told that there would come a time when parents would fail this obligation and we could judge the decline of humanity by how we treat our children.

We were told that there would come a time when the world would be covered with smoke, and that it would take our elders and our children. It was difficult to comprehend at the time, but now all we have to do is but to walk outside to experience that statement. We were told that there would come a time when we could not find clean water to wash ourselves, to cook our foods, to make our medicines, and to drink. And there would be disease and great suffering. Today we can see this and we peer into the future with great apprehension. We were told there would come a time when, tending our gardens, we would pull up our plants and the vines would be empty. Our precious seed would begin to disappear. We were instructed that we would see a time when young men would pace back and forth in front of their chiefs and leaders in defiance and confusion.

There are some specific issues I must bring forward on behalf of our Nations and Peoples.

(full speech)

 

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