A Gift from the Great Spirit

by Mitakuuye Oyasin

Americans detest what they cannot control. Even the election of a new leader doesn't turn out the way most of them wanted it, the vast majority of them still want it to be settled. Americans want everything to be faster, bigger (or more compact), smooth, efficient service, immediate answers and no frustration. Waiting for an answer, especially in this era of speed, makes a mockery of both American technology and the illusion of control in something as simple as picking a leader.

The situation Is made worse because the outstanding leadership so desperately needed Is nowhere to be found. No one stepped forward and filled the gap, which is what the voters decided when they went to the polls or when they stayed home. Never has this nation more desperately needed an exceptional leader. Within our borders, the economy is too hot not to cool down, the gap between rich and poor is ever widening, health care is out of reach for millions, violence is as close as a trip to the grocery store or a day in school, the prison industry is growing faster than Microsoft, and we need strong leadership to shout with confidence, ''Follow me!''

And when the scene shifts to the international turmoil where every schmuck with a grievance is, at this moment, playing with bombs and chemical and biological weapons so that he can express his displeasure with American greed and lust for power, the need for a person of wisdom and charisma to lead America is even more evident

I sense that America has lost its vision, that it is in a hiatus, a period of reacting to events rather than leading its own people or assuming a leadership role in the world at large.

Remember the Hebrew people languishing as slaves in Egypt, leaderless and with seemingly no purpose except to mix wet clay with straw and make bricks. Finally Yahweh heard their cries and tapped Moses on the shoulder to go and lead them home. Centuries later, they lost their vision again after returning home from Babylonian captivity and entered into another ''do nothing'' hiatus. This was the situation the Bible describes as ''the fullness of time'' for the birth of Christ.

The Lakota nation had a similar experience. Many generations in the past, the Lakota were merely existing, living without purpose, and starvation threatened them. Leonard Crow Dog, a holy man from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, relates the story as it came to him, passed down through the generations, in a book aptly entitled ''Crow Dog.'' Since he cannot write, he co authored the book with Richard Erdoes.

The chiefs sent out two men to hurt for food, but they had no luck at all. Then, early the next morning, a cloud appeared before them, and from the cloud came a white buffalo calf (You may remember the pilgrimages to Wisconsin a few years ago because a white buffalo calf was born on a farm there, and Native Americans traveled from all over the country to view this sign from Wakan Tanka, the Creator.) As the white buffalo calf approached them, it turned into a beautiful and glorious maiden dressed in white buckskin. ''In her hands,'' he relates, ''she carried sage and her great gift to our people, chanunpa, the sacred pipe.''

She told the young men to return to their people and prepare for her coming to them in four days. She told them to prepare a sacred tipi and a sacred sweat lodge.

When they returned to their village, they brought no meat; but everyone was filled with spiritual food. Crow Dog points out that the people at that time were not what they became. The men knew a little about hurting. They had stone axes and wooden spears whose sharpened points were hardened in fire. They hunted the mammoth and other animals that have long since died out. They killed mammoths and buffalo by chasing them with burning branches over high cliffs to fall to their deaths. The women gathered wild fruits. The people's language was still rude. They did not know how to pray. They did not even know there was a Tunkashila, a Grandfather spirit, the Creator.''

The sacred woman arrived at the camp as she had promised, and all the men, women, and children had gathered to honor her. When she came, she was carrying the sacred pipe and a sacred stone with seven circles carved into it. Seven represents the seven sacred rituals of the Lakota nation, given to them by the white buffalo calf woman.

She announced to them that she had been sent to instruct them in the ways of Wakan Tanka, the Great Mystery. She instructed them in the use of the sacred pipe, how to pray with it to the four sacred directions, and then to the heavens above and the earth below. She taught them how to perform the seven sacred ceremonies, how to make offerings to Wakan Tanka and how to live in a way pleasing to Tunkashila's holy ways.

After teaching the people, she took her leave as she had come, turning into a white buffalo calf as she disappeared into the clouds. The pipe that she brought with her has been passed through generations of holy men and is presently in possession of Arval Looking Glass. Crow Dog says, ''Age has made it so brittle that it can no longer be smoked, but when you touch it, power flows into you like an electric current. The power is so strong that you burst into tears.''

What this says to me is that the Great Mystery speaks to every people in a language that they can understand. They only need to be ready, and that means they need to quit playing God and trying to control everything.

The Great Spirit never ignores the cries of his children.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online November 22, 2000

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