“Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ” is a phrase from the Lakota language. It is used in many Sioux prayers and ceremonies. When spoken, Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ (All my Relation) is a re-remembering of ourselves as one with all things, with All Our Relations. A re-rememberance that we are all connected in oneness and harmony with all forms of life: people, animals, birds, insects, trees, plants, rocks, rivers, mountains, valleys, sky, sun, moon, stars and so on.
The first time this phrase was said to me, was at a sweat lodge. It went right to my heart.
For many years I was blessed with the friendship of a Lakota Elder. Her friendship and her way of Being, was unlike any experience or blessing I had ever had in my life. She felt like family to me even in those first days we met. She was the first person who affirmed to me of nature being alive, (just as I experienced as a child,) but she didn’t affirm this in her words, she showed it in her actions. It was of her, she lived it.
I was a teacher for many years and had the privilege of teaching children on a reservation for a year. They were very open with me and would share their stories of seeing the “little people” and sharing how they played with them. One young girl shared how they (the little people) would climb in her brothers crib to play. These children spoke openly and respectfully of Nature beings and Spirits in the woods. They even shared stories of Big Foot. When I shared this with my elder friend, she told me that Indian children are taught not to share of their Spirit friends around white people because they don’t “see” or understand. I felt honored that they shared with me and trusted me. At the same time, I also felt sadness for our cultures’ loss and perceived separation from nature.
A short time later while with my native friends, I had my first experience of the “Little People.” I believed all the stories of them, but hadn’t seen them myself. Then, one day they made themselves known to me and my mouth dropped and I was simply stunned. My eyes saw, but I was so conditioned throughout life that these little people aren’t real. I auto edited; I could hardly take it in. I gave the elders a good laugh that day. I am sure I was a sight with my mouth hanging open and rudely starting at the little person.
These and so many other magical experiences with nature became a daily occurance when I walked with my Native American friends. Everything is alive and everything communicates. As a child I hid my relationship with nature from others and grew up losing so much. Walking with Native people, I dramatically saw what separation from nature did to our society. We continue to suffer the consequences of this loss. Can you imagine if every child was raised with the knowledge that trees and rocks and birds and mountains are our relatives and communicate with us?
Our forgetfulness in recognizing that we are related to all upon Earth, has been detrimental to us and to all our relation. Looking at the Earth as some sort of endless resource, instead of as the Source of all life, has perpetuated rampant destruction of nature. We take of her resources as if there is no end to them. We mine, we cut down forests and even cut off mountain tops. We poison the water, control its flow with dams, fill in her wetlands to make more land for houses. We plant seeds and then dump poisons on the earth to “help” them grow. We even change the DNA in these seeds as if we were wiser than eons of natural evolution. We do all this, and seem to think we are separate from the consequences. We are a part of the whole. Whatever we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. We do to all our relation.
When we truly begin to recognize our relation with the Earth, we can begin to make changes in our life. Daily gratitude of the gifts we receive, food, water, shelter, all that keeps us alive and healthy. Gratitude opens doors. Asking the Earth and Nature Beings to teach us also opens the door. When we are sincere, the Earth will always respond to us. Listen. An animal may come show itself to you, your eye may be drawn to a special stone, a breeze will rise to meet you, a bird will fly overhead. Listen. You will know in your heart that these are sacred messages. You may be thinking something and in an instant, you will receive affirmation. You will know. Listen and Trust.