“Everything we need to lead a good life is here on earth.”
The Ohenten Kariwatekwen is often called the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, but the title means “words spoken before all others.” The Haudenosaunee nations—the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora—open and close every important gathering with a version of these thanks.
The Ohenten Kariwatekwen begins with “greetings and thanks to each other as people.” It goes on to thank “our mother, the earth,… all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength,… the fish,… the vast fields of plant life,… the animals,” the elements of the sky, including the four winds and “our grandfathers, the thunderers,” and our teachers: “When we forget,… they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people.”
The address ends, “Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on earth. For all the love around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our best words of greetings and thanks to the Creator. Now our minds are one.”
This Thanksgiving, our thoughts are with people who have lost someone they love during this difficult year. We wish everyone an easier road ahead.
You can read the complete Ohenten Kariwatekwen at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-american-indian/2018/11/22/haudenosaunee-thanksgiving-address/.
This translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address was developed by the Six Nations Indian Museum and the Tracking Project and first published by museum in 1993. All rights reserved. English version: John Stokes and Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk). Mohawk version: Rokwaho (Dan Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk). Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf Clan/Mohawk)
Image: Velino Shije Herrera (Zia Pueblo, 1902¬1973). “Blue Deers,” 1938. Santa Fe, New Mexico. 23/8379
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