The Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) and the Sustainable WNC community continue to provide opportunities for too often-unheard voices to reach the community at large, and for this generosity and kindness we are ever grateful.
In the spirit of bringing some of these voices back into our consciousness again, we offer this:
CONVERSATION OF FOUR ELEMENTS
The following was read and submitted to The Wisdom of the First Nations: A Partnership for a Sustainable Future, a meeting held in the Indian Treaty Room of the Old Executive Office Building in Washington D.C. on Oct. 3, 1994. This meeting was the first ever meeting between Senior Whitehouse Officials and spiritual leaders of Indian Nations not arranged by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Tribal Governments.
William Commanda is Keeper of the Sacred Wampum Belts of the Algonquin Nation.
Conversation of Four Elements
Elders, Spiritual Leaders, Ada Deer, Katy McGinty, Jim Pipkin, Brothers, Sisters, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We of the Algonquin First Nations wish to express our sincere gratitude for the special invitation to be with you today.
May we work together with one mind, one heart and one Spirit as we reveal the Truth, the reality of our modern day situation!
We would like to share with you the Sacred Instructions from the Creator to the people of this Earth.
It was mentioned at that time that there was a sacred gift given to our non-native people (white race), the gift of the fire element, known as technology.
As we examine the history, this is obviously the truth. In the beginning, weapons were formed as tools for survival. As the years went by, advanced inventions were created of many kinds for survival!
As these inventions were created the meaning of honour and respect was neglected, thus forming a damaging effect on this planet that we all know today. This caused pollution to the planet, fire, water, air, that is out of control.
This is known as abuse to Mother Earth and to the other three elements mentioned above.
People with modern technology today build missiles with Uranium. This is a dangerous area to be involved in. When Uranium is mined it causes a disastrous and destructive effect not only to people, but to creation, whose effect lasts for countless generations. It causes radioactive contamination of the land, poisons the water and air.
We hope that this information given will be considered and taken seriously. Action must be taken soon so further contamination of Uranium will be stopped to the earth and its creation.
We as a people acknowledge and appreciate the positive benefits of modern technology that has created computers and useful modern communications systems.
Progress has always been a goal for our non-native people.
But with progress there is greed and competition. If continued, this progress will destroy our Mother Earth and its Creation.
Let us not wait any longer. Let us work with common ground and begin to work together to do what can be done to conserve and protect our lives, our childrens’ lives, and all life. So Mother Earth can begin to heal, as we heal, together with one mind, one heart, one Spirit and
The direction towards the Healing Process is Recognition.
Acceptance towards this Recognition is important.
Motivation towards this Acceptance is the Key to the door-way of this Healing Process.
When Change comes into effect then Healing can begin.
Forgiveness is the Key to the awakening of the true meaning of Love and Understanding.
We begin to accept values that are so important to all life.
As we accumulate values, we begin to have balance and harmony with ourselves, with others, with all life, and with our Mother Earth.
We must begin to work from the Heart, not from the Brain.
Everything is centered from the Heart.
It is the work from the Heart that will bring us as a people to learn the necessary survival skills.
This is the urgent need of our modern society.
The Sacred Instructions given by the Creator to Native people at the time of Creation were as follows:
A. To Take Care of Mother Earth and the other 3 colors of Man.
B. To Respect this Mother Earth and Creation.
C. To Honour All life, and to support that Honour.
D. To be Grateful from the heart for All life.
It is through life that there is Survival.
Thank the Creator at All times for All life.
E. To Love and express that love.
F. To be Humble. Humility is the gift of wisdom and understanding.
G. Kindness. To be Kind with one-self and with others.
H. Sharing. The Sharing of feelings and personal concerns and commitments.
I. Honesty. To be Honest with one-self and with others.
To be Responsible for those Sacred Instructions and to administer those Instructions to other Nations.
We of the Algonquin Nations believe this to be the direction to follow for all mankind because there is a urgent need for Spirituality.
Through Spirituality, we as a people will begin to learn how to Care, Respect, Love and Honour one another with Humility as a people.
As we follow this Spiritual direction, Mother Earth may begin to heal and as she heals, she may Survive as a result. Only then will she truly be able to continue to exercise her responsibility as She was originally created.
Submitted by Spiritual Elder William Commanda and Helper Frank Decontie.
RR3 Pitobig Mikan
WILLIAM COMMANDA - ELDER
William Commanda is the most senior Elder of the Algonquin Nation of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg (River Desert Band), Quebec. He is now best known for sharing his spiritual beliefs and teachings of equality, harmony among peoples and respect for Mother Earth. He urges people to achieve a better balance between their priorities, values and responsibilities and to seek reconciliation and peace.
Commanda was born in 1913 in Kitigan Zibi, near Maniwaki, Quebec. Like his great-grandfather Chief Pakinawatik, he is also a keeper of several Algonquin wampum belts which are records of prophecies and historical treaties. Commanda is one of relatively few Elders in North America who hold their Nations’ traditional prophecies and oral histories.
As a young man, Commanda worked as a trapper and guide. He became widely known for his unequaled skill in building traditional Algonquin birchbark canoes. His political awareness began in 1945, with his involvement in the North American Indian Nation government movement. For 19 years, he held the position of Chief of his Band, starting in 1951.
Commanda began teaching about the messages of the wampum belts in 1987 at the fourth First Ministers Conference on inherent rights and self-government for Aboriginal people. He was invited in 1990 to provide a traditional blessing of the Canadian Human Rights Monument in Ottawa (on traditional Algonquin territory) with the Dalai Lama. In 1998, Elder Commanda participated in a ceremony at which he presented then South African President Nelson Mandela with an eagle feather on behalf of the First Nations of Canada.
That same year, Commanda organized “Elders Without Borders,” a gathering of Aboriginal Elders and spiritual leaders from both North and South America. Over the last 20 years, he has made presentations and performed the traditional pipe ceremonies at both Canadian and international conferences in Switzerland, France, Germany, Denmark, the United States, Mexico and Japan, in addition to participating at the United Nations and the World Council of Churches.
In November 1998, Elder Commanda was presented with the Wolf Award for his contributions to racial harmony and cross-cultural teachings.
Paul Gallimore, Director
Long Branch Environmental Education Center
POB 369 Big Sandy Mush Creek
Leicester, NC 28748
Web Site: www.LongBrancheec.org