This prayer comes from the Native people of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Iroquois or Haudenosanee is comprised of six Native tribes: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora, all located in New York State and Canada.

The prayer is based on the belief that the world can not be taken for granted, and that we must thank all living things in order to align our minds with the natural world. This prayer is the backbone of the Iroquois culture.

A faithkeeper is selected to share the words of thanksgiving at the opening and closing of social, government, and ceremonial events. The prayer follows a general structure, however, individual speakers use their own distinct words and expression. This prayer follows an order, beginning with the lowest spiritual forces on Earth, continuing to those in the sky, and ending with the highest forces beyond the sky. The prayer begins with The People, and is followed by The Earth, The Waters, The Fish, The Plants, The Animals, The Trees, The Birds, Our Sustenance, The Winds, The Thunderers, The Sun, The Moon, The Stars, The Four Beings, and Handsome Lake. The prayer ends with The Creator.

The artist, Melanie Printup Hope (Tuscarora), has transformed this prayer into visuals created with beads and computer imaging. She was inspired by the faithkeepers in her community and has divided the images into three levels: the Spiritual Forces on the Earth, the Spiritual Forces in the Sky, and the Spiritual Forces beyond the Sky. Normally, a faithkeeper recites these elements in this order, however, you can explore them in whatever order you wish.

You can also listen to the pray given by Howard Hill (Tuscarora) in the Tuscarora language. He is one of the last fluent speakers from the tribe.

 

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Melanie Printup Hope
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