From the Onondaga Nation: Thanksgiving Address – “Words That Come Before All Else”

From the Onondaga Nation: Thanksgiving Address – “Words That Come Before All Else”

A reflection on practice by Other Teachers & Folks We Value

Today we have gathered & when we look upon the faces around us we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance & harmony with each other & all living things. So now let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings & thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.

We are thankful to our Mother the Earth, for she gives us everything that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she still continues to care for us, just as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send thanksgiving, love & respect. Now our minds are one….

We gather our minds to greet & thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings & thanks to these caring Teachers. Now our minds are one.

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we named, it is not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings & thanks in their own way. And now our minds are one.


“In Haudenosaunee tradition, being grateful & giving thanks is a regular practice in both everyday life & at special occasions. The Thanksgiving Address, or “The Words that Come Before All Else,” is delivered in Native Haudenosaunee languages at both the beginning & the end of social gatherings, celebrations, and council meetings; and it is recited each morning at the beginning of the school day. The Thanksgiving Address is not a prayer, but rather an offering of greetings & thanks to the natural world. Each part of Creation is acknowledged & thanked for the ways in which it contributes to life on Earth.”

Words from The Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center, a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Heritage Center focused on the story of the native peoples of central New York, told through the lens of the Onondaga Nation. You can find a complete version of this inspiring & poetic address on the National Museum of the American Indian website. Each element of the natural world is spoken to & thanked for their contributions to all life. A wonderful read or spoken piece!

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