Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
September 9, 2000 - Issue 18

Message of Home
American Indian Elders Deliver Wishes for Future
by David Siders Duluth News Tribune Staff Writer

Some 2,000 American Indian elders crafted a message in Duluth and delivered to America.

They believe the United States needs peace, love and health and is losing those values, according to the message.

Sprinkled among sound bites of advice, the values were listed during an eight-minute speech by Portland, Ore.-area elder William Burke to about 400 people at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

It was billed ``A Spiritual Message to America,'' crafted over three days during The National Indian Council on Aging's (NICOA) semi-annual conference.


As we stand before the dawn of a new millennium, we pray for America's survival, our survival.

We pray that we will be given strength by the Creator to follow the footsteps of our forefathers to share our love, respect and compassion for one another. There is good in everyone because the Creator has put a little of Himself in all of us.

We pray for forgiveness for the pain and suffering we have caused one another.

We pray that our children will not repeat our mistakes.

We pray that we can respect the diversity of America;
all life is sacred.

Every child born is a precious gift of our Creator. It is our sacred trust to embrace children from all walks of life because we are part of the same family.

We pray that children will honor and respect their elders-that is where the wisdom comes from. This respect will not allow forgotten elders. We are all equal, with each having our own special gift to contribute. These values allow our youth to become leaders and workers in our society.

Children, you are our future and our hope for the people. Stand and be courageous.

We pray to learn and use the wisdom of all that has come before us, to achieve personal successes and to contribute to those of others. Only when our young ones learn respect for everything can they evolve.


We pray for respect and love of Mother Earth because she is the foundation of human survival and we must keep her pollution-free for those who will travel after us. Protect her water, air, soil, trees, forests, plants and animals.

Do not just take and waste resources. Make it a priority to conserve. The land is given to us by the Creator to care for, not to own. If we take care of the land, the land will take care of us.


We should have respect for each other. We pray for commitment and responsible behavior in order to help those in need and to give them support and friendship. Be an example in life that others may follow; serve people, community and country.

We should all strive to be leaders and contributors. Do not sit back and let others plan and do all the thinking.

Let us unite together so that we may have the strength to protect our future. Strength comes from working through trials and tribulations.


Spiritual health is the key to holistic health.

We pray to have the discipline to set healthy examples for our children to follow.

Respecting everyone and everything in the universe starts with self-respect. Take time to listen and take care of your body and spirit.


Family is important and precious. Always let them know that they are loved. Let your children and grandchildren know you are always there to love and support them and that they mean the world to you no matter what they do or say. Children are of infinite value.

Live what you teach. Spiritual values, honesty, and integrity start in the home.

We pray for the youth. We must teach the youth to work together and respect all that is living on our Mother Earth.

We need to convey to our younger generations that the survival of our people lies in spirituality.


We pray to learn ways to settle differences peacefully.

Teach respect for each other's ideas. Value honesty on all levels, from children to parents to community to governments. We will be happy when we create peace with each other.

To the 7th Generation

  • Survive
  • Keep hopes and dreams
  • Take care of yourself
  • Remember your spirit
  • Be there for each other
  • Respect courage
  • Share knowledge
  • Always keep learning
  • Remember your true values

Some children were more moved by Burke's delivery than by what he said.

"I never really heard somebody put such expression into something,'' said Emily Smith, 12, of the Fond du Lac Chippewa reservation.

Molding into one message the concerns of 2,000 elders wasn't unreasonable, some elders said, because the message was so broad.

Regis Pecos, of the Cochiti tribe in New Mexico, said all Native American youths face similar challenges, like alcohol and drug abuse and the influence of music.

"At a time when there is incredible chaos, everything begins with these same messages,'' Pecos said.

Ashley Diver, a youth from the Fond Du Lac reservation, was handed the speech, on a birch bark scroll, after it was read. She promised to deliver the message to other youths.

John Henrey, a teacher at Fond du Lac's Little Black Bear Elementary, said kids will get the message if it's repeated to them many times.

He expects teachers at the school where he works will do just that.

To read more visit this site:

National Indian Council on Aging



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