Gurdjieff International Review

Native Americans Speak


id you know that trees talk? Well they do. They talk to each other, and they’ll talk to you if you listen.... I have learned a lot from trees: sometimes about the weather, sometimes about animals, sometimes about the Great Spirit    –Walking Buffalo (Tatanka-mani), Stoney

A man’s attitude toward the nature around him, and the animals in nature, is of special importance, because as we respect our created world, so also do we show respect for the real world that we cannot see.   –Thomas Yellowtail, Crow

We believe that the spirit pervades all creation and that every creature possesses a soul in some degree.... The tree, the waterfall, the grizzly bear, each is an embodied Force, and as such an object of reverence.   –Ohiyesa, Sioux

Even before you plant you sing songs. You continue this during the whole time your crops are growing. You cannot help but feel that you are in a holy place when you go through your fields and they are doing well.   –Peter Prince, Navajo

The six grandfathers have placed in this world many things.... Every little thing is sent for something, and in that thing there should be happiness and the power to make happy. Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other thus we should do, for this was the wish of the grandfathers of the world.   –Black Elk, Lakota

The guidelines for the Honorable Harvest are not written down, or even consistently spoken of as a whole—they are reinforced in small acts of daily life. But if you were to list them, they might look something like this:

Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.

Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life.

Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.

Never take the first. Never take the last.

Take only what you need.

Take only that which is given.

Never take more than half. Leave some for others.

Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.

Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken.


Give thanks for what you have been given.

Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.

Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.   –Robin Wall Kimmerer, Potawatomi


These quotations are from Spirit of the Earth: Indian Voices on Nature (2017) World Wisdom Books, Black Elk Speaks (1932) William Morrow & Company, and Braiding Sweetgrass (2014) Milkweed Editions.


Copyright © 2020 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Featured: Winter 2019/2020 Issue, Vol. XIV (1)
Revision: August 13, 2020