Thursday, December 17, 2009

Desire that which is genuine

All living creatures and all plants derive their life from the sun. If it were not for the sun, there would be darkness and nothing could grow -- the earth would be without life. Yet the sun must have the help of the earth. If the sun alone were to act on animals and plants, the heat would be so great that they would die, but there are clouds that bring rain, and the action of the sun and the earth together supply the moisture that is needed for life. The roots of a plant grow down, and the deeper they go, the more moisture they find. This is according to the laws of nature and is one of the evidence of the wisdom of Wakan Tanka. Plants are sent by Wakan Tanka and come from the ground at his command, the part to be affected by the sun and the rain appearing above the ground and the roots pressing downward to find the moisture which is supplied for them. Animals and plants are taught by Wakan Tanka what they are to do. Wakan Tanka teaches the birds to make nests, yet the nests of all birds are not alike. Wakan tanka gives them merely the outline. Some make better nests than others. In the same way, some animals are satisfied with very rough dwellings, while others make attractive places to live. Some animals also take better care of their young than others. The forest is the home of many birds and other animals, and the water is the home of fish and reptiles. All birds, even those of the same species, are not alike, and it is the same with animals and with human beings. The reason Wakan Tanka does not make two birds, or animals, or human beings exactly alike are because each is placed here by Wakan Tanka to be an independent individuality and to rely on itself. Some animals are made to live on the ground. The stones and the minerals are placed in the ground by Wakan Tanka, some stones being more exposed than others. When a medicine man says he talks with the sacred stones, it is because of all the substances in the ground, these are the ones, which most often appear in dreams and are able to communicate with men.

From my boyhood I have observed leaves, trees, and grass, and I never found two alike. They may have a general likeness, but on examination I have found that they differ slightly. Plants are of different families.... It is the same with animals.... It is the same with human beings; there is some place, which is best, adapted to each. The seeds of the plants are blown about by the wind until they reach the place where they will grow best -- where the action of the sun and the presence of moisture are most favorable to them, and there they take root and grow. All living creatures and all plants are a benefit to something. Certain animals fulfill their purpose by definite acts. The crows, buzzards and flies are somewhat similar in their use, and even the snakes have purpose in being. In the early days the animals probably roamed over a very wide country until they found a proper place. An animal depends a great deal on the natural conditions surrounding it. If the buffalo were here today, I think they would be different from the buffalo of the old days because all the natural conditions have changed. They would not find the same food, nor the same surroundings. We see the change in our ponies. In the old days they could stand great hardship and travel long distance without water. They lived on certain kinds of food and drank pure water. Now our horses require a mixture of food; they have less endurance and must have constant care. It is the same with the Indians; they have less freedom and they fall an easy prey to disease. In the old days they were rugged and healthy, drinking pure water and eating the meat of the buffalo, which had a wide range, not being shut up like cattle of the present day. The water of the Missouri River is not pure, as it used to be, and many of the creeks are no longer good for us to drink.

A man ought to desire that which is genuine instead of that which is artificial. Long ago there was no such thing as a mixture of earths to make paint. There were only three colors of native earth paint -- red, white, and black. These could be obtained only in certain places. When other colors were desired, the Indians mixed the juices of plants, but it was found that these mixed colors faded and it could always be told when the red was genuine -- the red made of burned clay.

Okute (Shooter), Teton Sioux, 1911.

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