Native Americans and their value system cannot be broken apart from their spirituality, for they are the foundation of the Native American culture. Each tribe may practice a ritual or ceremony differently but the core values remain the same.
The Native American culture values have not changed since antiquity and are practiced readily today. It has been and will remain so, the Native American way of being. “Native American isn’t blood; it is what is in the heart. It is the love for the land, the respect for it and for those who inhabit it. It is the respect and acknowledgement of the spirits and the elders. That is what it is to be Indian.”White Feather, Navajo Medicine Man.
Conservation is not a new aspect of the Native American way of being. Native American’s have always believed in the need to protect Mother Earth and to use her resources wisely. Respect dictates that one should take only what one needs. Native American culture values attributes of generosity and sharing, and frowns upon excessive material accumulation and consumption.
This ancient culture also prizes its elderly. Community elders provide the tribe with advice and guidance gathered from a lifetime of experience. Native elders are expected to keep the culture alive by passing down their wisdom and ancient ways of being to the young. This phase of life is admired and respected, because with age comes wisdom. Like the Wiccan practice of honoring the maiden, mother and crone, all stages of our human development are highly regarded within Native American communities.
The practice of daily gratitude is another Native American value. Giving thanks to the Great Spirit for all he has provided keeps one present minded and focused on all that is good. Often when one doesn’t take the time to be grateful, the everyday blessings are overlooked.
One of the most important Native American value is respect. It is believed that all of life is sacred: the mountains, lakes, plants, animals, and people. Each has something to teach and all things have a purpose. No person is above another, everyone is equal. To show respect, Native cultures teach that respect should be giving and shown for all beliefs and religions. Show respect for other people by never interrupting a conversation or intruding into a one’s personal space. Never speak negatively about others and listen respectfully to what others are saying even if you do not agree. Be truthful in conversations with others and with the self.
Native American values and cultures believe that everything and everyone is connected. What we do to others and to the planet we do to ourselves. Practicing love, honor, gratitude and respect daily will unify us with the planet, its creatures and the Great Spirit.