The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations in what is now upstate New York has been meeting for 1,000 years. United by a common goal to live in harmony, each meeting, large and small, is opened with the beautiful and incantatory Thanksgiving Address. This enfolds each gathering in a culture of gratitude, the consciousness that the earth and its many manifestations continually gift us with abundance, with enough. A radical notion in our consumer society. The prayer also situates our individual lives and souls on an earth with no boundaries. The sun and rain shower every shoulder, the winds cool every face, the ground supports every footstep. Our gratitude for these blessings reminds us, in turn, of our obligation to treasure and foster them, as they do us.


Greetings to the Natural World  

Gorgeous regalia at a powwow in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho by Betsey Crawford1. The People 

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.  

Now our minds are one.  

Human and gull footprints on the beach in Kenai, Alaska by Betsey Crawford

2. The Earth Mother 

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.  

Now our minds are one.  

Cook Inlet from Kenai, Alaska by Betsey Crawford3. The Waters 

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms- waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of  Water.  

Now our minds are one.  

Goldfish and reflected trees in a pond in the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon4. The Fish 

We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.  

Now our minds are one.  

Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) in Solstice Canyon in Malibu, California by Betsey Crawford5. The Plants 

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow,  working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.  

Now our minds are one. 

Collection of colorful vegetables by Betsey Crawford6. The Food Plants 

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden.  Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people  survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.  

Now our minds are one.  

Lavender field in Sequim, Washington by Betsey Crawford 7. The Medicine Herbs 

Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.  

Now our minds are one.  

Pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) in the Pawnee National Grasslands by Betsey Crawford

8. The Animals 

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world.  They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.  

Now our minds are one  

Foggy forest on the Oregon coast by Betsey Crawford9. The Trees 

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.  

Now our minds are one.  

Egret in flight, Corte Madera Marsh flying over the Corte Madera, California by Betsey Crawford10. The Birds 

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds — from the smallest to the largest — we send our joyful greetings and thanks.  

Now our minds are one.  

Sunset in Homer, Alaska by Betsey Crawford11. The Four Winds 

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength.  With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.  

Now our minds are one. 

Wild storm clouds along Route 95 driving toward Nevada by Betsey Crawford12. The Thunderers 

Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.  

Now our minds are one.  

Vivid sunset in Lakewood, Colorado by Betsey Crawford13. The Sun 

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.  

Now our minds are one.  

Full moon rising along the Alaskan Highway by Betsey Crawford14. Grandmother Moon 

We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of women all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our  Grandmother, the Moon.  

Now our minds are one.  

White woodland star (Lithophragma parviflorum) shines against the dark green background by Betsey Crawford
Woodland star (Lithophragma parviflorum)

15. The Stars 

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.  

Now our minds are one.  

Grizzly bear in Denali National Park, Alaska by Betsey Crawford16. The Enlightened Teachers 

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

Now our minds are one.  

The Valley of the Gods in southeastern Utah by Betsey Crawford
The Valley of the Gods

17. The Creator 

Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.  

Now our minds are one. 

An ant carrying a seed head in the Anza Borrego Desert by Betsey Crawford18. Closing Words 

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

Now our minds are one.

Tall purple fleabane (Erigeron peregrinus) with butterflies in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada by Betsey Crawford

This translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address was developed, published in 1993, and provided, courtesy of Six Nations Indian Museum and the  Tracking Project. All rights reserved.  

Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World English version: John Stokes and  Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk) Mohawk version: Rokwaho (Dan  Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf  Clan/Mohawk)


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20 thoughts on “The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address”

  1. Mary Anne Bellosillo

    Thank you Betsey for making more alive the Hauddenosaunee thanksgiving prayers. It makes for further reflections for every part. Will use it for my prayers too in our group.
    I have subscribed to your newsletter. It was good to have shared with you at our home pod. Grateful to have conversed with you. Thank you.
    Mary Anne Bellosillo

    1. I’m truly honored. What is the saying? Start out in mischief, end up inspiring each other. (I just made that up!) Love to you.

  2. I echo what everyone above has said, Betsey, and I rejoice that I can say this prayer with you, with all your readers and in communion with those who have said it the past 1000 years. I am so heartened that such expressions of unity are available! Abundant blessings, Terri

  3. Hello, I stumbled upon this beautiful website. I will be retiring in the next year and will spend half of the year up in the thousand islands. My hope was to immerse myself in getting to know the Indian nations and their ways for I have always believed that that they know how to live in balance with nature and mother earth. Can anyone join these indigenous gatherings? what might be best way start this journey? in gratitude for your website,
    Joan

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Joan. I don’t know how to answer your question about where to begin but I do know people who find a warm welcome at indigenous gatherings though they themselves are not indigenous, so I have no doubt that you will find such events as you explore. Enjoy your retirement!

  4. Betsey, thank you for this beautiful rendering of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. It is our custom at Living Earth Action Group meetings to read a part of it at the beginning of each meeting, the version in Braiding Sweetgrass. I can feel these slightly different words go deep into my soul, encouraged by your truly moving photography. I will send a link to this post out to my group in the newsletter, and hope to recite it together at our next in-person meeting.

    with great love and gratitude for who you are and your work with the Soul of all Beings,
    Caitlin Adair

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