If you’re like me, you read Braiding Sweetgrass, were blown away by the wisdom, knowledge, and teachings, and wondered how you might embody some of the many practices shared by Robin Wall Kimmerer. As a place-based and environmental educator, I also wondered how I might share some of these ideas with students.
This has been in the back of my mind for several years without a way to manifest, until I participated in a workshop during which we practiced the Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World. It felt good to be in community as we greeted nature with intention. Previously, I didn’t consider leading students through something like this, because I didn’t want to mess up/do it wrong or do anything that might offend anyone, specifically Indigenous people in my community. But, through this practice, I learned that an effort was made to create a publication for a general audience and we are encouraged to participate. Consequently, I’ve continued this practice with other like-minded people, and would love to share it with others. Thus, “And Now Our Minds Are One: A Gratitude Practice,” was born.
Throughout 2024, some plant-loving women and I will lead one event each month on a Sunday at 10:00am at a West Michigan location. While this is open to everyone, my hope is that it serves as professional learning for educators. My hope is that formal and non-formal educators would be willing to participate with the intention of sharing this with their students, nature center patrons, etc. These free, outdoor events, are meant for educators to try out the practice in their nature space and see if it might fit in the experiences they provide students/patrons. The gatherings offer an opportunity to talk to other educators about how they might integrate the practice into their offerings, and work through questions together. The events are open to the public and people should feel free to participate as often as they like.
The first event will take place on January 14 at 10:00am at the Wittenbach Wege Center. Would you be willing to host a subsequent gathering? Joyful Wildcrafting would love to lead this practice outdoors at your place (school, nature center, park, etc.) on one of the open, scheduled dates in 2024. Email me with your interest at Lea@joyfulwildcrafting.com.
If this is something you are already practicing, please join us and/or offer to host–others can learn from your experience.
While supplies last, formal and informal educators in attendance will receive a free copy of the Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World pocket book, underwritten by the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Educators (MAEOE) and Joyful Wildcrafting.
Finally, see the FAQ’s I put together below and let me know if you have further questions or comments.
The quoted answers below are from the publication Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World pocket book, English by John Stokes and David Kanawahienton Benedict, Mohawk by Dan Rokwaho Thompson, and Illustrations by John Kahionhes Fadden. It was produced by Native Self-Sufficiency Center, Six Nations Indian Museum, Tracking Project, and Tree of Peace Society.
Q: Is the Thanksgiving Address meant to be given in November, around the U.S. holiday?
A: Greetings to the Natural World can occur at any time. “Today these words are still spoken at the opening and closing of all ceremonial and governmental gatherings held by the Six Nations.” You might remember in Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer visited the Onondaga Nation School where they observe the Thanksgiving Address at the beginning and end of each week, making gratitude a priority and way of being.
Q: As a non-indigenous person, is it appropriate for me to say the Thanksgiving Address? I don’t want to offend Indigenous people or appropriate their culture.
A: “We believe that all people at one time in their memory had similar words to acknowledge the works of the Creator. With this in mind, we offer these words in a written form as a way to reacquaint ourselves with this shared vision. Our version of the Thanksgiving Address has been modified for a young, general audience–it has been shortened and many specific references to the culture of the Six Nations have been generalized…. You are invited–encouraged to share in these words….”Finally, “It was Jake Swamp’s original vision that this Address would go out to the children of the world, “so that later in life, when they go out and meet one another, they will find that they are all coming from the same place.”
Q: Do I need to memorize the exact text in the booklet?
A: A speaker is chosen to give the Thanksgiving Greetings on behalf of the people. They choose their own words, for we are all unique and have our own style, but the general form is traditional.”
Q: Who originally wrote these words?
A: “These words of thanksgiving come to us from the Native people known as the Haudenosaunee (also Iroquois or Six Nations–Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora) of upstate New York and Canada,” but it “has ancient roots, dating back over one thousand years to the formation of the Great Law of Peace by a man called the Peacemaker, and perhaps before that.”
Q: How can I get copies of the Thanksgiving Address pocket book?
A: While supplies last, formal and informal educators in attendance will receive a free copy underwritten by the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Educators (MAEOE) and Joyful Wildcrafting. Extra copies will be available for $10. You can also order directly through the Tracking Project.