The Magic of Those Who Have Gone Before

In an age where youth is almost worshiped, I thought I’d do an about face and talk about those people I admire most — our elders.  To that end, I thought I’d pass along some Native American wisdom that has been passed down from the ages.

This is my mother-in-law, Joyce, who taught me patience and the meaning of family.  She has departed from us now, but her influence lives on and on.  I must admit that I miss her very much.  Off to the right is Grandfather George, who is 90.  This was taken at a recent booksigning.  Grandfather George walks everyday, and I do believe he’s as limber as a person in their 60’s — maybe even younger.

On that note, here are some wise, wise sayings from our Amerian Indian elders:

“The Creative principle of the universe and its organization and intelligence is not an external principle but an internal one.”  This is from the Koyukon, Alaskan.

“The air is precious to the red man.  For all things share the same breath — the beast, the trees, the man, they all share the same breath…  What is man without the beast?  If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit.  For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man.  All things are connected…”  Chief Seattle

Here’s one of my favorites: (I’ve been known to paraphrase this.)  “You can’t take care of yourself if you’re taking from others.  It will come back on you.  The more bad you give out, the more you get.  If you give good, you get good because it’s all a circle.”  Tadodaho Chief, Leon Shenandoah

I love the principle of this quote.  Even if we don’t see it, those who deal in suppressing and making nothing of those around them eventually do come acropper.  We may not see it, but it is there just as surely as the day is long.

Here’s another piece of wisdom that we don’t often think about in our society nowadays.  But this is very wise, I think:  “Sex is good.  It has such a strong pull that it can cloud your vision.  It’s one of the stronger powers that were put here on Mother Earth.  But if all you think about is sex, then you’re not going to be doing your ceremony.  Give that sex power only the attention it deserves and no more.  That way you won’t miss out on all the rest of the things the Creator has for you.  Train your mind.  You can do it if you don’t let your body lead you.”  Tadodaho Chief, Leon Shenandoah.  This picture off to the left, by the way is of one of the most ingenius men in history, Chief Joseph.

Here’s yet another piece of wisdom from Chief Leon Shenandoah:  “The way you live tells everybody what kind of person you are.  Your actions speak for you.  You can talk all you want, but everybody around already knows who you are.  Treat others kindly and you’ll never have to say a word.  Somebody is always watching.  They’ll want to be like you and you’ll never have to open your mouth.  Through you the world will be more peaceful.” 

And here’s another gem from Tadodaho Chief, Leon Shenandoah:  “”It’s even in our Instructions that a man can’t be a chief if  he has killed.  People don’t understand what they’re doing when they take life.  The person who does it is in for trouble, even if they’re never caught.  The Creator know.  Our Instructions say that the one who does it gets all the dead person’s karma.  They have theirs and the other person’s, too.  The one who dies is relieved of their karma and goes straight to the Creator’s place clean.”

Before I leave Tadodaho Chief Leon Shenandoah, let me share this with you:  ” One of the Instructions the Peacemaker gave us was for our leaders.  They were to work for the welfare of the people.  It was not meant for you to build yourself up above the people.  It was for everyone to be equal.  Our leaders don’t get paid.  Even I have to make my own living.  So the way I see it with the United States, it seems to me the leaders are making a living off of the people, their own people.  That’s not going to work and it’s not working.”

Interesting, huh?  What do you think would happen to our country if we demanded that our leaders not get paid.  In the beginning, they didn’t get paid, at least not very much.  They each had their own income and careers.  Interestingly enough our Constitution states that Congress has to meet at least twice a year.  Somehow I wish it were still that way.

Oops, how did these get in there in a blog about our Native Elders?

This of course is Michael Greyeyes, a Motion Picture Star, and a very handsome fellow, indeed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the post today.  Please come on in and let’s talk about elders and how wise they are to teach us of their experience.  I’ll be giving away a free book today to some lucky blogger, so come on in and leave a post.  Also, if you haven’t picked up your copy of SENECA SURRENDER yet, please do so today!

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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32 thoughts on “The Magic of Those Who Have Gone Before”

  1. I remember as a child,calling my great grandfather on the phone everyday to talk to him,he enjoyed me calling an we had a close bond,kids seem to be too busy now,but to sit an talk to the older ones can give you so much family history,thanks for bringing back such a great memory for me

  2. Unfortunately our society has forgotten the value of our elders. For many, instead of being an important member of the family, they have become a burden and inconvenience. If nothing else, the current financial problems have led to many more multigenerational families living together. In our fast paced lives we have forgotten to take the time to listen to and appreciate what they have to offer. The stories of family, the wisdom of experience, and the gift of love are only a little of what they have to offer us. It is a terrible thing to shut them away. They loose the love and connection with us and we loose the value of their life experiences.

    Thanks for another thoughtful post.

  3. Our Native elders are dying off. Here on our Rez we have only a handful left. It is sad that the younger generation doesn’t listen to them. The ones who make baskets have not shown the younger ones how to make them because they “will just buy beer with the money” they earn. The Basketmakers Society is keeping this knowledge alive. This is the Native society of which I speak. They seem to echo each other (Native and Non Native) in the way they treat their elders. Our society is too fast paced at present to have the quiet story time like we did in earlier days. I love technology, but right now I think there is too much of it and it is taking away the family closeness of the past. And besides that Michael Greyeagle is a HUNK.

  4. Good Morning, Vickie!

    I so agree. It’s nice to be able to take the time to spend with our elders. We are all so busy nowadays — and yet we don’t seem to get as much done as we did in ages past — but boy, are we as a nation busy. 🙂

  5. Hi Kay!

    Wonderful post, as always! I love the quotes you gave. It is too bad we don’t listen to what the older generation has to offer. Great post–love the pics, too!


  6. Enoyed reading the comments. I learned a lot from my grandmother who was very wise. I can only hope I passed on some of her wisdom to my grandchildren.
    Your book sounds really good.

  7. Hi Patricia!

    It makes me cry sometimes to look at how our elders are placed “out of the way.” Sometimes, they like it, but it’s taking a toll on our next generation, I think.

    Children need all kinds of age groups — and elders should be the ones to become “role models,” not another kid of the same age who hasn’t lived and experienced what life has to offer or to dole out. My viewpoint, anyway. I so agree.

  8. Hi Mary J.!

    I agree with you about the elders and our society and the fast pace at which we live — and yet I don’t see that our society accomplishes more than in ages past.

    In my opinion the machine age has failed mankind. It did that the moment, those in power began to complain about population growth. (They no longer needed people to work those jobs, I guess.) In my opinion the Industrial age or the machine age has failed us all — and in fact is in the process of betraying us all.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. Good Morning, Joye!

    It’s really nice to see you here this morning. Thanks for your comments on my book. Goes straight to my heart. And I so agree with you about our elders.

  10. You know, Cheryl, in some ways, our society has placed itself into the position of not benefitting from the wisdom of the past — putting our elders into “homes,” not giving them the respect due to them — and not putting them in easy access to our younger generation, who can benefit from their having lived.

    This fast pace we live in hasn’t improved our living any, in my humble opinion. Not that I mind a fast pace — but I do think there’s a time and place to learn.

  11. Thanks for another wonderful post! My grandparents had some very interesting stories to share… wish I had paid more attention to them. Things I do remember are some of the odd sayings they used to say… 😀

  12. I have learned so much from those who are older than me and they have taught me how to be the best version of myself, even if I learned from their mistakes. Wisdom is present all around us and if we are willing to listen to the voices in the past, we can improve our future. Your quotes were excellent and great reminders, particularly in our current political climate. Thanks for sharing them.

  13. SO much wisdom from our elders of every ethnic region and it is all important to heed their words. I wish i wouldn’t have lost mmy father when i was 18 because as i grow older there are times i would have loved to have recieved his wisdom…as a child i thought he would be here forever…i wish as a teen i would have listened more to his stories and sought out his wisdom. One thing i do remember is he always said…”Be like a duck” when times are hard and people are cruel…be like a duck….let it roll off your back like a water does on a ducks back. I miss my daddy vewry much!!!

  14. My daughter’s got to be able to have three differant set’s of great – grand parent’s when they were younger! That in itself speaks volumns. They only have one great grand ma left now who is 92 and has alzheimer’s. I only wish my father’s parent’s could have lived to see these two beautiful children. They each knew how to have thier own garden’s and could grow flowers. They could live off the land an think nothing of it. In today’s world every thing is handed to you rather it’s a fast food . take out, or delivery.
    I was taught to alway’s say please, thank you, your welcome, excuse me and have tried to instill it in mine. They dont alway’s choose to use it for what ever reason’s.
    Sadly, time’s are changing and not alway’s for the good!

  15. I always thought the Indians got it mostly right. Very insightful post and I loved the quotes. So many families are scattered nowadays. I was lucky to have had 3 of my grandparents for a very long time and now my mom is 88 and probably in better shape than me lol. My husband wasn’t so lucky and we have only one uncle on his side of the family. I really regret having my children later in life and now envy my sister who had her family early and has 7 grandchildren while I have none. My biggest piece of wisdom at the ripe age of almost 60 is “never say never” 🙂

  16. Hi Colleen!

    I wish I remembered my grandparents more — they died when I was young and so I don’t remember them very much. Actually my grandfather died after my mother’s death, yet he lived so far away, that I really didn’t know him, sad to say. So glad you had your grandparents. 🙂

  17. Hi Beth!

    What a wonderful piece of wisdom from your father. I, too, lost my father early — much earlier than that — I wish I’d have known him, also, but I was almost too young to remember much. At least you had him until you were 18.

    Thanks for stopping by today.

  18. Hi Pam!

    So true. So true! Like you I believe that times are changing and not necessarily for the good. But that can always be changed. Kindness, attention and help is rarely out of place. In fact, it’s probably in too short demand. 🙂

  19. Hi Catslady!

    And that’s a beautiful piece of wisdom. Thanks for sharing that.

    I do believe that our elders should be the role models for our young. Not some TV star or youngster from the same class, who hasn’t lived, hasn’t experienced and hasn’t been there, done that.

    I believe the American Indian got it right, too. Listen to and respect your elders. 🙂

  20. Kay,

    I must admit that I love this post today. The Elders are so important. They are the ones to hand down stories and keep so much of the culture alive. They have so much wisdom to share. if we would just listen. I have taught my children to respect their elders for they have been there and done it and they have a lot to offer. I know that the elders have taught us a lot and if more would listen then the world would be better

    Walk in harmony,

  21. What a wonderful post Kay. I loved all the ‘sayings’. I truly believe we can learn a lot from our elders. In my lifetime I have had several friends that have been old enough to be my mom or grandma. If you take time to listen to our elders you can learn so much. My maternal grandma lived to be 95 years old and she was such an awesome lady. She never went past the third grade because her family needed her to help on the farm, but I tell you she was one smart lady.

    Thank you allowing me to go down memory lane. 😉

    Smiles, 😀
    Cindy W.


  22. Hi Cindy!

    Thanks so much for your delightful post. I wish I had known my grandparents more. Maybe that’s one reason why I so cherish my elders now. 🙂

  23. Hi Melinda!

    Nice to hear from you today! Hope all is going well with you. Yes, I so agree with you and admire that you are teaching your children to respect their elders. So important.

    We lose generations and we lose wisdom when we don’t respect and listen to our elders.

  24. sorry i’m late
    just wanted to hop on and say i loved this post…you always have such wisdom to share with us!
    so many good lessons
    love the oopsie pics at the end…there are some things we can only get from the youth 🙂

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