Honoring Our Elders

Tomorrow night in Denver the American Indian College Fund honors the local elders with a buffalo feed for the holidays. Many people have wondered why American Indians honor their elders.

“Tunkashila, Grandfather, Great Spirit.” It is this way that we begin our prayers in Lakota. Tunkashila, also means one’s own grandfather. The reason that the words are used this way is because our grandfathers are the elders of the tribe and in many ways personify the sacredness of the goodness and wisdom of the Great Spirit. Grandfathers carry the spirit of the people. Grandmothers are even more sacred because they carry the heart and soul of the people. Grandmothers carry the sacred spirit of the Mother Earth. Grandmothers give us gentleness and caring because they have also given us life. Our elders teach us who are ancestors were. Our elders are our connection to everything in our past. It is with their knowledge that we understand how we fit into the world.

Every grandmother and grandfather are sacred in many special ways. It is because of this that we will always respect our elders.

Hau, Mitaku Oyasin.

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