Reading the book Indian Spirit, what comes out is the reverence that many early Native Americans had for “the Great Spirit” (or “Wankan-Tanka,” or the other names by which they knew God). They frequently prayed with him, thanking him for his gifts, and they had a respect and wonder for his creation. Ohiyesa, of the Wahpeton Dakota tribe, says that “in the life of the Indian there was only one inevitable duty—the duty of prayer—the daily recognition of the Unseen and the Eternal.” Ohiyesa describes waking at daybreak, bathing in cold water, and then praying as the sun rises in the morning. As he says, “Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new sweet earth, and the Great Silence alone” (Fitzgerald, Indian Spirit, 1).
Being in nature brings us face-to-face with the Creator’s glory and eternity, with our souls and our place in the universe, and with our relationship to him. In nature we witness God’s love of life and variety of life because we see that life and variety of life all around us. We realize we’re part of his continuum, and we thank God for this time on earth he’s given us, to experience life here and to be part of his many miracles.
Early Native Americans, living close to land, water, sky, animals, and plants—had special time with, and special insights about the Great Spirit. Theirs are lessons for us in the twenty-first century. It’s good to go to church, to read the Word, to fellowship with others, and to pray daily. It’s also good to regularly get out into nature . . . into God’s garden . . . and spend time alone with God.