Prayers as stated everyday

Some have told me they offer their tobacco every day, without fail, and I often smile to myself, as I know they really don’t. It sounds good to say it though. I went out to South Dakota once and I was asked to run a sweat by one of the old timers I knew, Henry Crowdog. None of the young men gathered around the fire, waiting for the stones to heat up, had ever met me or knew me. As I walked up, they all greeted me in turn and they proceeded speaking about the sweat and how good it was waiting for the stones. Several of them spoke of how often they sweat in their respective home places, and each story got to be “bigger” than the last one. One fellow said they sweat every day and another, who had to top that one, said they sweat at least twice a day. When asked how often we Potawatomies sweat, I told them, “Oh about every three months or so, as we were sacred people.”

It is sort of the same way with tobacco offering, as some want others to know how sacred they are, or think they are. I have heard some pretty tall tales about tobacco offerings from some Neshnabek. In some ways, young Lakotas are just like young Neshnabek, they cannot resist a tall tale or two in posturing themselves as strong Native young men excelling above any other.

Me, I consider myself fortunate if I offer tobacco once in a blue moon, but I do pray a lot, secretly, as I was taught. Prayer and the observance of ceremonies are supposed to be a secret thing, not bragging a lot about how often, as the Spirit hears every word one says. When the Spirit sees one praying in secret, he rewards one openly, is what the elders used to tell us. So we were told not to go around bragging about how often we prayed or observed ceremonies.

I found Jews are the same as us, in many ways. Some brag, but the real ones keep it to themselves, as they are taught. I spent a lot of time in the Middle East so am quite familiar with the spiritual observances of most of the people there.

Iw embyegeyan ngom

Nin se Neaseno.

Published by neaseno

I was born on Powers Bluff in Wood County, Wisconsin, into a traditional community of Neshnabek. I was raised speaking only native languages, and learned to speak English upon entering school at the age of 6. As of this writing, I am one of 5 remaining Heritage Fluent Speakers of Potawatomi.

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