Doug George-Kanentiio: Prophecy and the people at Standing Rock

Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe addresses youth in Bismarck, North Dakota, on September 9, 2016. Photo courtesy United Tribes News

Iroquois Prophecy and People at Standing Rock
By Doug George-Kanentiio

The power and influence of prophecy among the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois) has been a central part of our culture since the birth of the league of peace long before the arrival of the refugees from across the salt water to the east of Anowara:kowa, the Great Turtle.

When Skennenrahowi, the Peacemaker, raised the first Tree of Peace on the southern shore of Lake Onondaga (now Syracuse, NY) he not only gave those assembled a constitution and a common purpose he also imparted teachings about times to come. He predicted the arrival of the refugees, those fleeing the oppression and suffering of their homelands to search for freedom here. His instruction was clear: to use whatever means available to teach the principles of the Great Law of Peace and thereby bring an end of warfare among all nations and to show the world that harmony between the natural world and human beings was possible.

One of the most profound prophecies was that of the two serpents, one silver and one gold, creatures who lived in the salt water ocean but would be found floundering by the Native people and given safety here. The story is told on the web site but is shared among all Haudenosaunee and was spoken by the late Leon Shenandoah, Tadodaho of the Confederacy.

It is important in that it tells of the destruction of the land by the salt water people and what will happen when the indigenous nations and the earth itself are under mortal stress.

Shenandoah told of the dying of the elms, the maples, the strawberry plants, the loss of culture and the resurgence of traditional values. My wife, the composer Joanne Shenandoah, put this to song with her ballad "One Silver, One Gold" recorded on the album "Eagle Cries" with Bruce Cockburn.

The flag of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy flies at a #NoDAPL rally in Washington, D.C., on August 24, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com

There are other very specific prophecies people can read. The Seneca writer Arthur C. Parker in his book "Parker on the Iroquois" from Syracuse University Press has a chapter on the Handsome Lake Code. The Code came about in 1799 when the Seneca leader Handsome Lake had visions as to the future and how the Iroquois were to survive the loss of their ancestral lands and the attempts to destroy our culture. The Code has had a profound impact on the Haudenosaunee and his prophecies clear and unmistakable

Handsome Lake tells of times to come. He cites climatic changes, the loss of the the ozone layer, the coming of great destructive winds, the rise of people who will boast of their evil intent and the power they have derived from exploiting corruption and violence.

In an article in, I summarize more of these prophecies. This is nothing exceptional as our Iroquois leaders have, for many decades, shared this information and tried to warn the world of what is about to happen if they continue on the path of environmental destruction.

One prophecy among the Mohawks is that when the world was being formed there were the twins Okwirase (Sapling) and Tawiskaron (Flint). The former was the good and the latter the bad. They found themselves in a series of contests in which led to Flint being confined deep into the earth with his favorite creatures, the leather skin dragons with the flashing red eyes, with him.

To stop the lizards from coming back to the surface Sapling assigned the Thunder Beings to keep them there. It is said that whenever lightning strikes the earth it is at that place where the serpents are trying to claw their way to the light.

But, it is told, there will come a time when human beings will become disrespectful of the earth to the point where the rivers are polluted and the skies contaminated. The serpents will then emerge and cause more destruction, spewing their foulness to an already suffering planet.

That time has come to pass. The drilling of the earth has released the serpents, the dragons have risen. The oil we consume is the remnants of those lizards combined with the plants of their era. The prophecy is being lived through right now. And the changes foretold will become more intense, more dramatic and destructive as the earth tries to heal.

As for the Native people, the earth protectors, they will almost fade away before once again asserting themselves. They will find a way to defeat the dragons and Flint but it will require unity and an unwavering dedication to preserve their ancestral teachings.

That is the message to the people at Standing Rock. There is hope, there is light as long as they hold on to the principles of peace and unity. Our ancestors will respond in ways unforeseen and remarkable.

Doug George-Kanentiio is an Akwesasne Mohawk currently residing on Oneida Territory with his wife Joanne Shenandoah.

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