Thanksgiving Address Ganonhanyonh (Words that Come Before All Else): Haudenosaunee Greetings to the Natural World
Haudenosaunee tradition teaches us that peace requires gratitude. We are to be thankful for the living world. Our relationship to the Earth is the basis of our sustenance and our peacefulness. Our Mother Earth connects us to a perpetual process of creation, and she continues to provide all we need to be happy and healthy.
To this very day, nearly every social, cultural and political event that takes place at the Onondaga Nation begins and ends with the “words that come before all others,” that is known as the “Thanksgiving Address.” Through these words, our minds are gathered together to share our thankfulness of what nature provides, and acknowledges the ongoing impact of these forces on human lives. The Thanksgiving Address acknowledges the people, earth, waters, plants, animals, birds, bushes, trees, winds, sun, moon, stars, as well as the unseen spiritual forces. There are a multitude of connections between human beings and other living beings in the world. The Haudenosaunee are thankful for all the gifts that we receive.
Many Native Americans express gratitude for the gifts of life. It was this that inspired the holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States. Think for a moment about what in nature makes you thankful. What is your relationship to the plants, animals, water, and air that surrounds you?