This, the second article in the series honoring spiritual traditions other than Christianity, focuses on Native American spirituality. This is an effort to promote greater understanding and acceptance of those traditions who seek God in different, peaceful, and beautiful ways (which Unity promotes) yet have experienced discrimination and challenges in their past and current histories. These very basic overviews will focus primarily on two things: (1) guidelines for living (comparable to Christianity’s ten commandments), and (2) an accepted primary prayer (comparable to the Lord’s Prayer in Christianity).
There are hundreds of tribes in the United States and there may be some differences between them on certain points. God is known as the “Creator” or “Great Spirit” in Native spiritual traditions. One reason for the discrimination against indigenous people historically may have resulted from a basic misunderstanding of Native spiritual thought. Native spiritual traditions hold that part of the “Great Spirit” was instilled in each thing created on the earth. Rather than having a variety of different “gods,” as was attributed to Native people by early Christians who consequently conceptualized them as heathens, the spirit inside each item created for the earth is much like the Holy Spirit in Christian tradition – a part of the “Great Spirit.” When viewed from that perspective, Native people are much more inclusive when considering the influential range of the spirit of God.
Some of the information for the general overview presented here was gathered from the Indigenous Peoples Literature website. There are ten Native American commandments, which include the following:
- Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
- Remain close to the Great Spirit in all that you do.
- Show great respect for your fellow beings (especially respect yourself).
- Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
- Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
- Do what you know to be right (but be careful not to fall into self-righteousness).
- Look after the well being of mind and body.
- Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
- Be truthful and honest at all times (especially be truthful and honest with yourself).
- Take full responsibility for your actions.
The prayer that was paired with the ten Native American commandments follows. It is beautiful and, again, is more inclusive of its concerns than is the Lord’s Prayer of Christianity (which was merely an example of how to pray by Jesus).
Great Spirit, give us hearts to understand never to take from creation’s beauty more than we give; never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed; never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth’s beauty;never to take from her what we cannot use.
Give us hearts to understand that to destroy earth’s music is to create confusion; that to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty; that to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench; that as we care to her she will care for us.
We have forgotten who we are. We have sought only our own security. We have exploited simply for our own ends. We have distorted our knowledge. We have abused our power.
Great Spirit, whose dry lands thirst, help us to find the way to refresh your lands. Great Spirit, whose waters are choked with debris and pollution, help us to find the way to cleanse your waters. Great Spirit, whose beautiful earth grows ugly with misuse, help us to find the way to restore beauty to your handiwork. Great Spirit, who creatures are being destroyed, help us to find a way to replenish them. Great Spirit, whose gifts to us are being lost in selfishness and corruption, help us to find the way to restore our humanity.
Residents of Columbus, Georgia, can better know and understand Native cultures by attending powwows. Powwows are events where both Native American and non-Native people gather to dance, sing, socialize, and honor indigenous culture lasting from 1 to 3 days in length. Major powwows or powwows called for a special occasion can last up to 1 week. Following is a list of Fall powwows within driving distance of Columbus, Georgia, found on the PowWows.com website.
- October 2-3, 2010 – 6th Euharlee Veterans Powwow. Location: Covered Bridge Road, Euharlee, GA. Contact: Janet & Joey at (770) 296-3097 or [email protected]
- October 7-8, 2010 – Cherokee of Georgia 30th Anniversary. Location: 110 Cherokee Way, Saint George, GA 31562. Contact: Harley Red Hawk McGahee at (904) 446-7223 or [email protected]
- October 16, 2010 – Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe Powwow. Location: 107 Tall Pine Drive, Whigham, GA 39897. Contact: Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe at (229) 762-3169
- November 4-5, 2010 – 11th Annual Stone Mountain Park Powwow. Location: 1000 Robert E. Lee Drive, Stone Mountain, GA 30083. Contact: Cindy Horton at (770) 413-5344 or [email protected]
For residents of Columbus, Georgia, who seek ongoing spiritual support that honors other spiritual traditions, the following six Unity churches are within driving distance:
- Unity of Albany (GA) – approximately 75 miles from Columbus, GA. Address for services at 11 a.m. on Sundays is 178 Hugh Road, Leesburg, GA. Phone: (229) 435-1001.
- Unity of Montgomery (AL) Spiritual Center – approximately 77 miles from Columbus, GA. Address for services at 11 a.m. on Sundays is 1922 Walnut Street, Montgomery, AL 36106. Phone: (334) 263-1225.
- Unity in the Heart of Georgia (Byron, GA) – approximately 78 miles from Columbus, GA. Address for services at 11 a.m. on Sundays is 127 Peachtree Parkway #701, Byron, GA. Phone: (478) 737-7537.
- UnitySouth Atlanta Church (Jonesboro, GA) – approximately 84 miles from Columbus, GA. Address for services at 10 a.m. on Sundays is 7541 Mr. Zion Boulevard, Jonesboro, GA. Phone: (404) 578-3033.
- Unity of Dothan (AL) – approximately 90 miles from Columbus, GA. Address for services at 11 a.m. on Sundays is 942 South Oates, Dothan, AL 36301. Phone: (334) 794-2840.
- Unity West Church (Douglasville, GA) – approximately 94 miles from Columbus, GA. Address for services at 11 a.m. on Sundays is 6472 East Church Street – Suite F, Douglasville, GA 30134. Phone: (678) 570-1487.