The Mystery of Creation, Cycles of Life - Native American Perspectives
If it is to be said that the Native Americans are spiritual, then their spirituality can only be described as their relationship to the natural world. This relationship begins with oneself, to others, the environment, and one’s view of the world and universe. This created a belief system through interpretations of Creation. Indigenous culture, or mother earth worship, thus evolved. Traditions or a Way of Life began.
Native people in North America sought an ideal state of being based on the quality of interaction with the natural world. This harmony and balance inspired a spiritual consciousness for each act in life. They were one and the same. All manifestations of life, our environment resulting from the union of Father Sky and Mother Earth, were deemed sacred and fragile.
For local tribes of the Pueblo, Apache, Navajo (Dineh), Ute, and others, it was a paradise for gathering food and medicinal plants, hunting, ceremonies, and other gatherings. It was a place to waken the creative mind, body, and spirit. Until they were dispossessed, the Native people maintained the area here as a place for peaceful contemplation and resolutions.
The mountains in particular were viewed with awe and mystery. The Mountains are sacred to indigenous people. Pilgrimages are still made to the Sacred Mountains for medicine bundle renewal, rain, medicinal herbs, and ceremonies by various tribes.
Nearby Mount Blanca is one such mountain. To the Dineh, it is called Sisnajinii, meaning “black sash trailing down”. The sash is the range extending from Blanca northward to include the Crestone community. It is the revered eastern mountain of the Dineh cosmos. Blanca and three other cardinal direction mountains are mentioned as the pillars holding up the sky-universe in the Navajo spiritual geography.
The Dineh cosmology is further represented in the building of traditional hogan. The creation of Father Sky and Mother Earth is represented in the Hogan. Sisnajinii represents the mind-opening door of the Hogan, where offerings for renewal and growth are made each new day at dawn. In this sacred manner, we greet each new day and all our relations. This cycle of life has no beginning and no end.
written By Paul Tohlakai and reprinted with the author's permission.
Paul Tohlakai was born on the Navajo Nation in Arizona in 1950 near Pinon. His life began not without a struggle. He almost succumbed to life threatening illness, but survived to become a one of the last of his generation to experience life that others only dream of. Since childhood, his elders noticed Paul's strong independence. His Grandfather would say of him: "here is a strange young-old man”.
Until age 8, Paul was raised traditionally in a remote rural area of the biggest Indian reservation in extreme poverty conditions. But it was a happy time with a caring mother and grandfather. While other children played together, he was often found alone exploring, until he was sent to a boarding school where his world changed forever. During these years, he lived with non-native foster homes until graduating from high school at the tender age of 17. Upon finishing high school and attending one year at a university, he decided that what he had to learn was not indoors and set out what would be a life of roaming free throughout North America and internationally, working as a ranch hand, construction carpenter, steel worker, fire fighter, and other jobs that would eventually play an instrumental role in contributing to his vast knowledge.
Mr. Tohlakai has a deep affinity for horses which has been the driving force of his life, derived from his cultural tradition. In addition to growing up on horses' and working ranches, he has been a rodeo bronc rider, trainer, wild horses' gatherer, veterinarian helper and rodeo judge. He is also a a reputed native drum maker, offering his premier native drums through his company, Tohlakai Drums, which received numerous endorsements by top native singers and drummers throughout Turtle Island. He has also led efforts to mobilize and bring to his community international people to gain intercultural experiences with tourism and sustainable practices.
Mr. Tohlakai makes his home now in Phoenix, Arizona, and also travels extensively as a Lecturer on Native philosophy. One might ask how and why he has undertaken such a life that takes him to global communities. Mr. Tohlakai has a vision, acquired through an involuntary personal experience 25 years ago that changed his life. Since then, he has followed that vision that defined his purpose in life to be a Witness, Teacher and Spiritual Advisor throughout the world. As a respected Native Elder throughout the world, he life continues to involve all who seek to empower their own spiritual growth through learning about being a human being again.