Monthly Archives: April 2015

Carl Jung’s collective unconscious and Native Americans

Carl Jung’s collective unconscious and the Native Americans

Hello all!

I have been thinking for the past few days about what I could possibly write about. Nothing came to mind, nothing was inspiring me. Then I remembered a book I read a few years ago, Dancing Between two worlds: Jung and the Native American soul. I remembered its message and how it combined my background in psychodyamic psychology and native spirituality and culture. That book is one of those that changes your life. At least, it changed mine (more to come in a future post about another book that changed my life). But first let’s look at Carl Jung and the notion of the collective unconscious.

Jung and the Native American soul

Carl Jung

Carl Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist who also found a love for analytic psychology and

Carl Jung

Carl Jung

therapy. The beginning of the 20th century in Europe was dominated by the analytic movement, which was first led by Freud (well there were others before him such as Breuer and Charcot but Freud was the most well known one). Carl Jung’s ideas and writing were not always easy to grasp and led to differences in opinion with Freud for example. However, Jung did contribute to the field of personality traits, where his concepts are still used today in personality inventories. One of his main contributions and I think one of the most relevant ones in regard to the Native American culture, was his notion of the collective unconscious. I do not want to bore you with a lengthy explanation of it, because I could go on for a while here…..

But what is the collective unconscious?

We still have to cover some basics so you can understand how it pertains to the native culture and the concept of intergenerational trauma. According to Jung (a brilliant man for sure), there is a collective unconscious shared by members of a species. A collective mind, of experiences we have all shared. Whereas Freud discussed the notion of a personal/individual unconscious (my thoughts or emotions or experiences that I am not fully aware of), Jung argued for the notion that as a species, we share common unconscious experiences or emotions. This collective unconscious is inherited from previous generations (we come into the world already sharing this unconscious) and it contains symbols or concepts (Jung called them archetypes) that we all share. Symbols such as the Great Mother, The Old wise man. In other words, we carry within ourselves experiences from past generations, we come into this world carrying the life of our ancestors.

collective unconscious

The Native American collective unconscious

I don’t know about you but I feel like Jung was certainly right. I mean, I have mentioned before that what we do affects the next seven generations. In other words, I am carrying the history and experiences of the past seven generations. Some will say that it is not fair, that it means I am carrying baggage. But you have to remember that it goes both ways. I am also carrying the beauty, strength and knowledge of the past seven generations. Sometimes it is also about remembering or investigating where we come from, so we know better who we are today.

The history of the Native Americans is sadly filled with trauma and what I would qualify as genocides. Massacres such as Wounded Knee, need to be remembered as they affect the soul of all. Such massacres also affect the land they took place upon. The memory of what happened lives within the Earth. The bodies, the blood lives within the soil. If you think about how Native American culture emphasizes the connection to the Earth, a wound to the Earth is a wound to the people. It is a wound to the earth-connected side we all have, thus a wound to the soul. The feelings and the hurt of those who passed away on the battlefields do not die with them. They remain in each of us. The Land holds our stories, the land will evoke our personal and collective stories, it will remind us of them. As the land is also living. Violence to the people or the land led to the suffering of the following generations, as it is stored in our collective unconscious or psyche.

Intergenerational trauma

So in a sense, the notion of collective unconscious is related to the notion of intergenerational trauma. Where trauma is passed down from one generation to another. But knowledge, ways of survival are also passed down from one generation to the other. As I stated, it is not all negative, there is some positive in storing our ancestors’ story and experiences within ourselves. Jung and the Native American soul talks about how each of our soul is touched by what happened to our ancestors. Sometimes, getting in touch with their experiences is a way to remember who we are. A friend of mine said to me recently “I don’t know where I belong in this world. I don’t belong within our culture today, I don’t belong in the white culture, I don’t know where my place is”. It seems to me like that would be an old feeling, a collective feeling, an unconscious ancestral feeling. Maybe getting in touch with what our body remembers, what the land remembers is the way to go here, to know where we belong.


Grandmother, and great Mother Earth upon you the people will walk. May they follow the scared path with light, not with the darkness of ignorance. May they always remember their relatives in the four quarters and may they know that they are related to all that moves upon the universe. – Black Elk.



Native American spirituality vs religion

Native American spirituality vs religion

Hi all!smudging

I am continuing on with the writing of the Red Man, the Cree man who helped me write my last post. I have written a few posts about the history of the Native people (see my history and trauma category on the right) and about the philosophy and spirituality (see category on the right too). I have discussed the influence of the White man and religion on the trauma that was inflicted on the Native people. Because although not always intentionally, trauma was inflicted in the name of religion. Not an easy topic to discuss or read about but it happened. Assimilation was the goal, to take the Indian out of the man. In the name of Christianity, traditions were forbidden, beliefs were ridiculed, and cultures were erased. Or at least, they tried to. So today, let’s look at the concepts of religion and Native American spirituality.

What is the Native fight?

Some would say we are on the war path, fighting a fight we might lose if we do not know who we are fighting against. If we do not know, we will fight ourselves and everyone close to us. Who

Chief Dan George

Chief Dan George

is the enemy then or what is the enemy? Chief Dan George once said: “When you came to this land, we had the land and you had the bible. Now you have the land and we have the bible”. Maybe it is time to wake up and smell the aroma of fear. To remember who we are and in a sense, we were not religious. Native people became “religious” as a military ploy, pretending to believe in a religion so the religious ones would stop killing them. Guess what? Even though we pretended, they still killed us.

Native spirituality vs religion

Religion and the Red Road are diametrically opposed to each other in a few different ways. First of all, let’s clarify something. The Red Road or Native Spirituality is not considered a religion. It is considered a philosophy. The word philosophy is Greek for “a love of wisdom”. We love wisdom wherever it comes from. From the White, Red, Black and Yellow man. Indeed, the concept of the Medicine Wheel dictates that once the attributes of the Red, White, Black and Yellow men are acknowledged, that’s when the medicine wheel is complete and whole. All knowledge is important, from all men.

Religion is a doctrine, a system of thoughts where all thoughts and truth come from a book, the bible let’s say. Religion tends to instill fear in people, the fear of hell, of doing bad, or burning in hell. However, one cannot get to the happy hunting grounds through fear. The Bible tells you to fear, to fear the God who has the power to kill you. Rebelling against God is bringing judgment upon oneself, inviting wrath into one’s life (Romans 13). I don’t know about you but living in that kind of fear does not seem like a very serene way of living.


The Priest and the Elder

The difference that I will describe here is bone chilling and beautiful at the same time. The Beothuk Indians, Indians from the tip of the Canadian East coast, are now extinct. But they gave us this pearl of wisdom to think about.

A priest is sitting with an Elder of the tribe. The priest says: “look at your children, running around, screaming and laughing. You had better take the rod to them or they will one day embarrass you in public. If you spare the child the rod, you do not love them. And secondly you had better give yourself to the land or you will burn in hell”.

Beothuk woman and child

Beothuk woman and child

The Elder’s response, is worth a moment of reflection. I will repeat what he said verbatim, word for word. “First of all, we do not hit our children! We have respect for their dignity. Second of all, we do not believe in this primitive fear that you call hell. You brought that here with you and you can take it back when you leave”.

Sense or nonsense, that is the question. In the name of religion, natural Natives were killed throughout the world. The Crusades, the Inquisition. For some, this might be an occasion to ask themselves, why do I know little about my people but a lot about the Bible? You might know the saying “What belongs to Ceasar, let Ceasar have”. Well, maybe what belongs to Jesus and his people, let Jesus and his people have. The people of the Bible only have respect for their ideas and show a hatred for the truth of anyone else. But the land speaks to you and their land speaks harshly to them. We live in the promised land and maybe we should live like we have heaven here on earth. We have our ancestors around us, we walk on their land, the land of our children. Let us live in peace, joy and love. Let us be who we were meant to be, not who we were made to be.

elder quote


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Native American truth and history

Native American truth and history: contribution of the Native man

Hello all!storytelling

Today I want to share the words of someone I will call the Red Man. His vision of the Native American truth and his experience. The Native people have made such contributions to the world, some were never recognized, some were misconstrued. The story might not have been told properly but here I am sharing some raw stuff. Words that come from the personal experience of a Cree man, his words on Native spirituality, on the history and contributions of the Native man.

The concept of truth

I am tired of sitting on the sidelines watching the world pass me by, the world and my life. Over nativethe years, I have learned a very valuable lesson, and the lesson is this. If you want to change, you must change your relationship to the resources available to you. Now you probably think I am talking about the land when I mention the word resources but no I am not talking about land. I am talking about the one resource that is hard for some to find and that is the resource called the truth. The truth will really set you free.

The truth is freedom

Men pray to be free all the time. The shackles and chains of ignorance smudgewere strapped to my history. The fire of truth was taken away and hidden in books that my people had a very difficult time to read. The theoretical spirit of the Red Man got trapped in a book. Do not take the fire away from the Red Man so that in seven generations, it is cold. White Man writes everything down, the Red Man does not. His truth flows with the winds of change. The Red Man is cold today because he does not really appreciate just how much his people contributed to the intellectual consciousness. Self actualization means to know who you are in proportion to the world all around you. When you do not know who you are, you are weakened and unbalanced. It then becomes difficult to get a clear picture of yourself, of your ancestors and of your place in this world. “Indian giver, savage, welfare bum” that’s what I grew up knowing about my Red Indian side, nothing good.


The Native people contributed so many good things to this world. Could you imagine an Italian without a tomato? I could not because their culture revolves around it. We gave the Italians the tomato. It took great love and knowledge and understanding to produce the tomato, tomatoes do not grow wild in the bush, they need TLC. We also gave the world corn, chocolate, potatoes, peppers, tobacco. We also gave the world fortified foods such as pemmican; there were pemmican wars for a reason. One pound of pemmican had the nutrients of 10 pounds of meat. It could sustain you for as long as needed. It could be preserved for 10 years!



History, your own history

Your own personal investigation will uncover the Red Man treasure. If you do not know what’s wrong with the world, you do not know your history. Our history is very cryptic but it’s there. Our people contributed much to the history. The Sleeping Giant that is coming to life is how much we have given and how much was taken. It is a cycle that is hard to break. Blood is shed when people fight for land. However, the land will still be there when the last land claim settlement is secured. Until someone takes it away again. Just like our discoveries will be be rediscovered. What came first? That’s a good question. This is not about getting recognition but rather to see how rich our history is, the good that we brought. The good that we can bring to the world.

Investigate yourself to extend to the utmost your knowledge of yourself. To rectify your heart, to regulate your family, to show yourself and the world just how beautiful your natural native self was and is. All races have contributed to the common knowledge, only when we appreciate the attribute of a man can we appreciate the unique race of all human beings. One day we will all share the power, the power to play, to change and to know.

sacred land

All my Relations




Meaning of the Tree of life

The Tree of life: its meaning

Hello all!green field

Some of you might have read my last post regarding a wonderful little book full of insight and wisdom: 365 days of Walking the Red Road. Well today I want to discuss a topic often mentioned and discussed within that book: the connection we have with Mother Earth. You are probably wondering what I mean. Well, if you remember the concept of the medicine wheel and the 7 directions, you remember that 2 of those directions are Mother Earth and Father Sky. Mother Earth is our connection to our past and to life. Let’s say how that is.

What is the Tree of life?

When one reads the book mentioned above, one can read lessons from the Red Road, to be considered inspirations on how to conduct oneself or live one’s life in a respectful way. The concept of the Tree of life is explained in this manner:

The Tree of life represents all that is life, encompassing all that exists upon the planet. When we walk the Red Road, our journey ends under the protection of this tree. It causes the rhythm of the world to continue year after year, and with each cycle, fruit nourishes those who stand under her boughs. The roots dig deep into history. Those dedicated to this energy know the value of all beings, tend to Mother Earth and live an honorable life in honor of the spirit of the ancient Tree.

tree of life

Tree of life by Azriel hell shoppe

What does that mean? I think it relates to the concept of “we are all related” or “Mitakuye Oyasin”. We all come from the land, we come from Mother Earth. If you think of Mother Earth and the Tree of life, the leaves, the fruits nourish the soil we walk on, nourishes us. Its roots are full of history, guided by the spirit of the previous trees. Like the medicine wheel, it represents the cycle of life. Where one leaf or fruit falls, another one begins its growth. Our ancestors used all the medicines provided by the trees and Mother Earth, to heal, get stronger. Everything was provided by Mother Earth.

But it’s more…tree of life

Mother Earth is where we come from and where we go back in the end. The Earth is our mother, is contains the ashes of our ancestors, it is full of wisdom from our ancestors. Chief Seattle, a Suquamish chief, was particularly vocal about Mother Earth and its importance.He famously said We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Meaning that it is a gift to us all. We live as children of the Earth but the land does not belong to us, we belong to the land. Chief Joseph advocated the equal rights upon earth for all, as she is the mother of all. The respect of the land is a significant value for the Native people. You always respect all your relations, including those in nature. You respect what the land gives you and only take what you need. It is a lesson that was taught to children. As Chief Seattle said:

Teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our own kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children – that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth… This we know, all things are connected like the blood which unites one family.

Therefore, mother Nature, mother Earth is not for us but rather part of us. Mother Earth is the healer, the one who feeds us. She is our mother. I now leave you with a quote from Chief Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux that summarizes things beautifully:

The white man is far too removed from America’s formative processes. The roots of the tree of life have not yet grasped the rock and the soil. But for the Indians, the spirit of the land is still vested. When the Indian has forgotten the music of his forefathers, when the sound of the tom-tom is no more, when the memory of his heroes is no longer told in story, he will be dead.

chief Luther Standing Bear

Chief Luther Standing Bear

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Walking the Red Road: 365 days of it, a review

Walking the Red Road: 365 days of it, a review

Hello all!

For those of you following me on Facebook, you might have noticed that I often mention a little walking the red roadbook I have: 365 days of walking the Red Road: the Native American path to leading a spiritual life every day. I just absolutely love that book! What is this book you ask? Well at a glance…

Product: 365 days of Walking the Red Road

Where to buy it:

Price: 10.82$ CAN

Rating: 5 stars

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Native American love and beauty

Native American love and beauty

Hello to all of you!

I hope you are doing fantastic. 🙂 Although I am tired tonight, I do want to share something that is a tad more personal with you. I want to discuss the concept of beauty and love with a Native twist. What I am sharing below are not universal teachings or a universal philosophy. But rather words that were given to me by a person very close to my heart. A person you will probably get to know through me on this site in the next few weeks. I want to discuss the concept of Native American love. But first let’s start with the concept of true beauty. Why am I sharing all of this? So that you see a small part of life, a small part of the world with the beauty that it has. So that you can see, like me, what native love is. A personal version of it yes but one that we could all benefit from.

kindred souls

 To see true beauty

The words below are not my words but rather words that were given to me. I wish to share them with you as they exemplify a wonderful philosophy.

If on your walk through life you are never introduced to true beauty, you will never recognize it. But once you see true beauty in one person, you have no choice but to see that same beauty in everyone you meet. We are all examples of true beauty.

native couple

Isn’t that beautiful? We are all different examples of true beauty. We all have that beauty in all of us. Someone just needs to see it, as we sometimes cannot see it ourselves. That person saw it in me and I am eternally grateful for it.

Native American concept of love

Ok the same person told me about the Native concept of love. A true love.

There are three main sources of attraction in the love of human beings. Attraction to the spirit, the mind and body. To have mutual attraction of the spirit gives birth to friendship. To have mutual attraction to the mind gives birth to respect. To have mutual attraction to the body gives birth to desire. To have the combination of all three sources of attraction gives birth to a real true love. A Native love 🙂

I do not know about you but I find this to be very beautiful and touching. Love is an abstract concept and in a sense, an individual one. We love differently, we love some people differently than others. To connect with someone on a spiritual level is one of the most profound connections we can have with someone. A connection that transcends the physical world. A very deep connection. When that is combined with a physical connection and a more intellectual and emotional one, well then you have something you should hold on to 🙂 It took me a while to see I had that.

indian love

I want to end with a poem, a very sweet poem that touches me deeply. Those words I could not understand back then but can now see them for what they are. I can now appreciate them and love them for the reassurance they provide. A reassurance I felt myself needing.

Sleep my lovely lady, dream such beautiful dreams. Fulfill your every fantasy, dine with kings and queens.

This is your moment in paradise, enjoy it while you can. This is your moment in paradise.

Walk with dignity and pride for you have nothing to hide. This is your moment in paradise, enjoy it while you can.

For when the sun shines bright I”ll hold you tight and kiss all your pains away.

native poem

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Chief Joseph: A great Nez Perce Leader

Chief Joseph: An influential Nez Perce leader

Hello all!

Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph

If you have been on this site, you know that I like to share the history of the Native nations, of the people. I believe that knowing the history, the past, informs the future and gives us a better understanding of the present. The trauma of the native people cannot be denied, more than one genocide took place. However, that trauma is not well known. Or maybe I would just like for it to be better known. I am not sure. Nevertheless, our ancestors fought for us to be here today. They fought for their basic rights to practice their traditions, for the respect of their culture and to keep the land they were born on. Some great chiefs such as Sitting Bull and Big Foot fought those battles, literally or figuratively. Today, let’s discuss another one of the great chiefs, Chief Joseph.

Chief Joseph: Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt

What does that mean you ask? Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt is chief Joseph’s birth name, meaning Thunder Rolling down a Mountain. What a beautiful name!! However, for the sake of keeping this short, I will continue to refer to him as Chief Joseph….Chief Joseph, a member of the Nez Perce tribe, was born in 1840 in Wallowa valley, which was in the Oregon territory. He was mostly known by the name of Joseph, the same name as his father, Old Joseph or Joseph the Elder. Old Joseph acquired his name after being baptized in 1838. Yes you read right, he was baptized. Indeed, Old Joseph had a uncommon relationship with Christianity for the times, as he converted to the religion. Although a controversial decision, it helped his relationship with his white neighbors. Chief Joseph (Junior) was then raised partly in a Christian mission. The peace between the Nez Perce people and the white people was however short lived. Why? Blame gold….Once gold was found on Nez Perce territory, the US government went back on its word, taking back acres and acres of land promised to the Nez Perce. Joseph the Elder renounced his bible in an act of defiance and out of frustration and refused to sign off on those new boundaries.

Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph by Edward S Curtis

Chief Joseph the leaderquote Chief Joseph

After the death of Old Joseph, his son took over and assumed his leadership. He was also against the loss of land and the proposed resettlement by the US government of the Nez Perce tribe. He worked closely with chiefs Looking Glass and White Bird. Together, they felt the tension mounting. Fearing a possible war, the chiefs actually backed down and agreed to the new boundaries.

However, chief White Bird had his own plans. Indeed, just before the resettlement was to happen, his band launched an attack, killing several white men. At that moment, understanding the repercussions of such an act, Chief Joseph chose not to go into war but rather to lead his people to safety. Contrary to chiefs who preceded him and who succeeded him, Chief Joseph chose to not fight, retreating instead. This was an unprecedented move. Some might see this as cowardliness. However, in order to be truly informed one has to known what Chief Joseph did next. Over the next months, Chief Joseph and his 700 followers actually embarked on a 1400 mile journey to Canada. Yes you read that right, 1400 on horses and walking! During that journey, they often had to defend themselves against US forces (that outnumbered them greatly), reaching numerous victories.

let things remain-Chief Joseph

A tiring journey

However, the journey was taking a toll on Chief Joseph and his men. With numerous deaths including the one of chief Looking Glass and Chief Joseph’s brother as well as women and children, in 1877 the group stopped 40 miles from the Canadian border, hungry and exhausted. They surrendered, Chief Joseph asking for time to look for the children, whether they were dead or alive. He famously said: “My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever”.

For the other half of his life, Chief Joseph continued to share the plight of his people first in Kansas then to present day Oklahoma. He pleaded to the authorities to be returned to the Nez Perce land, to no avail.  He was finally able/allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest in 1885. However, the land he had known as a child was no more. War and disease had taken numerous of his people and he himself died in 1904 in Washington. Some say he died of a broken heart, of sadness from seeing his homeland in such a state. Chief Joseph showed great strength and wisdom in his life, making the decision to try to lead his people to safety. Some might not agree with his decision, knowing now the end result. However, I see Chief Joseph for the kind heart that he was, the pacific leader who still fought for his people and their rights, the chief who died of a broken heart over his lost land and tribe.

quote Chief Joseph

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Mishomis: The Grandfather spirit

Mishomis: the Grandfather spirit

Hello all!rocks on a beach

In my previous post, I discussed the concepts of Ain-dah-ing and Mash-kow-wisen, concepts introduced in Blackwolf Jones’ book Listen to the Drum. Blackwolf Jones discusses one’s inner peace and strength and one’s home and safe place within one’s heart, portraying a message of healing. Of our capacity to heal ourselves. I have followed his teachings over the past year and I am grateful for them. They have helped me find peace and strength. Therefore, today I wish to discuss another related concept, the concept of Mishomis.

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Spiritual inner strength

Our spiritual inner strength and home within ourselves

Hello everyone!

A year ago I read a book that enlightened me so much that I just have to share some of its

Blackwolf Jones

Blackwolf Jones

content and philosophy with you. The Book is called Listen to the Drum by Blackwolf Jones and Gina Jones. You can also find it in my resources section here. Blackwolf is an Ojibway man and his writing is just simply beautiful and touching. In the past year I found myself going through some tough times and really leaned on Blackwolf’s words and teachings to find my spiritual inner strength as well as my bigger purpose in life. Following the Red Road truly helped me remain calm, serene (up to a point…) and okay with whatever came my way. So let us look at some of Blackwolf’s teachings in regard to inner strength.

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Springtime: The East direction

It’s Springtime! The East direction and its meaning

Hello all!

I know I am a few days late as Spring was officially here over a week ago….But the change of spring timeseasons within the Native culture is important so I wanted to discuss it here. This is a short post as I have covered some of this in my post about the medicine wheel. But let us look at what Spring is, when seen from the East direction.


The Eastern Journey of Spring

Ah Spring! For some of you it means the melting of the snow, the flowers peeking out from the ground, the warmth of the sun getting stronger, the smell of blooming trees in the air. Or it means allergies for some others…lol! But over all, our relations in nature awaken, communicate with us, the birds are singing, the animals are out and about, the trees are green and lush, the sky is blue (generally…). Our cousins, brothers and sisters are alive! There is a fresh smell in the air (not always a good smell but a smell nonetheless). sunlight

The Medicine Wheel and yellow

If we think back about the concept of the Medicine wheel, which is divided in 4 quadrants, East, South, West and North, we know that the East direction is associated with Spring. As well as with the color yellow, the color of the sunlight and of spring. The East direction is also the direction of childhood, of new beginnings. It is where we begin our journey in the cycle of life, where we enter the physical world. It is the direction of the first light, of light of Mother Earth. I am sure you have heard the expression “spring cleaning”, which when one thinks about it, is a new beginning. We get rid of the old, of the excess baggage and start fresh. Spring time, in the East direction is a new beginning, of ourselves but also of nature all around us.

Magnolia trees

With new beginnings come changes in our lives. I personally see it as a more appropriate time for our “new year resolutions”. As it is a time of rebirth in a sense, where as a child we come from the spiritual world into the physical world. That’s one heck of a change! But it’s a more natural transition than it seems. Just like death is, as I see it not as death but rather a change of worlds. We leave the physical world to return to the spiritual world. But I digress…My point is use the East direction as a time of change, a time of improvement, a time to start new projects. Use the East direction to look at how you can find balance within your life, how you can overcome challenges. How you can connect with nature more, a nature which is waking up. forest creekGrow your own herbs, your vegetables, plant flowers to brighten your days. Smell the roses as they say! Embrace your new beginning!



I leave you with two quotes, which I love. The first one is from Chief Dan George, a Coast Salish chief from the Burrard Inlet in BC, Canada (where I am :)).

May the starts carry your sadness away, may the flowers fill your heart with beauty, may hope forever wipe away your tears and above all may silence make you strong.

The second one is from Ten Bears, a Yamparika Comanche chief.

My heart is filled with joy when I see you here, as the brook fills with water, when the snows melt in the spring, and I feel glad as the ponies are when the fresh grass starts in the beginning of the year.

Happy Spring everyone!