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Ganö:nyög (Thanks Giving Address)
Traditionally, Onöndowa’ga:’ (Senecas) open and close their ceremonial and community gatherings by reciting a Thanks Giving Address or Ganö:nyög. This address is a lengthy oration. It follows a natural sequence from the earth to the sky to the Creator. The Address recognizes and gives thanks to the creator for the many gifts he has given us. The length and detail of the Address may vary depending on the speaker and the type of event. The following is a brief version of the Seneca Thanks Giving Address translated into English.
We put our minds together as one and give thanks to our Creator for each of his gifts which contribute to our happiness as long as we walk this earth.
People: We give greetings and thanks to all gathered here. We have been given the duty to live in harmony with all living things and to share our knowledge of our culture and ceremonies. We are responsible that our cycle continues, from elders to children. Now our minds are one.
Earth: We give greetings and thanks to our Mother the Earth who continues to provide for us. The women and Mother Earth are one; givers of life. Now our minds are one.
Water: We give greetings and thanks to the waters which provide for our strength and well- being. All life, including people, plants and animals need water. We give thanks to the lakes, rivers, and streams. The waters of the world quench our thirst and provide food for the plants and animal life. Now our minds are one.
Small plants: We give greetings and thanks for the plant life, which includes fruits and plants for food and medicine. The plants work many wonders from sustaining life to curing our diseases. The most important of these plants is the strawberry. Now our minds are one.
Three Sisters: We give greetings and thanks to the Three Sisters. They have been given as our main foods from the plant world. They are corn, beans and squash, and they are gifts to sustain the people. These plants are related to women, Mother Earth and Grandmother Moon. Now our minds are one.
Trees: We give greetings and acknowledge the trees of the world. They provide us with shelter, shade and fruit. The Maple is the leader of the trees and is a sign of the rebirth of spring. Long ago, our people were given a way of peace, of strength and this is symbolized by the tree of peace. Now our minds are one.
Animals: We give thanks and greetings to the animal life. They are still living in the forests and other places, carrying out the instruction given to them by the Creator. They provide us with food, clothing and knowledge. Now our minds are one.
Birds: We now turn our thoughts toward the winged creatures. Our feathered cousins provide us with food, song and guidance. The leader of the birds is the eagle, who flies the highest and watches over all of creation. Now our minds are one.
Four Winds: We listen and hear the voices of the four winds. They come from the four directions and bring us strength, fresh air and rain. We are assured that they are following the instructions of the Creator. For this, we give greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.
Thunders: We give greetings and thanks to Grandfather Thunders. He roams the sky carrying water to renew life. His loud voice can be hears and he gives protection. Now our minds are one.
Sun: Now we turn our thoughts to the sky. Our Elder Brother, the sun, provides light and warmth. With the sunrise we can see all of the gifts we have been given by the Creator. Our brother is the source of all fires of life. Now our minds are one.
Moon: During the night time we see our Grandmother Moon. Her cycle is in harmony with other female life. Her power determines birth, time, plant growth and the tides of the waters. Our Grandmother continues to lead us. We are grateful and express our thanks giving. Now our minds are one.
Stars: The stars are the helpers of the Grandmother Moon. They have spread themselves across the sky. The stars provide the morning dew, guidance and direction. They tell us when to plant and observe ceremonies. Now our minds are one.
Four Beings: We give greetings and thanks to the Sky Dwellers. They are powerful spirit beings who have been assigned by the Creator to guide us both by night and day. These beings help the Creator to watch and direct us during our journey on Mother Earth.
Good Message: We acknowledge Handsome Lake as the carrier of the Good Message. We give greetings and thanks that he should lead us on a path to personal betterment. Now our minds are one.
Creator: Now, we turn our thoughts to the Creator himself. He is known to us as the great mystery, and he asks that people take care of and respect his creations. We see that all things are faithful to their duties as he instructed them. Therefore, we gather our minds into one and give thanks to the Creator. Now our minds are one.
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