GATHERING IN GRATITUDE
Watch this documentary about
the Gathering in Gratitude process:
Please contact Luz Elena Morey to explore the possibility of creating a Gathering in Gratitude with your community, school or organization.
anywhere in the world
Ages 7 - 70+ are welcome. Younger children can sometimes be incorporated into the process. There are usually spaces for helpers, interns, and counselors in training. Scholarships are sometimes available.
ABOUT GATHERING IN GRATITUDE
Gathering in Gratitude, inspired by the ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Thanksgiving Address, is a nature-based, creative process for community healing. It is designed to empower participants of all ages. Ensemble members access their inner wisdom and strength while co-creating an innovative presentation to share with local audiences. Each offering, a unique combination of drama, music, dance, and visual arts, is both healing and inspiring. Presentations usually reflect present-day challenges as well as powerful, healthy, and emerging ways of being. Throughout the process, participants connect deeply with their souls, each other, nature, and their sense of community. Participants explore new cultures, their own gifts, ancient practices, and personal dreams, visions, and stories, weaving these into a greater gift to share with the community.
"The productions are very relaxing and I come out of there feeling refreshed and renewed."
"No matter how many productions of the Thanksgiving Address I have been in and seen, attending this new one moved me to tears."
"I love that in this process everyone's voice matters and is welcomed."
"Thank you! It fills my heart to see children and adults playing together in a spirit of creativity and gratitude and not in the usual hierarchical model. May I participate in the next one?"
"Makes my heart and soul swell - beautiful- thank you!"
"Luz Elena carries a large heart not of this world ... an astral beam piercing the night"
"Words do not come nor would they suffice to describe my feelings/thoughts/reactions!"
Luz Elena Morey’s Gratitude for Jake Swamp
In the summer of 2007 I contacted Tekaronianeken Chief Jake Swamp for advice and sanctioning because I was being guided to offer a community-uniting multi-generational sacred theater performance inspired by The Thanksgiving Address: 'The Words Before All Else,' (which has since become "Gathering in Gratitude"). Since 1998 I'd been illuminated by these teachings. Meeting Jake and Judy many years ago, I was encouraged to focus even more on giving thanks. What has emerged is “Gathering in Gratitude,” a sacred theatrical community performance: a pageant of music, dance and drama that is newly created each time by the multi-generational cast, and which brings people’s minds and hearts together as one by honoring the natural world.
That summer day in 2007, on the phone, Jake listened patiently, in his always noble and deeply heart-centered way. He encouraged me to be inspired by The Thanksgiving Address and to create something new - in a way that resonated with me, personally, and in a way that made sense to the actual people in the community who were participating. Then, he asked, “How may I help?”
He proceeded to make us a recording: "The Origin of the Thanksgiving Address," and we used it for the performance. It was profound. Jake's blessing and encouragement has been foundational in all this artistic work with the Thanksgiving Address throughout the years in different communities.
On Friday morning, October 15th, of 2010, I had breakfast with a cast member from that year’s Gathering in Gratitude. This new cast member was describing a vision he had for this year’s presentation: he saw himself on stage, lost in the pain of his own fast-paced, self–centered lifestyle, while visiting a Native American elder - a medicine man.
Over breakfast we discussed these visions, as well as modern western society, emotional breakdowns, nature-based experiences and nature-inspired revelations that lead to more peaceful ways of living.
Before leaving the breakfast, this man stopped me, paused inwardly a moment, and said, "The Native American - he is a chief."
I replied, "OK," totally trusting this process. Then I told him, "Listen deeply and you will be given guidance."
In minutes I was at my next work site and received the news of Chief Jake Swamp's passing.
The Thanksgiving Address, one of Jake’s many gifts to us (though it is an ancient teaching of his people), says that the enlightened teachers who have died may be called upon for help and they will come and guide us.
I remember another time, years ago, when I called Jake Swamp. There was lots of talk of peace-making among the people in my community at that time, and many people were advocating for the use of a peacemaking formula that I found was open to interpretation. I perceived an impressive amount of judgment and passive-aggressive behavior purporting to be peaceful behavior. I called Jake for guidance. He told me that different people at different stages of their developement have different ways of being and that I was to have integrity and interpret these peace-making teachings in a way that honored my own being, truth and culture. Once again, Jake Swamp took a stand to share from his culture in a way that encouraged the honoring of one’s own way of being and one’s own culture.
I am most grateful for Jake Swamp’s kindness, power, patience, care, generosity, participation, wisdom, humility, nobility and encouragement.
I am grateful for Chief Jake Swamp and for his family and people, and for the greater family/community he touches. I encourage all of us on the path of peace to continue to listen deeply and to follow our callings in service to the peace and well being of all the future generations.
Tekaronianeken Jake Swamp
Tekaronianeken, meaning "Where two skies come together", was born at home at Akwesasne Mohawk Nation Territory in 1941. He married Judy Point of Akwesasne and they raised seven children together and also have 23 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
For over thirty years, Jake was a Mohawk Sub-chief and representative of the Mohawk Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. In holding the position as a leader of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation his responsibilities included presiding over thanksgiving ceremonies, birth and marriage ceremonies, counseling, funeral rites, and the politics of the nation and confederacy.
In addition to nation and community responsibilities, Jake has been involved in many political activities over the years, which are an indication of his commitment to the plight of the Indigenous people of the Americas. Jake's involvement with politics began in the late 1960’s when Native People across America were fighting for their Human and Treaty Rights. Participating in the 1969 International Seaway Bridge Blockade was just the beginning of many initiatives of activism for Jake Swamp.
Chief Jake Swamp
Jake Swamp was of the delegation that was involved with the negotiations after the Wounded Knee occupation, participated in the Longest Walk, and was also a part of the Ganienkeh Land reclamation. He attended the Russell Tribunal in the Netherlands, and has traveled to Geneva, Switzerland as a delegate of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy
Jake has inspired a new generation of Mohawk leaders and teachers who are now taking the place of Elders in the communities of the Iroquois and was directly involved in the creation of the Akwesasne Freedom School - a Mohawk language immersion school of critical acclaim that has been an inspiration to many First Nation peoples in the United States and Canada. He was also director of an environmental education project and introduced aqua-culture to the community of Akwesasne. He also managed C.K.O.N Radio Station in which he developed a Mohawk language program with the elders of Akwesasne. Jake has inspired hundreds of people of many races and cultures through working with a number of influential organizations.
In 1982, Jake Swamp founded the Tree of Peace Society, which is based on the teachings of the Peacemaker and the formation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. The mandate is to provide a historical review of the contributions of the Iroquois Confederacy and to re-enact the tree planting ceremony by burying the weapons of war involving all races and creeds to uphold the principles of the Great Law of Peace.
The Tree of Peace Society was sanctioned by the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs in 1985 and by the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee as an effective means of pursuing and implementing cultural and environmental education. The Tree of Peace Society was incorporated as a 501(c)3 Non-Profit corporation in New York State in 1994.
As result of his thirty years experience as a sub-chief of the Mohawk Nation and international ambassador, Jake has been traveling around the world, doing tree planting ceremonies in diverse places such as Israel, Australia, South America, England, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Morroco, Japan, Thailand, France, Germany and Sweden. He has also planted a tree at St. Johns' Cathedral in New York City and over twenty colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Through his tree planting efforts, Jake has inspired the planting of over 200 million trees. He continues to inspire many college students of all races and backgrounds through his extensive lecturing schedule which takes him to over 10 universities and other speaking engagements a year.
Jake has appeared on the television program Five Hundred Nations, which has become educational software; Ancient Prophecies which aired in 1994 on NBC, Finite Oceans which aired on the Discovery channel in 1994; and educational display videos for the Carnegie Museum in Chicago. Jake isthe author of the children's book Giving Thanks, A Native American Good Morning Message (Lee & Low Books), which has been translated into five languages and was featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. Jake also authored The Peacemaker's Journey audio cassette produced by Parabola Magazine (1996).
Jake Swamp served as President of the Tree of Peace Society and maintained an active schedule of lectures, workshops and tree plantings. He was previously employed with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne facilitating the "Men for Change" program at the Iethinistenha Family Violence Shelter, working with men on domestic violence issues. He worked as a cultural adviser for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne's Child and Family Services until his passing.
© 2010 Tree of Peace Society
326 Cook Road, Hogansburg, N.Y. 13655
Phone/Fax (518) 358-2641
The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address
Greetings to the Natural World
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people. Now our minds are one.
The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.
We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms- waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water. Now our minds are one.
We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come. Now our minds are one.
The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks. Now our minds are one.
The Medicine Herbs
Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines. Now our minds are one.
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so. Now our minds are one
We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life. Now our minds are one.
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.
The Four Winds
We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds. Now our minds are one.
Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers. Now our minds are one.
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun. Now our minds are one.
We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon. Now our minds are one.
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars. Now our minds are one.
The Enlightened Teachers
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers. Now our minds are one.
Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator. Now our minds are one.
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way. Now our minds are one.
This translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address was developed, published in 1993, and provided, courtesy of: Six Nations Indian Museum and the Tracking Project All rights reserved. Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World English version: John Stokes and Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk) Mohawk version: Rokwaho (Dan Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf Clan/Mohawk)