A Native American Christmas by Looks for Buffalo
European Christmas for Native Americans actually started when the Europeans came over to America. They taught the Indian about Christianity, gift-giving , and St. Nicholas. There are actually two religious types of Indian people in existence. One of these is the Traditionalist, usually full-blooded Indians who grew up on the reservations. The second type is the Contemporary Indian who grew up in an urban area, usually of mixed blood, and brought up with Christian philosophy.
Traditionalists are raised to respect the Christian Star and the birth of the first Indian Spiritual Leader. He was a Star Person and Avatar. His name was Jesus. He was a Hebrew, a Red Man. He received his education from the wilderness. John the Baptist, Moses, and other excellent teachers that came before Jesus provided an educational foundation with the Holistic Method.
Everyday is our Christmas. Every meal is our Christmas. At every meal we take a little portion of the food we are eating, and we offer it to the spirit world on behalf of the four legged, and the winged, and the two legged. We pray-- not the way most Christians pray-- but we thank the Grandfathers, the Spirit, and the Guardian Angel.
The Indian Culture is actually grounded in the traditions of a Roving Angel. The life-ways of Roving Angels are actually the way Indian People live. They hold out their hands and help the sick and the needy. They feed and clothe the poor. We have high respect for the avatar because we believe that it is in giving that we receive.
We are taught as Traditional children that we have abundance. The Creator has given us everything: the water, the air we breathe, the earth as our flesh, and our energy force: our heart. We are thankful every day. We pray early in the morning, before sunrise, to the morning star, and the evening star. We pray for our relatives who are in the universe that someday they will come. We also pray that the Great Spirit's son will live again.
To the Indian People Christmas is everyday and they don't believe in taking without asking. Herbs are prayed over before being gathered by asking the plant for permission to take some cuttings. An offer of tobacco is made to the plant in gratitude. We do not pull the herb out by its roots, but cut the plant even with the surface of the earth, so that another generation will be born its place.
It is really important that these ways never be lost. And to this day we feed the elders, we feed the family on Christmas day, we honor Saint Nicholas. We explain to the little children that to receive a gift is to enjoy it, and when the enjoyment is gone, they are to pass it on to the another child so that they, too, can enjoy it. If a child gets a doll, that doll will change hands about eight times in a year, from one child to another.
Everyday is Christmas in Indian Country. Daily living is centered around the spirit of giving and walking the Red Road. Walking the Red Road means making everything you do a spiritual act. If your neighbor, John Running Deer, needs a potato masher, and you have one that you are not using, you offer him yours in the spirit of giving. It doesn't matter if it is Christmas or not.
If neighbors or strangers stop over to visit at our house, we offer them dinner. We bring out the T-Bone steak, not the cabbage. If we don't have enough, we send someone in the family out to get some more and mention nothing of the inconvenience to our guests. The more one gives, the more spiritual we become. The Christ Consciousness, the same spirit of giving that is present at Christmas, is present everyday in Indian Country.
Looks for Buffalo is an Oglala Sioux Spiritual Leader, the full-blood Oglala grandson of Chief Red Cloud and White Cow Killer, and a Cheyenne Oglala Leader. He resides on the Pine Ridge Reservation in SD.
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not an wild creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The moccasins were hung by the smoke hole with care, In hopes that Giveaway-red-really-big-man soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of maple sugar danced in their heads;
And mother in her handkerchief, and I in my black hair, Had just settled down for a long winter nap,
When outside the house there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like lightening, Tore open the shutters and threw up the window shade.
The moon on the breast of the crust on the snow Gave a shine like duct tape to objects dense under brush,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, . But a miniature toboggan, and eight tiny deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and fast, I knew in a moment it must be Giveaway-red-really-big-man.
More rapid than bald eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted out, and called in a certain way by name;
"Now, Run-along! now, Dancer! now, Dance-along and Unmarried-woman! On, Star! on Love! on, Thunderer and Lightening! To the top of the porch! to the top of the house!
Now Fly along! Fly to a certain place! Fly upwards!" .
As dry leaves that before the winter canibal monster fly, When they meet with BIA, mount to the sky, So up to the roofing the coursers they flew,
With the tobaggon full of toys, and Giveaway-red-really-big-man.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roofing The prancing and pawing of each little foot.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, Down the chimney Giveaway-red-really-big-man came with a bound. .
He was dressed all in furs, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he mangiwane on his back, And he looked like a trader just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his cheeks how merry! His red cheeks were like roses, his nose like a choke-cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as a long knife man; .
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a roach headress;
He was full up on frybread with little round belly, That shook, when he laughed like a birchbark dish of jelly.
He was chubby and fat, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed secretly when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his big head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to fear; .
He spoke ojibwe not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the moccasins;
then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose, And nodded his head, up the smoke hole he rose;
He sprang to his toboggan, to his deer gave a whistle,
And away they all ran from the place in flight like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him shout out, ere he drove out of sight, .
"Happy Christmas to all, And to all later."
'Twas the night before Niibaa-anamaíegiizhigad, when all through the wiigiwaam
Not an awakaan was stirring, not even a waawaabiganoojiinh;
The moccasins were hung by the smoke hole with care, In hopes that Miigiwe Miskwaa Gichi Inini soon would be there;
The abinoojiinhyag were nestled all snug in their nibaaganan,
While visions of ziinzibaakwad danced in their nishttigwaan;
And nimaama in her moshwens, and I in my makadewindibe,
Had just settled down for a long biiboon zhiibaangwashi, .
When outside the wiigiwaam there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the nibaagan to see what was the matter.
Away to the waasechigan I flew like inaabiwin, Tore open the shutters and threw up the gibiigaíiganiigin.
The dibik-giizis on the breast of onaaband Gave a shine like duct tape to objects zazagaamagad,
When, what to my wondering nishkiizhigoon should appear, .
But a miniature toboggan, and eight tiny waawaaskeshi,
With a little old driver, so lively and wajepii, I knew in a moment it must be Miigiwe Miskwaa Gichi Inini.
More rapid than migiziwag his coursers they came, And he whistled, and biibaagi, and izhi-wiinde by name;
"Now, Bimibatoo! now, Niimi! now, Babaamishimo and Moozhikwe!
On, Anang! on Zaagi! on, Animikii and Wawaasese! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wiigiwaam! Now Bimibide! Ipide! Ombibidemagad!" .
As dry leaves that before the wiindigoo fly, When they meet with BIA, mount to the sky,
So up to the apakwaan the coursers they flew, With the tobaggon full of toys, and Miigiwe Miskwaa Gichi Inini too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the apakwaan The prancing and pawing of each little inzid.
As I drew in my iniji, and was turning around, Down the chimney Miigiwe Miskwaa Gichi Inini came with a bound. .
He was dressed all in gipagawe, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with bingwiand and soot;
A bundle of toys he mangiwane on his back, And he looked like a adaawewinini just opening his pack.
His ishkiinzigoon -- how they twinkled! his inowan how merry!
His miskwanowan were like roses, his nose like a choke-cherry!
His droll little indoon was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as gichimookamaan; .
The stump of a opwaagan he held tight in his wiibidaakaajiganan ,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a miskwaanzigan;
He was full up on frybread with little round belly, That shook, when he laughed like a wiigwaasinaagan of jelly.
He was chubby and wiinin, a right jolly old elf, And I giimoodaapi when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his ishkiinzigoon and a twist of his mangindibe, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to gotaaji; .
He ojibwemo not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the moccasins; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his ibinaakwaanininj aside of his nose, And wewebikweni, up the smoke hole he rose;
He sprang to his toboggan, to his waawaaskeshi gave a whistle, And away they all onjinizhimo like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him biibaagi, ere he drove out of sight, .
"Happy Niibaa-anamaíegiizhigad to all, And to all baamaapii."
By Tara Prindle