Traditional Native Family Values

Reflections for Native American Month

By Ghost Dancer

“Dancers” – Art by Micco Bobby Johns Bearheart

In reflecting on traditional Native family values and practices, it occurs to me that most families now days are dysfunctional and always bickering. Many families are broken up, separated and never experience a true loving family. Even now days, the young families forget about their parents who now are older and needing help. These things I think about; it is very disturbing and hurts my heart.

Traditionally Native Peoples practiced and believed in the family. Love was something every member received, gave and lived every single day of their lives. Each member would always check on the elders of the family, making sure they had everything they possibly could need. The elders lived with them and helped by teaching the children the stories, legends, and history of the family and the people. In these stories they also were sharing the moral values of the family, the band, clan, and the tribe.

Many grandmothers passed down secrets of the crafts and skills to the grandchildren and great grandchildren at night. Night time was the time to share these things, and also during bad weather and winter times. The children learned that their mother was also extended; every single female in the tribe was their mother and the older ones were the child’s grandmothers and aunties. The child was shown so much love and attention that it was a true blessing. Loyalty to the family first was always and foremost in every family; clan next, then tribe or nation.

Today there is just too much technology; children are drawn away from family life from too much TV, video games, computers, etc. Children are not taught Respect, Honor, Courage, Truth, Generosity, Humbleness, and LOVE! The school system is even designed now to tear our family systems down. They encourage and even manipulate the children to turn against their parents. Many of the video games teach the wrong set of morals and some teach they should not have any morals.

It is the same now days with the husbands and wives. In today’s society it is taught and even accepted that it is normal to desert, cheat, disrespect, neglect, ignore, and just not care about each other. TV and many other influences are responsible, but mostly it is society’s acceptance of these terrible practices.

Traditionally these things could never and would never be allowed or practiced. A marriage is sacred. It is a commitment of two people who give vows or words that say always and forever. Marriage requires LOVE, understanding, giving, and making sacrifices. A marriage is a lot like making the decision to be a parent; it requires a lot of time, hard work, patience, and compromise. But Love is the main ingredient in a marriage and in being a parent and having a family.

Traditionally Native peoples are a loving people. We love all life, beauty, happiness, and our world. Even though many suffer hardships now, with very little to live on, family is what holds us together. Family is our strength and our weakness. It is our strength because of the love, closeness, and togetherness; our weakness because we generally follow in the footsteps of members of our families.

If our parents or brothers or sisters fall into bad habits, doing bad things, then generally we do too because we do what we see, what we are brought up in.

So people, open your eyes and hearts and look closely around you. Every single thing we do reflects, programs, and affects others around us too. If we practice tradition and live in LOVE, give love, then love will be in all those around us. If we truly love, the lives of each of our family, friends, and those around us will be rewarded and enriched always. Our children will grow up wanting this love and enjoying it and they too will be like us later in life.

LOVE is the key, Ghost

Ghost Dancer © 2014 Reprint from 2014

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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