Our Human Legacy
Enhancing Seven Generations
by Roman Orona
The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.
Dáanzho (Hello). My name is Roman Orona. I am Chiricahua, Lipan, and Jicarilla Apache; Taos and Isleta Pueblo; and Yaqui. I am a dancer, a singer, an actor, an educator, and a follower of the Bahá’í Faith. But most importantly, I am a human being and part of the bigger picture called Humanity. I want to share with you my thoughts on the Principle of Seven Generations and our collective responsibility to work for the betterment of all humanity.
The Principle of Seven Generations is from the Iroquois People and has been adopted throughout Indian Country and the world. This principle is about protection and sustainability. The Principle of Seven Generations is simple but very deep. It is this: We should all think of everything we do in our daily lives (decisions and actions) and how that affects seven generations into the future. What we do today—how does that affect our lineage, those babies who are not even born yet? Does it leave them a world that is pure and safe or a world of complete chaos and destruction? We should ask ourselves, “What’s our legacy going to be for them?” Remember that one day we will be the ancestors to our particular culture and race. We all have a tremendous responsibility not only to the environment and animals we coexist with but also to each other. We have a responsibility to cultivate human virtues (love, modesty, unity, moderation, justice, honor, joyfulness, forgiveness, honesty, consideration, cooperation, caring, generosity, compassion, responsibility, etc.) and to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.
As you may know, Native American communities had and still have a close relationship with all of the Creator’s creation, but especially women and children. The women are held in high regard for being the first educators and carriers of the children. The children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future. They have the seeds of the character of future society, which is largely shaped by what the adults do or fail to do with respect to children. They are a trust no community can neglect. An all-embracing love of children, the manner of treating them, the quality of attention shown to them, the spirit of adult behavior toward them—these are among the vital aspects of the requisite attitude. Love demands discipline—the courage to accustom children to hardship, not to indulge their whims or leave them entirely to their own devices. An atmosphere needs to be maintained in which children feel that they belong to the community and share in its purpose. We as parents are working so hard that we forget the importance of educating the children. A fundamental role for every community should be to raise children with praiseworthy and virtuous qualities and capacities who will assume responsibility for their own spiritual growth and their participation in the ever-advancement of civilization. This will create a community, humanity, and world moving toward unity and peace.
Our native people and culture are constantly depicted as things of the past, a poor people, a people with casinos, people who got a raw deal from the government, people who get everything for free, mascots, a costume, a barbaric people. But long before colonization, my people had urban populations well-versed in the arts and sciences, and they followed finely ordered systems of law. We provided numerous foods eaten on this earth today (corn, potatoes, beans, squash, etc.). We were using medications still used today and performing surgeries. We had sophisticated canal systems for our crops, drinking water, and waste water. We were a people of peace who just wanted to live on and take care of the land that we were provided by the Creator. I mention this because I believe it is important to know about people and know that my people are still here and alive performing our cultural traditions in a very contemporary world. In my recent travels to Malaysia, Thailand, and Japan, performing and giving talks, I got asked a lot of questions as to why I wasn’t wearing feathers, why my face wasn’t painted, and why I wear “normal” clothes. In a huge city in the United States, I was told “I didn’t know your people still exist.” I was completely surprised because comments like these were from educated individuals. So, since I have the floor, I want you all to know that we are alive and doing well. Something that I have learned in my travels and have been told by my elders is that all peoples come from a traditional foundation, whether your background is European, Asian, African, Native American. We are all tribal people!
My cultural prophecies have told us of this current time we are living in, with war and destruction, human atrocities, racial divisions, etc. We as humanity are at a turning point in the world, where our choices today can and will change the future course of civilization. The prophecies, and the teachers of the prophecies, have instructed us that we, as indigenous people, must speak of the dangers we face as a human race. We as humanity are entering a time of purification and can expect to witness chaos and destruction in all the kingdoms of nature. We are witnessing the Old World trying to remain while the New World Order is unveiling itself. A cleansing! How many of you have tried a body detox or cleansing? How many of you have tried to quit caffeine? It’s not easy: the body goes through this shock with body aches, headaches, maybe some fever or hives. That is where we are in this world. Now is a time for the reuniting of the races. Barriers of religion and nationality will begin to fall as all people realize their essential unity. We must heal the damage done to Mother Earth, the source of life, and recognize that all living things are endowed with spirit. Native People don’t worship animals, trees, mountains, etc. We honor them for the spirit within them and the sacrifice they give, whether it’s the deer that provides clothing, tools, or food, or the tree that provides us shelter or wood for fire. We as Native people only have one God/Creator and that is the one we worship.
We were told that things will speed up. Grandchildren will not have time for grandparents. Parents will not have time for children. It will seem like time is going faster and faster. Do we not see that now? How many times have you have thought or heard, “Wow, I can’t believe this day is almost done” or “This year has flown by.” The elders advised us that as things speed up, you yourself should slow down. The faster things go, the slower you go.
There’s going to come a time when the earth will be shaken again. This earth has witnessed the shaking two times already: the First and Second World Wars reminded us that we are a human family, that we should have greeted each other as brothers and sisters. We had a chance after each shaking to come together in a circle that would have brought peace on Earth, but we missed that.
Now is the time to heal the past by truly listening to the centuries of pain and persecution, not in passing or by saying “that was the past, so get over it.” Now is the time to join together and work in harmony to rehabilitate the planet and establish an era of alignment and peace. The very planet we live on is giving us signs. Earthquakes, fires, mudslides, tsunamis, hurricanes, flooding, droughts, etc. are signs that we humans have altered the earth as well.
Have we as humanity lost sight of our responsibilities?
Have we given up on creating true peace on earth and the building of this great civilization that has been foretold and even promised?
Why do we sit idle and wait for others to do something?
Why do we blame others for the problems that we all face as humanity?
Fulfilling the prophecies of peace on Earth and the building of the great civilization is not only possible but inevitable. Whether both are to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity’s stubborn clinging to old patterns of behavior or to be embraced now by an act of collective will is our choice. It cannot be left to a few to make the necessary changes. We all must have a say and consult one another if our efforts are to lead to the betterment of all.
Bahá’u’lláh, prophet of the Bahá’í Faith,* promised that “these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the Most Great Peace Shall Come.” For the sake of the next Seven Generations, the time to act is now.
We are all connected because:
It is all of our responsibility: Let’s leave this world better than we found it for our collective future generations.
Ahíyi’é (Thank you).
Roman Orona and family will open the CMN 2019 Conference with music, stories, poetry, and a blessing of the Native ancestors.