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Honoring Elders and Ceremonial Leaders


Instructions for Honoring Elders
Ceremonial Leaders and Teachers
The Elders, Ceremonial Leaders and Teachers hold the wisdom of our Ancestors.
They are to be honored and always treated with respect.

1) You are responsible for paying transportation expenses whenever you invite an Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher to a gathering, teaching circle, for a healing or for any ceremony.
·This includes airfare, transportation to and from the airport or simply gas for their car, making sure to cover all mileage.

2) You are responsible for providing all the Elder’/Ceremonial Leader’/Teacher’s meals.
·Ask ahead of time, if there are any dietary restrictions, i.e.: sugar, fat, red meats. Find out which are their favorite foods.

3) Always approach an Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher with tobacco (earth give-way) and/or green grass (cannabis sativa) for teachings, healing or ceremony.
·Tobacco is not a gift to the elder directly; it is the means by which the Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher makes a connection with the Ancestors of the Earth to receive instructions. It is a respectful way to recognize Elder’/Ceremonial Leader’/Teacher’s knowledge and spirit connection.
·When you ask for teachings in the traditional way, you never push. You wait until the Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher is ready to teach you. During the wait, the Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher is watching, praying, and listening.
The Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher may not get back to you for months, even years.
They may never respond, but they are still watching, praying, and listening. It is said that it is traditional to ask respectfully four times (This means with tobacco.)
The Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher can then decide if you really are truly interested and will do the work.


4) Do not disrespect Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher by interrupting while they are talking or working with another.
·If it is necessary for you to talk with them, stand in their field of vision a short distance away until they acknowledge you before you approach them.
·If they do not know you, introduce yourself and state what your purpose is. Then listen carefully to anything they may share with you.


5) Respect their traditions and teachings even if they are different from yours.

6) When transporting Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher be sure to show respect.
·Be considerate, help them by opening their door, assist them into the vehicle if they need help, and make sure they are comfortable.

7) When assisting them with their belongings, ask which ones you may touch.
·Their medicines may be in one of the bags and it is inappropriate for you to touch their medicine without their permission.
·Respect their silence on the way to a destination, and once you get to the destination. They may be tired from their journey or preparing themselves for the event. Please allow them to do so without interruption. If they invite conversation, they will let you know.


8. When housing Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher, respect their need for privacy and rest.
·Give them a room to themselves with a good bed and attend to any needs that they may have, especially food, beverages, and water.
·Introduce them to anyone they do not know.
·Inform them of the location of the bathroom, and where they may smoke or pray if they are smokers or pray with a pipe.
·If they wish to visit with you, they will make that known to you. Please do not keep them up all night visiting. Recognize their need for sleep.


9) Do not expect the Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher to do any work other than the ceremony or teachings that have been requested of them. If they wish to help in any way, they will offer.

10) When an Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher enters a space, offer them a seat and ask if there is anything that you can get for them.

11) When receiving teachings or healing from an Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher, it is customary to recognize the value of what you have received by gifting them accordingly.
·In time, as your understanding of the teachings deepens, it is appropriate to gift them again. In the past when we all lived in villages or closer together, all the Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher needs were taken care of. You need to recognize the gift they bring to you and help them so they may continue to share with everyone.

12) If you have the opportunity to visit an Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher in their home all of the same considerations listed above will apply. Additionally, you might consider the following as other ways to support them.
.Working in his/her garden
·Running errands
·Cutting & stacking wood
·Stocking refrigerator and shelves with food
·Care for pets


13) Working with and for an Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher is a lesson in humility and respect for each one of us fortunate enough to have that opportunity.
·If an Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher is awake, I cannot sleep.
·If an Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher is hungry, I cannot eat.
·If an Elder/Ceremonial Leader/Teacher is cold, I cannot be warm.

Thank you Creator for our Elders. Thank you Creator for our Ceremonial Leaders, Thank you Creator for our Teachers. Thank you Bear Warrior for bringing these instructions to us. Thank you John Spiraling Wind, for demonstrating the ways with an Elder. Mild comment additions by White Buffalo Calf Woman, Elder crystal child.


Posted on March 26, 2009 at 8:42pm by Navaho Girl, from the Four Corners, the Native Peoples who will lead the body!
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