Doug George-Kanentiio: Living in a time of predicted changes

One of the more remarkable things about Mohawk culture are the set of teachings referred to as prophecies.

From the formation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to the present time there have been those who possess the ability to see beyond their time and witness events which, if correct, will effect not only the Mohawks but all of humanity.

That we are in a time of profound social and technological change is certain. That our current resource exploitative lifestyles are affecting the planet in dramatic ways is also beyond dispute. And that such changes will impact each one of us is a fact no one can deny.

What makes the Mohawk perspective unique is the belief that we are a people who have a deep, intimate connection with the natural world. We address the planet through music, ritual, dance and ceremony; she responds as a living entity with her own kind of consciousness.

When our ancestors created a culture which is ecologically sustainable and characterized by a high sensitivity and respect to other species they did so knowing that there were limits to human endeavour. Rules such as the "seventh generation" principle were essential to secure stability and survival given the destructive and exploitative part of human nature.

Beyond this were the visions of seers and prophets, those who advised us as to how to prevail during these times of change. Among these is Skenniateriio, Handsome Lake, the Seneca visionary who went into a trance and emerged to bring to the Iroquois a series of instructions by which they were to endure as a distinct people alongside the Europeans.

Handsome Lake was also specific about future events. He predicted climate change, the rise in the earth's temperature and resultant winds. He foresaw the loss of the Buffalo Creek reservation 40 years before it actually happened. He saw prisons, religious dissension, the open practice of sorcery, fighting among the Iroquois, plagues, earthquakes and the shifting of the earth.

While some have criticized Handsome Lake for using Christian elements in his teachings the authenticity of his prophecies are consistent with actual events.

Now add to this are the visions brought to Akwesasne on April 26 William Troy Greene of Ohsweken. Mr. Greene did not ask for his message but it has been entrusted to him nonetheless. Before a large assembly at the Mohawk Nation longhouse he spoke about times to come and gave a detailed summary in the form of a printed document so there can be no misinterpretations.

Among this messages are the following:
The earth will give a great groan, a sound of birth, from west to east.
Earthquakes will come about affecting the St. Lawrence River which will widen as will the Niagara River.
Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse will be damaged by the quakes while the Moses-Saunders dam west of Cornwall, Ontario will break.
The Mississippi River will rise and divide the country with a 50 mile water gap.
The oceans will rise with attendant damage to Boston, New York City, Washington and the entire state of Florida.
Volcanoes will explode sending heavy ash throughout the world and blocking the sun for three days. This will lead to a stoppage in the earth's revolution and then a shifting of the polar axis with the northern hemisphere becoming very warm.
Earthquakes will cause tsunamis which will strike Europe; these will be of particular severity in Indonesia, California, Peru and west Africa. Japan will be largely submerged as will Texas but Hawaii will be safe but there will be a break between North and South America.
People need to have seeds ready and to secure water and shelter away from the river valleys and into the hills.
The earth's magnetic field will be disrupted which will confuse birds and other animals while the fish in the oceans perish because of the volcanoes.
There is much more but the essence of the message is for people to take care of their own families and store enough resources to survive through what promises to be a prolonged disruption in the economy and the normal ways in which we now live.
Mr. Greene's words of caution can either be ignored or acted upon. One thing is certain and that is those who have the means to survive in the way of physical resources are already insulated from the most intense fears and less prone to panic and stress when a disruption comes about. As any good wilderness instructor will tell their students the first and most vital part of surviving comes from controlling panic and setting a series of small goals such as securing shelter, water and food in that order.

Prophecy is an integral part of Mohawk history and culture. It remains to be seen if we will abide by these instructions or continue on as usual. Either way, the earth will have her say.

Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, is the former editor of Akwesasne Notes, was a member of the Board of Trustees for the National Indian of the American Indian and the author of "Iroquois on Fire" among other books. He may be reached via e-mail: kanentiio@aol.com

Related Stories:
Doug George-Kanentiio: On Audrey Shenandoah's passing (03/28)
Doug George-Kanentiio: One man's impact on the Mohawks (3/13)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Why ceremonies are vital to Mohawks (2/16)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Solving Canada's Indian 'problem' (2/9)

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