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Wampum prayers

Added Sept 4, 2002

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As you know, one of the tracks on Tori's 2002 album Scarlet's Walk is wampum prayer. Toriphile Owen Myers sent me a fascinating excerpt from a book published in 1974 entitled American Indian Prose and Poetry - We Wait In The Darkness that talks about Wampum prayers. Here are some comments from Owen and the passage:

When I read this I got chills, the impact of this prayer, the universal message it provides us, it's relevance on Scarlet's Walk... it's an extremely powerful message that makes me all the more excited to hear Toriís song, "Wampum Prayer"; it must be breathtakingly beautiful! There is no anger in the face of injustice here which I find so incredibly moving; I get choked up just thinking about it. It takes a lot of courage, strength, wisdom, and practically every virtue I can think of to "wash the blood of ones people off the oppressors hands so that one may extend the hand of friendship instead." *wow* It blows me away. As I said, it's incredibly deep and moving. Here it is:

"We hold in our hand fourteen strings of purple wampum. These we hand, one by one, to you --- authors of many American history books; writers of cheap, inaccurate, unauthentic, sensational novels; and other writers of fiction who have poisoned the minds of young Americans concerning our people, the Red Race of America; to the producers of many western cowboy and Indian television programs and moving picture shows; to those Treaty-breakers who delight in dispossessing Indian peoples by constructing dams on Indian lands in violation of sacred treaties; and to those of this, our country, who are prone to build up the glory of their ancestors on the bonds and life-blood of our Old People:

--- With this first string of wampum, we take away the fog that surrounds your eyes and obstructs your view, that you may see the truth concerning our people.

--- With this second string of wampum we will pull away from your imprisoned mind the cobwebs, the net that prevents you from dealing justice to our people!

--- With this third string of wampum, we cleanse your hearts of revenge, selfishness, and injustice that you may create love instead of hate!

--- With this fourth string of wampum, we wash the blood of our people from your hands, that you may know the clasp of true friendship and sincerity!

--- With this fifth string of wampum, we shrink your heads down to that of normal man, we cleanse your minds of the abnormal conceit and love of self that has caused you to walk blindly among the dark people of the world.

--- With this sixth string of wampum, we remove your garments of gold, silver and greed, that you may don the apparel of generosity, hospitality, and humanity!

--- With this seventh string of wampum, we remove the dirt that fills your ears so that you may hear the story and truth of our people!

--- With this eighth string of wampum we straighten your tongues of crookedness, that in the future you may speak the truth concerning the Indian People!

--- With this ninth string of wampum, we take away the dark clouds from the face of the sun, that it's rays may purify your thoughts that you my look forward and see America, instead of backward toward Europe!

--- With this tenth string of wampum, we brush away the rough stones and sticks from your path that you may walk erect as the first American whose name you have defamed and whose country you now occupy!

--- With this eleventh string of wampum, we take away from your hands the implements of destruction---guns, bombs, firewater, diseases---and place in them instead the Pipe of Friendship and Peace that you may sow brotherly love rather than bitter hate and injustice!

--- With this twelfth string of wampum, we build you a new house with many windows and no mirrors, that you may look out and see the life and purpose of your nearest neighbor, the American Indian!

--- With this thirteenth string of wampum, we tear down the wall of steel and stone you have built around the Tree of Peace, that you may shelter beneath it's branches!

--- With this fourteenth string of wampum, we take from the hen coop the eagle that you have imprisoned that this noble bird may once again fly in the sky over America!

I Te-ha-ne-to-rens, say this!"

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