Updated: Jul 30, 2021
In recent weeks, I have been inviting friends to join with me in making prayer ties to send to T'kemlups te Secwe'pemc as well as other Indian Residential School Communities, in addition to the organizations that are devoted to helping our people heal as we deal with the discovery of 215 child graves at Kamloops IRS.
Indigenous people and some non-Indigenous people are supportive and thankful for this endeavour, but some non-Indigenous people are not sure...they don't know what this is...what are we doing and who are we praying to...? Let me explain.
Many, if not all Indigenous People believe all creation has a relationship with Creator that humankind knows nothing about. We do not worship creation, but respect it as it has been created and has a relationship with Creator just as we do...even the Bible affirms this...
"All the earth worships you and sings your praises; they sing praises to your name, (Psalm 66:4),
"But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind", (Job 12:7-10).
“Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,” (Psalm 148: 7-10).
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!" (Psalm 150:6).
Our people believe the tobacco plant has a special relationship with Creator as all the days of its life, it stands tall and lifts it leaves up to Creator and Creator hears its prayers. That is why when we pray, we make an offering of tobacco.
We put a pinch of tobacco on a square of red or black broadcloth. Red signifies life...life-giving blood, and black is symbolic of death that brings forth new life as it feeds our eco-systems. We can also think of this in terms of the gift of the cross. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can have eternal life.
The tobacco we use is made without additives (Turtle Island or Canadian Classic). When making the tobacco ties we pray to Creator, the one who made the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1), and when the tobacco ties are hung, we pray. This is how we make sure we stay focused when we pray. I hope you will join me in making prayer ties.