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Did the Native Americans have their own Prophets? Baha’is believe they did. Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet to Amir Khan declares that “the Call of God must have been raised in ancient times” among the “people of America.” The “people of America” refer not just to North America, but to the entire New World. The “Call of God” refers to the messages raised by Messengers of God. Already we’ve covered two previous examples: Deganawida of the Iroquois; and Quetzalcoatl of the Toltecs. Next: White Buffalo Calf Woman. Arvol Looking Horse, 19th-generation Keeper of the Original Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nation of the Sioux, tells the sacred story:
Nineteen generations ago the beautiful spirit we now refer to as Ptesan win-yan (White Buffalo Calf Woman) brought the Sacred C’anupa to our People. … Pte-san win-yan gifted us with the Seven Sacred Rites that still sustain our People today. The I-ni-pi (Purification ceremony), Wi-wanyang wac’i-pi (Sun Dance ceremony), Han-ble-c’i-ya (Vision Quest ceremony) Hun-ka kag’a (Making of a relative), Ta-pa kah’-g’o-ya (Throwing of the sacred ball) Wi-yan Is’-na ti (Womanhood ceremony), Na-g’i glu-ha (Keeping of the Spirit ceremony). … Before she left, Pte-san win-yan told the People [that] her Spirit would return to help us one day in times of great hardship, and that we would recognize her.
In 2005, Patricia Locke (1928–2001), whose Lakota name was Tawacin Waste Win (“She of Good Consciousness“ or “Compassionate Woman“), was inducted into the U.S. National Women’s Hall of Fame. A highly respected Lakota activist, Locke embraced the Baha’i Faith late in life, and in 1993, was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, as its first Native American woman member. 1993 marked the United Nations’ “International Year of the World’s Indigenous People.” That same year, Patricia Locke attended the nine-day Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. She was part of a 55-member Native delegation. On the last day, the Native delegation presented a “Declaration of Vision” to the general assembly, calling on the world’s religions to support the struggles of First Nations peoples. The Declaration proclaimed, in part:
We, as Indigenous Peoples and Native Nations, honoring our ancestors and our future generations, do hereby declare …
Our spiritual and physical survival continues to be threatened all over the hemisphere, we feel compelled to ask you to join us in restoring the balances of humanity and Mother Earth in these ways:
A. Acknowledgement of the myriad of messengers of the Creator, the Great Mystery, to the peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
B. Support in promoting, preserving and maintaining our Indigenous languages and cultures.
This clarion call for the world’s recognition of “messengers of the Creator, the Great Mystery, to the peoples of the Western Hemisphere” includes the Baha’is as well. Now, the rediscovery of Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet to Amir Khan provides an authoritative text on which to base the principle of “Messengers of God to First Nations.” This principle is explicit — the principals implicit. For example, in a Tablet to Ahmad Quli Khan, Baha’u’llah declares: “Unto the cities of all nations He [God] hath sent His Messengers.” - Gleanings, p. 145. This Baha’i universalism applies to the New World — the Americas — as well as the Old World and the Third World. In 1994, David S. Ruhe, MD (former member of the Universal House of Justice), stated, in a speech:
To the warring tribes 700–800 years ago there came an astonishing Prophet of Peace — Deganawidah united five, later six, mutually hostile tribal groups in a federal union based on democracy, the first in the Western Hemisphere. He cemented this union with a “Great Law of Peace,” a constitution which propounded one expansive human family. … And of course the Iroquois foreshadowed, in their Longhouse of sky and earth, the planetary message of the Bahá’í Faith for today. – “A New Evolution: Religious Bonding for World Unity,” Journal of Baha’i Studies 6.4 (1994/95): p. 45.
What about the return of White Buffalo Calf Woman? Another prominent Lakota and Baha’i woman, Counsellor Jacqueline Left Hand Bull (interviewed by Patricia Locke in 1989) publicly stated her belief that Baha’u’llah was the “return” of White Buffalo Calf Woman:
First of all our name Lakota means peace, amity – harmony – balance. We perceive the universe as being interrelated and interconnected – that's our most significant prayer, mitakuye oyasin – “all my relations” … This world view is sacred and is based on the teachings of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. This Lakota world view meshes with the Baha'i world view. … So it’s not difficult for me to reconcile the teachings of the White Buffalo Calf Woman and Baha’u’llah. I see it — Baha’u’llah's teachings — as the next step of Lakota ways. Only now we take our place in the world community, with all Indian people united. — Prophecy of Lakota
O peoples of the heavens and of the earth! … Be ye fair therefore in your judgement concerning His upright Religion, for the love of this Youth who is riding high upon the snow-white She-Camel betwixt earth and heaven; and be ye firm and steadfast in the path of Truth.* — Tablets of the Hair
“White Buffalo Calf Woman” and “snow-white She-Camel” — similar symbols, same spirit. Mitakuye oyasin.
©2014 by Christopher Buck.