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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Variety of 'Sacred' Moments

Dominance of
the Pipe

Meanings of
Sacred Pipe

Western Use of Language


Other Ways
of Speaking
and Knowing


Visual representation of nature's laws

Cree Ceremonialist Wayne Roan has noted that we may discuss issues related to law so long as the law concerns "that which lies below the Pipe." What he is expressing is a fundamental notion among all Indigenous peoples: Spiritual and sacred realities are not public fare. They cannot be documented and classified according to principles of writing and research. They are the purvey of specialists, all of whom have spent lifetimes in a quest for deep religious insight. What they learned cannot become the material for an organized expose of Indigenous "religious thought." Moreover, even if the most diligent of students were to try to understand these matters, it could not be done, for it is the very nature of such encounters with reality that they cannot be articulated in a way that individuals without spiritual knowledge can comprehend.

All that can be done is a sketch of how the sacred world relates to the ritual world with which the ceremonialist is familiar…he or she could never say that they understood everything about that reality. They will point out that there is a limit on what they can say. As an example of this we can cite Buck Navajo's comments to Karl Luckert:

"And it is said in Navajo tradition, that Naatsis'áán (Navajo Mountain) is the Head of Earth. And concerning this mountain it is also said, that Black Cloud exists inside. And it (Navajo Mountain) is the highest peak in the realm. Why it is said to be the highest peak I do not know since over there is Blanca Peak (Sisnaajiní), and over there San Francisco Peaks (Dook'o'ooslííd)-anyway (you know them), the four mountains around our land. It is all one prayer. Still, each of them has its own separate prayer which is part of one prayer. These prayers start at their (the mountains') feet, (move up referring to) their legs, and on up their whole bodies. That includes Huerfano Mountain (Dzil Ná''oodilii) and its ridges. And these prayers are sacred. I cannot say any more (about them in this context). And that is the extent of this story." Buck Navajo, in Karl Luckert, Navajo Mountain and Rainbow Bridge Religion, Flagstaff, AZ., Museum of Northern Arizona, 1977. p.87.

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