Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen (Words Before all Else)

Thanksgiving Address
Greetings to the Natural World


~*~ INTRODUCTION ~*~ by Kanatiyosh
The Thanksgiving Address is the central prayer for the Haudenosaunee. The Ohenton Karihwatehkwen is said by the Haudenosaunee to open and close every civil and religious meeting.  The Address is also said as a daily sunrise prayer, and it is the proper way to conduct one's self in harmony with the natural world.

The Thanksgiving Address, the Kaianeraserakowa (Great Law of Peace), and the Creation Story are intricately interwoven, and contain the foundational principles of the Haudenosaunee worldview.  When the Great Law of Peace was established, the Haudenosaunee were reminded by the Peacemaker to give thanks to the Natural World; thus, the Thanksgiving Address was reestablished.

When one recites the Thanksgiving Address the Natural World is thanked, and in thanking each life-sustaining force, one becomes spiritually tied to each of the forces of the Natural and Spiritual World. 

It is very hard to put this unique relationship and awareness into words, other then to say that the Thanksgiving Address teaches mutual respect, conservation, love, generosity, and the responsibility to understand that what is done to one part of the Web of Life, we do to ourselves.  The Great Law of Peace and the Thanksgiving Address are based on natural law, and they are the backbone of the Haudenosaunee traditional law and ecological knowledge.  The Great Law of Peace and the Thanksgiving Address are composed of policies, principles, moral duties, laws, ceremonies, and other religious and political aspects that the Haudenosaunee were given on how to live in harmony with each other and with the Natural World.


 The Thanksgiving Address: Traditional Prayer with Illustrations

  Book Review: Giving Thanks A Book For Children of All Ages

 Article: Some Thoughts on Giving Thanks

To learn about the efforts to protect the environment: See HETF

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Created January 8, 2000: Updated August 2001