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Romans 12:5 In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Native people believe that all life is connected. The actions of one affect the lives of all. The Lakota say mitakuye-oyasin—all my relations.

These days every Native nation uses those words. We say them at the close of a prayer. We say them to welcome newcomers into the circle. We say them when we conclude a spiritual talk. We say them to recognize that our words do not stand on their own. We need the spirits of others to give them strength. We say them to remind ourselves that every word effects everyone. We are all interconnected. We are all related.

This is not a new idea.

Native people always believed that every living thing was related. The deer, the eagle, the trees, the fish—all living creatures—are part of one great family.

Outsiders scoffed at this idea. How can anyone believe that we are related to a blade of grass? Religious people said this was proof that Indians did not know God the Creator. They said we were animists who believed there was a spirit in everything. Animism was proof that we were unsophisticated savages.

On February 28, 1953 researchers at King’s College in Cambridge England discovered an engine inside living cells. Soon it would be known as DNA. As we learned more about this double helix molecule we came to realize: all living creatures are related. The difference between pond scum, a mighty redwood tree, a blade of grass, and a human being, is nothing more than a few adjustments of the DNA code.

We are all related. At that moment in King’s College there were no Native people present to say we told you so.

We soon learned that all human beings shared a common DNA ancestry. We are all one people. But we also learned that all living things are more alike than different. Every cell of our being bears witness to this.

All my relations.

As human beings we tend to think of ourselves at the peak of creation. We make our choices every day as individuals. Those choices are ours and ours alone.

But there is a deeper truth written in every cell of your body. We are all related. Our actions touch every living being. Life is interconnected, on loan to every living thing from the hand of one Creator. Over the past few decades we have learned that the forests are interconnected communication webs. When a tree is attacked it can warn other trees. The forest calls up its defenses to fight off the attack. And it is not only oak trees warning oak trees. The roots of the forest allow all the trees to communicate for the good of the group.

I do not know if there were any Natives present at that discovery to say we told you so… But I’ll say it now! We are all related!

How might it change your world view if you believe that every choice you make will effect every living thing for seven generations? Would it change your life if you believed every action in this world effects you as well?


O Creator, we are part of a wondrous mosaic of life. Forgive us for thinking we could separate ourselves from that fabric of creation. Teach me to live as one connected to all. All my relations.