Life after death

There have been two major car accidents in the last week with a number of fatalities and serious injuries. Sunday night a little girl was airlifted to McMaster hospital to be treated after a bad wreck near 69 Corners.

Many families are grieving on Six Nations, and on our neighbouring New Credit, it seems like we can’t get a break from tragedies here. Even though we are the largest reserve in Canada by population, three deaths in the community affects nearly everyone.

Some of us are still trying to recover from the last few funerals. There are people on Six Nations who want to help but don’t know how. Maybe we’ve grown shy of each other, maybe we need to reintroduce ourselves and familiarize with each other again like we did in the old times. We need to reconnect and trust each other again. Today we would like to say that our hearts and minds are with the families of the deceased.

No matter if you are a church or longhouse person (or some combination of both) our elders on Six Nations agree that death isn’t the end. During the Kanohnstaton land reclamation, Jesse Ireland showed me a picture from his wallet. It was a long path leading upwards into the sky with native people all walking in a single row up and up. He told me “this is where I’m going when I pass away, to be with my family”.

The proverbial after-life. Pastor Phil Sault hosts a bluegrass jam every now and then at the Chiefswood Christian Fellowship and they often sing a song with the lyrics, “Oh, will the circle be unbroken? By and by, Lord, by and by. There’s a better home awaiting. In the sky, Lord, in the sky”. Regardless of your beliefs, our ancestors had “common-sense spirituality” that was practical.

We cared for each other and loved one another, truly. So in that old way, we could not talk about any business matters until we addressed the apparent heartache and heartbreak of our cousins and relatives. Even if life after death does exist, we should treat each other kindly now while we are still here.

This is how our ancestors addressed the issue of death, and how some of our people still do today by carrying the tradition their family has preserved through the ages. There are many different accounts and translations and this represents only one of those teachings.


As recorded by Horatio Hail, 1883

1 – Onenh kady yakwenronh, wakwennyonkoghde okaghsery, akwah kady ok skennen thadenseghsatkaghthonnyonhheke. “Now, then, we say, we wipe away the tears, so that in peace you may look about you.”

2 – Nok ony kanekhere deyughsihharaonh ne sahondakon. Onenh kady watyakwaghsiharako waahkwadeweyendonh tsisaronkatah, kady nayawenh ne skennen thensathondeke enhtyewenninekenneh. “And, further, we suppose there is an obstruction in your ears. Now, then, we remove the obstruction carefully from your hearing, so that we trust you will easily hear the words spoken.”

3 – Nok ony kanekhere deyughsihharaonh desanyatokenh. Onenh kady hone yakwenronh watyakwaghsihharanko, akwah kady ok skennen deghsewenninekenne dendewadatenonghweradon. “And also we imagine there is an obstruction in your throat.

Now, therefore, we say, we remove the obstruction, so that you may speak freely in our mutual greetings.”

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