Leon Shenandoah, chief of Onondaga Nation, and Tadodaho "Firekeeper" of the Six Nations Confederacy (Iroquois), whose symbol is The Tree of Peace, passed over into spirit Monday July 22, 1996, at the age of 81. This gentle, soft spoken, humble holy man was principal chief of a surviving sovereign nation of indigenous people, and spiritual elder of one of the western hemisphere's oldest cultures. In the spirit of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All People, I would like to share with you excerpts from his address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 25, 1985. It is indeed a message for our time.
"Listen to the words of the Creator given to the first United Nations, the Haudenosaunee, over 1,000 years ago. The Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee shall be mentors of the people for all time. The thickness of their skins shall be seven spans, which is to say that they shall be proof against anger, offensive action, and criticism. Their hearts shall be full of peace and good will, and their minds full of a yearning for the welfare of the people. With endless patience, they shall carry out their duty. Their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for their people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodging in their minds, and all their words and actions shall be marked by calm deliberation.
In every nation there are wise and good people. These should be appointed Chiefs. They should be the advisors of their people and work for the good of all the people, and their power comes from the "Great Peace."
A chief must never forget the Creator of mankind, never forget to ask the Creator for help. The Creator will guide our thoughts and strengthen us as we work to be faithful to our sacred trust and restore harmony among all peoples, all living creatures, and Mother Earth.
We were instructed to carry a love for one another and to show a great respect for all the beings of this earth.
In our ways spiritual consciousness is the highest form of politics. When people cease to respect and express gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed, and human life on this planet will come to an end.
These are our times and responsibilities. Every human being has a sacred duty to protect the welfare of our Mother Earth, from whom all life comes.
In order to do this we must recognize the enemy, the one within us. We must begin with ourselves. We must live in harmony with the Natural World and recognize that excessive exploitation can only lead to our own destruction. We cannot trade the welfare of our future generations for profit now.
We must abide by the Natural Law or be victims of its ultimate reality.
We must stand together, the four sacred colors of humans, as the one family we are, in the interest of peace.
We must abolish nuclear and conventional weapons of war. When warriors are leaders, then you will have war. We must raise leaders of peace.
We must unite the religions of the world as the spiritual force strong enough to prevail in peace.
It is no longer good enough to cry, "Peace."
We must act peace, live peace, and march in peace in alliance with the people of the world.
We are the spiritual energy that is thousands times stronger than nuclear energy. Our energy is the combined will of all people with the spirit of the Natural World, to be of one body, one heart and one mind for peace. "