Native American Indian Prophecies
Most of the genuine prophecies of the indigenous native peoples in the Western hemisphere foresaw the completion of the great cycle or age, the end of which is drawing ever nearer. They foresaw that this passing age would be one of increasing conflict and division, and that many of those who ruled the world would not care much about the earth or its people, but would instead care about gaining personal wealth, power and domain for themselves.
In that respect, Native prophecies are similar to most other religious prophecies of the world, including the prophecies of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and even the original Christian prophecies which spoke of the end of the age or aeon of conflict and division caused by the proud and militant, and the beginning of a new one in which the humble and meek would inherit the earth.
All genuine prophets in the world foresaw and foretold the terrible tribulation and ordeal we have been and are still going through, and all of them foresaw and foretold that the time would come when a judgment would be delivered to the world, which would set things straight and bring an end to the conflict, division and suffering, and bring peace, harmony and well-being to the people of the world.
Prophecies differ in certain respects, of course, because the ethnic and cultural context in which the prophets "saw" their visions and framed their prophecies were different. Most prophets were ethnocentric and saw how the future would be for their people, even though some foresaw and foretold that the fulfillment or prophecies would liberate all the good, humble, gentle, peaceful people of the world.
Now, to most of the Native American peoples, time is like a cycle. Like the cyclical seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, it is like a hoop. At the center of the hoop is stillness, eternal timelessness. The present "now" is the eternal center around which the cycle revolves, and there is no end to the hoop, or the cycles. And that view is similar to the views of most other religions, including Judaism and Christianity.
Unfortunately, for the Native American Indians of North America, the hoop was broken and a long "winter" for their culture began to set in around 1823, when the U.S. Government ignored the respectful precedent that President Jefferson has set regarding Native Americans, and instead enacted a “Doctrine of Discovery” that declared that Native American Indians had no rights to their land. And it wasn’t long before all that they had known had become like the leaves on a tree that were stripped away or blown off by a mighty wind, which symbolized the invasion, occupation and takeover of their lands by the white man from Europe.
There were a number of Native American Indian prophets who foresaw that, and they also predicted or prophesied an end to the tribulation. That is why we will mention a few of those prophets and prophecies that are the most significant, in one way or another, and for good or bad.
A good one, we think, was Black Elk, a wachasha wakon, a holy man of the Oglala Sioux, who was born in 1863. He had a profound vision in four parts. The first was of his people camped in a circle, and at the center stood a sacred tree. But in the second the leaves fell from the tree. In the third was a great conflict. In the fourth he saw that the nation's hoop was broken, the sacred tree was dying and all its birds were gone, and all the winds of the world were fighting. He heard rapid gunfire and saw whirling smoke, and women and children were wailing and horses were screaming.
However, also during the fourth part of his vision Black Elk "stood on the highest mountain," and said that all around and beneath him was the whole hoop of the world. He said he saw more than he could describe, for he was seeing in a sacred manner all things in the spirit, and saw that all life and all things must live together as one being, because they all were one in the spirit. And he saw that the sacred hoop of his people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one God he called Wakan-Tanka. And he saw that the tree was holy, and sacred.
Black Elk's vision certainly foresaw the terrible things that would happen to Native American peoples at the hands of white people from Europe, but it was mainly a vision of hope, and of brotherhood. But, he, like so many prophetic visionaries and seers, thought he had foreseen great and good events that would soon take place. And, because those events did not come to pass during his lifetime, Black Elk became a disappointed man believing that he had failed his vision. He grew old thinking he was pitiful and had done nothing, since his nation's hoop had been broken and his people scattered and relegated to poverty in U.S. Government reservations. He felt there was no hoop and no center any longer, and the sacred tree was dead.
Still, shortly before his death in 1950, Black Elk finally realized that prophecy would not be fulfilled for some time. He even said that he had come to believe in the teachings of "Jesus the Christ," but he added that the white men should know that the God of Jesus is the same as his God, Wakan-Tanka, the Great Spirit, who would ensure that the holy pipe would be returned to his people, that the sacred tree of life will once again live, and that the hoop of life and harmony will be restored in the world.
Black Elk was correct, just as all genuine prophets have been correct.
Granted, many genuine prophets have been vague or even inaccurate as to the time of the fulfillment of their prophecies, and some were not literal or accurate about some other things. Some can even be interpreted to include a vindictive "doomsday" quality to them, which reflects the resentment the prophets felt for those who used force of arms to oppress and dominate their people. But all genuine prophets, regardless of their religious and cultural influences, foresaw and foretold essentially and basically the same thing.
Other Native American prophecies also foretell the time when truth will prevail over falsehood and good will triumph over evil, and others speak of a certain person who will bring about the change.
For example, the Hopi await the return of Pahana, the True White Brother who will come to unite the world after this terrible tribulation, and usher in a new age of peace.
The legend of the Pahana is similar and perhaps even connected with the Aztec story of Quetzalcoatl and other legends of Central America. That appears confirmed by the depiction of Awanyu, the plumed serpent in Hopi and other Pueblo art which bears a striking resemblance to figures of Quetzacoatl in Mexico. And in the early 16th century, both the Hopis and the Aztecs believed that the coming of the Spanish conquistadors was the coming of the white prophet – which was a costly mistake.
The Mayans await the return of Kukulcan, the bearded white man, and, like Black Elk, they also speak of a sacred tree. Both the Aztecs and Toltecs await the white man Quetzalcoatl, who will bring peace and harmony after a very long era of terrible trouble.
Other Native indigenous peoples of North America, Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere also have prophecies of the end of this tribulation and the beginning of a new age, even though some of them don’t refer to a specific person who brings the people of earth together in common purpose for the common good.
Even so, all Native prophecies are similar in certain respects to the Judaic prophecies of a Mashiach, the Buddhist prophecies of the Buddha Maitreya, the Hindu prophecies of the Kalki Avatar, the Zoastrian prophecies of the Saoshyant, the Christian prophecies of the Messiah-Son of Man, the Islamic prophecies of the Mahdi, and others as well.
However, the fact is that they all speak of the same person because there is only one person chosen by God to reflect the Spirit of truth and bring universal judgment, guide you unto truth, and show you things to come. And, rather than exalt himself, he glorifies the Great Spirit-Parent-Creator-God in heaven, which is God by any other name. For just as there is one God called by many different names by many different peoples of the world, so is there one expected servant or representative of God, also called by different names.
By the way, since a sacred "tree" is a common theme in Native American cultures, we should mention that it is also referred to in Judeo-Christian scriptures.
The Tree of Life is referred to in the books of Moses, David and Solomon, who wrote that "Wisdom is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon Her, and happy is every one that retains Her."
In John’s Book of Revelation, the Tree of Life is described as "baring twelve manner of fruits, and yields her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." (Revelation 22:2)
Of course, the sacred Tree of Life is not a literal tree, but a symbol for Wisdom and Truth. It is also depicted in the Kabbalistic or Qabalistic diagram called The Tree of Life. The twelve "fruits" John mentions refer to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and the leaves refer to the 32 healing paths of Wisdom in the diagram.
Today, unfortunately, as Jesus of Nazareth predicted, there are many false prophets and many false shepherds who do not understand real prophecy, but claim that they do. And they have divided, alienated and led their blind flocks astray, even into carnal warfare. Some claim to be Jews, some claim to be Christians, some claim to be Muslims, some claim to represent other religions, and some claim no religious affiliation. But, they all claim that they know what the future holds, and that there must be a "holy war" to conquer and vanquish their enemies to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy.
The truth, however, is that the "weapons" of God’s true servant-messenger are not carnal or lethal, but they are mighty through God, because those "weapons" are words of truth, written by the "pen" that will ultimately prove mightier than the sword, gun and bomb.
As the prophet Daniel envisioned, the "stone" of truth will "shatter the image of the king of Babylon, and the stone shall become as a great mountain that shall fill the earth." For the "stone" is the Spirit of truth, and the real truth and Wisdom are far more powerful and superior than the lies and hate that spews from the mouth of false prophets and false shepherds.
Furthermore, "Babylon," which is the symbol of all that which is self-serving, greedy, imperialistic, and abuses financial and military power to get what it wants at the expense of others, will indeed "fall" and be replaced by that which is inclusive, generous, charitable, peaceful, kind, and good to all. And that will start to happen as soon as enough people get the message from the Spirit of truth delivered by the true modern prophet, the one who fulfills all genuine prophecies of the one to come.
Unfortunately, until then, false prophets still have sway over many people, and, since this article is about Native prophecies, we should say there were and are examples of false prophets among Native American Indians as well.
One, in the opinion of the son of man, was a Paiute Indian named Wovoca, who founded the Ghost Dance religion in 1889, and his false prophecies eventually led to the terrible massacre at Wounded Knee.
Wovoca claimed that God, in the form of Jesus, told him of the world to come, which was being prepared for the Indian race and would arrive in the spring of 1891. Wovoca claimed God told him that the white people would be pushed back across the ocean by spiritual and metaphysical forces to where they came from in the first place. When the cataclysm subsided, the Indians would lower themselves from the sky, and they would find all Indians who had once lived on earth—friends, relatives, and ancestors. Together they would enjoy eternal life, unmarred by pain, sickness, discomfort, want or death.
Wovoca said that God then commanded him to go back and tell his people that they must be good and love one another, have no quarreling and live in peace with the whites; that they must work, and not lie or steal; that they must put away the old practices of war.
However, Wovoca contradicted himself, because he also said he was given the Ghost Dance, which he was commanded to bring back to his people and tell them that by performing this dance at intervals, for five successive days each time, they would secure this happiness to themselves and hasten the victory over the white man.
Wovoca even told his people that "Jesus is now upon the Earth," implying that he was Jesus himself. And the legend around Wovoca is that he then performed several "miracles" to prove that he was a holy man and to prove or imply that he was the Indian Messiah.
The "miracles" have been debunked, however, because researchers have learned that Wovoca’s father, Tavibo, had taught Wovoca sleight-of-hand and other tricks of the magician's art practiced by many hucksters who claimed to be a medicine man or shaman. Furthermore, researchers have revealed that Wovoca got many of his ideas from his father.
His father Tavibo had fancied himself as a prophet and preached the concept of a religious dance when Wovoka was just a child. Tavibo claimed that he had spoken with the Great Spirits, who told him the land would "open up and swallow the white man," leaving only the Native Indian peoples to inherit the Earth back. When the Paiute people did not believe that, Tavibo then came up with revised prophecies, the third of which warned that those who did not follow his religious dance and believe in his prophecy would be damned with the reign and complete takeover by white men.
Another part of the real story is that when his father Tavibo died, Wovoca’s went to live with and was adopted by David Wilson, a white rancher renamed Wovoca Jack Wilson and indoctrinated him with evangelical Christian beliefs, and then Wovoca (or Jack) also learned Mormon and Shaker ideas before he came up with his "own" prophecies.
Nevertheless, Wovoca’s religion, built mostly on magic or supposed magic, spread rapidly because many Indians were encouraged by it. After all, by the late 1880s most of the Plains Indians had been defeated by white men in battle. Their lands had been taken from them. Most of their buffalo had been slaughtered and skinned by white men who only wanted to sell the hides and just left the carcasses to rot. They had been relegated to reservations on land that the white men didn’t want. Their way of life had totally changed for the worse. Consequently, there was great resentment toward the white man, and many Indians were easily attracted to a "religious" idea that claimed they would rise again and they would be rid of the white man for good.
Unlike his father, Wovoka found an audience willing to follow his teaching, because it appealed to many of the Native peoples. The Ghost Dance spread quickly throughout the West, because the idea was that if the Indians danced and followed the instructions, they would soon be rid of the white man. So many Indians jumped on the bandwagon, as it were.
In the summer of 1890, two members of the Lakota Sioux tribal reservation in South Dakota, named Kicking Bear and Short Bull visited Wovoca and became intrigued by his faith and prophecy. They brought Ghost Dance back to their people, but they distorted Wovoca’s teachings. They established a militaristic aspect to the Ghost Dance. They fashioned what they called Ghost Shirts that they claimed would deflect the bullets and weapons of white soldiers or settlers. And Kicking Bear and Short Bull included the claim that the Indian Messiah would appear to the Lakota in the Spring of 1891.
The Ghost Dance then became a phenomena that soon began to frighten white people. Newspapers printed stories of savages engaging in wild pagan rituals, and the Ghost Dance was condemned by the whites. Since Wovoka was considered the founder of the Ghost Dance, he was interviewed by an anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institute, and Wovoka told him he would control any violent uprising in return for financial and food compensation from Washington. But Wovoca’s offer was ignored, and he was blamed for the uprising. Blame was also laid on Sitting Bull, the chief medicine man of the Lakota people, even though he really was actually skeptical of Wovoca’s vision. In spite of that, police were sent to arrest Sitting Bull on December 15, 1890, and when several of his people fought to protect him, Sitting Bull was killed.
Two weeks after Sitting Bull was killed, the U.S. Army began to relocate and disarm the Lakota people who would not stop their Ghost Dance. Then, at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation, government troops opened fire on unarmed Lakota people, killing 290 of them in just a few minutes. (Thirty-three white soldiers died, but most of them were hit by friendly fire and not by the Indians, and 20 Medals of Honor were presented to surviving soldiers.)
Following that, the Ghost Dance died pretty quickly. Most Indians began to consider Wovoca’s prophecies as phoney, and Wovoca’s popularity rapidly declined and seemed to vanish. By the time of his death in September 1932, he was mostly forgotten by both white and Native peoples.
Even so, in 1970s belief in Wovoca was revived. Influenced by the spiritual new age movement of the 1960s, the peace and freedom movement, and the civil rights movement, Native American activism came alive. The story of Wovoca and the Ghost Dance began to be told again because it appealed to Native Americans who wanted to assert themselves, and it especially appealed to those who tended to feel resentful of all white people.
Even today, there are web sites about Wovoca, and there are some Native American Indians who are like evangelicals, clinging to and pushing Wovoca’s ideas and prophecies and claiming they are the ideas and prophecies of Jesus. They cling to a false interpretation of John’s book of Revelation, but with a twist. Rather than condemning "godless heathen, pagans, and secular humanists" as the misguided, so-called Christian Right does in America, the Wovoca believers condemn all white people of European descent.
Granted, Native American Indians have every right to feel offended at the way they have been treated for over two hundred years. But, unfortunately, Wovoca’s legacy is actually one of pain and suffering among the very people he claimed he would save. And the fact is that his teachings and prophecies are not only contrary to the true parts of the prophecies of genuine Native American prophets, they are contrary to the actual, literal teachings and prophecies of Jesus of Nazareth.
After all, to paraphrase what Jesus essentially said, it was that he had to "go away and be seen no more on earth, but at the end of the age a son of man expressing the Spirit of truth shall come to issue judgment, guide you unto truth, show you things to come, glorify me, and bear my testimony, but first he will be rejected by his generation and suffer many things." (John 16:7-15; John 12:47-48; Revelation 19:10; Luke 17:24-25; Isaiah 49:4, etc. See the article on Prophecies Re: He Who Fulfills Them for the scriptural evidence and clarification about that.)
Speaking of misunderstanding true Christianity, we should add that many Native Americans regard the book, God Is Red: A Native View of Religion, by Vine Deloria as the best reflection of Native American views on religion. However, it should be realized that it was first published in 1972, and Deloria was influenced by the spirit of the times, as is mentioned above. Granted, he pointed out some good things about native religions and recognized that "we are a part of nature, not a transcendent species with no responsibilities to the natural world." However, God is Red is more a polemic about criticizing Judaism and Christianity than it is about Native American religious traditions.
We identify with Deloria’s feeling about Christianity as we know it. After being raised by a Christian evangelist and then earning a degree in Christian Theology, he eventually saw the contradictions in the Christian Bible, and the hypocrisy of many European American Christians. But he came to many incorrect conclusions. For example, he does not understand that the concept of "original sin" is not Jewish, and is not even Christian, but was established by those who distorted Christianity and "embellished" it with doctrines of supremacy that elevated it beyond what Jesus intended (see the article About Christianity). And Deloria’s work tends to be exclusively ethnocentric, racist, needlessly divisive, and lacks compassion and understanding.
Fortunately, Deloria did not pretend to be a prophet. But, if he had, he would probably have condemned and predicted the demise or downfall of the white man. That, after all, is a common theme among the prophecies of some Native American prophets who were not as inclusive or wise as Black Elk was. But then, there are many prophecies in the world that were or have been interpreted as ethnocentric, that have a dark side to them. And some even have a "doomsday" quality to them, predicting the demise or downfall of "enemies." In fact, many Jews, Christians and Muslims interpret prophecies in that way.
A genuine prophet, however, recognizes that even though God chastises wayward human beings in mysterious ways, God is a merciful and lovingly good Great Spirit-Parent who loves us all — even the worst of us. A genuine, good prophet understands that while Wisdom is firm and demanding, She is also nurturing and forgiving, and Her ways are of peace, as Solomon wrote.
Some religious zealots and false prophets do not understand that. They interpret prophecies to mean that there will be an even bigger and worse escalation of war, and even a third world war, with horrible nuclear destruction. They condemn "godless unbelievers" to hell, damnation and destruction, and imagine that when all the evil people and their evil world are destroyed, they will either be "beamed up" to their heavenly reward, or a "new world" will magically be created for them.
Thus humanity is divided and the blind lead the blind into conflict, and even war. But, the conflict need not continue, and it need not get worse. The dark side can be illuminated by the light of truth. Whether the dark side and the false prophecies and false doctrines were created by the original prophets, or by later followers or scribes or copiers or translators who were deeply resentful of powerful, harmful forces that oppressed and persecuted their people, there is still much truth in all our religious traditions. And we can rest assured that the universal truth is that truth will prevail over falsehoods, that good will overcome evil, and that love will overcome hate.
The Light of truth shines through in all genuine prophecies that foretell that there will be a time when generous, humble, gentle, peaceful and "meek" people will inherit the earth, and greedy, proud, militant and aggressive people will be rebuked, lose status in the world, and suffer, unless and until they repent, become contrite, change their ways, and start treating all other people as they would want to be treated if they were them.
After all, there is really no "us and them" in the Spirit. Black Elk was correct, and as Jesus said, when the Spirit of truth comes to you, you shall know that the Spirit is in you and you are in the Spirit, as we all are. We have but to realize it, and awaken to the divine reality that is within and at hand.
So, do not let false prophets and false shepherds divide you and pit you against each other. For we are all together on this planet as one body of humanity, living in one wonderful ecosystem teeming with life and filled with Divine Light-Energy, the Creator-Source of our existence and the Essence of all life and form. For it is God, the Supreme Universal Consciousness, and the primordial "Word" that is made flesh in all of us.
That is why it is wise to love one another, cooperate and collaborate with one another, share with one another, respect one another, and tolerate and forgive one another. And is most wise to understand that only truth can overcome lies; only good can overcome evil; only love can overcome hate; and two wrongs do not make a right.
Thank God, the Spirit of truth issues this judgment, guides you to the truth, and shows you things to come. Read The 21st Century Declaration of Independence: How America Can Become a Truly Good Example to the Word, and How the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth.