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The Words That Come Before All Else
The Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen means “The Words That Come Before All Else.” It is also referred to as “The Thanksgiving Address,” “Giving Greetings to the Natural World,” or “The Opening Address.“ Traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) say these words to begin and end each day, important meetings, ceremonies, and socials. The Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen is an expression of acknowledgement, greetings, love, and appreciation for every part of the Natural World. The Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen helps to bring the thoughts of the people together. It is a way by which the Haudenosaunee remind themselves that human beings are only one strand in the Web of Life and that we are all connected to each other and to the rest of Creation.
Below is a video presentation featuring Mohawk storyteller Kay Olan's spoken version of the Thanksgiving Address along with images created by Tuscarora graphic artist Melanie Printup Hope (http://www.artinjun.ca/printup_hope/) supplemented with additional photographs.