A Message about America from Elder Dave

This letter from Elder Nii Gaani Aki Inini, Dr. Dave Courchene, Jr. of the Anishinaabe Nation, Eagle Clan, better known as “Elder Dave,” introduced the America Issue of Whalebone Magazine.

It is with great pleasure that I offer blessings to all who have taken the time to read this issue on America. As the Original Peoples of America, we have witnessed many changes since the arrival of our brothers and sisters in our homeland.

As a People we have been handed a vision from our ancestors—a vision built on inclusion where we can all participate in creating a more beautiful world. We must begin, within ourselves, to live the essence of the original instructions we were all born with—the capacity to be kind, loving human beings.

This begins in each of us to find our own personal vision that reflects our true identity, which will inevitably lead to a collective vision for humanity. This will help us to become united in our efforts as diverse peoples to take better care of the Earth. Love and kindness have to become the foundation of our unity—this is the key to opening the hearts of all people.

All knowledge and understanding is embedded in the land. Mother Earth is a living entity with a great intelligence. The Earth is a full expression of that love and intelligence. Our collective duty and responsibility is to return her love, by respecting her natural forces and living her natural laws, which govern the universe.

What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves. We need to reconcile with Nature for the harm we have done to her. We must make peace with her.

Like a tree, a vision has to grow from the ground up.

Change does not happen by the masses of people. Like a tree, a vision has to grow from the ground up. All it takes to set a foundation of change is a few people of the heart, representing the uniqueness of the human family, and guided by a heart filled with respect, love and kindness.

We must become a people of the heart. We must center all our children with love and kindness. Each child opens a new door and a new hope for the future. We must take the children to the land to feel the love of Mother Earth. The land is the true teacher and the ultimate healer.

Until the journey to the land is taken, we stand to remain locked in an unnatural environment of self-destruction. Make the journey to the land and make a connection to the Great Spirit that lives in Nature. Sit by the water, by the mountains, by the trees! In connecting to Nature we feel our spirit within, and the life generated from the land. We are one.

All the current challenges we face today require a change of heart. In the lodges of our Nations, it is said Mother Earth will give birth to a new life from the seed humanity will plant. This seed will be the vision of love and kindness.

The hope for humanity rests in the people of the heart. Are you a person of the heart?


Elder Nii Gaani Aki Inini (Dr. David Courchene, Jr.) is a knowledge keeper of the Anishinaabe Nation and founder of the Turtle Lodge, an international center for Indigenous education and wellness. The above video is a recent message from Elder Dave.  More information can be found at turtlelodge.com.