Aho Mitakuye Oyasin

The Power of Lakota Prayer
Related: Holding the Sacred

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by Neva J. Howell unless otherwise noted

An Example of a Prayer that Embraces the Whole

Important, please read:
As I have learned to do when speaking of anything Native-American, I must preface by saying I am not full-blood Native-American; nor do I present myself as a teacher of Native-American ways.

Because of my association with Lakota spiritual teachers, my writings about Native Ceremonies I’ve attended and teachings I have found valuable, including Sacred Moon Lodge, I am often asked questions about the Native ways.

While I am happy to share my own pesonal experience, I identify myself as a spiritual explorer and NOT AS A TEACHER OF NATIVE AMERICAN WAYS. Those Sacred Teachings are the work of the Medicine Men and Women within the indigenious tribes. That having been said, here’s the question I was asked about the Mitakuye Oyasin prayer of the Lakota Sioux and the answer I gave.

Question on Spiritual Prayer:

I am a teacher at a middle school. Can you tell me the meaning of ……….. Aho ……….? Can you tell me the full meaning of Aho, Mitakuye Oyasin?

Healing Facilitation Response:

I’m not the best person to ask this question since I’m not Native-American (I have some Kickapoo blood in my veins but not enough to claim any legal heritage). However, I am happy to share my experience with these potent spiritual words.

It would be a wonderful gift to your students if you could find a Lakota teacher who could come speak with the class about this prayer called Mitakuye Oyasin. What I understand of aho and Mitakuye Oyasin, I have learned from Native American Lakota
full bloods.

Aho and Mitakuye Oyasin:

Aho can mean several things.

I have heard it said as a statement of agreement, as in Aho, yes, it is true. If something is considered very good, I’ve heard that sentiment expressed with Aho as well.

For me, personally, and again NOT AS A TEACHER OF NATIVE WAYS OR PRESENTING THIS AS A NATIVE TEACHING, Aho reminds me of the Christian word Amen. Kind of a way of saying “and so it is” and also “and it is good”.

However, I’m not comparing aho and amen. I am not saying they are related but, hey, we are all related. This connectiveness or relationship between all beings is a strong truth in the Native Paths I’ve had privilege walk.

In fact, Mitakuye Oyasin is a prayer that encapsulates that teaching about the interwoven connectedness that exists between us all. I’ve been told that Mitakuye Oyasin means “All My Relations” or “We are all related”.

To pray Mitakuye Oyasin, for me, is to pray for every living creature on the earth, human and non-human and even for Mother Earth herself. Mitakuye Oyasin is a powerful, all-inclusive prayer that would leave no one out. I love this prayer. To me, it isn’t just a prayer. Mitakuye Oyasin is a way of life, a way of living that would leave no one out.

To answer “what is the full meaning” is challenging because how do you really comprehend the full meaning of a prayer that big, that inclusive, that powerful? Also, I can’t address full meaning because I’m not Native American. I’d ask that question of a Medicine Man or Woman. Thank you for asking about this wonderful prayer and I hope you will consider finding a Lakota teacher to come speak with your students.

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