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The white man was wrong in thinking Native Americans were heathens with no God or morals to live by. As a matter of fact, many white men would be amazed to learn of the Native Americans’ strong beliefs in God, whom we call the Great-Grandfather.

Great-Grandfather gave the Native Americans spiritual guidance to pray, focus, and grow spiritually through the Four Great Powers of the Medicine Wheel. We focus on these Four Great Powers (or Directions) in all of the aspects of our world.

Our world consists of birth, life, love, growing, learning, challenge, change, and death. When we are open to the spiritual guidance of Great-Grandfather through these Four Great Powers (or Directions), we can become better people and know Him better.

Illumination with the sun and the eagle mark the East. In the early rays of the morning sun, the eagle soars across the sky seeing great distances. This illumination for us is spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. It invites us to open our minds and try to see far beyond us. The color is gold of the morning sun, giving our bodies life, warmth, healing rays, and stimulation to the mind.

Innocence and trust are found in the South. Critters and insects living close to the ground, among grasses, roots, and rocks, represent the timid, fearful and shy. We must examine the nature of our hearts as to whom we truly are and from where our fear of life comes. The South’s color is brown and green, which represents Mother Earth, her grasses and the many medicine plants.

In the West, the color is black because the West is where the sun leaves us in darkness. The introspective nature of man and woman — better known to the people as the “Looks Within Place” — is in the West. This means to examine or think about what is in our mind and heart.

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We all have ways of acting to protect ourselves, show off, or be different. But are you really true to yourself, the person that is there in your heart? Ask questions such as: What do I really want to do? Why did I act like that? Am I really being the person who is really me? Am I wearing different masks? And if so, why? Am I afraid of people or life? All these questions must be examined and dealt with to become whole.

In the North we find wisdom and endurance. The color is white because of the deep snow and freezing ice. The medicine animals are wolf and buffalo as they are strong, wise, and can survive in the harsh, brutal elements. We must learn to endure hardships.

The black bear, medicine animal of the West, goes deep in to the blackness of Mother Earth to hibernate. It is a time for healing and renewal of body. Like the black bear, we must go deep into the West into the blackness of introspection within ourselves to contemplate our problems.

We must emerge with the illumination of the East to be able to see the truth within us. We then can gather up the wisdom and endurance of the North to survive and push away our fear or pride and let in the humility, trust, and innocence of the South. We must learn to not be afraid to be who we really are. We must not be nearsighted or closed up in ourselves. It means to humbly walk a mile in another’s moccasins before you judge them and to overlook the faults of others while overcoming your own.

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Donna Vaillancourt’s (her Apache name is Nina Osa, which means "little girl bear") mission in life has been to help promote strong, loving marriages which creates happy, secure, families where children can grow into caring, responsible adults as related in the book she wrote: http://bearwalkswithme.com/. She and her husband, Gene, were presenting couples for Retrovaille (Christian marriage counseling) for many years. Together they now do the premarriage preparation for their church, St. Mary’s Albany.

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