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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

“Earth Prayer”

Air Date: Week of

Joe Bruchac’s poem is dedicated to Mother Earth. (Photo: Jonathan Kemper, Unsplash)

Nulhegan Abenaki storyteller Joe Bruchac joins Host Steve Curwood to deliver his poem of gratitude, “Earth Prayer,” and play the flute.


On the line now from Porter Corners, New York is Joe Bruchac, Nulhegan storyteller and poet. We're celebrating Earth Day, Joe, good to talk to you again. How you doing?

BRUCHAC: Oh, I'm good, kwai kwai nidôbak, hello my friend.

CURWOOD: And what do you have for us today for the celebration?

BRUCHAC: I have an original poem that I wrote just for this occasion. It's based on traditions among the Haudenosaunee the Iroquois people, and the Wabanaki, my own people, of giving thanks and acknowledgement for the gifts that we often take for granted that are all around us. It's called Earth prayer.

© 2023 Joe Bruchac

EARTH PRAYER (Adapted from Haudenosaunee and Wabanaki traditions)

Because this Earth is our first mother
we say Ktsi Wliwini, mina ta mina--
Great Thanks, again and again.

Because all our ancestors could see
the rain that falls, the air we breathe
the healing waters, the giving stones
our mother’s blood, our mother’s bones
are gifts we have been given.

Joseph Bruchac is an author of more than 120 books for children and a member of the Nulhegan Abenaki Nation. (Photo: Courtesy of Joseph Bruchac)

It is from this Earth that all our lives,
those who came before us, those yet to come
like the seeds that sprout with each new spring
have grown, have grown, have grown.

And what does this Earth ask of us?
All that it asks is that we never
take too much, always remember
to give back in equal measure
for those gifts we may take for granted.

And also remember that we must
walk with care, always show kindness
to all those now here with us
sharing gifts of life and light,
never forget those who share our breath
two-legged, four-legged, those with wings.
those who swim or dig into the soil,
the grass, the trees, all living things
from the greatest to those too small
to see are also related, one and all,
Wli dogo wongan, all our relations.

So, as we continue on this circle
which has no beginning and no end 
let us all say to our Mother Earth
Ktsi Wliwini, mina ta mina--
Great Thanks, again and again.

CURWOOD: Thank you, Joe Bruchac.

BRUCHAC: Doc hug we don't mention it. You are very welcome.

CURWOOD: Hey, did you bring your flute with you?

BRUCHAC: I did. I thought the flute would be a good addition to this. The flute really is connected in so many ways to those gifts from this earth from this place. The flute is basically the hollow branch of a tree that has had holes pecked into it by a woodpecker. And what I'm going to do is improvise a song and I think within it you might be able to hear the wind, the sound of the birds and think of the heart of the tree and our own breath that we share when we play a flute.



Storyteller Joe Bruchac’s Website

More on the Nulhegan Abenaki Nation


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