Photo: The prayer hogan at the Native American Bahá’í Institute on Houck, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation. Photo by Peter Deer.
Course: The Great Spirit Speaks: Voices of the Wise Ones (2022)
Faculty Mentor: Christopher Buck
by Pat Chapman
I took the course The Great Spirit Speaks: Voices of the Wise Ones specifically so I could prove to myself that the words whispered when I was a child, that “we had prophets from God before the Europeans arrived,” were true.
When I was a child, the indigenous people on the reservation were not allowed to practice their religions, so we kids just heard whispers and, in fear, never learned more. I feel that what I learned about our many prophets has filled me with joy and satisfaction. I stopped writing in the class because I did not want to hinder the expanding understanding that many were trying to accept. To me, it was such flat-out truth, and it was frustrating at times to read some of the participants’ faint beliefs.
Since taking the course, I facilitate Ruhi group sessions and intersperse into the studies the knowledge of the prophets and the prophecies. I co-facilitate racial equity sessions, during which I use many of the videos from the course. I also attend a couple of Zoom gatherings that are mostly attended by indigenous people, and we share back and forth. So the information from the course is being put to use and I am, slowly but surely, letting the mostly white, Persian, and Asian believers and friends learn that the original inhabitants of this turtle island were loved by God and guided by His prophets. I also share the teaching that all races are guided by God via prophets, according to ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá.
It was a very soul-satisfying course: Teach the kids that they should be proud of their heritage and give them the knowledge that God has always loved their people.
My upbringing was in a semi-indigenous but passing-White family on and off the reservation. I went to native schools where we were taught that indigenous people were heathens.
Thank you for the wonderful courses you provide and the great Zoom gatherings.