Ohiyesa: “It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome.”

Quote:

“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way it will in time disturb the spiritual balance of the man. Therefore the child must early learn the beauty of generosity. He is taught to give what he prizes most, and that he may taste the happiness of giving, he is made at an early age the family almoner. If a child is inclined to be grasping, or to cling to any of his little possessions, legends are related to him, telling of the contempt and disgrace falling upon the ungenerous and mean man.

Public giving is a part of every important ceremony. It properly belongs to the celebration of birth, marriage, and death, and is observed whenever it is desired to do special honor to any person or event. Upon such occasions it is common to give to the point of utter impoverishment. The Indian in his simplicity literally gives away all that he has, to relatives, to guests of another tribe or clan, but above all to the poor and the aged, from whom he can hope for no return.”

– Ohiyesa, also known as Dr. Charles A. Eastman

Ohiyesa, also known as Dr. Charles A. Eastman
Ohiyesa, also known as Dr. Charles A. Eastman

Notes:

  • Ohiyesa was a Santee Dakota physician educated at Boston University, a writer, national lecturer, and reformer, who started 32 Native American chapters of the YMCA and helped found the Boy Scouts.
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“Ohiyesa: ‘It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome.'” sources:

The American Indian Magazine (Vol. 6, No. 4) by Society of American Indians, Richard Henry Pratt, published in 1919 – Internet Archive & Wikimedia Commons / “The Soul of the Indian, An Interpretation.” By Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), published in 1911 – Project Gutenberg