All My Relations


The quote below has been in my life for many decades and I deeply love every word of it. It speaks to both my heart and my understanding of how things work in this world. I still cannot read it without tearing up. 



Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate, for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. 

In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. 

They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.

by Henry Beston
Copyright 1928 ©1956 Beston,
Reprinted by Holt, Rinehart and Winston

I, who come from four separate nations with their four distinct cultures, have had much to learn and still do. But in that process, what I have learned is that we all have quite a lot in common, no matter the difference in our heritage and the cultural traditions of our families. 

In my lineage I have two indigenous grandfathers, one from the Cree nation in North America and another from the Sami (reindeer people) of northern Norway, Both hold tremendous reverence for the natural world. I believe it is in my genes to love the earth and all beings that share this planet with humans. It has never been an effort for me; it is as natural and as effortless as breathing. Thank you, my grandfathers!  

My heart breaks when I see the mistreatment of our precious Earth and all her kingdoms, the disregard for the resources that support and in fact, are necessary for life. It is critical that we come to an awakening of the importance of the respect and care that we must have for the Earth and for all beings who share this home. The future of all life, not just human life, depends on us stepping into stewardship of this planet, into respect for all life. 

You may have heard the Lakota phrase O’Mitakuye Oyasin. It means “all my relations” and is spoken to acknowledge that all beings are related, in acknowledgement that we share as a family does, the home where we live and all the resources we have. It is a mindset, a heartset, an awareness that we are all connected, that there is no separation. For humans to thrive, all beings on Earth must thrive. The Earth, herself, must thrive.

“How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. 

If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? 

Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. 

Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. 

The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. 

The rocky crest, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man all belong to the same family.” 

— Chief Seattle

Aho, yes, yes!  We are all one. Everything on this planet is part of our family! Yes, we are all connected. The survival of one depends on the survival of all.  

You may have heard the story of the wolves in Yellowstone. It is a story of oneness and the interconnectedness of us all. To summarize, the wolves were hunted into extinction to save the ranchers’ investment in the raising of beef cattle. With the extinction of the wolves, the elk population grew out of control. They over-grazed the land, eliminating the willow, the aspen and several other plant species. As a result, the trees and birds disappeared. Then the beavers disappeared, the number of fish species and their populations declined, and with the loss of vegetation stabilizing the river banks, the course of the river changed. The prey populations grew out of control and the habitat was destroyed, left dry and barren.


Once the wolves were restored to Yellowstone, all populations returned to balance, the trees repopulated the environment and held the water in the soil, the birds and beavers returned, the fish populations were restored and the predator/prey populations returned to their natural balance. Beauty and balance was fully restored as a result of the return of the wolves. The cascade effect of restoration took time, but it happened and did so beautifully, naturally. National Geographic produced a documentary on this incredible destruction and recovery of Yellowstone. You can find it on Amazon.

wolves: a legend returns to yellowstone

To make a long story short, nature provides the balance that is needed for the planet to thrive. Our interference does exactly the opposite. It is time that we acknowledge that we are connected to all of life and that we must honor and respect all other beings that share this Earth as their home. 

It is not an accident that we are all required for this planet to thrive. The humans and other animals, the flying things, the crawlers and the swimmers, the great forests, the meadows, the mountains, the waters, the air, the minerals, the plant people and the very soil that supports them …

This honoring of all life just may be one of the greatest teachings of our stay on Earth.

It is with great humility that I say ...

O’Mitakuye Oyasin (All My Relations)


P.S. PLANET JOY is currently offering beautiful hand-made tree ornaments (or gift wrap adornments). Nordic inspired, made in the USA of FSC certified alder wood, they are a sweet reminder that we are all connected on this journey we call life on Earth. Click here to see all of the designs :)

wooden adornments

1 comment

  • I love the quotes from Henry Beston and Chief Seattle. It never ceases to amaze (and sadden) me to know how much knowledge and wisdom industrial “civilization” has forgotten or buried—so much timeless indigenous wisdom.

    As I often say: The greatest error is to think that “humans are special.” This conceit lies at the heart of the destruction of the natural world. In doing so, we also destroy our own humanity—along with countless other species. We often forget that humans are animals, too. No species is more “special” than any other. No species is “especially special.”


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