Corbin Harney is an Elder and Spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone, a native people indigenous to Idaho, Nevada, Utah and California. Corbin is the author of The Way it Is: One Water, One Air, One Mother Earth. He travels the Earth nomadically, just as his Shoshone ancestors roamed all over their land. Today, instead of hunting antelope or gathering pine nuts, he speaks out on behalf of Mother Earth. He spreads an urgent and powerful message to all of us, a message that transcends language differences and the borders of our maps. "The Mother Earth provides us with food, provides us with air, provides us with water. We, the people, are going to have to put our thoughts together, our power together, to save our planet here. We've only got one water, one air, one Mother Earth."
Corbin's speaking tour sends him all over the United States, as well as many other countries. He has recently returned from Japan. There he was a keynote speaker at the Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Conference. His experience working with nuclear victims throughout the world and the powerful message he brings of peace and respect for our planet touched the hearts of the still-recovering Japanese.
Since 1957, Corbin has worked with medicine women of Battle Mountain, Nev., running the Sundance Ceremony and sweat lodges as well as helping sick people. As a medicine person, he also has been working steadily to preserve and protect the sacred sites and burial grounds of his people. He was raised to view all life as sacred. "Everything is alive and has a spirit to it. The rocks, the mountains, streams, animals, plants, birds, oceans, and so forth," he says.
He describes the dire situation that our environment has to deal with today, but he also offers solutions. With his gentle power, he tells us how damaged the Earth is today by toxins of all kinds: chemicals from mining and industry, and, worst of all, nuclear fallout from nuclear testing, storage and transportation.
He speaks out about the contamination of our water, sharing his visions of the water coming to him and stating, "I'm going to look like water, but some day nothing's going to use me."
Corbin has seen a time approaching quickly where we will not be able to use our water at all, where it is all contaminated, filled with poisons that we have put there ourselves. Corbin says "the water has a life, and we have to pray for it. All the water that comes from the Mother Earth, that's her blood," and we must work to heal it.
Corbin knows what he's talking about because his research has not taken place in an institute or university, but in the field, with the people, the plants and the animals all over this Earth. As a medicine man, he's doctored the Down Winders who are suffering horrible deaths from nuclear fallout. He's visited mutated children in Kazakhstan hospitals who lived close to the Russian nuclear test site. He's seen the extinction of medicine plants due to the toxins of mining and the disappearance of many birds and animals that once roamed his childhood homelands.
Besides the obvious first step of cleaning up our environment, Corbin offers another solution that is more esoteric. He takes us into the inner mind and spirit of a medicine person, where the spirit of each thing is what needs to be nurtured and talked to, in order to be strong, healthy and keep on living. He talks about song and prayer and talking to all the living things as a powerful solution to keeping them strong.
People who know Corbin have seen him communicate with the natural elements and living things, and they have also seen the results: rain in drought areas, dry springs which "woke up" and came back strong after being sung to and prayed for, plants flourishing where they were sparse before, and the increase of rare animals.
Perhaps this all sounds coincidental, but if one has had the privilege of spending time with Corbin, one realizes that the many results are really more than a coincidence.
It seems that what is really happening is a deep communion between a human being and the living spirit of different manifestations of nature. Good gardeners have a sense of this communion. Nature lovers often feel it. Corbin says it begins by acknowledging the living spirit in everything...appreciating it, respecting it and talking to it through words, song or prayer.
This approach is so different from that of the dominant culture. It requires birthing a whole new "world view" to commence this exciting journey. You may say, "I'm not a Native. I don't have songs and special powers. I can't talk to the animals, the plants, the rocks, the sun, the stars, the wind, the dolphins and whales... "
Corbin says, "Yes, you can. All of us are gifted. We just need to open up the gifts by praying in our own way, singing our own songs and talking to everything out there with love and respect. Don't feel foolish. This is how everything has been sustained for millions of years. This will open up a totally new world for you. Amazing things will happen if you are patient. This is how we will heal ourselves and our Mother Earth."