Newe Elder: Spiritual Leader, Healer, Speaker, Environmental Activist
Corbin Harney (1920-2007) was a spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone Tribe (Newe), which stretches from southern California across Nevada to southern Idaho. The land, called Newe Segobia, encompasses “the most bombed place on Earth,” as he called the nuclear test sites which lie in the midst of Western Shoshone lands. Harney devoted his life to working to save the land on which his people have survived for thousands of years. Corbin Harney became well-known late in life as a spokesman against environmental destruction, spreading a message about the dangers of nuclear energy many decades before it became fashionable.
His oft-quoted observation, which encapsulates his message, is— “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, to save our planet here. We’ve only got one water, one air, one Mother Earth.”
Over his lifetime Corbin Harney traveled around the world as a speaker, healer and spiritual leader with a profound spiritual and environmental message for all. He received numerous national and international awards and spoke before the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Corbin also authored two books: The Way It Is: One Water, One Air, One Earth and The Nature Way, both in our Native American Reading List. Numerous documentaries have been made about his work and message. In 1994, Corbin established the Shundahai Network to work with people and organizations to respond to spiritual and environmental concerns on nuclear issues. He also established Poo-Ha-Bah (supported by NCPC), a native healing center located in Tecopa Springs, California. He will be missed but always honored for his work and dedication to traditional ways.
Corbin Harney sings Winter Song From The Morning Prayer in prayer and respect for the waters of Mother Earth.
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Writes Clyde Hall: In years past I have had many experiences with Corbin Harney in the context of the Sundance and protection of Sacred Sites here in Idaho. He was truly the epitome of what an Elder should be in all circumstances! The type of person that Corbin was is a generation that is quickly taking the Spirit Road to the “other side camp”. In the past it was always a great comfort to me that Corbin Harney was still alive, because to me it was an indicator that his generation of Elders still existed in this world.
It is now up to each and every one of us to remember… what was taught and exemplified by Corbin and other Elders that have walked among us. And to be as much like them as we can in our walk in this world.
READING LIST: THE NATURE WAY