Native American Chief Justice Prays to ‘Sacred Mother Earth’ on House Floor

Isleta Pueblo Chief Justice Verna Teller prayed to “sacred mother earth” on Capitol Hill Wednesday, marking the first time an Indian American delivered the opening prayer on the House floor.

Teller, who serves as chief justice for her New Mexico tribe and was elected the first female Pueblo governor of Isleta in 1987, invoked “sacred mother earth” as she prayed that this “creator and great mother” would bless those standing before her.

“Creator and great mother,” Teller said. “Bless those standing before you who carry a sacred trust to all of us who inhabit Turtle Island, our homeland, and I pray today that you will give them the wisdom and the courage to carry our their sacred trust with the same equality that we receive from the sun and rain.”

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Teller prayed to an entity that she addressed as, “Sacred pollen, sacred earth mother, sacred water that manifests your desires, oh creator, and great mother,” and thanked these things for “the nourishment they give us equally, with no regard to race, color, or creed.”


Democratic New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland noted in a Facebook post that this is the “first time in history that a Native American will deliver this invocation.”

Teller’s prayer comes as part of a celebration of Native American Heritage Month, Holland said in a Nov. 9 press release.

“Native American Heritage Month is a time to reflect on the contributions that our Native communities have made to this country and the tragedies that they endured,” Haaland said in the press release, saying that having Teller on the House Floor accomplishes both of these things.

“Verna Teller has fought for a seat at the table, broken down barriers, and achieved success in leadership positions, and I’m so proud she will be delivering this historic invocation,” Haaland added.

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