Editor’s Note: Wabasha — or Wapasha — I (1718-1806) was a American Indian warrior and the chief of a band of Santee Sioux who resided in Minnesota. He was a man greatly respected for his ethics by both his tribe and their British neighbors. These are his teachings, as recorded by Ernest Thompson Seton.
In the day of his strength no man is fat. Fat is good in a beast, but in a man it is disease and comes only of an evil life.
No man will eat three times each sun if he would keep his body strong and his mind unclouded.
If you would purify your heart and so see clearer the way of the Great Spirit, touch no food for two days or more, according to your strength. For thereby your spirit hath mastery over the body and the body is purged.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise men turn fools. Neither touch food nor taste drink that robs the body of its power or the spirit.
Guard your tongue in youth, and in age you may mature a thought that will be of service to your people.
Praise God when you rise, when you bathe, when you eat, when you meet your friends and for all good happenings. And if so be you see no cause for praise the fault is in yourself.
A proven Minisino [warrior] is at all times clean, courteous and master of himself.
The wise man will not hurt his mind for the passing pleasure of the body.
If any man be given over to sex appetite he is harboring a rattlesnake, whose sting is rottenness and sure death.
By prayer and fasting and fixed purpose you can rule your own spirit, and so have power over all those about you.
Bathe every sun in cold water and one sun in seven enter the sweat lodge.
When your time comes to die, sing your death song and die pleasantly, not like the white men whose hearts are ever filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes, they weep and wail and pray for a little more time so they may live their lives over again in a different manner.