I learned of these teaching through the Anishinaabe’ people here where I live… it is a teaching that reaches within to my very core… and I would like to now share it with you…
Many Anishinaabe’ view the Seven Grandfather Teachings as traditional knowledge that represents what is needed for everyday life and survival, or simply put to walk the Red Road… a Good way of life. The origin of the teachings is unknown but my elders have shared that they are important and have long been a part of the language and handed down through generations of the People. These teachings have become known as the “Seven Grandfathers” once the Anishinaabe slowly began to control their own education during and after the American Indian Movement. As Our Elders began to retell stories they had heard as children it was realized once again that it was a connection from the present to a past when these values were a way of life.
The Ojibwas story of the seven grandfathers’ teachings was passed down from parent to child for many generations. The story goes…
The Creator gave the seven grandfathers, who are very wise, the responsibility to watch over the people. The grandfathers saw that the people were living a hard life. There was all kinds of illnesses and bad things around. The Messenger was told, “Go down there, look around and find out what is happening. Bring back someone who we can tell about what life should be, with the Peoples” He left immediately and went to all places in the North, South, West and East. He could not find anyone. On his seventh try, while he was looking, he saw a baby. The grandfathers were happy with the choice made by the helper.
So the messenger brought the baby back to where the Grandfathers were sitting in a circle. He was still very tiny and wrapped inside His cradleboard. One of the grandfathers looked at the baby very carefully. “This is the one. Messenger, pick up the baby. Take him all over; teach him carefully the way the People should lead their lives.” The Messenger picked him up and they travelled around the earth.
Seven years later they returned to the Grandfathers. By then He was a young man. The Grandfathers noticed that this boy was very honest. He understood everything that was taught. One of the grandfathers took a drum and started singing. Each of the grandfathers instilled within the boy a teaching telling him “These are the ones you will take with you, and share with the Peoples.”
The boy, because of all the time he had spent with the Grandfathers, was now an old man. So he returned to the Earth and gathered all the people around and shared his story of the journey to the seven grandfather’s lodge. He explained how to use the gifts and that it was now up to the people to try to follow the path of a good and healthy life using the seven grandfather’s teachings.
He shared each of these teachings and explaining that they must be used with the rest, and that you cannot have wisdom without love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility and truth. You cannot be honest if you only use one or two of these, or if you leave out one. And to leave out one is to embrace the opposite of what that teaching is.
Now to the Teachings…
The Beaver teaches us WISDOM
Nbwaakaawin pronounced Nbwaa kaa win
The ability to make decisions based on personal experience and knowledge and to cherish that knowledge is to know WISDOM.
We can acquire more knowledge by being open to others and applying these teachings to our own lives, and in turn it is also about the ability to value your own knowledge and share it with others.
The building a strong foundation in our lives is about the teachings shared with us by the creator and how we in turn use and share these gifts in our lives. The Beaver’s example of using his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches to build his dams and lodges expresses this teaching. If he did not use his teeth, the teeth would continue to grow until they became useless, ultimately making it impossible for him to sustain himself. The same can be said for human beings. One’s spirit will grow weak if it is not fulfilling its use. When used properly however, wisdoms shared help bring about a peaceful and healthy life.
The Eagle teaches us LOVE.
Zaagidwin pronounced zaa gid win
Love must be unconditional. To feel true love is to know the Creator. Therefore, it is expected that one’s first love is to the Creator, the Great Spirit. Creator is considered the parent to all children, and the giver of human life. Love given to the Great Spirit is expressed through love of oneself, and it is understood that if one cannot love oneself, it is impossible to love anyone else.
To know LOVE is to know true peace. To be able to get along with others, sharing and being kind, willing to show that you care for others/self through sharing, being helpful and understanding the feelings of others; doing something that makes the day better for someone. To be accepting of each others’ differences.
The Buffalo teaches us RESPECT.
Mnaadendimowin pronounced Mnaa dendi mowin
Respect is the condition of being honored. The Buffalo, through giving its life and sharing every part of its being, showed the deep respect it had for the people. No animal was more important to the existence of People than this animal, and its gift provided shelter, clothing and utensils for daily living. Native people believed themselves to be true caretakers of the great herds, and developed a sustainable relationship with the Buffalo resulting in a relationship that was a true expression of respect.
To honor all of the Creations is to have RESPECT. Respect for yourself. To treat others how you would want to be treated. Making sure your interactions with others are positive by showing positive manners, speaking kindly and honoring a person’s human right to be who they are. Accepting feedback as helpful and considering different outlooks on things.
The Bear teaches us COURAGE.
Courage is the ability to face danger, fear, or changes with confidence and bravery.
The Bear provides many lessons in the way it lives, but courage is the most important teaching it offers. Though gentle by nature, the ferociousness of a mother Bear when one of her cubs is approached is the true definition of courage. To have the mental and moral strength to overcome fears that prevent us from living our true spirit as human beings is a great challenge that must be met with the same tenacity and intensity as a mother Bear protecting her cub. Living of the heart and living of the spirit is difficult, but the Bear’s example shows us how to face any danger to achieve these goals.
We learn to deal with challenges positively without worry about the outcome. To work through and give all aspects of your life your best effort. Being able to accept responsibility for your behavior. Be willing to be a role model by standing up for your values/beliefs. Accepting challenges (conflicts) and learn from them.
The Sabe teaches us HONESTY.
Gwekwaadiziwin pronounced Gwek waadi ziwin
Honesty is speaking and acting truthfully, and thereby remained morally upright.
Long ago, there was a giant called Kitch-Sabe who walked among the people to remind them to be honest to the laws of the creator and honest to each other. The highest honor that could be bestowed upon an individual was the saying “There walks an honest man. He can be trusted.” To be truly honest was to keep the promises one made to the Creator, to others and to oneself.
The Elders would say, “Never try to be someone else; live true to your spirit, be honest to yourself and accept who you are the way the Creator made you.”
HONESTY in facing a situation is to be true to self. It is not backing down when the situation seems too hard and you know that it needs to be dealt with to make your life better. By looking at what you do and realizing how it affects you and others either positively or negatively. To approach life situations and challenges with an open mind and heart.
The Wolf teaches us HUMILITY.
Dbaadendiziwin pronounced Dbaa dendi ziwin
Humility is being humble and not arrogant Recognizing and acknowledging that there is a higher power than man and it is known as the Creator is to be deemed truly humble. To express deference or submission to the Creator through the acceptance that all beings are equal is to capture the spirit of humility. The expression of this humility is manifested through the consideration of others before ourselves. In this way, the Wolf became the teacher of this lesson. He bows his head in the presence of others out of deference, and once hunted, will not take of the food until it can be shared with the pack. His lack of arrogance and respect for his community is a hard lesson, but integral in the Aboriginal way.
HUMILITY is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation. To be able to know that we are equal regardless of age, race or sex. Being able to be assertive, positively making your needs known, without becoming angry or withdrawn. Being able to listen to others with an open and non-judgmental mind.
The Turtle teaches us TRUTH.
Debwewin pronounced Deb we win
Truth is to know and understand all the seven teachings have been given to us by the Creator and we are to remain faithful to them. To know truth is to know and understand all of the original laws as they were shared with us. It is said that in the beginning, when the Creator made man and gave him the seven sacred laws, the Grandmother Turtle was present to ensure that the laws would never be lost or forgotten. On the back of a Turtle are the 13 moon, each representing the truth of one cycle of the Earth’s rotations around the sun. The 28 markings on her back represent the cycle of the moon an of a woman’s body. The shell of the Turtle represents the body real events as created by the Higher Power, and serves as a reminder of the Creator’s will and teachings.
TRUTH is to know all of these things. Be true to yourself and your fellow man. Be able to speak the truth. This is considered the final and last teaching because to live this teaching, one must achieve and understand the first six teachings. By being honest with those around you with your feelings and behaviors; by loving yourself and others; by respecting others with what they say and do; by being humble – knowing that everyone around you deserves your respect as you theirs; by being brave when facing new challenges and by accepting your own and others wisdom.
These are the seven Sacred Teachings as were taught to me…and now I have shared them with you….it is not so much that you all don’t know these teachings from what ever background or culture you walk in. but I hope it has served all as a reminder of how we all need to walk as Humans.
“I am Dedicated to Educating and sharing the Native culture with the World. It is not enough merely to teach the ways of our Elders. We must honor those traditions by sharing and educating the World. Inspiring others …Inspiring our Youth. Through the Music… the Arts…the stories…”
“Join Me as I continue the Sacred Hoop Project into this Year 2016…the year of Truths!”
One Who See’s by Bear Creek available at Canyon Records http://canyonrecords.com/shop/