Seven Grandfather Teachings
The Seven Grandfather Teachings are the most commonly shared North American teachings. Many Aboriginal organizations and communities have adopted the Seven guiding principals, in one form or another, as a moral stepping stone and cultural foundation. The teachings vary from nation to nation, because of geographical placement However, the Ojibwe teaching commonly come from the same root and share a similar message. They all share the same concepts of abiding by a moral respect for all living things.
Many view the Seven Grandfather Teachings as traditional knowledge that collectively represents what is needed for community survival. These gifts are to help people live a good life, respect the Creator, the earth and each other.
Wisdom - Nbwaakaawin:
Wisdom is represented by the beaver because he uses his natural gift wisely for his survival. The beaver also alters his environment in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way for the benefit of his family.
To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom.
To have wisdom is to know the difference between positive and negative and know the result of your action.
Use your inherent gifts wisely and live your life by them. Recognize your differences and those of others in a kind and respectful way. Continuously observe the life of all things around you. Listen with clarity and a sound mind. Respect your own limitations and those of all of your surroundings. Allow yourself to learn and live by your wisdom.
The Creator gave the Beaver large teeth and the knowledge of how to build. This has enabled the Beaver to positively impact its environment and create a more sustainable world.
Love - Zaagidwin:
Love is represented by the eagle because he has the strength to carry all the teachings. The eagle has the ability to fly highest and closest to the creator and also has the sight to see all the ways of being from great distances. The Eagle's teaching of love can be found in the core of all teachings, therefore an eagle feather is considered the highest honor and a sacred gift.
Eagles are loving parents and teachers to their offspring, protecting and guiding them.
To know love is to know peace.
Love must be unconditional.
View your inner-self from the perspective of all teachings. This is to know love and to love yourself truly. Then you will be at peace with yourself, the balance of life, all things and also with the creator.
Respect - Mnaadendimowin:
Respect is represented by the buffalo. The buffalo gives every part of his being to sustain the human way living, not because he is of less value, but because he respects the balance and needs of others.
For as long as we have been here, we have sustained our lives through the Buffalo in terms of clothing, food, shelter, and expressing ourselves in art.
To honor all creation is to have respect.
Live honorably in teachings and in your actions towards all things. Do not waste and be mindful of the balance of all living things. Share and give away what you do not need. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Do not be hurtful to yourself or others.
Place others before yourself in your life don’t look down on anyone.
Respect your fellow living beings.
All of creation should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected.
Bravery - Aakwa'ode'ewin:
Commonly referred to as “Bravery” or “Courage.”
Bravery is represented by the bear. The mother bear has the courage and strength to face her fears and challenges while protecting her young. The bear also shows us how to live a balanced life with rest, survival and play.
To face life with courage is to know bravery.
Find your inner strength to face the difficulties of life and the courage to be yourself. Defend what you believe in and what is right for your community, family and self. Make positive choices and have conviction in your decisions. Face your fears to allow yourself to live your life.
To do what is right even when the consequences are unpleasant.
Honesty - Gwekwaadziwin:
Honesty is represented by the sabe. The sabe understands who they are and how to walk in their life. "Sabe reminds us to be ourselves and not someone we are not. An honest person is said to walk tall like Kitchi-Sabe.
To walk through life with integrity is to know honesty.
Be honest with yourself. Recognize and accept who you are. Accept and use the gifts you have been given. Do not seek to deceive yourself or others.
The Sabe represents honesty because it is closer to the Creator than to humans. It is believed that the Sabe used to walk among humans to remind us of the Creator’s wish for us to remain true to our natural forms.
Actions such as being true to our spirit and accepting who we are will guide us in being honest.
Humility - Dbaadendiziwin:
Humility is represented by the wolf. For the wolf, life is lived for his pack and the ultimate shame is to be outcast.
To accept yourself as a sacred part of creation is to know humility.
Live life selflessly and not selfishly. Respect your place and carry your pride with your people and praise the accomplishments of all. Do not become arrogant and self-important. Find balance in within yourself and all living things.
Truth - Debwewin:
Truth is represented by the turtle as he was here during creation of Earth and carries the teachings of life on his back. One of the oldest animals on our planet. The turtle lives life in a slow and meticulous manner, because he understands the importance of both the journey and the destination.
Truth is to know of these things.
Apply faith and trust in your teachings. Show honor and sincerity in all that you say and do. Understand your place in this life and apply that understanding in the way that you walk. Be true to yourself and all other things.
You have to look at yourself before you judge an other’s way of walking.
Speak the truth. Do not deceive yourself or others.
The laws of time and life are recorded on the back of the Turtle. There are 28 markings representing the 28 full moons and the 28 days between a woman's cycle for creating and bearing life. There are also 13 moons that represent the 13 times the Earth circles the Sun.