DAY 1: 7 Grandfather Teachings

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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It’s Native American Heritage Month!

Join me for daily reflections throughout this month. Today, I’m sharing about the 7 Grandfather Teachings.

In the Potawatomi/Anishinaabe tribe, we’re taught of the 7 Grandfather Teachings. When I first learned about the 7 teachings, I was mostly terribly disappointed that such a beautiful aspect of my culture is not taught, spoken of, or compared, especially, to the teachings of Jesus and other historic peacemakers.

I was disappointed because I can clearly see how they partner with each other, how the gospel that I know and other religious teachings I’ve encountered beautifully pair with my own tribe’s (and many other tribe’s) teachings. They support each other. They strengthen my faith.

And they strengthen my hope in my people.

It is told that the people were in need of new teachings, so a young boy went on a journey to meet 7 Grandfather spirits, or ancestors. They taught him the 7 ways and sent him out.

He returned, years later, to his people, who were hungry for a new way. He gave them the 7 gifts that were given to him:

Honesty.

Truth.

Humility. 

Love. 

Wisdom.

Courage.

Respect.

If we are held to these standards in our indigenous communities, are we not also held to these standards in the church, in our many different faiths? Shouldn’t we be held to these standards in our everyday lives with the people we encounter, with the cultures we interact with, in our politics and policies?

These ideas, understanding that indigenous culture revolves around traits and beliefs that are honorable and good, the same beliefs white people in America and Christians so proudly profess– if we were to go back and re-wire our brains to understand that indigenous culture also practices these ideas, it would change the way history is taught, the way children are taught. It would erase savage from our vocabulary. 

And so, our belonging as Potawatomi people has always been embedded in us, whether governments or systems appreciate them or not.

And as people in today’s world, it would do us so much good to recognize these teachings in one another, to find what it means to live in a “good way,” that honors creation and one another’s humanity.

“We are all poor because we are all honest.” –Red Dog, Oglala Sioux

 

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