DAY 2: The 7 Fires Prophesy

{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 Day Two of Native American Heritage Month!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a prophet, to be one who walks in between worlds and holds that tension throughout life.

It’s hard. But often, we’re put through a sort of fire to prepare ourselves for it. The Potawatomi/Anishinaabe tribe has seven fires or prophesies throughout time that lead us to where we stand today as a people.

Throughout time these prophesies have been told to our people. I sat down to read through them again, and when I got to the seventh, I began to cry.

“We are the seventh generation,” says a John Trudell poem, based on a prophesy of Crazy Horse.  This phrase came up a lot at Standing Rock, referring to the young people who began the resistance.

But I still didn’t understand fully until I saw the prophesy for my own tribe–a call for me to keep going.

You can read about our seven fires here, but the 7th prophesy is this:

The prophet providing the 7th was younger than the others and described as having a strange light in his eyes. He revealed a time when a new people would emerge; who would retrace the path of their elders, collecting what had been left behind. Staying strong and using what had been bestowed upon them, the new people would rekindle old embers and ignite the sacred fire of the Neshnabek.

Can you feel the beauty in this? Can you feel the foundations shifting? For generations, a prophesy has called us to this time, to this age, and we have a chance to respond–to retrace the paths of our elders, collecting what was left behind.

This is what I choose to do every day that I learn about our culture and practice our ways with my children. This is how we get to the next generation and keep our culture alive.

You see, a few years ago, I was stopped dead in my tracks in the middle of a hiking trip, and told who I was. I was reminded of the Trail of Death my ancestors walked, reminded that I belong to a lineage that does not let me go.

I belong to the 7th fire, and I am joining my children as we gain back our culture, learn our ways, show the world that we’re still here, given the gifts of our cultural identity and stories from the very beginning.

And no one can take that kind of thing away.

Enjoy this beautiful rendition of John Trudell’s poem from Standing Rock:

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