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The Seven Grandfather Teachings

First Nations Knowledge and Traditions
by

Emily Parker

on 20 November 2014

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Transcript of The Seven Grandfather Teachings

Presented by Emily Parker
The Seven Grandfather Teachings
Historical Background of the Teachings

To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom;
To know love is to know peace;
To honor all of Creation is to have respect;
Bravery is to face the foe with integrity;
Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave;
Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation;
Truth is to know all of these things.

The Story Behind the Teachings
The Teachings and the Medicine Wheel
Humility
Respect
Bravery
Wisdom
Love
Truth
Discussion Questions
• The Seven Grandfather Teachings originate from Anishinaabe culture
• The Teachings include: humility, bravery, honesty, respect, wisdom, love and truth
• The teachings revolve around human conduct towards others
• The Seven Grandfathers represent the elements of the Earth through the Seven Sacred Dimension
• In order to fully utilize the teachings, each must be used together
• The Seven Grandfather Teachings are also known as the Teachings of the White Buffalo Calf Women
• The Creator taught the seven teachings to the Grandfathers and asked them to continue the tradition by passing it on to the people of Earth
• The Seven Grandfathers asked their messenger to survey the people of Earth to give insight on the human condition
• The messenger found that the human condition was very poor and the people of Earth needed help
• The Seven Grandfathers decided to mentor a baby boy because he was pure enough to receive the teachings and bring them back to the people
• Each Grandfather taught the boy a principle and tutored him in the “good way of life
• The boy was placed in the care of the Otter, who would return the boy to the people once his teachings were solidified
• When the boy returned to his people, he told them of his journey and taught them the teachings he learned
• It was now up to the people to follow the path of a good and healthy life using the Seven Grandfather Teachings as guidance

The Medicine Wheel represents all of creation, harmony, and connections
A symbol of peace amongst all beings on Earth
Acts as a tool used to help people find their place in the universe
The different stages of the wheel represent the personal growth process leading a person to wholeness
Each of the Seven Grandfather Teachings have a specific direction and color that is represented on the Medicine Wheel
The wheel represents four directions, states of being, medicines, planning stages and stages of life
The four directions represented on the wheel are North, South, East and West.
The four states of being on the wheel include spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional
The four medicines include tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweet grass
The four planning stages are vision, feeling, time, and movement
The four stages of life are child, youth, adult, and elder


Humility is to be humble
To recognize oneself as a sacred part of creation
Humility represents the East with the color yellow, and symbolizes where all life begins
In traditional Anishinaabe language, the word for humility also means “compassion”
This teaching is expressed with calmness, gentility and patience in both mind and meaning
The lesson in the teaching can be seen through the wolf
The wolf represents humility because he lives for his pack, understanding how insignificant he is, but also how his small role works with others to help the pack succeed

To honor all creation is to have respect
Respect is shown on the Medicine Wheel through the West and the fall as Turtle Island becomes black
• The Buffalo represents respect because he offers himself to sustain the people
• In return for the gift, the people must show respect to the Buffalo by valuing what they have been given and not over consuming.
• People have become greedy and wasteful, therefore, disregarding the principle of respect
• In order to replenish the teaching of respect, humans must remember their traditional values and teach the new generations the ways of modesty

Bravery means to face everything with integrity
To do the right thing even when the outcome is not favorable
One must overcome their fears and sorrows in order to be brave
In traditional Anishinaabe language, the word for bravery also means the “state of having a fearless heart”
The symbol of bravery is the bear
The bear represents bravery as the mother bear fights when her cubs are threatened

Honesty
Teaching states that you must first be honest with yourself and this will guide you in being honest with others
Honesty is represented on the Medicine Wheel through the South and the heat of the sun, represented by the color red
• The Raven represents honesty through knowing himself and his gifts
• The Raven never tries to be something he is not, but instead uses the qualities he already possesses strive and survive

To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom
One must cherish all of the Seven Grandfather Teachings in order to have wisdom within
Wisdom, love, and truth work together to create wholeness for the rest of the teachings
Wisdom is found and represented on the Medicine Wheel by the blue of the Grandfather sky as one looks up
In traditional Anishinaabe language, the word for “wisdom” also means “prudence,” or “intelligence”
One is to use wisdom through watching and listening, observing ones life along with the lives of others
Wisdom must be lived, not learned
The clear lake represents wisom as it allows you to see the reflections of those who came before you
The beaver also represents wisdom as he uses his teeth to build his shelter



• Love is a teaching based on the wisdom in understanding one’s self, the humility in accepting one’s weaknesses, and being proud of one’s strengths
• In traditional Anishinaabe language, the word for love also produces the meaning that “love is mutual”
• The eagle represents love as it flies over the Earth and sees the Seven Grandfather Teachings at work
• The eagle sees truth
• The eagle is the closest creature to the Creator, which is how it exemplifies all of the Seven Grandfather Teachings and is rooted in love

• Mother Earth represents truth because she both gives and receives, as everything returns to her
• Through Mother Earth, the turtle represents truth by symbolizing Turtle Island
• The turtle is slow but strong and stable, teaching us that the journey of life is just as important as the destination

Do you think there is one teaching that is more important than the rest?
How do you think the teachings can be used for healing in First Nation communities?
Why do you think wisdom, love, and truth work together the most to create wholeness in the teachings?
Do you think that the teachings should be taught in curriculum across Canada?
Why is the Medicine Wheel important in relation to the Seven Grandfather Teachings?
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