Passed down from generation to generation, the Ojibwe oral tradition includes the teachings of the Seven Grandfathers. The teachings, which are represented by animals that share in the Ojibwe existence, are guiding principles that are used as a moral stepping stone and cultural foundation. Generally, the teachings of the Seven Grandfathers, also thought as gifts, appear in a circle and they symbolize what is defined by Minobimaadizi/Living Well.
Dibaadendiziwin/Humility – Humility is represented by the wolf who lives life for his pack. Humility is to know that you are a sacred part of creation.
Aakodewewin/Bravery – Bravery is represented by the Bear because the mother bear faces her fears to protect her young. Bravery is to defend what you believe and what is right for your community.
Gwekwaadziwin/Honesty – Honesty is represented by the Raven who accepts himself and knows how to use his gifts. To be honest is to accept who you are.
Nibwaakawin/Wisdom – Wisdom is represented by the Beaver because he uses his natural gifts wisely for survival. To be wise is to use your inherent gifts and to live your life by them.
Debwewin/Truth – Truth is represented by the turtle who lives in a slow, meticulous manner because he understands the importance of both the journey and the destination. To be true is to show honor and sincerity in all that you say and do.
Minwaadendamowin/Respect – Respect is represented by the Buffalo who gives every part of his being to sustain the human way of living. To be respectful is to not waste and to be mindful of the balance of all living things.
Zaagidiwin/Love – Love is represented by the eagle who has the strength to carry all teachings. To know love is to view your inner-self from the perspective of all teaching.
Michele O’Brien, “7 Grandfather Teachings,” Anishinaabeg Bimaadiziwin: An Ojibwe Peoples Resource, Accessed June 5, 2018, http://ojibweresources.weebly.com/ojibwe-teachings–the-7-grandfathers.html.
“The Gifts of the Seven Grandfathers,” Ojibwe.net, Accessed June 5, 2018, http://ojibwe.net/projects/prayers-teachings/the-gifts-of-the-seven-grandfathers/.
“Niizhwaaswi Mishomis Kinoomaagewinawaan,” Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways, Accessed June 5, 2018, http://www.sagchip.org/ziibiwing/aboutus/pdf/7Grandfathers.pdf.
Images from WikiMedia Commons.