The Seven Grandfathers

 

The Seven Grandfathers carving
 The Seven Grandfathers, Garrett Nahdee, 2021

The Seven Grandfather Teachings are a set of guiding principles that give people the tools for how to live a good life. They have been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years through stories and ceremonies.

There were Seven Grandfathers who were given the responsibility by the Creator to watch over the Earth's people. They saw that life was not good, so they sent a helper, the Oshkabaywis, to walk among the people and bring them someone who could be taught how to live in harmony with Creation. Six times the Oshkabaywis tried to find a person worthy enough to bring back to the Seven Grandfathers, and six times the spirit failed. 

On the seventh journey to Earth, the Oshkabaywis travelled to each of the four directions, and eventually came upon a village and heard about a baby boy who had just been born. The spirit realized that this baby was the one he should take to the Seven Grandfathers, as his mind was innocent. The Oshkabaywis took the baby back to the Seven Grandfathers and they were happy with his choice. However, they thought the baby was too weak to hear their message as he was, and instructed the Oshkabaywis to take him to see all of Creation so that when he returned to the Seven Grandfathers, he would be ready to understand and share their message with the rest of humankind. 

It took seven years for the Oshkabaywis and the baby to visit all corners of Creation, and when they returned, the baby was now a little boy of seven years old with a sharp and curious mind. The Seven Grandfathers each gave the child a gift – a teaching – to share with the Earth’s people. The otter was asked to help the little boy complete his journey back to Earth. Along the way, the otter and the boy met seven spirits, each of whom taught the boy that for each gift there was an opposite, and he would have to be careful to instruct humankind on how to use the teaching correctly.

During his journey back to Earth, the boy grew into an adult, and by the time he reached his village, he was an old man. All the people gathered around him, and he told them of his journey to the Seven Grandfathers, and then gave them the seven gifts. He explained to the people the dangers that came with each gift, and how to use them properly. With these gifts, the people of Earth built up the strength to face life’s hard tasks. They were able to develop a balance to live in harmony with all of Creation.

Niizhwaaswi Anishinaabe-Gikinoo’amaadiwinan izhi-aawanoon ji-naadamaagowaad Anishinaabeg ji-mino-bimaadiziwaad. Gii-maamaada’oonidim apane go gichi-niibina daso-biboon apii dibaajimotaading miinawaa manidookeng.

Igiw Niishwaaswi Gigete-mishoomisinaabaniig ogii-miinigowaan Manidoon ji-akawaabamaawaad Anishinaaben. Ogii-waabandaanaawaa bimaadiziwin gaawiin gaa-onizhishinzininig, mii dash gaa-maajinaazha’waawaad waa-naadamaagenid, oshkaabewisan, ji-awi-wiidosemaanid Anishinaaben miinawaa ji-biidamawaanid awiya ji-gikinoo’amaagozinid awiya waa-izhi-mino-bimaadizinid akiing. Niizhwaaching mii dash aw oshkaabewis gaa-biinaad abinoojiinsan miinawaa gii-minwendamoog Anishinaabeg. Ogii-inaawaan oshkaabewisan ji-maajiinaanid abinoojiinsan gakina ningoji akiing ji-waabandaminid gakina gegoo. Megwaa niizhwaaso-biboon miinawaa apii gii-bi-ayaawaad, igiw gigete-mishoomisinaabaniig bebezhig ogii-miinaawaan iniw abinoojiinsan – gikinoo’amaadiwin – ji-maada’oonaanid Anishinaaben.