"At a time when the Anishnabe People were all living in peace and harmony
along the shores of the Great Salt Ocean(Atlantic), there came among them
So begins the reading of the Seven Fires Prophecy as woven on a Wampum Belt
sacred to the Anishnabe people throughout Turtle Island (North America).
Chief William Commanda, the 87 year old spiritual elder of the Algonquin
Nation is now the present holder of this belt which is believed to have come
into existence circa 1400 CE. The Seven Fires Prophecy is ancient but its
message is relevant for today's world and for us, who must bring about a
new balance to our lives and to the environment which we need for survival.
The Anishnabe are a family of indigenous peoples who, historically, lived
along the eastern coast of North America. Anishnabe is translated as "good
person" or "one who came down from the sky." Somewhere in a period of time
before 1000 CE. And 1400 CE a great migration of the Anishnabe people took
place. This migration saw 10,000 large canoes filled with people head inland
following what is now called the Saint Lawrence River toward the Great Lakes.
Today, Anishnabe people still live along the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada,
as well as, the shores of the Great Lakes, the Rocky Mountains and even as
far south as Mexico. They are called by many names including, Cree, Pequot,
Wampanoag, Abenaki, Algonquin, MikmaÌq, Shawnee, Innu and Chippawa.
The Anishnabe family is probably the largest of all the indigenous nations
living on the North American continent.
Why, then, did a people who lived for many thousands of years decide to leave
their homes and travel many thousands of miles to new and unfamiliar lands
at a time when, according to Anishnabe traditions, we were living in peace
and harmony? The answer lies in the reading of the Seven Fires Prophecy and
its implications not only for the Anishnabe people living 1000 years ago
but also for us today.
What does the Seven Fires Prophecy say to Anishnabe people and how does that
relate to people living in North America in the year 2000? First, the Seven
Fires Prophecy is not only addressed to the Indian people of this land, it
was meant for people of all colors. It is a warning and at the same time
a promise of better things to come if all of us living on Turtle Island can
learn to put aside our egos, our cultural and racial bias and come together
as a people, one people, for our collective healing and the healing of Mother
The first three Prophets who came among our people brought a warning. They
told us to be aware that a race of people, referred to as the "Light Skinned
Race" would be coming to these lands.
They advised the Anishnabe that in the interest of security for our people
and our nation, it would be wise if we divided our population into two groups.
One would leave and go deep into the interior of this continent and wait
until the intentions of the Light Skinned Race were made known. The other
would wait and greet the newcomers as brothers and sisters.
These Prophets also told the Anishnabe where they would travel and how they
would be guided to their ultimate destination. They told of a sacred Megis
shell that would appear and lead the way to a series of islands where their
journey would end. The final destination would be at a spot where the "food
would grow on water." That area turned out to be the Great Lakes region where
"pagwadjanomin" or wild rice grows on water.
For those of us who were to stay and greet the Light Skinned Race the 4th,
5th and 6th Prophets gave these warnings and prophecies.
"If they (Light Skinned Race) come bearing nothing in their hands, you must
still be cautious for they may be smiling, but in reality they may be wearing
the face of Death. Do not accept them readily but wait and see. You will
know them by their actions."
"If they come with the face of Brotherhood, you will become one people. Their
knowledge of the material world and your spiritual wisdom will be joined
together to create a mighty spiritual nation and you will be joined by two
other races, (we believe) Asian and African, to create the mightiest nation
"If, on the other hand, the Light Skinned Race comes wearing the face of
Death then a great calamity will befall the people of this land. Great suffering
and pain will be visited upon your people. The very cup of Life will almost
"You will know which face the Light Skinned Race is wearing when the fish
are dying and the water's unfit to drink."
The 6th Prophet warned that the Natural People of this land would be attacked
by a Light Skinned Race and that a great period of suffering would ensue.
He foretold of a darkness, which would overshadow this land, and the suffering,
which would be inflicted on the Anishnabe people, as well as on all indigenous
At this time the 7th and final Prophet came to the Anishnabe. "He was different
from the others and had a strange light in his eyes." He came with a message,
not only for the Anishnabe people, but directly for the Light Skinned Race
"At the time of the Seventh Fire, a new people will emerge. They will retrace
the footsteps of their ancestors and will try to find those things which
have been lost along the way. They will approach the elders in search of
guidance. It will not be an easy task but if they are of good heart and pure
intentioned they can prevail. Some elders will be sleeping and have nothing
to say, others will say nothing out of fear.
The New generation must be fearless in their quest.
The Light Skinned race will be at a crossroads. If they continue down the
road of Materialism, it will be their destruction and for all humanity as
well. But if the Light Skinned Race chooses to join with the Natural People
of this land on the Spiritual path then they will again have the chance to
create a nation, the greatest spiritual nation ever to have existed. Two
other races will join these two races. Together, they will together light
the 8th and final Fire an eternal fire of Peace, Harmony, Brotherhood and
We believe that the road towards blind materialism, the choice for the majority
of humanity and especially the Light Skinned or European/American, created
an environment where Nature and Natural People have suffered immensely. In
the end, it can only lead to our collective destruction. Our way is above
all a Spiritual Path. We are not, nor have we ever, been slaves to the material
path. Our strength lies in our native ability to go beyond all that happened
to our people in the past 508 years. The joining together of the material
knowledge of the west with the spiritual wisdom and values of the Indigenous
Peoples of this land is a path of healing and survival for all humanity.
The choice is in our hands.
Reconciliation is the first step in accomplishing our vision as Anishnabe
people of a world where the grass is once again green, the waters fit to
drink and the air pure. Our people, the Indigenous peoples from the Arctic
to Terra Del Fuego, share a common vision to stand united in our hearts for
the healing of our pain, as well as the pain that all humanity endures.
We have been through the fires of oppression. We have felt the whip of hate.
We have tasted our blood and tears as it ran into the bosom of our sacred
Mother, Earth. The history of our two peoples, one Red, one White has been
written in blood and suffering. The lands where the Anishnabe lived from
"time immemorial" were taken by armed force. Our people were killed. Genocide,
incarceration, disease, was and, still is in many parts of this hemisphere,
the price to pay for being Indigenous.
We must forgive. There is no option
By forgiving we liberate, not only ourselves, but also our oppressor. By
forgiving we open the door to those who desire forgiveness. It is not that
we believe we are superior to those people who, because of their fear, blindness
and isolation did not see us as we are, their brother and sister, their father
and mother, their lover, their friend. Through forgiveness we allow the spirits
of our ancestors to accomplish their mission, which began so many centuries
ago on these very shores.
We offer our hands to you, America, and ask you once again to come with us
along the path where the grass is still green, the air is still pure and
fish can still live in the waters.
Megwitch, hagana, Thank you, to all my relations, Tom Dostou, July 11, 2000
RECONCILIATION OR FORGIVING ONESELF
North American Indians, as well as perhaps, all peoples who have been victims
of some horrible crimes must ask themselves these simple yet important questions,
What have I done to deserve this terrible thing that has befallen
Why if there is a God(s), did He/She allow such an evil to happen?
Did I do something to offend the unseen world, the world of the
What cosmic sin have I committed to have been born into this body,
clan, tribe, nation, people?
Genocide was committed in North America. It was genocide so intense as to
have almost totally wiped out an entire continent of people.
According to the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs there are about two
million registered Indian Americans living in the United States today. Canada's
Department of Indian Affairs reports about one million. An additional three
to four million self-identify as American Indian, making an approximate total
of seven to eight million Indigenous people living on the continent today.
A review of documents written by both eye witnesses and historians indicates
the ability of the European/American military to annihilate entire tribes
or American Indian nations was an entirely possible action. A reading of
colonial documents will show the exact location and approximate population
of tribes living in, what is now, Massachusetts in the Early 1600s.
The Sakonnet and Wampanoag peoples provide an example. After "King Philip's
War" (1675-1678), there were about 100 to 200 survivors among the Wampanoag
people of the Fall River, Ma area. Captain Benjamin Church wrote that a woman
sachem (chief) by the name of Weetamo had about 3000 warriors under her command
prior to colonist and indigenous hostility. Another woman sachem, Awahonks,
from Sakonnet, about 15 miles south, had an equal number of men under her
arms. Today, the Sakonnet are no more and only a hand full of the Wampanoag
The United States Government recognizes only a few hundred people living
on the island of Martha's Vineyard as being Indian. This number combined
with a few small Indian groups, namely the Mashpee Indians on Cape Cod and
the Nipmuc Indians of Worcester, lead to the conclusion that the rest of
the indigenous population of Massachusetts were exterminated or fled. There
were at least a few hundred tribes. Today there are three.
American Indian people were almost exterminated. We know our ancestors. We
do not need anthropologist or genealogist to tell us how many of our great
grandmothers, aunts, uncles or wives were butchered and scalped.
Recently, the scalp of a Lakota elder, Spotted Horse, who was killed by the
US cavalry in 1876 along with another 250+ of his band, was retrieved from
the town of Barre, Massachusetts. His scalp was taken by a soldier as a trophy
of some sort and was found in a collection of "Indian Artifacts."
How many of our prestigious museums around the country have in their possession
the bodies of our ancestors? Imagine how it must feel for an Indian person
to be living in a country that did everything in its power to wipe out his/her
race? I doubt that the Jewish survivors of the holocaust or the Nation of
Israel would tolerate an exhibition of their people's remains in a German
museum, but we Indian people are expected to accept this sort of treatment.
The genocide that happened in the Americas is no way justifiable. The pain
and suffering inflicted upon the Native people of this land will take a long
time to be forgotten. But that does not mean that we cannot forgive. We need
reconciliation in this land.
HH the Dalai Lama said to a group of Hawaiian indigenous people at a private
meeting a few years ago:
"The Chinese Communist have allowed me to become a practicing Buddhist. By
destroying our monasteries, violating our nuns and monks, making me an exile,
a homeless person, I can now truly practice the Buddha's precepts of Compassion
American Indian people are now standing at a crossroads. Can we continue
to go on for another 500 years torturing ourselves by reliving the past?
Nothing can change the past.
We now have the opportunity to be that which our ancestors were persecuted
for, children of the Light, vessels of compassion , spiritual teachers.
The Whiteman came here to these shores running away from his ancestors .
He was driven out of his homelands by his own people. These people had no
pity for the poor, no compassion for the sick or elderly. They were cruel
to their own race and tortured and imprisoned the weak and helpless. How
could those who came to our lands know a better way?
At first, they listened to our wise men and women. They saw that our ways
were based on respect and love for one another and for Mother Earth. We had
no need for prisons, money, hospitals, police, taxes or politicians. We lived
as free human beings as our Creator intended all humans to live. But the
European colonist was still a slave to his masters. The Light Skinned Race
about whom the Seven Fires Prophecy spoke about came wearing the face of
Today we are faced with a dilemma. If we do not offer forgiveness to the
Light Skinned Race, he is sure to continue down the road of mass destruction.
We, the indigenous people of Turtle Island can show the Whiteman how to walk
the Red Road, the spiritual path. We must be willing to forgive.
It does not matter if the Whiteman does not ask for our forgiveness. His
ego and fear may not permit him to. We cannot expect the majority of White
people in America to ask forgiveness for what their ancestors have done to
us. We must become their teachers by our own example. We must show them how
we can love them despite the fact that they do not love themselves.
Just look at the Oklahoma City Bombing a few years ago, or the Columbine
High School shootings, or the cases of child abuse , spousal abuse, alcoholism,
drug addiction, and rape. And we are falling victim to their way of thinking.
We are imitating their actions by not respecting ourselves and our loved
Asking for forgiveness is a process of spiritual growth . One must first
love and respect the person from whom they are asking forgiveness. American
Indian people must first gain the respect and love of the white American
people before we can expect them to come to us asking for reconciliation.
Our job has just begun.
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