Thursday, November 17, 2011

Seven Fires Prophecy

Teachings of the Seven Prophets: The Seven Fires

Note: The following was asked to be read by Elder William Commanda at
the Aboriginal Learning Network Constituency Meeting of Elders, policy
makers, and academics on April 16th and 17th, 1997 in Aylner, Quebec.
The source for this story is The Mishomis book : the voice of the Ojibway by
Edward Benton-Banai. Printed in St. Paul, Minn. Published by Indian Country
Press, copyright 1979.

Seven prophets came to the Anishinabe. They came at a time when the people
were living a full and peaceful life on the North Eastern coast of North America.
These prophets left the people with seven predictions of what the future would
bring. Each of the prophecies was called a fire and each fire referred to a
particular era of time that would come in the future. Thus, the teachings of the
seven prophets are now called the "Seven Fires".

The first prophet said to the people,
"In the time of the First Fire, the Anishinabe nation will rise up and follow
the sacred shell of the Midewiwin Lodge. The Midewiwin Lodge will serve
as a rallying point for the people and its traditional ways will be the source
of much strength. The Sacred Megis will lead the way to the chosen
ground of the Anishinabe. You are to look for a turtle shaped island that is
linked to the purification of the earth. You will find such an island at the
beginning and end of your journey. There will be seven stopping places
along the way. You will know the chosen ground has been reached when
you come to a land where food grows on water. If you do not move you
will be destroyed."

The second prophet told the people,
"You will know the Second Fire because at this time the nation will be
camped by a large body of water. In this time the direction of the Sacred
Shell will be lost. The Midewiwin will diminish in strength. A boy will be
born to point the way back to the traditional ways. He will show the
direction to the stepping stones to the future of the Anishinabe people."

The third prophet said to the people,
"In the Third Fire the Anishinabe will find the path to their chosen ground,
a land in the west to which they must move their families. This will be the
land where food grounds on water."

The Fourth Fire was originally given to the people by two prophets. They come
as one. They told of the coming of the light skinned race.

One of the prophets said,
"You will know the future of out people by the face of the light skinned race
wears. If they come wearing the face of brotherhood then there will come
a time of wonderful change for generations to come. They will bring new
knowledge and articles that can be joined with the knowledge of this
country. In this way, two nations will join to make a mighty nation. This
new nation will be joined by two more so that four will for the mightiest
nation of all. You will know the face of the brotherhood if the light skinned
race comes carrying no weapons, if they come bearing only their
knowledge and a hand shake."

The other prophet said,
"Beware if the light skinned race comes wearing the face of death. You
must be careful because the face of brotherhood and the face of death
look very much alike. If they come carrying a weapon ... beware. If they
come in suffering ... They could fool you. Their hearts may be filled with
greed for the riches of this land. If they are indeed your brothers, let them
prove it. Do not accept then in total trust. You shall know that the face they
wear is one of death if the rivers run with poison and fish become unfit to
eat. You shall know them by these many things."

The fifth prophet said,
"In the time of the Fifth Fire there will come a time of great struggle that
will grip the lives of all native people. At the waring of this Fire there will
come among the people one who holds a promise of great joy and
salvation. If the people accept this promise of a new way and abandon the
old teachings, then the struggle of the Fifth Fire will be will be with the
people for many generations. The promise that comes will prove to be a
false promise. All those who accept this promise will cause the near
destruction of the people."

The prophet of the Sixth Fire said,
"In the time of the Sixth Fire it will be evident that the promise of the First
Fire cam in in a false way. Those deceived by this promise will take their
children aways from the teachings of the Elders. Grandsons and
granddaughters will turn against the Elders. In this way the Elders will lose
their reason for living ... they will lose their purpose in life. At this time a
new sickness will come among the people. The balance of may people will
be disturbed. The cup of life will almost become the cup of grief."
At the time of these predictions, many people scoffed at the prophets. They then
had medicines to keep away sickness. They were then healthy and happy as a
people. These were the people who chose to stay behind in the great migration
of the Anishinabe. These people were the first to have contact with the light
skinned race. They would suffer most.

When the Fifth Fire came to pass, a great struggle did indeed grip the lives of all
native people. The light skinned race launched a military attack on the Indian
people throughout the country aimed at taking away their land and their
independence as a free and sovereign people. It is now felt that the false promise
that came at the end of the Fifth Fire was the materials and riches embodied in
the way of life of the light skinned race. Those who abandoned the ancient ways
and accepted this new promise were a big factor in causing the near destruction
of the native people of this land.

When the Sixth Fire came to be, the words of the prophet rang true as children
were taken away from the teachings of the Elders. The boarding school era of
"civilizing" Indian children had begun. The Indian language and religion were
taken from the children. The people started dying at a early age ... they had lost
their will to live and their purpose in living.

In the confusing times of the Sixth Fire, it is said that a group of visionaries came
among the Anishinabe. They gathered all the priests of the Midewiwin Lodge.
They told the priests of the Midewiwin Way was in danger of being destroyed.
They gathered all the sacred bundles. They gathered all the scrolls that recorded
the ceremonies. All these things were placed in a hollowed out log from the
Ironwood tree. Men were lowered over a cliff by long ropes. They dug a hole in
the cliff and buried the log where no one could find it. Thus the teachings of the
Elders were hidden out of sight but not out of memory. It is said that when the
time came that the Indian people could practice their religion without fear a line
boy would dream where the Ironwood log, full of sacred bundles and scrolls, was
buried. He would lead his people to the place.

The seventh prophet that came to the people long ago said to be different from
the other prophets. He was young and had a strange light in his eyes. He said,
"In the time of the Seventh Fire New People will emerge. They will
retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will
take them to the Elders who they will ask to guide them on their
journey. But many of the Elders will have fallen asleep. They will
awaken to this new time with nothing to offer. Some of the Elders will
be silent because no one will ask anything of them. The New People
will have to be careful in how they approach the Elders. The task of
the New People will not be easy.

"If the New People will remain strong in their quest the Water Drum
of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice. There will be a
rebirth of the Anishinabe Nation and a rekindling of old flames. The
Sacred Fire will again be lit.

"It is this time that the light skinned race will be given a choice
between two roads. If they choose the right road, then the Seventh
Fire will light the Eighth and final Fire, an eternal fire of peace, love
brotherhood and sisterhood. If the light skinned race makes the
wrong choice of the roads, then the destruction which they brought
with then in coming to this country will come back at them and cause
much suffering and death to all the Earth's people."

Traditional Mide people of Ojibway and people from other nations have
interpreted the "two roads" that face the light skinned race as the road to
technology and the other road to spiritualism. They feel that the road to
technology represents a continuation of headlong rush to technological
development. This is the road that has led to modern society, to a damaged a
seared Earth. Could it be that the road to technology represents a rush to
destruction? The road to spirituality represents the slower path that traditional
native people have traveled and are now seeking again. This Earth is not
scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there.
The prophet of the Fourth Fire spoke of a time when
"two nations will join to make a mighty nation."

He was speaking of the coming of the light skinned race and the face of
brotherhood that the light skinned Brother could be wearing. It is obvious
from the history of this country that this was not the face worn by the light
skinned race as a whole. That might nation spoken of in the Fourth Fire has
never been formed.

If the Natural people of the Earth could just wear the face of brotherhood,
we might be able to deliver our society from the road to destruction. Could
we make the two roads that today represent two clashing world views
come together to form a mighty nation? Could a Nation be formed that is
guided by respect for all living things? Are we the people of the Seventh
Fire?

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