The Seven Grandfather Teachings
According to the aadizookaan Atsokan (traditional story), the teachings were given to the Anishinaabeg early in their history. Seven Grandfathers asked their messenger to take a survey of the human condition. At that time the human condition was not very good. Eventually in his quest, the messenger came across a child. After receiving approval from the Seven Grandfathers, tutored the child in the “Good way of Life”. Before departing from the Seven Grandfathers, each of the Grandfathers instructed the child with a principle.
- Bwakawen—Wisdom: To cherish knowledge is to know Wisdom. Wisdom is given by the Creator to be used for the good of the people. In the Anishinaabe language, this word expresses not only “wisdom,” but also means “prudence,” or “intelligence.” In some communities, Gkendasewen is used; in addition to “wisdom,” this word can also mean “intelligence” or “knowledge.”
- Zagidwen—Love: To know Love is to know peace. Love must be unconditional. When people are weak they need love the most. In the Anishinaabe language, this word with the reciprocal theme /idi/ indicates that this form of love is mutual. In some communities, Gzhawenidiwen is used, which in most context means “jealousy” but in this context is translated as either “love” or “zeal”. Again, the reciprocal theme /idi/ indicates that this form of love is mutual.
- Mnadendemowen—Respect: To honor all creation is to have Respect. All of creation should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected. Some communities instead use Ewetodendemidiwen or Kejitwaweninidiwen.
- Akwadewen—Bravery: Bravery is to face the foe with integrity. In the Anishinaabe language, this word literally means “state of having a fearless heart.” To do what is right even when the consequences are unpleasant. Some communities instead use either Zongadikiwen (“state of having a strong casing”) or Zongide’ewen (“state of having a strong heart”).
- Gwekwadzewen—Honesty: Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave. Always be honest in word and action. Be honest first with yourself, and you will more easily be able to be honest with others. In the Anishinaabe language, this word can also mean “righteousness.”
- Dbesendamowen—Humility: Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation. In the Anishinaabe language, this word can also mean “compassion.” You are equal to others, but you are not better. Some communities instead express this with Bekadiziwen, which in addition to “humility” can also be translated as “calmness,” “meekness,” “gentility” or “patience.”
- Debwewin—Truth: Truth is to know all of these things. Speak the truth. Do not deceive yourself or others.
Aujesokanek, adesokanek, audesokanek
The Muses: The Powers regarded as inspiring a thinker, artist, poet, and in this case, many of the old time Seers, Prophets, Holy Men, and other such people that officiated the various ceremonies of the Neshnabek.