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We are the Keepers of the Seven Generations

Art by Debra-Ann Pine, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians on 1996 USDA NRCS poster

“Trails lead anywhere. We need to know where we’ve been to move forward,” Tribal Chairman Frank Ettawageshik, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. June 11, 2008

Seven generations are important to many indigenous North Americans.
There are always seven generations alive walking through time.

A core tenant of life---any decision which might impact the lives of The People should be looked at and considered from the perspectives of the very old, the very young, those in the middle, those who have passed from this world and those who are waiting to come in.

Looking ahead seven generations
Ettawageshik talked about long-range planning and the consequences of today’s actions as caretakers of the earth’s resources. What we do affects people for 120 to 140 years, seven generations in the future. He said Native Americans have the freedom to govern themselves. They may choose wisdom or be as dumb as can be. “This is a moment in history. This configuration of people will not happen again.”

He said it takes involvement, caring and communication to make good decisions.

Rule of civility: respect the environment
Anishinaabe peoples live as tribal governments or bands in the northern United States and southern Canada, chiefly around the Great Lakes and Lake Winnipeg. The Anishinaabe honor those who have walked ahead of them, respect those who walk with them and consider those yet to come.

Frank Ettawageshik’s ancestors passed on the role of taking care of the Great Lakes. “In traditional teachings and in the Anishinaabe world, we’re taught that water is the lifeblood of Mother Earth. People don’t understand how fragile our Great Lakes ecosystem is,” Ettawageshik said. He sums it up:
• If it’s harmful, don’t do it.
• If we’re already doing it, stop.
• If we’ve already made a problem, clean it up.


Raising the question, "Does ancient wisdom require an ancient lifestyle?" Thinking about the impacts of behavior on seven generations takes some time and we don't have any.