The Seven Teachings

Our belief system has evolved over thousands of years, now to be shared with the rest of the world. In a most humble way, in a most loving way, in a most respectful way, in a most honest way, we have come to share these teachings with the world because in our hearts we believe that if we do not share this then we stand to lose all that has been created for us.

-Anishnabe Elder Dave Courchene

Whenever you see the Eagle, you can always call upon the eagle for more love in your life or you can ask for more ways you can give love to life.
Respect means having the ability to give. To show respect to life, you give of yourself. You can serve your fellow man by giving of yourself for the betterment of humanity, for the betterment of the world.

It takes a lot of courage to listen to your heart and to your spirit as it’s telling you what to do even when your mind tells you something else... it takes a lot of courage and that’s why the Bear is there.

The Bear, they say, goes out and hibernates in the winter--- but our people don’t understand it that way. The Bear goes to fast. It’s fasting all winter and this is important for us as a people... the Bear taught us how to fast... how to go on a Vision Quest.. that’s where we got the Vision Quest from.

The Bear fasts for Mother Earth and he fasts all winter because he’s fasting for the Earth. He represents the love and the courage that is needed to show that love of the land and of life.

Our great Creator chose the Sa-be (Bigfoot) to represent the spirit of honesty... it is a very hard thing to do to, be honest, so maybe that is why the spirit of Sa-be (Bigfoot) is so elusive. We see it and it’s gone because we have a hard time being honest.

The elders say the best way you could show honesty or honor the spirit of the Sa-be (Bigfoot), is to speak from your heart and listen to your spirit that has given you the inspiration of the words you are to speak. When you are honest with yourself, you are true to the words that you speak.

Wisdom is to know that each of us has a gift, a special gift, a unique gift. That gift is to be used to serve life, to serve humanity.

One of the gifts the Beaver has is 2 sharp teeth that he uses to create and build the dams and change the landscape. If that Beaver chose not to use his gift and to lay on the shore while the other beavers were working, his teeth would grow so long that he would not be able to use them and he would die, physically die. If we do not use our gift we will also die or we will become sick, mentally, emotionally or physically.

It is the wolf that brings the teachings of humbleness. The first thing that the young child sees as he meets the Wolf is that the Wolf will stop and bow its head, which is a reflection of the Wolf showing its humbleness to the presence of the human being.

The teaching of humility is very important in our life. Much of the division we see in today’s world is because people have not understood the spirit of humility: to understand the spirit of humility is to understand that no one is above another human being. No one is greater than another human being in this life; no one is lesser than another human being.

To be humble is to see us equally in the eyes of the Great Spirit through the unconditional love of the Great Spirit. His love is expressed to all of us in the same way that the sun will shine on us. The sun does not choose to shine on any one person alone or any one race of people, it shines on all.

The 7th and final teaching that we were given is represented by the Turtle. The law and the teaching that the Grandmother Turtle carries is the teaching of truth. According to our understanding, the meaning and the essence of truth are all these laws that I just talked about: truth is love, truth is respect, truth is courage, truth is wisdom, truth is humility and truth is honesty--- the essence of truth is found in all these teachings.

These 7 laws were symbolized and represented by animals, which reflected our connection to nature and our connection to the land. The spirituality of our people is deeply rooted and connected to the land. You cannot live on this land honoring all that there is on the land unless you understand these 7 laws. If we do not understand these 7 laws that we are inspired to live by, then there is a good chance that we will not respect the land and that we will disconnect ourselves from what comes from the land. But if we live by these 7 laws, that is when we will have a truly happy and peaceful life, in harmony with all of nature and each other as the human family.

-Anishnabe Elder Dave Courchene

Artwork: Henry Guimond
Teachings: Interpreted by Elder Dave Courchene
Seven Animals Images © Turtle Lodge 2009