A prophecy of the Ojibway Anishnawbe states: In the time of the Seventh Fire, a new people will emerge, to retrace their steps and history, to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will lead them to many different places and to teachers and elders of their nations. But many of the elders will have fallen asleep and will have forgotten, or never learned the teachings. Some elders and historians will be silent out of fear and ignorance. Many more will be overlooked and nothing will be asked of them. The new people are told to be careful in their approach to the elders. Their task is not easy. It will take time, hard work, perseverance, and faith. The new people must remain strong in their quest. The Waterdrum of the Midwiwin Lodge will regain its voice. There will be a rebirth of the Anishnawbe Nation and a rekindling of the sacred fire which will light the Eighth and Final Fire. ..of eternal peace, understanding. and acceptance over the entire world.
I live on Walpole Island, an Ojibway-Pottawatomie reserve located on the St. Clair River south of Canada's Chemical Valley, near Sarnia, Ontario. Earlier this year our reserve gained national attention with the discovery of the "Blob," a chemical cocktail of carcinogenic compounds. The revelation helped to expose the less exotic but perhaps more devastating, routine dumping practices of some of the major employers in the region. The Chemical Valley has brought our community--and perhaps yours--unsafe drinking water, ducks and fish unsafe for human consumption, and early flowing of the embryonic fluids, resulting in miscarriages and premature babies.
My wife and I are struggling to raise children, make ends meet, and live our lives. We want knowledge, support, and insight into our lives, so when we heard of our nation's Peace Conference to be held in September on Cape Croker Reserve, we decided to attend.
Myrna, our kids, and I arrived at Cape Croker Park after the Conference had already begun. The 400 participants from across the Americas and other lands, had come to a spot nestled amidst the bluffs of the Niagara Escarpment and the blue waters of Georgian Bay. The Sacred Fire burned throughout the Conference. Prayers were offered, ceremonies conducted, presentations made, and discussions held.
For three days grandmothers and grandfathers, parents, uncles, aunts, and children talked, danced, sang, and ate together. Most of us were Anushinawbe, otherwise known as the Ojibway or Chippewa: "the Original People." But others joined us. From the East and South came Delawares, Mohawks, Ukrainians, Micmacs, Pottowatomies, Malacites, Shognoshes, and indigenous people originally from Central Amenca. From the West and North came Dene, Cree, Odawas, Cherokees, and others.
We were reminded that our ancestors had kept, through the Great Law and other Ways of Life, the practice of Peace between individuals, families, communities, Nations, and all Creation. As the Elders said, "We must know where we come from before we can decide where we are going."
We were reminded of the special gifts that each of us were provided and of our duty to discover and use them as the Creator intended. One of the Elders said that we often try to start too far up the ladder. We must begin with ourselves in looking for peace. Only after cleaning up our own place can we begin to help others. We must move with pride and humility.
On the second day, one of the Elders invited the people into his teepee to share in a feast, honoring those who had passed into the Spirit world.
On the third day, the men and the women went to their tents to discuss responsibilities. Some spoke of the suffering and lack of trust which come with racism.
I thought beyond the Blob in the St. Clair River and the breaking of the embryonic waters when our Elders spoke of the need "to remember and live our culture... to live in harmony with our Mother and all our Relations...to know and care for our real Mother, the Earth, where all life begins and ends. It is through her waters that life is created and sustained."
I brought back an echo, when the Conference culminated with an exchange of gifts and a presentation by Albert Lightning, a Cree Elder and Holy Man of 94 years. "Buffalo Child," as he is named, spoke of a burden he was given to share with the people. He was given six visions or prophecies which were seen at the same time by others who were with him. He was told he would live to see them all fulfilled. Four he has already seen come to pass. Two remain to be fulfilled. He told us of his visions.
He emphasized the need for all people to enter the Sacred Teepee and he gave us the message, "Do something about it today, as tomorrow may be too late." Like a whisper shouted across the ages, the message of Buffalo Child told of the need for movement. Now. ~