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


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