Manataka American Indian Council







Anishinable Elder


The Mother calls me Misskwa Geesis.   I am an old man from the people called Anishinabe.  I was given a copy of the great words of Brother White Eagle and it touched my heart.  I came to this place and read the words of many great Brothers and Sisters from many nations and I felt compelled to add my humble voice to those here.

I find great importance in what is being done on this website.  I know, as Brother White Eagle and others have suggested in their words, that many natives are bitter about sharing their culture with the white brother.  This is just the opposite from everything I believe.  It is very different from the lessons taught to the Anishinabe by the Neegawnnakayg (seers) and from the truth in the times of the Seven Fires.

All who are alive today are the people of the Seventh Fire!  So I extend to those Native Elders and Medicine People a challenge to heed the words of the Neegawnnakyg and sit by the seventh fire with an open heart so the good future of the eighth fire will come.

Perhaps you do not know about the many fire's man has sit by.  Please allow me to humbly tell you what I know of such things.

A long, long time ago, seven Neegawnnakyg came to my people.  They came to us because we were living in peace and they knew we would listen.  They told us of seven very different times that our people would see.  These times became known as the seven fires.  I do not know their exact words by heart, but I will tell you what I know in the best words I have.  And I will tell you how each of the first six has come to pass.  Now we are in the time of the seventh, and possibly last, fire.

The first Neegawnnakyg came with the First Fire.  He said that our people would rise up and support the Midewinwin Lodge.  Midewinwin Lodge is of Medicine teachers.  Our people will become strong under their guidance and they will lead us to a promised land where we would be safe.  If we stayed where we were we would be destroyed.  We were told that someday we would find a place where the food grew on the water, but there would be many stopping places before we got there.  One of these places was on big water.  We stopped there for a long time and there was much happiness and peace in the time of the first fire.

The second Neegawnnakyg  spoke of the Second Fire and said that when the people lived by the big water, they would have such abundance they would forget the good the Midewinwin did.  They would become lazy and ways of the Midewinwin would be forgotten.  This happened.  But a boy was born who helped the people get back on track.  He made them start to move again.

The third Neegawnnakyg told of the Third Fire as the time when the people find the land where the food grows on water and the settle there.  They did.

These three fires document my people's quest for a stable land to live inland by large fresh water.  Once we lived on the northeastern seacoast in what is now the United States.

The Fourth Fire was given to the people by two Neegawnnakyg who came as one being. They told us of the coming of the white man who would be wearing on their faces their intentions.  If their faces showed the  face of brotherhood, there would be peace and wonderful times for all.  They would bring knowledge to us and learn knowledge from us and all will be good.  If they are true brothers they will come bearing only their open hearts and hands, and carry no weapons.

But if their faces are wearing the face of death, then beware.   If they carry weapons, even if they talk like brothers, they are trying to hide the face of death.  They will almost destroy the balance of life for the people and all but destroy the cup of life with sickness and murder.

We know, sadly, that when the white man came, they brought weapons.  They did not wear the face of brotherhood and the cup that held life was almost spilled empty for native peoples.  The pain and suffering caused is well known today.

The Neegawnnakyg of the Fifth Fire told of white people coming with news of great joy.  Talking of God and salvation.  They will promise all peoples such joy with this salvation that many will follow them.  This will destroy the people more than any physical sickness, because it will cause many to leave their traditional ways and follow the white mans ways.  It would destroy not just bands and tribes, but families will be torn apart.  It would be an underhanded attack that would be sure and lasting in its pain.

Sadly, this too, came to past.  The white people, most of who believed they were doing the best for the native people, brought their religions to our people.  The pain and the atrocities of their "gift" and how they imposed that gift are too long to say at this time.

The Sixth Neegawnnakyg talked of the Sixth Fire time that would come because of the Fifth Fire burning so strongly.  He told of a time when the children and grandchildren would turn their backs on their Elders.  They would reject the teachings of the Elders and the traditional ways as being stupid and useless.  They would leave their tribes and families and not return.  They would not respect the ways or the keepers of those ways.  They would loose all sense of value for who and what they are.

Sadly, this too came to pass.  As more and more Native peoples were taught white man's religion and culture, they were also taught to be ashamed of their own heritage.  The children and grandchildren came to believe that it was wrong to be Anishinabe (and many other tribes, too.) They were ashamed of their blood and ran away from it in all ways they could.  They no longer kept the sacred ways.  They forgot their connection to the Mother.  The ways of the people would have dissolved to dust if it were not for a few strong souls who kept the thread alive.

This time came.  This time is just ending.

The Time of the Seventh Fire is the most important time of all because it is the time we are living in and it is the time of talking.  It is the time that I humbly implore all Elders to consider before they turn their backs on their wayward children.

The seventh Neegawnnakyg told of the time of the Seventh Fire.  In this time, the wayward grandchildren and their children would be blessed with the wisdom to know that they are not wholly as the Mother and the Creator wants them to be. They may not have much, if any native blood in their veins, but they will have the native spirit in their hearts.  They will feel the value of what their parents and grandparents threw away.  They will try and retrace the footsteps of their grandparents.  They will come back to the Elders who held the thread of truth and ask to be shown the old ways.

The Neegawnnakyg said that the Elders will be in a spiritual sleep and will not recognize their grandchildren. Neegawnnakyg called these children the "New People", but the Elders will call them the enemy.  They will accuse the new people who return of wanting only to hurt them again.  Many will believe the new people are only wearing a false face of brotherhood in order to return and destroy what remains of the Native People.  They will refuse to believe that it is in these new people that the future will be coming.

This is where we are today.  I see so many Native people unable to let go their bitterness long enough to see that they are being asked to re-light the fires of their ancestors.  It is a hard job to love your enemy.  But the Neegawnnakyg tell us that if we do that, good things will happen.  For one, we will find that they are not the enemy, but the future.

So what comes next?  The Neegawnnakyg of the Seventh Fire said that there are two paths that could happen at this point.  Only one leads to the Eight Fire.

The path that does not is one where the New People will be foolish in their ways and be forced to give up in their quest.  They will be disrespectful in the way they approach, so the Elders will never hear them and will not wake from their selfish sleep.  Then the time of the Eight Fire will never come.  Maybe this means life for all people will end.  It at least means that time for the Anishinabe people will end.

The path that leads to the Eight Fire is one that will be very difficult for the New People.  It is one that will truly test their hearts.  They must first find the respectful and careful way to approach the Elders.  They must be sure to give them the great respect they deserve, not just for being Elders, but even more for holding the thread of truth alive for so long.

They must be persistent and follow the sound of the Water Drum, even when they are turned away.  And even if the Elders never wake up and take their proper place as teachers and "parents" to these people, they must never give up in their quest to find the old ways and live by them.  They must follow the sound of the Water Drum and it will bring them once again to the feet of the door of the true Midewinwin Lodge.  The path to the Midewinwin Lodge is not gone forever.  It is merely overgrown.  A true heart can find it.

When the new people find it, the heart of the Native people will once again beat strong.  With the patient guidance of the Elders who know the truth, these new people will be eager to learn what the Creator wants and live the way the Great Spirit intended man to live.

Only in this way will there be true peace again.

So, with all my heart, I call to my Brothers and Sisters from all tribes, bands and nations.  Do not turn your heads and close your hearts on those who come to you with sincere intentions.  It was written so many, many centuries ago that this would happen.  It is as it should be.  Let us rejoice in our once naughty children coming home with their hearts now open, rather than to close the hut and refuse to let them back.

The Electric Wigwam (N.H.), 2001, all rights reserved