Seven-Gifts-Shield-Big-1I’ve been looking for a new and creative way to convey to the campers how to get along well at camp. Then I discovered this story native about seven grandfathers who teach a great lesson. Here it is:

The Ojibway story of the seven grandfathers’ teachings was passed down from parent to child for many generations. The story goes…

The Creator gave the seven grandfathers, who are very wise, the responsibility to watch over the people. The grandfathers saw that the people were living a hard life. There was all kinds of sicknesses and bad things around. The Messenger was told, “Go down there, look around and find out what is happening. Bring back someone who we can tell about what life should be, with the Ojibway” He left immediately and went to all places in the North, South, West and East. He could not find anyone. On his seventh try, while he was looking, he saw a baby. The grandfathers were happy with the choice made by the helper.

He took the baby back to where the Grandfathers were sitting in a circle. He was still very small and still wrapped inside the cradleboard. One of the grandfathers looked at the baby very carefully. “This is the one. Messenger, pick up the baby. Take him all over; teach him carefully the way the Ojibway should lead their lives.” The Messenger took him; they went around the earth.

When they came back seven years later, the boy again saw the Grandfathers. He was already a young man. The Grandfathers noticed that this boy was very honest. He understood everything that was taught. One of the grandfathers took a drum and started singing. Each of the grandfathers gave the boy a teaching. “These are the ones you take with you,” he was told.


  • Nibwaakaawin—Wisdom: To cherish knowledge is to know Wisdom. Wisdom is given by the Creator to be used for the good of the people. In the Anishinaabe language, this word expresses not only “wisdom,” but also means “prudence,” or “intelligence.”
  • Zaagi’idiwin—Love: To know Love is to know peace. Love must be unconditional. When people are weak they need love the most. In the Anishinaabe language, this word with the reciprocal theme indicates that this form of love is mutual.
  •  Minaadendamowin—Respect: To honor all creation is to have Respect. All of creation should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected.
  • Aakode’ewin—Bravery: Bravery is to face the foe with integrity. In the Anishinaabe language, this word literally means “state of having a fearless heart.” To do what is right even when the consequences are unpleasant.
  • Gwayakwaadiziwin—Honesty: Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave. Always be honest in word and action. Be honest first with yourself, and you will more easily be able to be honest with others. In the Anishinaabe language, this word can also mean “righteousness.”
  •  Dabaadendiziwin—Humility: Humility is to know yourself as a part of Creation. In the Anishinaabe language, this word can also mean “compassion.” You are equal to others, but you are not better.
  • Debwewin—Truth: Truth is to know all of these things. Speak the truth. Do not deceive yourself or others.

The boy, because of all the time spent with the Grandfathers, was now an old man. The old man gathered all the people around and told them of his journey to the seven grandfather’s lodge. He explained how to use the gifts and that it was now up to the people to try to follow the path of a good and healthy life using the seven grandfather’s teachings.

They told him each of these teachings must be with the rest, you cannot have wisdom without love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility and truth. You cannot be honest if you only use one or two of these, or if you leave out one. And to leave out one is to embrace the opposite of what that teaching is.

Fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:20But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. These too must be used together and work together in our lives. You cabin leaders will talk with you about the camp boundaries and some other rues you need to know. 

Now all I have to do is memorize it and tell it to the campers each week.

10 thoughts on “Seven Grandfathers’ Teachings

  1. Aanii,
    My name is Adam Babin and I am a 4th year Indigenous Social Work student working under my professor at Laurentian University on a journey creating a free open E-textbook with a two-fold aim: first, through the medicine wheel model, students will learn to identify and recognize the Indigenous historical significance of the lands in the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. Second, through the use of interactive mapping strategies, the textbook itself will provide educators with a guide book on how to document Indigenous stories in their own areas. I would love to use the Seven Grandfathers Teachings`, but would need to have your permission to do so.
    If you could please let me know if I can do this, it would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Please cite your references for the Seven Grandfathers Teachings information used for this blog. Miigwetch.

    1. Hi Karen,
      I first say the teachings on a wall at Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario when my wife and I went for a concert. I took a picture of the wall. They resonated with me and so when I go home I started a blog post to tell the story. I found the details through a Google search and several Anishinaabe websites. I don’t remember which ones as it was years ago. I’m sure they are still available.
      Best regards,

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