Grandfather William Commanda
Keeper of the Seven Fires Wampum Belt of the Anishnabe (Algonquin) Peoples
The Seven Fires Prophecy of the Anishnabe is spiritually encoded in the Wampum Belt. The belt is sewn with thousands of tiny, polished, cylindrical purple and white sea shell beads woven together with leather strips. This Wampum Belt has been handed down among the Algonquin for hundreds of years. It has seven Diamonds which represent the Seven Fires. Grandfather Commanda and other Traditional Leaders believe that we have entered the time of the Seventh Fire, which is the time of decision between the two roads of materialism and of spirituality. If the light skinned race chooses the right road, then the Seventh Fire will light the Eighth and final Fire, an internal Fire of peace, love, brotherhood and sisterhood.
Seven Fires Prophecy of the Anishnabe People and the Process of Reconciliation
"At a time when the Anishnabe People were all living in peace and harmony along the shores of the Great Salt Ocean (Atlantic), there came among them seven prophets."
So begins the reading of the Seven Fires Prophecy as woven on a Wampum Belt sacred to the Anishnabe people throughout Turtle Island (North America). Chief William Commanda, the 89 year old spiritual elder of the Algonquin Nation is now the present holder of this belt, which is believed to have come into existence circa 1400 CE. The Seven Fires Prophecy is ancient but its message is relevant for today's world and for us, who must bring about a new balance to our lives and to the environment which we need for survival.
The Anishnabe are a family of indigenous peoples who, historically, lived along the eastern coast of North America. Anishnabe is translated as "good person" or "one who came down from the sky." Somewhere in a period of time before 1000 CE. And 1400 CE a great migration of the Anishnabe people took place. This migration saw 10,000 large canoes filled with people head inland following what is now called the Saint Lawrence River toward the Great Lakes.
Today, Anishnabe people still live along the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada, as well as, the shores of the Great Lakes, the Rocky Mountains and even as far south as Mexico. They are called by many names including, Cree, Pequot, Wampanoag, Abenaki, Algonquin, MikmaÌq, Shawnee, Innu and Chippawa. The Anishnabe family is probably the largest of all the indigenous nations living on the North American continent.
Why, then, did a people who lived for many thousands of years decide to leave their homes and travel many thousands of miles to new and unfamiliar lands at a time when, according to Anishnabe traditions, we were living in peace and harmony? The answer lies in the reading of the Seven Fires Prophecy and its implications not only for the Anishnabe people living 1000 years ago but also for us today.
What does the Seven Fires Prophecy say to Anishnabe people and how does that relate to people living in North America in the year 2000? First, the Seven Fires Prophecy is not only addressed to the Indian people of this land, it was meant for people of all colors. It is a warning and at the same time a promise of better things to come if all of us living on Turtle Island can learn to put aside our egos, our cultural and racial bias and come together as a people, one people, for our collective healing and the healing of Mother Earth.
The first three Prophets who came among our people brought a warning. They told us to be aware that a race of people, referred to as the "Light Skinned Race" would be coming to these lands.
They advised the Anishnabe that in the interest of security for our people and our nation, it would be wise if we divided our population into two groups. One would leave and go deep into the interior of this continent and wait until the intentions of the Light Skinned Race were made known. The other would wait and greet the newcomers as brothers and sisters.
These Prophets also told the Anishnabe where they would travel and how they would be guided to their ultimate destination. They told of a sacred Megis shell that would appear and lead the way to a series of islands where their journey would end. The final destination would be at a spot where the "food would grow on water." That area turned out to be the Great Lakes region where "pagwadjanomin" or wild rice grows on water.
For those of us who were to stay and greet the Light Skinned Race the 4th, 5th and 6th Prophets gave these warnings and prophecies.
"If they (Light Skinned Race) come bearing nothing in their hands, you must still be cautious for they may be smiling, but in reality they may be wearing the face of Death. Do not accept them readily but wait and see. You will know them by their actions."
"If they come with the face of Brotherhood, you will become one people. Their knowledge of the material world and your spiritual wisdom will be joined together to create a mighty spiritual nation and you will be joined by two other races, (we believe) Asian and African, to create the mightiest nation of all."
"If, on the other hand, the Light Skinned Race comes wearing the face of Death then a great calamity will befall the people of this land. Great suffering and pain will be visited upon your people. The very cup of Life will almost be overturned."
"You will know which face the Light Skinned Race is wearing when the fish are dying and the water's unfit to drink."
The 6th Prophet warned that the Natural People of this land would be attacked by a Light Skinned Race and that a great period of suffering would ensue. He foretold of a darkness, which would overshadow this land, and the suffering, which would be inflicted on the Anishnabe people, as well as on all indigenous peoples.
At this time the 7th and final Prophet came to the Anishnabe. "He was different from the others and had a strange light in his eyes." He came with a message, not only for the Anishnabe people, but directly for the Light Skinned Race "At the time of the Seventh Fire, a new people will emerge. They will retrace the footsteps of their ancestors and will try to find those things which have been lost along the way. They will approach the elders in search of guidance. It will not be an easy task but if they are of good heart and pure intentioned they can prevail. Some elders will be sleeping and have nothing to say, others will say nothing out of fear.
The New generation must be fearless in their quest.
The Light Skinned race will be at a crossroads. If they continue down the road of Materialism, it will be their destruction and for all humanity as well. But if the Light Skinned Race chooses to join with the Natural People of this land on the Spiritual path then they will again have the chance to create a nation, the greatest spiritual nation ever to have existed.
Two other races will join these two races. Together, they will together light the 8th and final Fire an eternal fire of Peace, Harmony, Brotherhood and Sisterhood."
We believe that the road towards blind materialism, the choice for the majority of humanity and especially the Light Skinned or European/American, created an environment where Nature and Natural People have suffered immensely. In the end, it can only lead to our collective destruction. Our way is above all a Spiritual Path. We are not, nor have we ever, been slaves to the material path. Our strength lies in our native ability to go beyond all that happened to our people in the past 508 years. The joining together of the material knowledge of the west with the spiritual wisdom and values of the Indigenous Peoples of this land is a path of healing and survival for all humanity.
The choice is in our hands.
Reconciliation is the first step in accomplishing our vision as Anishnabe people of a world where the grass is once again green, the waters fit to drink and the air pure. Our people, the Indigenous peoples from the Arctic to Terra Del Fuego, share a common vision to stand united in our hearts for the healing of our pain, as well as the pain that all humanity endures.
We have been through the fires of oppression. We have felt the whip of hate. We have tasted our blood and tears as it ran into the bosom of our sacred Mother, Earth. The history of our two peoples, one Red, one White has been written in blood and suffering. The lands where the Anishnabe lived from "time immemorial" were taken by armed force. Our people were killed. Genocide, incarceration, disease, was and, still is in many parts of this hemisphere, the price to pay for being Indigenous.
We must forgive. There is no option
By forgiving we liberate, not only ourselves, but also our oppressor. By forgiving we open the door to those who desire forgiveness. It is not that we believe we are superior to those people who, because of their fear, blindness and isolation did not see us as we are, their brother and sister, their father and mother, their lover, their friend. Through forgiveness we allow the spirits of our ancestors to accomplish their mission, which began so many centuries ago on these very shores.
We offer our hands to you, America, and ask you once again to come with us along the path where the grass is still green, the air is still pure and fish can still live in the waters.
Megwitch, hagana, Thank you, to all my relations, Tom Dostou, July 11, 2000