—Leland Bell's painting of the Seven Grandfathers
Traditionally the Ojibwa Value the Spiritual Process
For the Ojibwa, values are part of the spiritual journey ... not the destination.
Values are an integral part of every culture. Along with a perception of mankinds' place in the universe and the individuals own personality, cultural values generate behavior.
Cultural values create expectations and behavior patterns without which a culture would disintegrate and its members lose their sense of identy and self worth.
For example, values tell people what is good or bad, right or wrong, important or insignificant, useful or detrimental, beautiful or unattractive. Values are at the root of traditions that groups of people find important in their daily lives.
What are some Ojibwa values?
Consider that we Ojibwa refer to ourselves as Anishnabeg - the good beings - and that we do not have a word or term that separates humanity from the rest of the universe arounds us. Gitchi Manitou has created the world in a way that it is possible to exist in harmony with every part of Creation. It is our life's work to come to understand the spiritual truths that are central to learning how to exist as such an ensightful force that the accord is always in balance.
For that reason what the Ojibwa values most is not what we get from our achievements, but rather who we become through the process of achieving.
To help us be good beings, Seven Grandfathers visited the Anishnabeg and brought with them Seven Gifts that can give us a way of knowing Mino-Binaaadiziwn in its deepest sense if an effort is made to inquire into the meaning of the gifts and a lifetime of committment is made to make them an intrinsic part of our lives.
The gifts begin and end with knowledge and the ability to know and the Anishnabe are taught to treasure them.
The Seven Gifts were:
Wisdom comes from an appreciation that all knowledge is there to be cherished and that it is a human being's choice to discover what there is to know and apply it to their own life.
Love comes from an appreciation that all of us are human and all of us are struggling with the same issues. To know love is to know peace.
Respect comes when there is finally a clear understanding that there is an intricate relationship between all things animate and inanimate, that you are a part of the complexity and that you always will be...even after 'death'. To honour all creation is to have respect.
Bravery comes from an appreciation that you are terrified that you are not good enough and that others will find out. Bravery is to look at your innermost self and face that fact with integrity.
Honesty also comes from an appreciation that you are terrified that you are not good enough and that others will find out. When you come to a clear understanding that others are in the same predicament and that if you can be honest with them in such a way that it gives them the opportunity to be honest with you, there is the possibility that you can live your life as a good being.
Humility comes from an appreciation that you actually don't know very much but that, with integrity, you are doing your best to learn what there is to know.
Truth is possible when you know all of these things.