3.1 The Seventh Fire Prophecy
In the Seventh Fire prophecy of the Anishnabek, each
of the seven fires represent an era in human history. We are now in
the time of the Seventh Fire. The task of the people of this age,
including the Anishnabek and other red people, the yellow people,
the black and the white, is to come together through choosing the
road of cooperation. Without this, there will be no Eighth Fire, or
future for Natives and others.
The following is from the Ojibway Cultural Centre on
THE LAW OF THE SEVEN FIRES
In a time long, long ago, seven prophecies came to the
Each prophecy or fire came from a different prophet who foretold
of events that would shape the future of the Anishnawbe. Each of
these fires referred to a particular period of time.
The first fire tells us that the Anishnawbe would rise and
follow the ways of the sacred shell or Midewiwin. The Midewin
religion, to the Anishnawbe, would be the focal point for clean
living and a source of strength for all Anishnawbe.
The second fire tells that the nation would be camped by a large
body of water. In this time, the direction of the sacred shell
would be lost and the ways of the Midewiwin would become weak.
It was prophesized that a small boy would return and point the
way back to the traditional ways. The boy pointed to the sacred
island of Manitoulin as the way to revitalize the ways of the
The third fire tells that the Anishnawbe would find the path to
the chosen land of Manitoulin. This was the place where the
Anishnawbe must move their families.
The fourth fire tells of the coming of the light skinned race.
The fifth fire tells of a great struggle to come.
The sixth fire prophesized that during the time of the great
struggle grandsons and granddaughters would turn against their
elders and that the spiritual ways of the Midewiwin would almost
The seventh fire tells of the emergence of a new people, a
people who would retrace their history to find the sacred ways
that had been left behind. The waterdrum would once again sound,
its voice signalling the rebirth of the Anishnawbe and a
rekindling of life's fire.
During the time of the seventh fire, the light skinned race
would be given a choice. If they chose the right road, then the
seventh fire would light the eighth and final fire...a fire of
peace, love and brotherhood.
If the light skinned race made the wrong choice, then the
destruction which they brought with them to this great turtle
island would come back to them, causing much suffering, death
And that is how the story is told.
The Seventh Fire prophecy is recognized as a
"...migration legend, a story which recounts the seven 'fires' or
stopping places of the people in their journey from the East coast
toward the West..." (Kallmann and Potvin 1992: 929). This prophecy
also relates to the present-day struggle to strengthen traditional
teachings and bring the Anishnabek message of cooperation and
understanding to others (Deleary 1990). The Midewiwin society of the
Anishnabek teaches the Seventh Fire Prophecy today and "among the
Ojibwe of northwestern Ontario, the Midewiwin is a fundamental
religious institution... Traditional Anishnabek in adulthood in the
1980s saw themselves as the generation of the seventh fire, and
accept a role in bringing back many of their traditions..."
(Kallmann and Potvin 1992: 929).
Nick Deleary, an Ojibwe and member of the Midewiwin,
says the following in his 1990 Carleton MA thesis:
About one thousand years before the coming of the European, our
lives were full and complete. We had known at least five hundred
years of peace and prosperity. The alteration that would come
with the warring European nations was known throughout our land.
Long before the invaders stepped ashore we had fore‑knowledge of
what to expect. This fore-knowledge came to us in the form of
seven prophets, or prophecies. Each foretold of a time in the
future and symbols to look for. One such prophet (Fire) spoke of
how the Midewiwin would be the source for our lives, we would
see great health. Another spoke of a time when we would follow
the sacred Megis shell, towards the West "to the place where
food grows upon the water," Minnesota. The reason for this move
was foretold by another prophet or fire. His words were of the
coming of the light‑skinned brother. We were told to beware as
the stranger would come wearing two faces, one of peace and true
brotherhood, the other face would be that of death and
destruction. We were told to exercise great caution in accepting
this stranger. As time would prove, the face the "newcomer" came
with was one of destruction. We know the words of the next
prophets to speak of the truth; the face our white brother has
come wearing has been the face of destruction and death......
One prophet said you will know the words of the other prophets
are true when you see the "waters turn foul and the fish turn
belly up with disease." Another prophet spoke of a time when
families will be broken up, children will turn their backs on
their elders and grandparents. Those who know the Life ways will
go silent out of fear for freedom of religion, and when that day
comes, those who come looking will find emptiness and
The last prophet had a different outlook. It is said that he
spoke of a new generation who would retrace their grandfathers'
and grandmothers' foot steps along the trail of the migration,
reclaiming what has always been theirs. The water drum would
once again sound its voice across the land... The above story is
a fraction of the full story. The main ideas are nevertheless
present (Deleary 1990: 57‑59).
One person who talks about the Seventh Fire is
Grandfather William Commanda of Maniwaki.
An Algonquin elder, he holds three wampum belts, one of which is the
Seventh Fire Prophecy belt which was made in the 1400s. His
understanding of the prophecy was received from Ojibwe people in
Minnesota, Michigan and northern Ontario, and through his own
family, which has held the belts for over 100 years.
He speaks of the fact that the white race was
welcomed by the Anishnabek, and it was hoped in the time of the
Fourth Fire that the white race would come wearing a face of
brotherhood, and that the Anishnabek and whites together would form
one mighty nation. This did not happen and the white race chose the
course of destruction and death.
Today, in the age of the Seventh Fire, the races are
again faced with a choice. The two roads are the black road of
technology and overdevelopment leading to environmental catastrophe,
the other is the red road of spirituality and respect for the earth.
Together, people of the world have to choose the right road, be of
one mind, or the earth cannot survive. Cyberspace will play a big
role in this movement, as will be examined in further sections.
In April 1994, William visited the United Nations
with Hopi elders and elders from other nations, including the Migmag
and Mohawk. The message from the Hopi was that desecration of their
sacred lands must stop, or else there will be a purification of the
earth which will destroy life. Their prophecies are in line with
those of the Seventh Fire: "Mankind must return to Peaceful ways,
and halt the destruction of Mother Earth, or we are going to destroy
ourselves. All the stages of Hopi prophecy have come to pass, except
for the last, the purification. The intensity of the purification
will depend on how humanity collaborates with Creation."
The Hopi gave a deadline to the industrial nations: Four years from
the date of their presentation in April 1994. This corroborates the
fact that we are indeed in the time of the Seventh Fire, and also at
the culmination of other Native prophecies.
In Spring 1995 Six Nations hosted the Cry of the
Eagle Conference, which was attended by many of the same delegates
to the 1994 UN presentation, as well as other leaders and elders
from Tibet, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mexico and South America. Hopi
elder Thomas Banyacya stated that "the Hopi is looking for a white
brother... We will create a spiritual circle where we join the
material and the spiritual together and we will take care of the
whole world in a spiritual way as well as with the fabulous
inventions" (in Hill and Monture 1995: 102). William Commanda has
said that "Native people must put aside their differences and speak
for Mother Earth and the Great Spirit that is in all people, all
races and colours" (LeBlanc 1995: 9).
William teaches that now is the time for Native
people to forgive colonizers for their ignorant and destructive
actions. Without this forgiveness, Native people will not be able to
think clearly ¾ and they need to be strong and healthy in order to
be able to teach the road of cooperation and spiritual understanding
to the industrial nations before it is too late. This is part of a
movement toward decolonization ¾ a time when Native concerns and
identity are finding a voice.
The Seventh Fire is not just a time of reclaiming
spiritual teachings; it is the time to use those teachings to help
correct the imbalance felt in the circle that is the world.
 It is more than a revitalization movement, it is more like
an arrival. Many Natives today are listening to teachings like the
Seventh Fire prophecy, the Seven Generations teachings of the
Iroquois and the prophecies of nations like the Hopi, and they are
making these concerns felt on the Web.
Next: 3.2 The Seven Generations Prophecy
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