Implications from the 7 teachings


By Stan Wilson, OCN Citizen 

I would like folks to know that the “7 teachings” are only one half of what’s needed to be taught to young people. Let me explain what I mean. Using what has been a traditional Indigenous way of maintaining and perpetuating Indigenous ways of being and doing is great. But the whole prescription for minnopimatisiwin (the ‘good life’) needs to be taught. Not just half of it. The other half usually left out is “pastahowin and otcinawin”. This is simple natural law from ancient Indigenous knowledge. It means that there are consequences for doing the opposite to the teachings. Anyone not being respectful, for instance, and being disrespectful will also get disrespect in return. Anyone causing harm to those considered to be part of our relations will be held accountable for their actions as part of natural justice. That is natural law. Western science explains it this way. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Ancient Indigenous peoples observed this in nature and understood that because human beings are part of nature they too are under this law. When any of our relations are harmed or damaged by human beings then all will suffer the consequences. Examples include climate change, Chernoble, Fukushima, the deadly consequences of plastics in our ocean. That’s when the Great Law made by the Creator comes into effect. Pastahowin takes effect. Ki pastahisoon appo ekwa kikapastahitonanow. We create our own repercussions for abusing any part of the natural world. I remember how the old timers lived according to this law. They kept their camps and home-yards clean. No garbage. They kept and lived within this law. 

A contemporary example of how this works is that those humans responsible for bringing children into the world and then abandoning them ta pastahisowak.  They neglect a sacred responsibility for taking them care of them and nurturing their growth. That will come back to them big time.   

So, it’s good to teach people about love, humility, honesty, wisdom, courage, truth, and respect; but if that is all in the sacred teachings then what happens if you hate? Pastahowin and otcinawin means we are accountable for all our actions to all our relations.  

This simple law applies to all. Even when an event is witnessed, when someone does harm to any of our relations and you don’t intervene and try to avoid a confrontation or just look the other way you can still ka pastahisoon. This avoiding behaviour is shirking a sacred responsibility. The ethic of non-interference does not apply in this case. That ethic applies only in circumstances where there is no need to interfere.  

And so it is important to remember our responsibility to ourselves and all our relations. We must be accountable for our actions as well as take responsibility for the well-being of others. When we teach pastahowin and otcinawin along with the 7 teachings, then we have the whole prescription for minnopimatisiwin. 



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