Idle No More began as a movement of idealistic, energized Canadian Native young people. The focus of their demonstrations was against eight laws rushed through the last session of Canada’s Parliament by the majority government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. But the tribes ignited a spark and the movement has spread to other countries. Canada’s legislation was written to deregulate the waterways on behalf of business interests (oil sands?), and to amend the Indian Act such that it compromises the autonomy of Native Canadian Nations.
Idle No More’s protest actions spring directly from the spiritual aquifer of Canadian Indian culture with gifts to offer the dominant colonialist culture, reminding us about preserving harmony with “all our relations” (animals, birds, fish, all of nature) and managing the resources of Mother Earth for our children. Emerging from a marginalized group of world citizens, these native people rallied to protect the waterways. They did something that inspired the world’s Indigenous populations to acts of love for our Earth Mother, having now reached international communities in USA, South and Central America as well.
Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat tribe has come to the people like the White Buffalo Calf Woman did in the Lakota legend, urging her people rely on their spirituality as their strength. In American/Canadian Indian spiritual traditions, it is the power of the pipe, the round dance, the circle, the drum, the vision fast, the sacred hoop, and the ceremonies that will create awareness of the people’s plight, and alert all nations to the plight of the land in a peaceful way.
Here is the Seventh Fire prophecy carried for over 1,000 years that is at the foundation of the current protest movement. It is partly restated by Chief William Commanda of the Algonquin in Quebec (inheritors of the Wampum belt); and Eddie Benton-Banai, Ojibwe from Wisconsin.
Late in the darkening day, Grandfather Commanda, Ojigkwanong, told of the seventh prophet, the prophet who spoke of dying trees and poisoned waters. Drawing upon the shared understandings of Eddie Benton Banai and other elders, Grandfather Commanda said that the seventh prophet who came before the people was different. He was young and had a bright, holy light in his eye.
When the seventh prophet spoke, he said “In the time of the Seventh Fire there will arise Oshkibimadizeeg (a new people) who will emerge from the clouds of illusion. They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the side of the trail long ago. “Their steps will take them to the elders, who they will ask to guide them on their journey,” the seventh prophet said. “But many of the elders will have fallen asleep. They will awaken to this new time with nothing to offer. Some of the elders will be silent out of fear. Some of the elders will point in the wrong direction. But most of the elders will be silent because no one will ask anything of them…
“…However, if the new people remain strong in their quest, the sacred fire will again be lit. It is at this time that the people will be given a choice between two roads.”
The people recognized the teachings as worthy of remembrance. They encoded the teachings in the design of a wampum belt that could be examined, and its symbols contemplated from time to time, so the people would remember. The Seven Fires Wampum Belt has been handed down among the Algonquin for hundreds of years.
“A headlong rush to technological development without consideration of the Earth or future generations is the road that has led modern society to a damaged and seared Earth. This road leads to destruction…
As elder Eddie Benton-Banai expressed it in The Mishomis Book: “… if people choose the road of respect and spirituality, which represents a slower path, there is hope. The Earth is not scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there. If the people choose this road then it can light an Eighth Fire.”