The Seven Grandfather & Grandmother


We have to take care of Aki (Mother Earth) or we will not have a home. We must all share in this responsibility. We need to make sure that Mother Earth and everything the Creator gave her will always be here for future generations.

The Great Gifts

Click on a section to learn more about each teaching.


To take care of Mother Earth and the community of life, we need to remember the Teachings of the First Elder. The First Elder gave us the gifts of knowledge that he received from the Seven Grandfathers when he was a little boy. Each Grandfather gave him a great gift. One gave him the gift of NIBWAAKAAWIN (Wisdom), and he learned to use that wisdom for his people.

Another gave the gift of ZAAGIDWIN (Love) so that he would love his brother and sister and share with them.

The third Grandfather offered the gift of
MANAADJITOWAAWIN (Respect) so that he would give respect to everyone, all human beings and
all things created.

AAKODEWIN (Bravery) was the next gift, the courage to do things even in the most difficult of times.

A fifth Grandfather gave the boy GWEKOWAADIZIWIN (Honesty) so that he would be honest in every action and provide good feelings in his heart.

Another Grandfather offered DIBAADENDIZOWIN (Humility) to teach the boy to know that he was equal to everyone else, no better or no less.

The last gift that was given to the boy was DEBWEWIN (Truth). The Grandfather said, “Be true in everything that you do. Be true to yourself and true to your people. Always speak the truth.”

The Grandfathers told him, “Each of these Teachings must be used with the rest. You can not have WISDOM without LOVE, RESPECT, BRAVERY, HONESTY, HUMILITY, and TRUTH. You can not be honest if you use only one or two of the Teachings, and to leave out one is to embrace the opposite of what the Teaching is.”

We should all try to live by the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Sometimes it may be hard to apply all of them daily, but we must try. If we don’t practice honesty, we cheat. If we don’t practice truth, we will lie. We must go back to the knowledge that the
Seven Grandfathers taught the First Elder, who then passed the Teachings on to the next generation, and so on.

The Seven Grandfather Teachings will remind us how to treat one another and our children. Each of us is responsible for taking care of the children and of Mother Earth. The children are the ones who must care for Mother Earth tomorrow, and for the generations to come.

Love - The Eagle

An image of an eagle.

Zaagi’idiwin: Love

The Eagle - Migizi, ‘A bald eagle’ ᒥᑭᓯ᙮

Unconditional love cannot be given without loving oneself, much like the eagle who soars high and carries these teachings from the Creator to share with her young. Educate yourself before you speak, consult with your mentors and communities and love yourself enough to overcome difficulties.

Respect - Buffalo

An image of a buffalo.

Mnaadenimowin: Respect 

The Buffalo - : Mashkode-bizhiki, ‘a buffalo’

As long as we walked the earth, so have the buffalo, who have sacrificed themsleves to give us warmth, food and shelter. To have respect is to honour all of creation. Balance what you need with what you want and recognize how your own greed may be at the expense of Mother Earth. Do what you can to make a difference and lead by example.

Humility - Wolf

An image of a wolf.

Dbaadendiziwin: Humility

The Wolf - Dabasendizowin, ‘Humility’ ᑕᐸᓭᓐᑎᓱᐎᓐ᙮

To know yourself and your gifts in a humble way is to set a good example for others in life, much like wolves who are devoted to their family. Uphold the power of love: Look for it everywhere and nurture it just as you would your children. To accept that we all need love to survive is to be truly humble.

Honesty - Raven

An image of a raven.

Gwekwaadziwin: Honesty

The Raven - Gaagaagi, ‘a raven’

Facing a situation with truth, kindness and compassion is to walk with integrity. The raven, who uses his own cleverness to prosper, is a potent symbol of the power of honesty. Remain true to yourself, love and respect your own natural form.

Truth - Turtle

An image of a turtle.

Debwewin: Truth 

The Turtle - Mikinaak, ‘a snapping turtle’ ᒥᑭᓈᒃ

To commit to these seven teachings and to see them as fundamental values that complement each other is to know them within oneself, authentically. The turtle, who methodically walks the earth as one of our eldest animals, reminds us of our teachings that proceed and survive all of time. Walk with these teachings from a true place of regard for their capacity to enrich our own lives and those who we encounter.

Wisdom - Beaver

An image of a beaver.

Nibwaakaawin: Wisdom

The Beaver - Amik, ‘a beaver’ ᐊᒥᒃ᙮

To cultivate knowledge is to know wisdom, which helps us make decisions that honour our wellbeing. This is represented by the beaver, who patiently uses his impressive teeth and creative mind to build sustainable communities. Be humble in knowing where you excel and what your limits are, and collaborate with others who have expertise you may lack.

Bravery - Bear

An image of a bear.

Aaka’ode’ewin: Bravery 

The Bear - Makwa, ‘a bear’

Awaken the warrior within by facing adversaries with integrity. We see these traits embodied in mother bears, who guide and protect their young with strength and a playful heart. Remember, you can’t take care of others without taking time for yourself first. Conquer fears so you can help those you love. Don’t forget the power of play and humour.


Get In Touch

Send us a question, comment or introduction message.  We would love to connect with you.

4 Directions Logo

We are a leader in conservation ecology and indigenous engagement planning in Canada.

© 2023 4 Directions - All Rights Reserved