Our Philosophy

The Widoktadwen philosophy is grounded in the Seven Grandfather Teachings of Nishnabe tradition. The quotes associated with each appear in the National Museum of the American Indian exhibit The Anishinaabe Universe.

Debanawen (Love)

“Another thing elders tell us: in order to love somebody, you have to love yourself first.” Conrad Spence, 2000

“The Creator once planned to end the world because he suspected that people had stopped following his instructions. He sent the eagle to fly around the world and observe how people lived. When the eagle saw the Anishinaabe, he returned to the Creator and said that one race still followed his teachings. Through the eagle’s love for the Anishinaabe, the Earth was spared.” Mark Thompson, 2000

Wedasewen (Courage)

“When you carry courage, you have to have the courage to do all the teachings. You have the responsibility to take care of families and one another. The bear represents more than power and fearlessness. He stands for moral courage—the strength to do right and follow the Anishinaabe way. The bear also teaches medicine; he is a spirit healer.” Garry Raven, 2000

Edbesendowen (Humility)

“If more people would learn about the animal, there would be a lot more respect for nature. When we learn humility, we learn to put ourselves where we belong in this universe.” Mark Thompson, 2000

“The wolf teaches the Anishinaabe to think things through carefully, to always be cautious. Old wolves are never alone; they always help one another. The wolf always looks back when he leaves somewhere. The wolf teaches us that we need to look back on our life and learn from it.” Garry Raven, 2000

Gwekwadzewen (Honesty)

“Sasquatch (the Wilderness Man) teaches honesty. He is given the responsibility to look after all human life. His honesty encourages people to be honest with themselves.” Garry Raven, 2000

Bwakawen (Wisdom)

“Master of water and wood, the beaver symbolizes wisdom. In the past, Anishinaabe elders learned about medicines, such as poplar bark, by watching the beaver.” Garry Raven, 2000

Kejitwawenindowen (Respect)

“We need to have respect for all of creation. The buffalo were almost wiped out, but they will be back, and they will be strong.” Mark Thompson, 2000

Debwewen (Truth)

To know all of these teachings is to know the Truth.

“The Creator is truth. The sun is true. No one in this universe could ever change the sun. Truth is represented by those things that never change.” Garry Raven, 2000

The overarching message of the Seven Grandfathers is this:

“Each of these Teachings must be used with the rest. You cannot have Wisdom without Love, Respect, Courage, Honesty, and Truth. You cannot be Honest if you use only one or two Teachings, and to leave out one is to embrace the opposite of what the teaching is.”

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