Whenever I mention the 7th Generation principle to most people, they think I’m talking about laundry detergent.
I’m always surprised that more people don’t know the origin of the term, so I felt it deserved a post of its own.
The “7th generation” principle taught by Native Americans says that in every decision, be it personal, governmental or corporate, we must consider how it will affect our descendents seven generations into the future. So that the pristine sky, field and mountains in this photo will still be here for them to enjoy.
A generation is generally considered to be 25 years, so that’s 175 years.
It is clearly not embraced by most governments and corporations in the world today. I mean, when was the last time any of us thought about who’s coming along seven generations from now?
The 7th generation principal was so important to Native American cultures that it was codified in the Iroquois Great Law of Peace. To my knowledge, all Native American and indigenous tribes throughout the world embrace this teaching.
Those of us descended from the European culture have generally not given it a second thought.
Long before environmentalists got us thinking about “carbon footprints” and “sustainability,” indigenous peoples lived in balance with the world around them.
It’s even defined in their language:
My father taught me many wonderful things, mostly by example, which is the best way to learn. One of the things I most admire about him was that he had a very open mind and respected differing viewpoints.
That is refreshing in this day and age when people are quick to “unfriend” people who don’t see things the way they do.
I recall the time my father was at a football game sitting in front of someone rooting for the opposing team. His friend asked why he wasn’t upset about it and my father’s response was simply, “Well, that’s what makes a horse race.”
When I joined a cult in the 1970s, my father maintained a very open, wait and see attitude before judging me and my guru. He and my mother came to hear my teacher speak and to learn more about what I was involved in. I really didn’t know many parents who were doing that at that time.
In fact, my father told me about a conversation he had with someone critical of my guru:
Paha Sapa [the Black Hills]
This was passed on by Chief Joe Chasing Horse, a relative of the great Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. He translated it from the words of a grandmother who was present when the words were spoken.
This is a statement of Crazy Horse as he sat smoking the Sacred Pipe at Paha Sapa with Sitting Bull for the last time, 4 days before he was assassinated.
Many of these words are often repeated, but there is one line often left out, that of the “young white ones.”
I post this in honor of my Native American elders, including Grandfather Wallace Black Elk, Bear Heart and Sun Bear, who had the courage to fulfill this prophecy by passing on such beautiful Native teachings to the “young white ones” who came to them for help.
Thanksgiving prayers are common to most religious groups. Native Americans had entire ceremonies just for the purpose of expressing thanks – sometimes they lasted for days.
This Thanksgiving Prayer comes from the Seneca Nation and is at least 500 years old.
It is traditionally done around a fire, with spiritual food on the altar. I have adapted it to be used as a Thanksgiving Prayer on our national holiday:
Thanksgiving Prayer from the Seneca Nation
And now we are gathered together to remember the Great Mystery’s first instruction to us: to love one another always, we who move about on this earth.
And the Great Mystery said that when even two people meet, they should first greet each other by saying: “Nyah Weh Skenno” which translates to “thank you for being” and then they may take up the matter with which they are concerned.
[Nyah Weh Skenno more literally means: “thank you for being alive in the here and now and not adding to the confusion of the world.”]