Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cree Teachings - Cycle of Life

I attended one of the first of many Cree Language Conferences in my home community last Thursday and Friday, Saddle Lake Cree Nation located within Treaty #6 Territory.  I was so appreciative of the opportunity to be apart of this conference.  Having it locally within the community made it all possible because I didn't need to seek sponsorship or pay to attend if it was elsewhere like Edmonton.  In addition, the majority of the presenters were local teachers, Elders etc..  This venue created an excellent opportunity and atmosphere for me to access valuable resource people on a personal quest to understanding me, my family, and community.

I walked away with so many valuable lessons and yearning to learn more.

One teaching I wanted to share is my interpretation and/or perception of what Elder, George Brertton shared with many of us while I attended his Medicine Wheel session.  He shared that there are 4 directions, North, East, South, West.  Within those directions are the 4 Elements that give life, Air, Sun, Earth (Land), and Water.  He said we all need these 4 elements to exist, all living things need these to live and survive.  Then he went on to say, without one means NO life and we need to respect these 4 Elements.

As he was drawing the circle on the board as his visual pictorial representation of the teachings, he added the directions; the animals in each direction; and the 4 Elements.  Then he proceeded to share the 4 Laws.  As he wrote the 4 Laws on the board, above the Medicine Wheel (Cycle of Life) it went like this:

Land (earth)

Then he circled the first letters of these 4 Elements to spell the 4 LAWS.

It was like a light went on in my head when I saw this.  I have always known this but it was uplifting to see it represented like this.  I felt excited because I could see how this teaching could assist me in teaching the Cycle of Life (Medicine Wheel) in the classroom.  However, another realization came to me as I began to study these 4 Laws and their place within the Circle of Life (Medicine Wheel) ~ I first looked at the Land (earth) in the south, then went to the element Air in the north, to element Water in the west, and finish with element Sun in the east.  As my eyes followed this sequence of all 4 Elements I could see a path forming and this path created the number 4.

The next day, I went home and created this visual representation of what I learned from the Elder:

As the Elder stated, we need all 4 Elements to ensure life exists, we destroy one and there is NO LIFE!
Please note, DO NOT GENERALIZE NATIONS as all being the same
the colours represented for each direction are commonly used in my area and vary among Nations and also families.  For instance families have their own colours.  nohkom (my grandmother) Roseanna once shared with us, her grandchildren our family colours being White (north), Yellow (east), Red (south), and Brown (west).  I have seen other Nations use Blue and Black in the west direction also.
At the end of the day, there are 4 directions and 4 Elements of Life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

George is one of the most kindest, loving, wisest Elder I have had to blessing to know. thank you for sharing his wise words.