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Seven fires prophecy is an Anishinaabe prophecy which marks phases,or
epochs, in the life of the people on Turtle Island, a Native American name
for the North American continent. The Seven fires of the prophecy represent
key spiritual teachings for North America, and suggest that the different
colors and traditions of the human beings can come together on a basis of
respect. It predates the arrival of the Europeans, and contains information
for the future lives of the Anishnaabe which are still in the process of
Originally, the prophecy and the Ojibwa migration story were closely linked. However, the last half the prophecy appears to apply to all peoples in contact with the Anishinaabeg. Consequently with the growth of the Pan-Indian Movement in the 1960s and the 1970s, concepts of the Seven fires prophecy merged with other similar prophetical teaching found among Indigenous peoples of North America forming a unified environmental, political, and socio-economic voice towards Canada and the United States. The Seven fires prophecy was originally taught among the practitioners of Midewiwin.
William Commanda, an Algonquin elder and former chief of the Kitigàn-zìbì
Anishinàbeg First Nation, was the wampum belt keeper for the seven fires
prophecy.He died on August 3, 2011
Originally, the prophecies were given by eight prophets in seven different
time periods. According to oral tradition, the Mi'kmaq Nation heard the
first Prophet.The remaining seven prophets appeared before and were
recorded by the Anishinaabeg. A prophecy of each of these seven periods
were then called a "fire". The teachings of the Seven fires prophecy also
state that when the world has been befouled and the waters turned bitter by
disrespect, human beings will have two options to choose from, materialism
or spirituality. If they chose spirituality, they will survive, but if they
chose materialism, it will be the end of it.
“In the time of the First Fire, the Anishinabe nation will rise up
and follow the sacred shell of the Midewiwin Lodge. The Midewiwin Lodge will
serve as a rallying point for the people and its traditional ways will be
the source of much strength. The Sacred Megis will lead the way to the chosen
ground of the Anishinabe. You are to look for a turtle shaped island that
is linked to the purification of the earth. You will find such an island at
the beginning and end of your journey. There will be seven stopping places
along the way. You will know the chosen ground has been reached when you
come to a land where food grows on water. If you do not move you will be
In heeding this prophecy, the Anishinaabe peoples, after receiving guarantees
of the safety of their "Fathers" (the Abenaki peoples) and their "allied
brothers" (Mi'kmaq) of having the Anishinaabeg move inland, away from the
Atlantic coast, mass migration of the Anishinaabeg took place, proceeding
to the "First Stopping Place" known as Mooniyaang, known today as Montreal,
Quebec. There, the Nation found a "turtle-shaped island" marked by miigis
The Nation grew to a large number and spread up both Ottawa River and the
St. Lawrence River. The second of the "turtle-shaped island" marked by
miigis shells was at Niagara Falls. The life where people want to live.
“You will know the Second Fire because at this time the nation will
be camped by a large body of water. In this time the direction of the Sacred
Shell will be lost. The Midewiwin will diminish in strength. A boy will be
born to point the way back to the traditional ways. He will show the
direction to the stepping stones to the future of the Anishinabe people.”
The oral traditions of the members of Council of Three Fires say that the
realisation of the Second fire came about the "Third Stopping Place" located
somewhere near what now is Detroit, Michigan. The Anishinaabeg had divided
between those who went up Ottawa River and those that went up the
St. Lawrence River. After leaving the area about Niagara Falls, this group
proceeded to the "Round Lake" (Lake St. Clair) and found the third
"turtle-shaped island" marked by miigis shells. They continued westward
until arriving along the southern shores of Lake Michigan but by this time,
the evidence of the miigis shells were lost, and the southern Anishinaabeg
became "lost" both physically in their journey as well as spiritually in
their journey. The southern group of Anishinaabeg disintegrated into what
today are the Ojibwa, Odawa and the Potawatomi. The northern group along
the Ottawa River divided into Algonquin, Nipissing and the Mississaugas,
but they maintained cohesion that was not maintained by the southern group.
Eventually, a Potawatomi boy had a dream and pointed the southern group
back towards and past the "Round Lake". The southern group rejoined not as
a single Anishinaabe people hood but rather as a unified alliance called
Council of Three Fires. Travelling east and north, and then west, the
Council crossed a series of small islands known as "the stepping stones"
until they arrived onto Manitoulin island, described as the "Fourth
Stopping Place" of the "turtle-shaped island" marked by miigis shell.
There on the island, the Council met up with the Mississaugas, who then
spiritually fully re-aligned the formerly lost southern group with the
northern group who were never lost. The Odawa facilitated the "healing"
and the island became synonymous as the "Odawa's Island" in the Anishinaabe
“In the Third Fire the Anishinabe will find the path to their chosen
ground, a land in the west to which they must move their families. This will
be the land where food grows upon the waters. ”
From the cultural center on Manitoulin Island, the Ojibwe moved to the area
about Sault Ste. Marie, where there was the next "turtle-shaped island"
marked by miigis shell. Baawating or "The Rapids" of the Saint Marys River
became the "Fifth Stopping Place" of the Ojibwe. From this spot, the Ojibwe
and the rapids became synonymous with each other, with the Ojibwe known by
the Dakota peoples as Iyo-ḣaḣatoŋwaŋ ("cascading-waterfalls people") and
later by the French as Saulteurs ("cascaders") and Saulteaux ("cascades").
From here, the Ojibwe moved west, dividing into two groups, each travelling
along the shores of Lake Superior, searching for the "land where food grows
upon the waters".
The Fourth fire prophecy was delivered by a pair of prophets. The first
“You will know the future of our people by the face the light skinned
race wears. If they come wearing the face of brotherhood then there will
come a time of wonderful change for generations to come. They will bring
new knowledge and articles that can be joined with the knowledge of this
country. In this way, two nations will join to make a mighty nation. This
new nation will be joined by two more so that four will for the mightiest
nation of all. You will know the face of the brotherhood if the light
skinned race comes carrying no weapons, if they come bearing only their
knowledge and a hand shake. ”
The other prophet said,
“Beware if the light skinned race comes wearing the face of death.
You must be careful because the face of brotherhood and the face of death
look very much alike. If they come carrying a weapon ... beware. If they
come in suffering ... They could fool you. Their hearts may be filled with
greed for the riches of this land. If they are indeed your brothers, let
them prove it. Do not accept them in total trust. You shall know that the
face they wear is one of death if the rivers run with poison and fish
become unfit to eat. You shall know them by these many things.”
While at the "Fifth Stopping Place", the light-skinned people in big wooden
boats, known as the French arrived. Consequently the French were called
Wemitigoozhii ("wooden-boat people"). Though the French Crown was interested
in colonialism, as far as the Anishinaabeg were concerned, the French
appeared only interested in commerce and trade through mercantilism.
Together with the French, the Anishinaabeg formed trade alliances, which
not only extended French colonial powers into the heart of North America,
but strengthened the political and military might of the Anishinaabeg.
After the French came the Zhaaganaash ("Off-shore ones") of Great Britain.
But out of the Zhaaganaash came the Gichi-mookomaan ("Big-knives")—the
Virginians (i.e. Americans).
“In the time of the Fifth Fire there will come a time of great
struggle that will grip the lives of all native people. At the waning of
this Fire there will come among the people one who holds a promise of great
joy and salvation. If the people accept this promise of a new way and
abandon the old teachings, then the struggle of the Fifth Fire will be will
be with the people for many generations. The promise that comes will prove
to be a false promise. All those who accept this promise will cause the near
destruction of the people.”
“In the time of the Sixth Fire it will be evident that the promise
of the Fifth Fire came in a false way. Those deceived by this promise will
take their children aways from the teachings of the Elders. Grandsons and
granddaughters will turn against the Elders. In this way the Elders will
lose their reason for living ... they will lose their purpose in life. At
this time a new sickness will come among the people. The balance of many
people will be disturbed. The cup of life will almost become the cup of
The Seventh Prophet that came to the people long ago was said to be
different from the other prophets. This prophet was described as "young and
had a strange light in his eyes" and said:
“In the time of the Seventh Fire New People will emerge. They will
retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will
take them to the Elders who they will ask to guide them on their journey.
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 because
no one will ask anything of them. The New People will have to be careful in
how they approach the Elders. The task of the New People will not be easy.
If the New People will remain strong in their quest the Water Drum of the
Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice. There will be a rebirth of the
Anishinabe Nation and a rekindling of old flames. The Sacred Fire will again
It is this time that the light skinned race will be given a choice between
two roads. If they choose the right road, then the Seventh Fire will light
the Eighth and final Fire, an eternal fire of peace, love brotherhood and
sisterhood. If the light skinned race makes the wrong choice of the roads,
then the destruction which they brought with them in coming to this country
will come back at them and cause much suffering and death to all the Earth's
The Eighth Fire is a term arising from the teachings of the Seven fires
prophecy. The teaching suggests that if enough people—of all colors and
faiths—turn from materialism and instead choose a path of respect, wisdom
and spirituality, environmental and social catastrophe can be avoided, and
an era of spiritual illumination will unfold.
Most Anishinaabe Elders alive today who have awareness of the prophecy
believe that the false promise of the Fifth Fire is related to the
acceptance of Christianity, and to the Indian Residential Schools.
According to the Elders, Anishinaabe people are currently in the Seventh
Fire and major Earth changes are due to occur soon. According to other
Elders, the Seventh Fire has already come to pass and the Eight Fire has
been lit. However, a belief that is growing in popularity among younger
generations of Anishinaabe people is that the false promise of the Fifth
Fire is related to a widespread focus on attaining unique political rights,
as opposed to a focus on the civic and familial responsibilities enshrined
in the teaching of Dodem, the ancient Anishinaabe clan system. For these
younger generations, the Anishinaabe people are only on the verge of
lighting the Sixth Fire.
Our people have seen this falling away because many have accepted the false promises told about. We, as a people are now coming back to the teachings & ways of the ancestors. Of this I am thankful for.