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The Seventh Generation

“Oren Lyons observes that the first mandate of traditional Haudenosaunee [Iroquois] chiefs is to ensure that their decision-making is guided by consideration of the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to come:  'What about the seventh generation?  Where are you taking them?  What will they have? (Lyons 1980, p. 174).' 

"The seventh generation principle applies to the ancestors as well.  In honoring the ancestors, one expresses gratitude to them as the seventh generation, which they kept foremost in their decision making and for whom they sacrificed.  As a general injunction to live responsibly and respectfully, and as a practical guide to specific moral decision-making, the seventh generation principle may be without equal:

"'We say that the faces of coming generations are looking up from the earth.  So when you put your feet down, you put them down very carefully - because there are generations coming one after the other.  If you think in these terms, then you'll walk a lot more carefully, be more respectful of this earth (Lyons 1995).'”

- Oren Lyons
Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Chief

Quoted from Whitt et al. (2001).


References

Lyons O  (1980)  An Iroquois Perspective.  Pp. 171-174 in American Indian Environments: Ecological Issues in Native American History. Vecsey C, Venables RW (Editors).  Syracuse University Press, New York

Lyons O  (1995)  A Gathering for the Earth (National Earth Day Video Conference).  Project Earthlink, Washington DC

Whitt LA, Roberts M, Norman W, Grieves V  (2001)  Indigenous Perspectives.  Pp. 3-20 in A Companion to Environmental Philosophy. Dale Jamieson, Editor.  Blackwell Publishers, UK


Photograph:  "Looking On" by Anita B. Patterson (USA), portrait of an American Indian girl observing.

 

 

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