The Seven Laws of the Great Spirit
“We have seven laws to guide us and advise us in our daily lives. The whites have ten called “commandments,” another example of English as military language, and it doesn’t sound good in song. Our languages are soft and musical, but we do the best we can to make things clear and to educate people in English.
We were given the code, the seven laws, by the Great Spirit himself a long time ago. An old Indian man who’s been gone for many years gave it to me a long time ago. I’d almost forgotten it, but then as I thought about it, it came back to me slowly but surely.
Number one is respect for proper authority. Our Native way of life teaches us respect for grandparents, chiefs, medicine people, and for Grandmother Moon, Mother Earth, and everything that has life. We are a law abiding people; I’ve sat on a few of our courts, In a small case there would be one judge reaching agreement with both parties in the contest. In a big case like murder or rape, three judges would reach agreement with both parties in contest. There was no appeal except going to the chief’s council, but because everything started out with an agreement for justice, the appeal didn’t usually do any good because the intent was to avoid having to put up with somebody wanting to overrule or destroy their own.
Number two is to preserve and promote the beauties of nature. I don’t believe there is anything like this in the books of Christians, Buddhists, or Muslims, but there should be.
Number three is to judge with kindness and wisdom. The white man’s bible tells you not to judge. Our law is to judge but with kindness and wisdom. Even a little baby starts to judge when it’s born about whether it’s hungry or wants a diaper change, and it will let you know. Great Spirit gave us a brain to use to exercise good judgment, whether it’s about a job or a relationship. We should use judgment in our daily lives so that we are not gullible or taken advantage of.
Number four is moderation in all things. We say that if it helps, it is good. We’re not told don’t do this or don’t do that, but rather to exercise moderation, and that covers a lot. We don’t want to be extremists, and this takes us out of the category of being fanatics.
Number five is to play fair in the game of life. It is not fair to take advantage of old people, women, or children. It is not fair to invade someone else’s land or home and demand that they fight you for it. Beating up your neighbors is not fair. Filling food with preservatives and drinking water with chemicals is not fair.
Number six is that a person’s word of honor is sacred. The United States government doesn’t make treaties with counties or states, only with sovereign nations. There were three hundred and ninety-seven treaties in the United States with Indians. All were broken by the government. We are asking these people to be honorable, to stop lying and stealing and breaking treaties. We have to be honorable ourselves if we wish for others to be honest. We have always kept our word, kept our treaties, because it was in our teachings.
Number seven is respect for differences, the basis of Indian teachings. Everything we do in our way of life has to be based on respect for other people and all living things. The Great Spirit made people of different colors like flowers. There are red flowers, white flowers, black flowers, and yellow flowers. These flowers all make us feel good when we look at them, and this is the way it is supposed to be when we walk among other people—we should walk with courtesy and respect, and never with aggression or lies because of their color or nationality. We should only think of beautiful things when we look at other people. People are not all the same, maybe someday we will be, but in any event that’s the white man’s propaganda. don’t believe it. The Creator made us in different colors, different nationalities, and that is the way he intended us to be. The same force put all of us here; all of us are supposed to live and bloom just like the flowers. We know that we all belong here in all our differences, and that we must get along with each other. It would be mighty boring if everyone looked alike.”