In recent years, Indigenous knowledge has been increasingly sought out by conventional Western scientists and even the corporate world. Conversely, Indigenous advocates have been calling for a more holistic, inclusive and ecological path forward to help solve humanity’s most pressing challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss.
On March 27, 2023, youth activists with Indigenous Climate Action organized the webinar, “All Our Relations | Intersectionality and Prophecy” with Elders from around the world. They discussed Indigenous prophecy about the times we are in, and its relationship to intersectionality, meaning all our relations here on Earth. The webinar was dedicated to supporting knowledge sharing to youth from various Elders and Earth workers about what is happening here on Earth and how it includes all our relations.
The webinar welcomed Grandmother Dianne Ottereyes Reid, Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, Quebec; Mike Nadjiwon, clan of the Ojibway Nation and Midewiwin man based in Ontario; Pooven Moodley, Human Rights and Environmental Lawyer and social justice activist from South Africa; and Mindahi Bastida, Otomi-Toltec from the State of Mexico.
Prophecy is customarily an oral tradition kept safe by tribal Elders, who have protected this wisdom throughout colonization for the times we are in now. Indigenous groups, communities and collectives are doing the work to honour these prophecies, which are surprisingly similar across Indigenous Nations around the world – even those with no contact with each other. These prophecies are communications from the spiritual realms that are meant to provide guidance about how to live in balance with Mother Earth. In Indigenous culture, prophecy is not an idea or imagination, but rather the truth of what was told and foretold that is unfolding.
Mike Nadjiwon recounts that he did not know his Indigenous culture until he was a young adult and joined the Midewiwin Lodge. During the webinar, he was wearing a t-shirt that read “The Indigenous Strike Back” in a spoof of the Star Wars film, “The Empire Strikes Back”, which speaks to the empowerment and leadership of Indigenous voices in recent years and echoes some of what is said in Indigenous prophecy. Indeed, many Indigenous youth are relearning their culture and language from Elders, who were able to maintain some traditional knowledge amid persecution and cultural genocide. He says that this cultural genocide became a spiritual act to remove the spiritual connection from this Earth, a root cause of our modern challenges.
The Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor
One important Indigenous prophecy mentioned by Mindahi Bastida during the webinar was that of the Eagle and the Condor. The prophecy states that Indigenous people from North and South America will come together and collaborate to teach people how to live in peace and harmony with Father Sky and Mother Earth. He stressed that we must come together and listen to each other, as it is now time to act and there is no time for competition, only collaboration to acknowledge who we are in the concert of life, which is just another species on this Earth. We must think not only of the seven generations ahead of us but the ancestors guiding us on how to live in peace and harmony while acknowledging the sacredness of all life. He urges us to recover our place in the world and our collective dignity.
More on the Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor:
The dance of creation and destruction
Most Indigenous traditions do not regard time as linear, but rather as a spiral or a circular process. Mindahi Batisda discussed the cyclical nature of the dance of the universe and how Father Sun, Mother Moon and other celestial bodies are seen as guides: All in Father Sky is in sacred relationship to Mother Earth. Indigenous peoples have witnessed and observed these changes and dances of celestial bodies with Mother Earth for millennia. A prophecy he discussed was the return of the feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl, that came four times to the material world to help us live in harmony with nature and spirit. The prophecy says we are waiting for the fifth coming of Quetzalcoatl, but that it is very special this time as we have accomplished another 52,000,000-year cycle, and that there would be a “cleansing time” with the four sacred elements speaking to us, through floods, fires and earthquakes.
Pooven Moodley revisited the concept of the cycle or dance of destruction and creation, struggle and victory, as certain things must be destroyed for the rebirth of something new. The destruction of systems, ego and inequality is not necessarily a bad thing as there is opportunity in the time of rebirth. However, what we do with this time is crucial as we are at a crossroads, which can affect the future of humanity.
He warned that many of the Indigenous prophecies have been misinterpreted when seen from the ‘wrong lens’, such as the Western, anthropocentric way based on dominion over the natural world and extraction of resources. In Indigenous teachings, life is not a resource. Living in prophecy is living with the natural law of the universe and remembering who we are as human beings in line with the original principles of living in reciprocity and balance.
Grandmother Dianne Ottereyes Reid spoke of the end of an era of the patriarchy and re-emergence of fifth age under a matriarchy. She says there has been a great imbalance between the energy of masculine and feminine. Man and woman must create balance within themselves and walk together equally. She also discussed the Anishinaabe Seven Fires Prophecy of Turtle Island (aka North America).
More on the Seven Fires Prophecy:
“It is in 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 back with them, in coming to this country, will come back at them and cause much suffering and death to all of Earth’s children”From the 7 Fires Prophecy
Working together to restore balance on Earth
We are indeed at a crossroads and according to the Seven Fires Prophecy, humanity must reach out to the Earth people for their traditional knowledge in order to survive. Grandmother Dianne advises to find comfort in the belief that we all chose to be here for this exciting time, which is also a time of celebration. We must move beyond staying in the density of suffering and pain and hear the voice of our ancestors and their guidance for the future and pay close attention to spirit talking to us.
The Elders have communicated these prophecies so that people can come out of the fear, despair, stress and anxiety, and understand that we can move beyond this time of darkness that was prophesied and that there is great hope for the next generations. We live in this period when Elders are able to share this traditional knowledge, which had to be kept secret for so long.
There is unity in diversity: The Elders stressed that we cannot achieve this new world if there is no inclusivity. If we can accept people as they are, they too can find inner peace and blossom to become leaders so that we can work as one to restore balance on Earth.
They closed the dialogue with words of advice for us all to look inward, walk with dignity and pride of who we are and find our place in the circle of life. We are part of a beautiful future and must walk together as waves of the same ocean.