World View and Beliefs
Saulteaux Believed that the Creator was just that, the
being who created everything, including the earth itself.
The Saulteaux called this being Kitse-manito or Great
Spirit. They believed that the Great Spirit lived in the
sky to watch over his children. During prayer, one did
not directly involve Kitse-manito into their blessings.
It was thought that he was too powerful to be directly
involved with the affairs of man (as man was viewed as
one of the less important creatures of the earth). Instead
prayer was given to the animal spirits which were thought
to have served the Great Spirit in his affairs. The animal
spirits that were prayed to were thought to carry the
prayers to Kitse-manito much like Christian religion views
Jesus Christ as carrying prayer to God.
is common with most First Nations, the belief in the Great
Spirit is not atomistic but holistic. This means that
the Great Spirit is everywhere at every time. Each and
every day, The teachings of the Great Spirit are integrated
into the teachings of life. Most behaviour in daily life
was accompanied by some sort of spiritual gratitude (no
matter how seemingly insignificant). This constant giving
of thanks better reinforces the concept of holism in Saulteaux
society. One of the most important aspects of spiritual
worship was the giving of thanks for the many gifts the
Great Spirit bestowed upon the Earth.
thing that is a consistent in Saulteaux culture (and many
other First Nation's cultures) is the number four. The
gifts that were given to the earth, and all that dwell
on it, seem to be in fours. The Saulteaux believe that
without these gifts, the earth could not come into being
and the creatures upon it as well. Each gift is no more
important than the other is because it is believed that
without one the other could not come into being (balance).
gifts would be the elements; there are four that exist
to sustain life: rock, fire, wind, and water. The rock
is the element that is believed to give the Saulteaux
people strength. It is seen as what the earth is made
out of (indestructible) and therefore viewed and respected
in such a manner. Fire is the element that was given to
man to survive. It helps one stay warm especially during
the intensely cold winters. At times fire was the determining
factor between survival and death. This is why fire is
revered as such a powerful element and also such a precious
gift. The wind is the element that represents the life
force that we breathe. Without breathing a man can exist
for only a very short while (minutes). The air is also
a precious gift that is not to be taken lightly. Water
is the element that represents life itself, without water
nothing could live. Since man relies on earth's creatures
for its well being, water is seen as a precious gift.
next group of four gifts is related to the elements. They
are the sun, earth, stars, and moon. The sun is the gift
that gives life to ALL. The sun is responsible for giving
all living things their life force and also gives heat
to keep the creatures of the earth warm. The sun is seen
as a representation of Kitsi-manito and as such is revered
greatly. The earth is viewed as a maternal figure (Mother
Earth) because the earth gives the power of growth and
life from out of it. The earth represents a woman because
it constantly gives birth. The stars are a gift of guidance
and direction (the four directions). They led travellers
on a path that was true. The stars symbolised the direction
that one was supposed travel in his/her lifetime (living
righteously). The stars were also thought to be the ancestors
(grandmothers and grandfathers) of the Saulteaux. The
moon is a representation of the cycles that are a part
of existence (lifecycle, seasons, etc). It provides us
with a sense of time (of year). The moon cycles (new moon,
quarter moon, half moon, full moon) govern the behaviour
of the earth's creatures.
with the moon, all forms and function in life are viewed
to travel and progress in cycles. But we must not forget
the number four as well in Saulteaux ideology. This number
is very significant in all aspects and cycles of life.
· 4 stages of man (baby, child, adult, and Elder)
· 4 races of man (First Nations, European, Oriental,
· 4 human elements (physical, mental, emotional,
· 4 directions (north, east, south, west)
· 4 seasons (spring, summer, autumn, and winter)
fact that these occur in cycles (infinite) reinforces
the fact that renewal is a constant part of Saulteaux
of the creatures of the Earth
are seen to be four types of plant life. It should be
known that plants were seen to have a soul just as any
other living creature on the earth. The four types of
plant life were trees, grasses, flowers, and vegetables.
The trees were seen as the provider of shelter and other
tools that were crafted from them. This resource wasn't
merely used and disregarded or taken for granted. Thanks
were always given and tobacco always offered to the spirit
of the tree that gave its existence for the protection
and survival of the people. The grasses of the land played
an important role as well. Grass fed the buffalo, one
of the most important resources to the Plains Indian.
Sweetgrass, a very sacred plant, was also used for prayer
and ceremony. Both man and animal for survival used the
flower. The Saulteaux used flowers for such things as
flavour in tea and other cuisine. Animals used flowers
for food (e.g. Insects, deer, etc). The vegetables that
surrounded the Saulteaux people were used for food.
animals of the land played one of the most important roles
around. This was so because their actions directly affected
the environment around them. The animals of the land were
divided into four types: four legged, two legged, winged,
and aquatic. It was the duty of the four and two legged
creatures of the land to take care of it. These creatures
were appointed by Kitsi-manito to be the caretakers of
the earth. The winged creatures of the earth were seen
to have the responsibility of being the caretakers of
the sky. As with the land and air, there were also seen
to be caretakers of the water. These creatures included
the fish and other aquatic creatures (beaver, muskrat,
single living being on earth depends on Mother Earth for
their survival. She is seen as the Grandest Mother of
all living things. The Saulteaux people are thankful for
what Mother Earth provides for them. Such things as food,
shelter, clothing, medicine, and tools would not be here
if it weren't for Mother Earth creating them. Without
such resources the Saulteaux would not survive. This is
why such gratitude and reverence is given to Mother Earth.
were (and still are) many ways for the Saulteaux people
to give thanks to Kitsi-manito and Mother Earth. Such
ceremonies were the sweat lodge ceremony, pipe ceremony,
rain dance, sun dance, and council dance.
is a system of philosophies that govern the manner in
which First Nation come to treat the earth, its creatures
and fellow man. There are twelve such philosophies.
learn by listening to traditional stories. By listening
to our parents or guardians, our fellow students and our
teachers. We learn by their behaviors and their reminders,
so that we know what is right and what is wrong.
family is important to us. This includes our parents,
our brothers and sisters who love us and give us roots,
the roots that tie us to the lifeblood of the earth. It
also includes extended family: Grandparents, aunts, uncles
and cousins and their in-laws and children. These are
also our brothers and sisters and they give us a sense
of belonging to a community.
must give honour to our Elders and fellow students and
the strangers that come into our community. We must honour
other peoples' rights.
are not above or below others in the circle of life. We
feel humbled when we understand our relationship with
Creation. We are so small compared to the expanse of Creation.
"We are just a strand in the web of life," and
we respect and value life.
must learn to be patient in times of trouble and not to
complain but to endure and show under standing. We must
accept difficulties and tragedies so that we may give
others strength to accept their own tragedies and difficulties.
we are to live in harmony we must accept one another as
we are and to accept others who are not in our circle.
Love means to be kind and good to one another.
learn to be part of the family by helping in providing
food or other basic needs. This is sharing responsibilities
in order to enjoy them.
must show enthusiasm to encourage others at social functions.
Our actions will make our ancestors happy in the next
must learn to believe and trust one another, to believe
in a power greater than ourselves whom we worship and
who gives us strength to be a worthy member of the human
must learn not to inflict ills on others, for if we do
it to ourselves. Clean thoughts come from a clean mind
and this comes from First Nation's spirituality. Good
health habits also reflect a clean mind
learn to give thanks for all the kind things that others
do for us and for the Creator's bounty, which we are privileged
to share with others in the spirit of love.
are unique and blessed with the gift of life. We are responsible
for their well being, spirituality, emotionally, physically
and for their intellectual development. They represent
the continuity of our circle of life, which we perceive
to be the Creator's will.
must hope for better things to make life easier for us,
our families and the community, both materially and spiritually.
are many stories and legends that the Saulteaux people
have come to know. These stories reinforce the oral culture
that First Nation's people have come to identify with
over time. The basis of an oral culture to the Saulteaux
is that language is a gift from Kitsi-manito. It is seen
as a gift because it was observed that no other creature
could talk like man. The Saulteaux see the gift of language
as a means to communicate with Kitsi-manito. It (language)
was seen as a gift also because the stories that were
told in their culture were a means to establish social
expectations and norms. Such legends and stories were
the basis for a code of morals and beliefs that the Saulteaux
people lived by. Such are the stories of Nanabush and
should be known that the laws and beliefs depicted in
this work are not a hierarchy. According to the Saulteaux
culture, all of the things that exist on the earth are
equally important to Kitsi-manito. The relationships that
exist in the world were viewed more so as a web than a
hierarchy. Without one gift or creature on earth we could
not have the others. The teachings of the Great Spirit
dictated that everything must achieve a sense of balance
and harmony with the others.
of all the aspects (gifts) mentioned in this work, man
is the least important of them all. Man is seen to have
no effect on the great cycles of life and as such is deemed
to take care of the creations brought forth for him.