Seven Grandfathers

Once there was a child. Though she was very young, the patriarchs of her tribe sought to teach her how to live as a human being in a world that can be imperfect, sometimes sad. They knew that if she lived by the precepts they offered she would be able to overcome all darkness. So, one by one the seven grandfathers of her tribe met with the girl privately to offer their distinguished tutelage.

The first grandfather taught the child wisdom. The word wisdom encompassed intelligence and knowledge. The child left this grandfather with an increase in her capacity to learn and understand. The second grandfather taught her zealous love, which must be reciprocated. The girl left with a fire burning in her heart. The third grandfather taught her respect. He told her she must honor all creation. The fourth grandfather taught her bravery. She left him feeling courageous, as though any foe she might face would be minuscule in the light of her surpassing power.

The girl went home to ponder these things in her heart. The next day, another grandfather came to her. He taught her honesty, which can also be translated as righteousness. The sixth grandfather taught humility, which is “to know yourself as a sacred part of creation.” The child left knowing she was equal to others, but not better. The last of the grandfathers imparted the child with the greatest gift he could give her: truth. He knew that for her to be successful, she must speak the truth to others, but first and foremost, she must speak the truth into her own heart.

Special Thanks:

Misty Lynn Ellingburg (Shoalwater Bay) is a student at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in English (concentration Literature) and minoring in Professional Writing. She has two brothers and two sisters--Brandt, Shana, Hope, and Hunter. Her mom, Lory, is a Tribal artist, and her dad, Todd, is becoming fluent in Salish, a local Tribal language. Her favorite Native writers are Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, and Sherman Alexie. She even met Mr. Alexie in Seattle at a book reading where she got his autograph and a picture taken together.


Dear Auntie, My family are decendants of the indigenous population in Oaxaca, Mexico. My teacher said I am considered native american? Is this true?