Good Day! We hope that everyone is staying safe and well.
These are unprecedented times as we learn to live with COVID-19. Some believe that the pandemic will remain until 2022. First Nations peoples know that their ancestors experienced pandemics which was devastating for many populations and Nations. Our ancestors were strong. They used their traditional knowledge of the land, water, trees, animals, and plants which was acquired over a lifetime through observation, practice, and patience. They knew the medicines that came from the earth. Many carry that knowledge forward with them today. And with the onset of COVID-19, many people have returned to the land to (re)learn the medicines.
The Yellowhead Institute is a First Nation-led research centre based in the Faculty of Arts Ryerson University in Toronto. Their website states: “[The Yellowhead Institute] privileges First Nation philosophy and [is] rooted in community networks, Yellowhead is focused on policies related to land and governance. The Institute offers critical and accessible resources for communities in their pursuit of self-determination.” The institute is headed by Dr. Hayden King, an Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi’mnissing in Huronia, Ontario. The Yellowhead Institute partnered with Anishinaabe artist, language and knowledge-keeper, Isaac Murdoch, to produce a short video titled “Covid-19: First Nation Pandemic Prophecies.”
The animated video with art and narration by Isaac Murdoch is two minutes and forty-eight seconds in length. Isaac shares a story about how his ancestors foretold the pandemic taking place today. He provides the Anishinaabemowin word for “things to come” (in his dialect). And he also talks about the people self-isolating on the land and utilizing medicine(s) from the land to protect themselves.
Today, First Nations peoples practice various belief systems but continue to value the knowledge and the ways of ancestors. They were doctors, scientists, philosophers, agriculturalists, astronomers, and so much more. They would not have had the scientific tools and technologies to study these areas. They gained expertise in their gifted area of knowledge over a lifetime of observation, practice, and patience. This was an education system. It was a system of Life Long Learning.
In Isaac Murdoch’s description of the video, he states: “We felt it was important to get the message out that traditional knowledge plays an important role in ensuring safety and security from covid 19. Together when we use the teachings of the past along with current strategies, we can make a difference and make our families and communities safe. The Land has all the answers” (source: yellowheadinstitute.org). Locally, this rings true as well because many people have said that they remember family, grandparents, or Elders sharing stories about things to come and the importance of respecting nature. These stories and teachings continue as many navigate through today’s world.
FNT2T Life Long Learning has no affiliation with or to The Yellowhead Institute or the video project, but it is a important project that speaks to the knowledge of First Nations (Anishinaabe) peoples and ancestors. For those interested, the video can be found: https://yellowheadinstitute.org/2020/04/24/fn-pandemic-prophecies/
Take care and stay safe. Renew and revitalize.
Source: Yellowhead Institute, “Anishinaabe Pandemic Prophecies” by Isaac Murdoch, accessed on 28 Aug 2020.