The Seventh Generation
Lyons observes that the first mandate of traditional Haudenosaunee
[Iroquois] chiefs is to ensure that their decision-making is guided by
consideration of the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to
come: 'What about the seventh generation? Where are you taking them?
What will they have? (Lyons 1980, p. 174).'
"The seventh generation
principle applies to the ancestors as well. In honoring the
ancestors, one expresses gratitude to them as the seventh generation,
which they kept foremost in their decision making and for whom they
sacrificed. As a general injunction to live responsibly and
respectfully, and as a practical guide to specific moral decision-making,
the seventh generation principle may be without equal:
"'We say that the faces of coming
generations are looking up from the earth. So when you put your feet
down, you put them down very carefully - because there are generations
coming one after the other. If you think in these terms, then you'll
walk a lot more carefully, be more respectful of this earth (Lyons 1995).'”
- Oren Lyons
Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Chief
Quoted from Whitt et al. (2001).
Lyons O (1980) An Iroquois Perspective. Pp. 171-174 in
American Indian Environments: Ecological Issues in Native American History.
Vecsey C, Venables RW (Editors). Syracuse University Press, New York
Lyons O (1995) A Gathering for the Earth (National Earth
Day Video Conference). Project Earthlink, Washington DC
Whitt LA, Roberts M, Norman W,
Grieves V (2001) Indigenous Perspectives. Pp. 3-20 in A Companion to Environmental Philosophy. Dale Jamieson,
Editor. Blackwell Publishers, UK
Photograph: "Looking On"
by Anita B. Patterson (USA), portrait of an American Indian girl observing.