"L'éveil au Cercle" - "Awakening to the Circle"

Monday, May 10, 2010



The Tipi of the Plains was a portable conical structure. It was covered with well-made buffalo hides sewn together with sinew. This conical-shaped dwelling probably evolved from the dome-shaped dwelling that was made by bending willows into an arch shape, like a sweat lodge, but bigger, and then putting a cover over it.

The tipi was practical for buffalo hunters on the prairies who moved from place to place.

The tipi was easy to dismantle and the poles became part of the travois.

When the horse was introduced the tipis became larger and more elaborate, and the number of foundation poles was more consistently patterned.

The fifteen poles represent the following values:

1. Obedience: We learn by listening to traditional stories; by
listening to our parents or guardians, our fellow students and our Teachers.
We learn by their behaviours and their reminders, so that we know what is right and what is wrong.

2. Respect: We must give honour to our Elders and fellow students and the strangers that come to visit our community. We must honour other peoples' basic rights.

3. Humility: We 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 majestic expanse of Creation. "We
are just a strand in a web of life," and we respect and value life.

4. Happiness: We must show some enthusiasm to encourage others at
social functions. Our actions will make our ancestors happy in the next

5. Love: If 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
ind and good to one another.

6. Faith: We must learn to believe and trust others, to believe in a
power greater than ourselves whom we worship and who gives us
strength to be a worthy member of the human race.

7. Kinship: Our family is important to us. This includes our
parents, our brothers and sisters who love us and gives us roots, the roots
that tie us to the life blood 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.

8. Cleanliness: We must learn not to inflict ills on others, for we
do it to ourselves. Clean thoughts come from a clean mind and this
comes from Indian spirituality. Good health habits also reflect a
clean mind.

9. Thankfulness: We learn to give thanks for all the kind things
others do for us and for the Creator's bounty, that we are priviledged to
share with others in the spirit of love.

10. Sharing: We 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.

11. Strength: We must learn to be patient in times of trouble and
not to complain but to endure and show understanding. We must accept
difficulties and tragedies so that we may give others strength to accept
their own difficulties and tragedies.

12. Good Child Rearing: Children are unique and blessed with the
gift of life. We are responsible for their well-being, spiritually,
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.

13. Hope: We must hope for better things to make life easier for us,
our families and the community, both materially and spiritually.

14. Ultimate Protection: The ultimate responsibility to achieve is
"health for a balanced caring for the body, mind, emotions and the
spirit of the individual, the family, the community and the nation."

15. Control Flaps: We are all connected by relationships and we
depend on each other. This controls and creates harmony in the circle of life.

Summary: Using the Tipi structure as a symbol.

"All life is sacred and all things are connected." We are all one
family, of one heart. We do not live on this earth to dominate it.
We are here to share the earth's bounty.
We are here to care for our mother earth.

We strive to live in harmony with one another and with all creation
around us in this circle of life. In a circle no one is above another.
There is a sense of belonging to a family and to a community and
roots in a national identity.

Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre / July 2001

(Courtesy of Ron 'Bigbear' Goddard)

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