The seven fires : the lifelong process of growth and learning as explained by Saulteaux Elder Danny Musqua
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This paper presents a general overview of human development from the perspective of an Aboriginal worldview through the teachings of Elder Danny Musqua. This paper is an attempt to provide a summary guideline of these teachings - and not a comprehensive explanation - surveying seven primary stages of human development that constitute the totality of this knowledge base. The knowledge and practice of human development from this perspective is so vast and complex that it would require years of exhaustive study and research to adequately represent this body of knowledge in a comprehensive way. After all, Aboriginal people have acquired this knowledge from childhood through the lifelong process of experiential learning and the oral tradition. Articulating this knowledge in written form is a new and challenging approach. This understanding of human development stems from pre-contact knowledge systems which existed in North America that are as complex and vast as any other traditions of learning in the world. Sharing in this way is timely as enormous and vast amounts of knowledge have been lost in other areas under the impact of modem technology. The oral tradition is the research methodology employed for the purpose of this project. The oral tradition is an age-old process for transmitting and preserving the knowledge of a people and, in the Aboriginal world, is still considered an important guide to learning. There are a variety of reasons that have made this project seem purposeful, such as the endorsement of Aboriginal knowledge and the methods and principles for sharing that knowledge in the education process; the validation of a subjugated, experiential based knowledge; an Elder as a primary source in the acknowledgement of the oral tradition as research methodology; the development of a resource that can be used for education and research purposes; and the development of a forum in which the Elder's vital role as teacher and guide can be shared in a contemporary way.