SOCIAL VALUES EXPRESSED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE INDIAN COMMUNITY
There is a sense that all things are related, not just people, and there is a level of equality
even among the things we think are inanimate. “For all my relatives” includes the entire
creation. The earth is animate. Among the Ojibwa, everything with a shadow is
considered alive and is treated with respect. What is alive has the right to life. If a life is
taken (for example for food), it must be recognized and accorded respect. Because of this
our destiny is to contribute to the harmony of the earth by assisting all living things.
The extended family is central to the Indian way of life. It supersedes all other
relationships and envelopes all challenges and social problems.
At the same time support and awareness of the difficulties of others within the Indian
community is important.
Generosity with material goods and sharing is part of living in community.
Respect for individual decisions is paramount even when individuals do not agree. This
allows people to set their own direction without interference. It is different than the
American value of “rugged individualism” of the Nineteenth Century. It is individualism
Generosity, sharing, and honor for the old, wise and the brave
Among the Indian males there is a deep value for the warrior so a proportionately large
number of Indian males have joined the military services.
Indians are guardians and transmitters of our heritage. They do this with humility and
justice to show respect for cultural diversity and to build trust through our dialogue.
They make decisions through dialogue. This often involves the entire community and is
directed by elders, many of whom are women.
Much of the community’s wisdom comes through traditional stories. The oral culture
uses the story, often with animals and nature, as protagonists who give life lessons to
humans. There is also a tradition of prophecy that comes through dreams and visions: for
example Nicholas Black Elk, a Catholic Catechist, Chief Seattle, and the Midé
prophecies of the Seventh Generation.
Respect for the land and the cycles of nature demands a level of awareness and care that
are values for the Indian people.
There is a cultural aspect to humor that is used even in the most difficult times.