Shared by Mr. Robert Badger
Our people had ways of settling disagreements and grievances. As Indigenous people our ways of knowing are very unique in the sense that everything we do is based on and revolves around ceremony.
When I was a very young boy I was fortunate enough to witness a very special ceremony that happened once a year. So as a part of the cycles of the seasons and nature this happened in the spring time. The Elders and community members came together and it was to cleanse and make things right. So if anyone had grievances or experienced an exchange of words throughout the past year, this was the time to take care of that conflict. The sacred pipe was loaded and the oskapawis “fire keeper/ceremony helper” was asked to set a knife or axe in the middle. As a part of the ceremony the parties were asked to express their grievances towards one another. Then they were asked if you wanted to use this weapon on each other. Of course it was a symbol and used as a metaphor to take care of business in a respectful, honourable manner. The one time I saw the axe being used, the men told their stories and one got up and took the axe, turned it around and tapped the other man on the shoulder. Elders laughed, shook hands and carried on with the ceremony. Also, some elders would say “if I offend you with my words and teachings in anyway, take this knife and use it on me.” So it was used as a challenge to any personal bias that anyone had towards traditional teachings and the message of the ki-chi-anishinabeak.