Code of Ethics for Native People

By Mary Lou Smoke - Written and produced by the Native News Network of Canada Anishinabek News February 1999

  1. GIVE THANKS Each morning when you awake and before you go to sleep in the evening, give thanks to the Creator for this beautiful life that we have. Honour the Creator by offering some sacred semma (tobacco) that has been given to us as one of our medicines by laying it down on the ground when you pray. Give thanks for all the good things that the Creator has blessed you with and pray for others who are not as fortunate.
    Think of all the things that you have accomplished yesterday, and if it wasn't a productive day ask for the courage and the strength to try harder. Be a better person. Ask not for prayers just for yourself, but for others. Save asking for prayers for yourself for last or not at all.
  2. BE RESPECTFUL Every person from the littlest baby to the frailest elder deserves to be treated with respect at all times. Never touch anyone's sacred objects unless you have permission. Speak highly of others as if they were in your presence - never put anyone down.
    Listen politely to what others have to say - even if it is not something that you feel is not worthwhile or meaningful. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion and should have an opportunity to share it. You must learn to listen and listen well. We have to learn what the Elders have to teach us.
  3. BE THANKFUL AND HONOURABLE - at all times - not just when you know that your behaviour is being observed.
  4. HONOUR YOUR GUESTS When company comes to your house, bring out your finest china and best blankets. Offer them the use of your moccasins if you have extra ones. Bake your best bread and pastries. Serve the finest that you have to offer.
  5. WELCOME NEWCOMBERS AND OUTSIDERS with a loving heart and as a part of your extended family.
  6. SEE THE BEAUTY IN ALL PEOPLE We are all individual and unique, like a meadow of flowers. When we are gathered together we become one beautiful bouquet of flowers and should be respected as we are all fragile.
  7. SERVE OTHERS Help your family members and your community. Volunteer your services. The main reason we, Anishinawbe people are placed here on Turtle Island is to help each other survive. True happiness comes to those who dedicate their lives to helping others.
  8. MODERATION AND BALANCE Make sure that your life balanced emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.
  9. IDENTIFY BAD AND GOOD Learn to identify your reaction to things. Smoking that one cigarette could lead to smoking cartons and cartons. Having that one sip of alcohol could lead to years of unsuccessful attempts at trying to quit again.
  10. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART If something that someone is doing does not seem right or feel right - leave. I have always been a firm believer of gut instinct. If it doesn't feel right in your heart then it probably isn't. Most of us are taught to think with our trained brains and our intuition is seldom used.


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