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This teaching tells us about understanding the boundaries that exist between ourselves and others. Respect is about listening to girls and women and honouring them as a sacred part of creation.

To Honour All Of Creation Is To Have Respect


Understanding Boundaries

One important way to respect yourself and others is to set strong healthy boundaries around yourself and your life. A boundary is like an invisible line around you. It is what separates you from other people. It is the line between what you are comfortable with and what you are uncomfortable with, what is acceptable to you and what is unacceptable to you. Boundaries help protect not only our physical safety, but also our emotional well being. Healthy boundaries are flexible. For example, you might open your boundaries to let people you trust closer to you – you might share more information with them and feel more comfortable being physically close to them. With people you don’t know as well or people you distrust, you will probably keep your boundaries closed more tightly by not getting too personal.


Boundaries aren’t just for controlling which people we want to be close to us. Healthy boundaries allow us to control all sorts of things in our lives, including our own behaviour and which behaviours we will accept from others. For example, a person may be comfortable with kissing her partner in public, but “draw the line” at her partner touching her in a sexual way in front of other people. That “line” is her boundary. Abuse happens when one person violates another person’s boundaries.


Think about your boundaries around physical touch, sexual behaviour, language, morals and values


Listening to Girls and Women

Who knows better about violence against Aboriginal women than women who experience it?

Learn about violence by asking a woman or girl who trusts you how violence has affected her life. Then, if she feels comfortable to talk, sit back and listen. Your role isn’t to challenge her on the details, nor to debate whether something really should have bothered her or not. It is to listen. Simply trust that if she tells you something hurt her, then it did hurt her.

Buffalo Woman Brings the Pipe

Two young men were hunting when a beautiful woman came toward them. She wore all white buckskin and had a bundle on her back. One of the young men began to have lustful thoughts of her, but when he told his friend he answered only that he must not have such thoughts because this woman had to be wakan (sacred). As she came closer, they could see she shone and the lustful young man wanted her. The youth who had lustful thoughts went to her. At once a great mist arose and when it died down there was nothing left of him but his bones.

Now she spoke to the youth that had respected her coming. Return to your people and tell your chief to prepare a large tipi. Here he must gather the people and wait for my coming. I must tell you something of great importance to your people. When he returned the young man told the chief all he was told. The chief took down three tipis and they made one great tipi where all his people could gather.

A person was sent out to gather all the people. They wore their best robes and buckskin and waited for the holy woman. Soon the youth who had been given the task of watching for the wakan woman announced that they could see something in the distance. Suddenly she was in the lodge and she walked around sun-wise toward the chief.

She took a bundle from her back and holding it with both hands in front of the chief she said, “Behold this gift I give you and always love it, it is lela wakan (very sacred) and must be treated with respect.” She took the pipe from the bundle, “No impure man can see this and you will send your voices to your grandfather, Wakan Tanka. The bowl of the pipe is of the earth. Your Mother. The stem is of wood and represents all that stands upon the earth. And the twelve feathers that hang from it are of the Spotted Eagle, and they represent the eagle and all the winged creatures of the air. When you smoke from the pipe, all these things are joined and together you send your voices to the Great Mystery (Wakan Tanka). She then showed the people how to use the pipe and the way to pray with it. “Behold this pipe! Always remember how sacred it is and treat it as such. Remember in me there are four ages and I will look back upon your people in every age, and one day I will return.”

Moving around the lodge in a sun-wise manner she left, but after walking a short way she turned toward the people and sat down. When she arose she was a red calf and brown. Then she walked a little further and sat down again. This time she became a white buffalo. She set off again only to stop and roll on the ground. Now she had become a black buffalo. This buffalo then walked further away from the people, and after bowing to each direction, disappeared. Since then the Lakota have used the pipe.

Lakota oral teaching; from, Inside the Circle: Kehewin Native Educational Manual compiled by Rosa John.







Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres Pallas Communications