Indigenous culture is incredibly culturally diverse. You can travel all over the world and find many different Indigenous people. And each of those areas diverses even further, until you have a vast network of Indigenous culture.
In Canada alone, there are over 600 bands and over 2,000 reserves. I’m from Curve Lake First Nation which is one of the 2,000 reserves.
Each one has a unique history that has shaped the cultural identity of its people and the teachings they pass down from generation to generation.
Let’s dive into 3 different reasons Indigenous teachings are so diverse.
Reason #1 They Come From Many Different Tribes And Nations
There are many groups of Indigenous people and each tribe, nation, and band of Indigenous people have their own culture, traditions, worldviews, language, and lifestyles.
Because of this, there is a huge cultural diversity that you must be aware of in order to understand where Indigenous teachings come from and why they can be completely different depending on who you are talking to -- not only just in Canada, but across the world.
In each of these groups of Indigenous people, teachings were historically shared by the Elders of the community. This helps develop the spiritual, social, cultural, and educational background of each group. Elders guard these teachings for their communities and distribute information.
So, you can see why each tribe or nation of Indigenous people might have their own teachings, depending on where they are from, their history, their Elders, their lifestyle, and any number of other factors.
Reason #2 Teachings Are Formed Based On The Territory Of Each Tribe
Environment is a big part of what shapes Indigenous culture and teachings. The land is so important and sacred to Indigenous people that it completely shapes each community.
Each tribe is from a different territory with different ecosystems and different ways of life. This forms what they teach and how they teach future generations.
Different territories have different natural resources, different views surrounding the land, different native plants and animals, and so much more.
Where Indigenous people come from is a big part of what shapes Indigenous teachings. There are so many places in the world and so many different tribes and groups of Indigenous people that there can be a limitless number of beliefs and teachings!
That is another reason why Indigenous teachings differ so greatly from place to place -- because each group’s teachings are shaped by where they come from and the land they reside on.
Reason #3 Teachings Are Based On The Lifestyle Of Each Tribe, Which Often Dates Back Centuries
Indigenous teachings are also formed by the values, beliefs, customs, and lifestyles of the tribes.
Most Indigenous cultures have very similar core values and beliefs. In Canada, many tribes have similar teachings. For example, the medicine wheel (also known as the Sacred Hoops or Circles) teaching and the 7 Grandfather Teachings are core teachings of most tribes in Canada.
However, they are each taught in different variations, depending on the specific tribe. Each variation has its own value and there is no one right or wrong way of teaching.
Indigenous teachings are shaped by the people who teach them; their values, their beliefs, and the life they have lived. In this way, no two teachings will ever be the same, even if they are based on the same guiding principles.
There are so many factors that shape Indigenous culture and teachings that it is easy to see why teachings might differ so greatly from place to place and people to people.
The important thing is to acknowledge and respect that not all Indigenous people, beliefs, or teachings are the same and to learn about the people you are talking to or connecting with, as no two Indigenous people will have the exact same experience.
It’s this diversity that makes Indigenous culture so beautiful!