Seventh Generation

The piece of information that provided a lot incentive for me to find out more about my family history was a copy of a descendant list which included two direct ancestors seven generations from myself. At the time that felt like a long time in the past and was also daunting because on every other line I did not know anything beyond my great grandparents.

Later in life I developed a passion for sustainability, through this interest I became aware of what had become known as ‘the seventh generation’ principle. The seventh generation principle originally became widely known via a famous speech given by¬†Chief Seattle¬†of the Squamish and Duwamish Native American tribes, delivered in response to a Government offer to purchase the remaining Salish lands in 1854.

The seventh generation principle is to ensure that decision making considers the well being of the people in the seventh generation to come. What about the seventh generation? Where are you taking them? What will they have? An idea that governments today would do well to consider.

Other elders from within the same culture and from elsewhere around the world have expanded upon this idea for us. Assuming that our ancestors thought about us when making their decisions and sacrifices, we should also honour the previous generations of our ancestors. Some cultures throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East have traditions of obligation and respect where they recite the names of at least seven direct blood ancestors such as father, grandfather, great grandfather and great-great-grandfather etc. These practices and the names of their ancestors is most often taught to the new generations as young children. In some cases this is lineal and includes only patriarchal or matriarchal lines and in other cases it is all ancestors onto the seventh generation. A reason for this tradition is that it is a helpful means to learn and remember the historical background within families and the regions that they live in and to be able to learn from the family. In some cases the reason for knowing seven generations of ancestors is that people are not allowed to marry relatives from anywhere between one through to seven generations.

Think of yourself as the starting person in a seven generation pedigree chart, at the fourth generation are your great grandparents who may have still been alive at the time of your birth and if not then they most likely feature in family stories told by their children and grandchildren, your parents and grandparents. These same people were themselves recipients of the stories about their great grandparents who are located at the seventh generation.

A seventh generation genealogy project can provide a focus for your genealogical research. Your project can be as simple as filling out the names on a seven generation pedigree chart and the largest, readable pedigree chart which can fit on a standard A4 or Letter, page fits seven generations. The seventh generation principle gives something more to your family tree research, honouring the past generations and leaving something for the generations still to come.

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