"The Lake Is Singing My Song"
|Manidoo Nagamo (The Spirit Sings), gold and silver necklace handcrafted by the author. Click on image to view details.|
== A Shared Ancestry ==
For six centuries or more, the Great Lakes basin, whose abundant waters, ebbing and flowing with the seasons, feed into the North American continent and the Atlantic Ocean, has been the home of our distant ancestors, who for generations have lived close to the water’s edge to survive.
Since the days when these Algonquian speaking immigrants first came to this region of bountiful freshwater lakes and islands and rivers and forests, its waters have nourished many generations of the People, physically as well as spiritually.
Along with water, all kinds of fish species, turtle spirits, snakes, muskrats, water birds, mermen and mermaids, underwater panthers, and a myriad of other water creatures, play a central role in the traditional narrations and creation stories for several Anishinaabe Nations that surround the Lakes.
From time immemorial, these proud Lake People with a shared ancestry go by the names of:
- Ojibweg (Ojibwe),
- Misizaagiwininiwag (Mississauga),
- Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi),
- Odaawaag (Odawa),
- Omàmiwininiwak (Algonquin),
- Odishkwaagamiig (N'biising, Nipissing), and
- Mamaceqtaw (Menominee).
== Nibi, Spirit of the Water ==
By way of a new blog series called "REFLECTIONS OF THE GREAT LAKES", accompanied by images of fine art and original works of jewelry, we aspire to capture, and pay homage to, the spirit and beauty and majesty of GICHIGAMIIN, the Great Seas of the Anishinaabe People. A natural resource of immense proportions once respected, revered and held sacred, yet nowadays unappreciated by many...
Over the course of a great many decennia the lakes' ecosystem has largely been misused and abused by commercial fishery and timber companies, as well as by power plants and various international chemical and oil companies and corporations - and of course the tourist industry.
It is our belief that, since there is no life without water, the waters of the Great Lakes should never be taken for granted, nor the water that fills the wells, the inland lakes and ponds, the rivers, and the oceans. Nibi is not merely an element but a soul (spirit) who gives us beauty, growth, generosity. Nibi gives us peace. The time has come for us to honor the debt we have toward Nibi and acknowledge her primacy from our hearts and our minds.
It's time we assume our responsibilities. It's time we learn to honor the waters again.
"AT THE LAKE SINGING OUR SONG"
== Nibi Waaboo, the Water Song ==
An important part of the ancient water ceremony is called "MIDE WAABOO" (Literally; Medicine Water). In this ceremony, during which a song is sung called NIBI WAABOO or WATER SONG, a Midewikwe (a member of the medicinal, spiritual, scientifical, philosophical, and artistic society of the Anishinaabe Peoples, the MIDEWIWIN) holds the water up in a vessel made of the sacred copper, while the water song is sung by the Midewaanikweg (Sacred Water Line women) attending.
The spirit of water is addressed to in prayer and a small amount of nibi is shared with everyone attending the ceremony. The water is no longer just nibi – it is then perceived as MIDE-WAABOO: sacred medicine water.
After a period of one hundred and fifty years in which the NIBI WAABOO had gone underground - and perhaps not been performed at all -, a group of women from the Omàmiwininiwak or Algonquin First Nation in Quebec decided to revitalize the NIBI WAABOO. Among the participants of the ceremony, which took place in February 2002 in Kitigan‑zibi reserve, were Omàmiwinini (Algonquin) women and women of mixed blood, thirteen in total. These thirteen women represented all women of all four races of the world.
One of the women was a grandmother who in 1998 had received a vision of the ancient Nibi Waaboo. After having followed a four year-lasting spiritual journey in order to bring the rebirth of the ceremony to completion, she decided to remain anonymous. Since then the other twelve participants are the guardians of the ceremony, charged with passing on the ceremony to all the women of the world.
So sacred are the words that make up the nibi waaboo song, that - although it is deemed very important that the song is being shared throughout the world - they are supposed not to be shared through the Internet. Therefore we will not reveal the words of the song on our blog.*
Who knows, one day one of us, or both, might create our own interpretation of the image of the thirteen grandmothers standing on the ice as they receive the original water ceremony - be it in the form of a panting, a pencil drawing, or a piece of jewelry...
Any additions, corrections or suggestions for improvement of the above explanation of the water song ceremony are welcome.
* There exists a more recent version of the Water Song, related by Menasekwe (Beatrice Jackson) of the Ojibwe Migizi doodem. This song, called Nibi Nagamowin, was written by Waabanikwe (Doreen Day) of the Ojibwe Waabizheshi doodem at the request of her grandson. The song is sung like a lullaby and without using clapper sticks or shakers or hand drums. The words of the Nibi Nagamowin can be shared freely without any restrictions; click here to hear the song.
==Water Walkers and Water Line Women==
|A magic moment: An Anishinaabe jimaan (canoe) crossing the St. Mary's River from the US side to Whitefish Island on Canadian side. Robinson Huron Treaty gathering, Waatebagaa-giizis (September) 2016. Courtesy of Sue Chiblow.|
Miigwechiwendan akina gegoo ahaw! Be thankful for everything!
See also the second part of the series "Reflections Of The Great Lakes"!
|Click here to view order details of the book The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson|
- 2003 Lake Superior
- 2004 Lake Michigan
- 2005 Lake Huron
- 2006 Lake Ontario
- 2007 Lake Erie
- 2008 Lake Michigan
- 2009 St Lawrence River
- 2011 Four Directions Water Walk
- 2012 Lake Monona
- 2012 Lake Nipigon
- 2015 Lake Winnebago
- 2015 Sacred Walk
- 2016 Menominee River
- 2017 Toronto and the Toronto Waterfront Trail
* Source: Motherearthwaterwalk website
Suggested reading and listening:
Niibi Bimaadiziwn website by Beatrice Menasekwe Jackson
Mother Earth Water Walk website
Great Lakes Water Walk
Meet Me By The Water Song
WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE WATER SONG!
OMFRC Newsletter ('Feathers in the Wind')
Top photo: 'Manidoo Nagamo', gold and silver pendant by Zhaawano Giizhik
Pen and ink drawing: 'Wiidigemaaganag /Niizhomaangwag' (Life Partners/ Two Loons), pencil drawing by Zhaawano Giizhik.
'Nibi Storykeepers', a digitized version of the 2015 original by Simone McLeod;
'Offering A Bowl of Water of life' by Leland 'Bebanimojmat' Bell;
Maamoyaawewin ("Thanksgiving") by Simone McLeod;
'Prayers For Life Water' by Simone McLeod;
'Protecting Mother Earth' by Simone McLeod.
Simone McLeod (her traditional name is Aki’-egwaniizid, which is an Ojibwe name meaning "Earth Blanket") is a Nakawe-Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) painter and poet, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1962. She belongs to he Name doodem (Sturgeon clan) and is a member of Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan. Simone feels a special kinship with her mother's people, the Azaadiwi-ziibi Nitam-Anishinaabeg (Poplar River "#16" First Nation) of Manitoba. She descends from a long line of Midewiwin seers and healers and artists. Her artwork has been appreciated by several art collectors and educational and health care institutions from Canada, as well as by art lovers from all over the world.
The MAZINAAJIMOWINAN or ‘pictorial spirit writings’ - which are rich with symbolism and have been painted throughout history on rocks and etched on other sacred items, such as copper and slate, birch bark and animal hide - are Zhaawano's main design inspiration.