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Teachings of the Eagle Feather, part 27: Spirit of Thunder Mountain

Updated: 3 days ago

Manidoo-Giizis (Spirit Moon), January 12, 2021

"Fire Spirit," acrylic on canvas by the late ᐅᓵᐚᐱᐦᑯᐱᓀᐦᓯ (Miskwaabik Animikii/Norval Morrisseau) (1976).

Boozhoo indinawemaaganidog, gidinimikoo miinawaa. Biindigen miinawaa nindaadizooke wigamigong; enji-zaagi'iding miinawaa gikendaasong. Ningad-aawechige noongom giizhigad!


Hello my relatives, I greet you in a good way. Welcome back in my Storytelling Lodge where legends and stories are told. Let's tell a teaching story today!


Today's teaching, part 27 already in the series Teachings of the Eagle Feather, is centered around five new sets of gold wedding rings designed by me and handcrafted in my jeweler's studio. Also added are several images of artwork by several Anishinaabe artists (Minowewegebon/Kevin Belmore, the late ᐅᓵᐚᐱᐦᑯᐱᓀᐦᓯ (Miskwaabik Animikii/Norval Morrisseau), the late Carl Ray, and the late Moses Amik, as well as a line drawing done by me.


The ring sets, although different in style and design, share a similar theme, namely the powerful medicine of the Eagle/Thunderbird that can be found on top of Mount McKay/Thunder Mountain – a flat-topped hill flanked by steep cliffs overlooking Thunder Bay in Ontario, which I climbed twice and which, according to Anishinaabe tradition, is the winter home of the Thunderbirds. All five sets are storytelling rings created in the best aadizookewin izhitwaawin (storytelling tradition) of my People, the Ojibwe Anishinaabeg from Turtle Island's Great Lakes area.


~~ THE TRADITION OF STORYTELLING ~~


It is said that from the first snowfall to the first clap of thunder, our Elders impart history, traditions, and life lessons to the younger generations through aadizookewin, or storytelling. For us, the aadizookaanan, or sacred narratives, which are rich with allegories and imagery, along with the gikinaamaagewinan (messages) they carry, form deep connections to who we are as Anishinaabeg. They remind us, how we as human beings, individually as well as collectively, relate to aki (the world), to bimaadiziwin (everyday life), and to gimanidookewininaanin (our ceremonies).

"Migizi over Nanaboozhoo," acrylic on canvas by Anishinaabe painter Kevin Belmore.

~~ THUNDER MOUNTAIN ~~


To start off with, let me first tell you about my personal experience with a bear on top of Thunder Mountain. In Miin-giizis (the Berry Moon/July) of the year 2015, I spent a week in Animikii-wiikwedong (Thunder Bay, Ontario) with my then life-companion Simone McLeod who was my tour partner for an unforgettable 5-week trip along the northern shores of Gichigamiin, the Great Lakes. On our last night in Thunder Bay she and I met up with our late artist friend Moses Amik​ and I shared a story with him about an experience I had a few days earlier on top of the nearby Thunder Mountain (named Mount McKay by Euro-Canadians).


I related to Moses how, as I was standing on top of Animikii-wajiw, the Thunder Mountain, looking for the Thunderbird nests that I had heard about in the stories, I stood face to face with makade noozhek (a black female bear), who came out of a bush and who, standing on her hind legs, seemed as surprised to see me as I was awe-struck by her suddenly being there. (Later, I heard from an Ojibwe lady who lives on the nearby reserve that in the summer bears go up the mountain with their cubs in search of berries.) The following day Simone and I returned to the spot where I had met the bear, and after we had prayed to makwa's spirit and tied ribbons and cloth to the bushes and hung up tobacco ties in a tree, Simone discovered a wide, shallow crater nearby covered by low shrubs and fern. It was easy to imagine snake bones and Thunderbird egg scales scattering around the place! Could it be one of the nests the sacred stories tell us about? I asked Moses, who at that time lived in Thunder Bay and whom I knew to be a spiritual person, if he knew the story of the Thunderbird nests of stone, and how many times he had gone up there for ceremony. He grinned at me and said, enh, I am familiar with the stories about the Thunderbird nests and gaawiin, I have never climbed the mountain to pray or fast or leave my tobacco ties and ribbons and cloth up there. Us Indians know it's a heck of a climb you see… Anyway, it was the start of a long night laughter and storytelling I will never forget, and that has inspired me into writing several stories like the one you're reading now …

Thunder Mountain, renamed "McKay" by Canadians, still has great spiritual significance for all Anishinaabeg.
Moozhag imaa animikiig gii-noondaagoziwag, pane aanakwad gii-ayaamagad ogidajiw; mii dash gaa-onji-gotamowaad, ingiw Anishinaabeg ...

"All the while at that place could be heard the sound of the Thunderers, continually was there a cloud on top of the mountain; and that was the reason why the Anishinaabeg were afraid of the place ..."

"Is there only one Thunder Mountain, or Hill, to be found in the vast area that is called Anishinaabewaki (Anishinaabe territory)?" you may ask. The answer to that is no, Animikii-wajiw in Ontario is not the only place that, according to our traditions, houses Animikii Binesiwag (Thunderbirds).


So what other thunder mountains do we have besides the one at Thunder Bay ? Let's see... The Anishinaabeg of Michigan's southern peninsula speak of a high rock on Thunder Bay Island at what is now Alpena, which is also said to be home to the Thunderbirds. In the northern part of Wazhashkoons (currently known as Wisconsin State), the Mamaceqtaw (Menominee) have stories about Thunderbirds living on a great mountain that floats in the sky and the state’s Thunder Mountain is also said to be frequented as a nesting place by Thunderbirds. There are also stories about a mountain called Devils Nest in what is now North Dakota, where according to a local Ojibwe tradition a Thunderbird built a nest using sticks and brush.

~~ THUNDER MEDICINE ~~


These above wedding bands, made by hand in the dramatic and minimalistic graphic overlay style that is my trademark, are constructed of white gold (the exteriors) and sterling silver (the interiors). Both rings feature abstract, strongly stylized feathers of Animikii-binesi, or Thunderbird. The rings are my personal homage to the Winged Thunderbird Grandfathers, who in springtime descend from the mountain to watch over all life on Aki, our mother the earth.

The red gold, flame-like feather designs symbolize Sacred, Healing Medicine of Animkiig, the Thunder Grandfathers who dwell in the four corners of the Universe, and the awe-commanding, tremendous electrical forces that they spread across the sky and the earth when they hunt the serpents of the underworld. But it is not just wrath they seek! As the tradition goes, in springtime, the sacred Thunder Medicine, along with pools of fertility-bringing rain, is being carried upon the mighty wings of the Thunderbirds as a blessing to the thirsty earth and also as a gift to the needy Anishinaabeg.

The above wedding ring sets, despite the slight differences in design and choice of material, have three things in common: Their geometric, symmetrical design, the use of precious stones, and the theme of today's story, the Thunderbirds and the Mountain.


The two-tone white gold rings, each set featuring one or two precious stones, are appliqued with abstract, geometrical designs, their matte finish subtly contrasting against the highly polished ring shanks of pallladium white and red gold. These applique designs were modelled after the wings of a Thunderbird.


When you look at the rings upside down, the appliqued wing designs will show as stylized mountains; an artistic reference to the Thunderbirds nesting on the volcanic table mountain that are the main subject in today's story. Thus, the wings of the Thunder and the mountain home of the Thunderbirds join and interact together in one and the same design. The sparkling fire of the carré-cut diamonds or blue sapphires, mounted in the center of the wings/mountains designs, symbolize the powerful medicine and the awe-commanding, tremendous electrical forces of Animikiig, the Thunder Beings of the Sky. The sets are my personal homage to the Thunderbird Grandfathers, who in springtime descend from the atmosphere to watch over all life on Aki, our mother the earth.


To see details of the ring sets, visit the Gwayakwaadiziwin (Honesty) collection on the New Fisher Star Creations website.

Anishnawbe Miinigozwin, silkscreen by the late Ahmoo Angeconeb (1973) depicting the Anishinaabe cosmos.

~~ GINIW THE WAR EAGLE ~~


The cosmos as the Anishinaabe forefathers conceived it existed of layers that were densely populated by countless manidoog, or mysteries (spirits); mystical forces and sources of sacred power suffusing and animating all things on earth that were created naturally. However, as dangerous as some of these manidoog may have seemed to human beings, they weren’t necessarily considered evil beings. In Anishinaabe thought there is no sense of good and evil but only a natural balance of deeds: nature, however symbolized, qualified, or ritualized, simply exists.


Giizhigoong is how the Anishinaabe ancestors called the Sky World and all of its beings, corporeal as well as incorporeal. These beings, often referred top as aadizookaanag (grandfather-beings), were symbolized by the sun, the moon, the stars, and by rain and thunderclouds which represented the physical orders of the universe.


Gimishoomisinaan Giniw, the Golden (or War) Eagle Grandfather with the black head, is one of the taloned bird species that represent the powers of the Thunder Grandfathers on an earthly level. Known as the protector of Ziigwan, the Spring Grandfather who also lives in the East and as the one who watches over all women – particularly those who are in new beginnings –, Giniw is regarded as antipode of the almighty Migizi (bald eagle). Wiindigookaanan, or Contraries – a special category of people who have gained some of the medicine, or power, of the animikiig, the Thunder Grandfathers – regard Giniw as their ogimaa (chief). Giniwag are known to land on trees struck by lightning.

"The First Feather," red on black line art by Zhaawano Giizhik ©2021 Zhaawano Giizhik

The Anishinaabe Elders tell us that carrying an eagle feather is a sacred act and that it comes along with great responsibilities since it is believed the power of a feather comes directly from the Thunderbirds; a person who is worthy of bearing an eagle feather must therefore acknowledge that he or she is recognized by the Thunder Grandfathers themselves as being able to use their formidable spirit powers. To be given a feather of a golden eagle – or of a bald eagle – is therefore one of the greatest honors to receive, because it recognizes achievement and great acts or deeds.


Large taloned birds, such as the giniwag, are thought to nest on high cliffs, paticularly those situated along waterways. It is assumed that large concentrations of ashkaakamigokwe mashkawiziiwinan, mother earth's energies, can be found on top of the high rock cliffs. The binesiwag that nest there are believed to disperse these sacred energies into wendaanimag noodinoon, the four directions, and into aki, the world at large.


For this reason the Anishinaabeg and Ininewak Peoples have always believed that the Animikii Binesiwag, the Thunderbirds, who like their natural counterparts the taloned birds of prey have their nests of stone high up in mountainous areas of Anishinaabewaki, are mizhinaweg (messengers) that mediate aki's sacred energies between nimaamaa-aki (the earth) and ishpiming (the sky). As such, they are essential links between the spirit and physical world.


For this reason, our ancestors never neglected to offer asemaa (the sacred tobaco) in places where the Thunderbirds reside or when a storm was approaching.

Thunderbirds and mosquitoes in stone nests by the late ᐅᓵᐚᐱᐦᑯᐱᓀᐦᓯ (Miskwaabik Animikii/Norval Morrisseau)

~~ SUPERNATURAL TEACHERS AND MAKERS OF STORIES ~~


According to tradition, Binesiwag, the Thunderbirds, were created by Wiinabozho – a semi spirit central in Anishinaabe creation storytelling – to fight underwater creatures and to protect humans against possibly harmful spirits. While Thunderbirds are associated with taloned birds like eagle and hawks, they are also known to appear along with all the other migrating birds as soon as the winter is over, and by the time the trees shed their leaves they are believed to return to their nests on top of table mountains to rest until spring arrives.


As “spirits of the sky realm, Thunderbirds are considered the most pervasive and powerful beings of all the aadizookaanag – Spirit Grandfathers, Supernatural Makers of Stories – that guard the four cardinal points of the Universe. They are said to be related to the wendaanimag noodinoon, the Winds that blow from the four corners of the Earth. They leave their homes on high cliffs and mountain peaks in the west in the beginning of spring and come to Earth in different forms and guises and sizes as winged beings, or sometimes even in human form – to visit the Anishinaabeg and also to drive off the (possibly malevolent) underground spirits from the Earth and the waters of lakes and rivers. They are in charge of the warm weather and procure and maintain the warm seasons on Earth, which is why they migrate with the birds that appear in spring and disappear in the fall. Their thunder claps herald the presence of powerful manidoog or Spirit Beings, and their lightning arrows carry strong Medicine.


It is also said that the eyes of the Thunderbird Grandfathers, who have a close and beneficial relationship with humans and are known to impart knowledge and foretell the future, are able to see and explore the hearts of human beings and discern their skills, talents, and desires. This brings up memories of a long time ago when the Anishinaabeg still wandered aimlessly on the face of Aki (Earth), disheartened and disorganized and standing on the brink of extinction; it was then that Grandfather Binesi was sent to Earth to aid the People in finding their place in the world and in making them aware of their collective and individual skills and talents needed for developing self-worth and for survival in a harsh and hostile environment. Thunderbird also taught the Anishinaabeg to organize themselves in odoodemag (clans), thus shaping the bedrock of a strong society.

~~ HORNED UNDERWATER SNAKES ~~


Thunderbirds, which come in different sizes, have always been considered the most powerful of all manidoog and aadizookaanag. They are known to live in nests of stone or of sticks and brush, filled with the bones of serpents, built on high mountain peaks enshrouded by dense clouds, and to migrate with the birds that appear in spring and disappear in the fall. They assist the Anishinaabeg by driving away the ominous earth and water manidoog –such as the misi-ginebigoog or Serpents of the Lake (see the above image, an acrylic on canvas by my friend, the late Ojibwe painter Moses Amik, titled "Thunderbird and Snake.")


The battles between Thunderbirds and these horned adversaries often result in raging waters and seething storms ...**

"Thunderbird and Serpent," acrylic on canvas by the late Anishinini (Oji-Cree) artist Carl Ray.

~~ SHAPESHIFTERS AND SHAKING TENT SEERS ~~

According to tradition the Thunderbirds came to Aki, the earth, in the beginning of times to govern the quality of man’s existence, and that of the animals and plants, with supernatural powers over which the Anishinaabeg had little or no control. Thunders became thus associated with fertility, and with the creation of clouds and rain.


A certain type of Anishinaabe Mide doctor, called jaasakiidjig, a special category of healers belonging to the fourth degree of Midewiwin practitioners – seers who sometimes use the Shaking Tent; see the above image, a painting by Randy Trudeau –, obtains medicinal power from the Thunder Beings, along with that of other spirits (of which the snapping turtle and the bear are the most prominent); they use these formidable powers to heal patients.


Although usually associated with hawks and eagles, Thunderbirds are also capable of metamorphosis into other beings and sometimes even endowed with a human form, mostly in the shape of omishoomisimaag (grandfathers of the human class); they were even known to sporadically mate and produce offspring among human beings…

"Mosquitoes Hit with Thunderbird Lightning," acrylic on canvas by the late Anishinini artist Carl Ray.

~~ WHY TREES ARE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING ~~


Several Anishinaabe aadizookanan relate of the reason why Thunderbirds strike mitigoog (trees) with lightning. The reason is twofold: The connection Binesiwag/Thunderbirds have with the supernatural benefactor Wiinabozho (see: the story "Wiinabozho and the Thunderbirds" as told below) and their relationship with another class of Sky Beings, namely zagimenhyag (mosquitoes).


It is believed that zagimenhyag have a close relationship with both binesiwag and anishinaabeg. After all, are Thunderbirds and humans not both nurtured by their blood? In fact, some stories even mention that zagimenhyag stay with the binesiwag while nesting on the mountais in winter. Tradition has it that one day when the binesiwag asked their friends the zagimenhyag why their stomachs were always full of blood, the zagimenhyag fooled them by saying they got it from mitigoog (trees)! From that day on, the Thunderbirds started to hit the trees with their lightning. (Other sources relate they took revenge on the mosquitoes themselves.) And this is why the Anishinaabeg, although zagimenhyag can be a real pain in the butt in the warm moons, are thankful to their little winged tormentors. If the zagimenhyag had not lied to the Thunderbirds about where they got their blood, the latter would surely have killed all the Anishinaabeg ...

As we learned in the above, Thunderbirds are known to appear along with all the other migrating birds as soon as the winter is over, and by the time the trees shed their leaves they are believed to return to Thunder Bay Animikii-wiikwedong, which literally means "Bay of the Thunder" in the Anishinaabe language , a large stretch of water on the north side of Lake Superior, to rest until spring arrives.


The stylized mountain design that you see depicted on the Spirit of Thunder Mountain rings (see above image) is a reference to the volcanic table mountain I mentioned in the beginning of this story. This mountain which non-natives call Mount McKay – the local Anishinaabeg, who since time immemorial use the mountain for sacred ceremonies, call the mountain Animikii-wajiw ("Thunder Mountain") that, flanked by steep cliffs rising 900 feet above the Thunder Bay, houses the wintering Thunderbirds in huge nests of stone. Thus, the wings of the Thunder (the flaming feather of red gold) and the mountain home of the Thunderbirds join and interact together in one and the same design.

View on the flat table-top of Animikii Wajiw. Photo credit: Tourism Thunder Bay.

~~ WIINABOZHO AND THE THUNDERBIRDS ~~


There is an old Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) aadizookaan about Wiinabozho (Nanaboozhoo) who climbed the mountain in search of Thunderbird feathers. Often, these aadizookaanan,or sacred stories, revolve around aadizookaanag (“supernatural makers of stories”) who possess physical and personality traits akin to humans, animals, plants, and even the elements. The most important and beloved aadizookaan is Wiinabozhoo, who, as a shapeshifting spirit, teaches the Anishinaabeg right from wrong through his foolish actions and fantastic adventures while offering lessons on, what is called mino bimaadiziwin: how to live life in a good way and in harmony with all of our relatives including the plants and the animals, the soil, the rocks, the water, and the air.


In the version of the story that I'm about to tell, the aadizookaan is related from the perspective of a Thunderbird grandmother who, in the context of Waawiindaasowin (a naming ceremony), explains to an Earth Being named Ge-wazaswinebiikwe (Will-Sit-on-the-Nest-Woman) how she got her own name.*


“Once, when I was still weshkiniigid (a young woman), there lived on earth a manidoo-gwiiwizenh (spirit-boy), who was named Nanabozho (Trembling Tail) by his grandmother Nookomis and who taught your People how to live on earth.


It is said that this spirit boy lived in the sky but at one time was sent to earth to be a teacher.

One day Wiinabozho (for this is how we call him when we talk about him) asked Nookomis what was the biggest fish in the lake. She replied that there was a gigantic ginoozhens (pike) that lived by a rock ledge but it was very powerful and would harm Wiinabozho. No one could kill the fish because no one could get down there where it lived.

Wiinabozho thought about how to hunt this ginoozhens, so he got some wood to make a bow and arrows. Then he asked his grandmother if there were any binesiwag (birds) whose feathers could be put on the arrows to make them effective. She told Wiinabozho the only feathers strong enough come from a binesi that lives in the sky, at the opening of the clouds. One would have to go there to get these feathers.

Wiinabozho climbed to the highest cliff and inashke! behold! there he discovered the nest in which I happened to live with my babies when I was still a young woman. Inashke Wiinabozho iidog anooj gii-izhichige, you see, Wiinabozho was always up to something! When Wiinabozho saw my children he turned into a waabimisaaboz (white jack rabbit)! Thinking he was truly a hare, I took him to my nest for my babies to play with. Wiinabozho stayed in the nest for a long time; the babies played with him but never wounded him. One day I went away to hunt for more snakes for my babies. Quickly Wiinabozho turned back to a boy; he clubbed my kids and pulled out their feathers. Before I could return, Wiinabozho jumped from the high nest with the bundle of feathers but he did this so rashly that he was knocked out. But Wiinabozho was not killed because he is manidoo (a spirit)! When I returned to my nest, I saw what happened and, stricken with grief and rage at the loss of my children, flew after that darned Wiinabozho! Thunder rolled from my beak and lightning flashed from my eyes! Wiinabozho ran for his life clutching his bundle of feathers, but soon grew tired. As I reached for him with my claws, Wiinabozho saw an old fallen birch that was hollow inside. He crept into the hollow in the nick of time! I had no choice than to end my attack because our People, as you know, regard birch trees as our own children! Wiinabozho was safe.


Next, after I ascended back into the sky mourning the death of my babies, Wiinabozho came out and proclaimed that the birch tree would forever protect and benefit the Anishinaabeg. Wiinabozho fixed his arrows and went home. With these arrows he headed out on the lake in his canoe and killed the great pike that lived under the rock ledge.

Now, if you look closely, noozis, you can still see the short marks on the birch tree to commemorate my sharp claws which almost killed him. I also put "pictures" of my baby birds with outstretched wings into the bark so the sacrifice of my children would always be remembered! Upon returning to my tribe and after a mourning period of 3 suns and moons, a naming ceremony was held on my behalf, and this is how I received the name Misaabooz Baaginaazhikwe nindizhinikaaz, Woman-Who-Strikes-the-Great-Hare-with-Lighting!"


Smiling at the Anishinaabe girl who sat across her listening intently, the old Medicine Woman of the Thunderbird People, after a brief silence, resumed, "Now you know the story of my name, noozis, it is time to give you a name that tells yours!"


The scent of burning medicine lifted from the glowing grandfather stone as the old Thunderbird woman took a giniw miigwan (eagle feather) and fanned the fragrant smoke over Ge-wazaswinebiikwe. The Medicine Woman offered a prayer, which, although it was done in a strange tongue she had never heard before, Ge-wazaswinebiikwe understood it to be for a long and prosperous life.


Next, the old woman directed her gaze at the Anishinaabe girl and spoke in a thoughful manner. "Niizh Manidoo Animikii, Two-Spirit Thunder will be your name. You will wear this name with dignity and awareness of its sacred meaning. It is not only a prized possession, to be cherished and loved; above all, it defines who you are as a two-spirited being, a being of earth and a being of fire, as well as a being of masculine characteristics and a being of feminine characteristics. But whether you are a manidoo (a spiritual being) or whether you are anishinaabe (a human being), whether you reside in the sky or whether you dwell the earth, your new name will remind you to strive each day to be a good person. You shall align your identity and your future life with the name that is given to you today. You shall be dedicated to your Thunderbird family, your People on earth, and the language and you shall be a true leader to us all — not by command, position, or power, but by your moral courage, your kind behavior, and your genuine goodness. You will put to good use your keen insight and the ability to see things through both feminine and masculine eyes; you will use this gift, this niizho-izhinamowin ("double vision") to help your People on earth to spiritually grow and prosper. You shall become a teacher unafraid to grow strong and wise, and you shall make our People and your People proud."


After the renaming ceremony was over, Misaabooz Baaginaazhikwe gifted Ge-wazaswinebiikwe with a manidoowayaan (medicine bag made of snake skin) containing special items that she had assembled prior to Niizh Manidoo Animikii's arrival, and she explained to her that it was her role as Name-Giver to be Niizh Manidoo Animikii's aadizookaan (guiding patron) for life.


Ge-wazaswinebiikwe, whose name was now Niizh Manidoo Animikii, bade her Name-Giver giga-waabamin ("until later") and left the wiigiwaam, but not before the old woman put her hand on her arm and looked her straight into her eyes, saying, "Ayaamgwaanizin, noozis. Inashke go, zanagad ezhaayan. Be on your guard, my grandchild. It is difficult where you are going, you see ..."


~~ VISUAL REPRESENTATIONS OF THUNDERBIRDS ~~


To our ancestors, when someone dreams of a Thunderbird or when a Thunderbird appears to them during makadekewin (a vision quest), it was considered taboo to talk about him let alone say his name in public. In order to preserve Animikii's power, the Thunderbirds were only represented in symbolic and abstract ways. There was infinitely more power in the abstract form than in figurative depictions.


Throughout the ages stylized images of Thunderbirds have been reproduced on drums, bags, shoulder pouches, jewelry, tattoos, and so on. Zigzag patterns and outspread wings and "spirit lines" symbolize the powers of the sky manidoog,typically manifested through lightning and thunder. Thunderbird images (often in combination with images of snakes) are found carved in, and painted on, birchbark scrolls and cliff walls, and, since the 1960's, represented in paintings created by countless Anishinaabe artists who fuse modern painting techniques with traditional images. Famous for their (often surreal and vibrant) Thunderbird depictions are, for example, the late Norval “Copper Thunderbird” Morrisseau, originally from Ontario's Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation, and the late Anishinini painter Carl Ray from Negaw-zaaga'igan Nitam-Anishinaabe (Sandy Lake First Nation). Also noteworthy are the late Thunderbay-based artists Roy Thomas and Moses Amik.


Since Thunderbirds travel singly or in pairs, Anishinaabe artists often depict their images singly, as two, and sometimes since they represent the wendaanimag noodinoon or Four Winds created by the Great Mystery as four.

Detail of Man Changing into Thunderbird by the late ᐅᓵᐚᐱᐦᑯᐱᓀᐦᓯ (Miskwaabik Animikii/Norval Morrisseau)

~~ HOW THE THUNDERBIRDS BROUGHT LACROSSE TO THE PEOPLE ~~


Last but not least, I want to share with you how, in our culture, the game of lacrosse and the Thunderbirds are connected. To our Peoples, baaga'adowewin ("the repeatedly striking of something," which is how we call lacrosse) is not ruled by mere chance, but rather by cosmic forces. The game is believed to have been given to ininiwag (the men) by the Thunderbirds. Traditionally, the person who calls the game has dreamt of the Thunderbird. This winged bawaagan (guardian spirit) instructs the dreamer how the game is played; one could also say that the outcome of the game (which is really a battle on earthly level that mimics conflicts between the aadizookaanag of sky and underworld) is predestined as it is already known by the spirits ...


Ahaaw sa. Mii sa ekoozid. Miigwech gibizindaw noongom. Ok then, that is the end of the today's story. Thank you for listening to me. Giga-waabamin wayiiba, I hope to see you again soon! Mino bimaadizin! Live well! Migwechewendan akina gegoo ahaw! Be thankful for everything!


* Source: The Amazing Journey of a Woman Named Two-Spirit Thunder told by Zhaawano Giizhik.

** Read "The amazing Journey of a Woman Called Two-Spirit Thunder" told by Zhaawano Giizhik.







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