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  • Writer's picturezhaawano

Star Stories, part 28: To Fly With The Sky Bison

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

Namebini-giizis/Makwa-giizis (Suckerfish Moon/Bear Moon )- February 9, 2023




Let's talk clans today.

Some Ojibwe Midewiwin traditionalists say that the clans emerged from the ocean. That makes a great story and I love it. It makes sense to believe that life starts in the water.

I believe, however -- based on an ancient form of knowledge transfer, which I like to call miskwi-minjimendamowin (blood memory) -- that before contact with the Bwaanag/ Dakota and, later, the Agaamakiiwininiwag/ Europeans, Anishinaabeg knew that our clans came from the stars, not the ocean, and that our spirits when we die do not travel from east to west but from south to north, along with the migrating birds that travel the Thunderbird Path in the sky.

When a person dies, they go to the star constellation of their clan animal. Even the water clan people travel back to the Thunderbird Path (Milky Way) in the star world. The clan animal was seen as the person's progenitor; in other words, when a person was born in a certain clan, let's say the Snapping Turtle clan, it was from the Mikinaak Anangoog/Turtle Stars constellation that they descended and it was to the same constellation they returned at death.

I furthermore believe -- again, according to miskwi-minjimendamowin -- that the Jiisakaan/Shaking Tent ceremony as we know it today originated in the star world as well. This art print of a painting that I made last year depicts the vision of an Anishinaabe Waabanoowin Medicine Woman who, through spirit flight, travels on the Thunderbird Path/River of Souls toward the Bison/Perseus constellation.

The Old Ones knew this constellation to be the birthplace of the Shaking Tent...

But that's a - fascinating - topic for yet another story!

If you like to find out more about the Jiisakaan/Shaking Tent, read Turtle and Bear, guardians of the Shaking Tent.


Illustration: Flying With the Sky Bison © 2022 Zhaawano Giizhik. Visit the website to view details of the print.

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