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Star Stories, part 9: Ojibwe Star Map - An Artistic Rendering

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"THE ANISHINAABE CLANS IN THE EVERLASTING NIGHT SKY "

~~ THE COSMIC LODGE AS SEEN THROUGH ANISHINAABE EYES: A PICTORIAL GUIDE TO THE OJIBWE NAMES OF PLANETS, STARS, AND CLAN-RELATED STAR CONSTELLATIONS ~~

"Our stories are written in the stars, so we can never forget the truth of our existence...We are spirits on a physical journey, with a sacred duty to understand, respect and care for the generous gifts we receive from all the beings who inhabit the earth."

- From Bwaananaabekwe and Leonard Moose: Inhabiting the Earth 

AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF STARS, PLANETS, AND STAR FORMATIONS ARRANGED ACCORDING TO LATIN OR GREEK NAME, FOLLOWED BY THEIR OJIBWE NAMES

Alpha Orionis (Betelgeuse): Wiindigoo

Altair: Gichi Biidaabaan Anang ("Big Dawn Star")

Andromeda: Binesi

Arcturus: Gichi Miskwaabik Anang (archaic)

Asteroid Belt (1st): Biinj-ayi'ii Waawiyeyaa

Asteroid Belt (2nd): Agwaj-ayi'ii Waawiyeyaa

Aurora Borealis: Jiibayag Niimi'idiwag

Canis Major: Ma’iingan Anang

Canis Minor: Gaa-biboonikaan; Misaabe

Capella: Mikinaak Anangoog

Cassiopeia: Manoominike Anang

Circus Lacteus (Milky Way): Jiibay-miikana; Jiibay-ziibi; Binesiwi-miikana; Nanabozho Miikana

Corona Borealis: Madoodiswan; Binesii-wazison; Gozaabanjigan

Cygnus: Ajiijaak; Bineshi Okanin; Binesi

Delphinius: Maang Anangoons

Gamma Aquila: Biidaabaan Anangoons ("Little Dawn Star")

Gemini: Amik Anangoog

Hercules: Noondeshin Bemaadizid

Hydra: Mishi-bizhiw Gaa-ditibaanowe'

Jupiter: Ogimaa; Zhaawan-anang; Gichi Ogimaa Waasamod Aki

Leo: Mishi-bizhiw Gaa-ditibaanowe'

Luna (the Moon): Dibik(i)-giizis, Gookomisinaan

Lyra: Midewigaan

Mars: Ogichidaa (neologism), Akwaabikizid Aki

Mercury: Oshkaabewis (neologism), Gezhiibatood Oshkaabewis

Neptune: Gichigami Aki (neologism)

Orion: Gaa-biboonikaan; Misaabe; Wenabozho (Nanabozho)

Orion's Belt (ζ Orionis, ε Orionis, and δ Orionis): Aadawaa'amoog

Pegasus: Mooz; Binesi

Perseus: Mashkode-bizhiki

Planet Solis 10 (Planet X): Naawinaagozi; Waazakonewed

Planet Solis 11 (Planet XI): Anang(o)winini

Pleiades: Bagonegiizhig; Madoodoowasiniig

Pluto: Naawinaagoz; Awasinake; Awasinakaag

Polaris: Giiwedin Anang; Giiwedanang; Gichi-anang; Ojiig Anang

Saturn: Gitigaane (neologism); Ditibininjiibizon Gitigaanii Aki (neologism)

Scorpio: Mishi-ginebig; Wenabozho (Nanabozho) Anang ; Wiisagejaak Anang

Sirius: Giizhig-anang

Sol (the Sun): Giizis; Gimishoomisinaan

Taurus: Gaa-biboonikaan; Misaabe Terra (Earth): Gimaamaaminaan Aki; Maamaanaan; Mikinaakominis

Uranus: Waakwiing

Ursa Major: Ojiig Anang; Gwaaba'igan; Aadawaamoog

Ursa Major, IP its quadrilateral or "bowl": Gichi Makwa (archaic)

Ursa Minor: Maang; Ojiigansikwe; Ojiig Anangoons; Obikwanish; Gwaaba'igaans; Makoons (archaic)

Vega: Chi-ogima Anang; Gichi-ogimaa Anang

Venus: Giizhig Anang; Nigaabii-anang; Waaban-anang; Gozaabii-anang; Ikwe-anang; Onaagoshi-anang; Waaseyaa; Waaseyasiged Azhebaashkaabizod Aki



In Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Ojibweg Peoples, there is a word for life and the spirituality of life: bimaadiziwin. This word is derived from the verb bimaadizi, which means (s)he lives, or is alive. The verb breaks down as follows: bim means "along in space and time," -aad means "way of being or life" or "one's character or nature," and - izhi signifies "(s)he or it is in a state or condition."

Traditionally, we as Anishinaabe Peoples, regard Anishinaabe anang gikendaasowin (star knowledge) as part of an all-encompassing perspective of this bimaadiziwin. Everything that exists in the world – the spirits, the plants, the animals, the humans, water, sky, and the air – are seen as interwoven together in a complex web of life, understanding, and respect. Anangoog (stars) are a key part of that understanding narrative.¹


In chapter 1 of the "The Everlasting Sky/Our Clans Among the Stars" story we learned that, in the worldview of our ancestors, everything that existed on earth started with the stars. Even gidoodeminaanig (our clans) were made of stars, and, like the bigwaji-bimaadiziwinan (the natural cycles on the earth), they were represented (and mirrored) on a celestial level, in the form of star formations and planets. The above image, an Ojibwe-oriented storytelling star map titled Gaagige Giizhig ("The Everlasting Sky"), is a free artistic rendering of the Waawiyekamig, the "Round Lodge" as the Anishinaabeg traditionally conceive the cosmos. The image highlights the connections between the doodeman (clans) in the below-world and the anangoog and aadawa'amoog ogimaag (stars and planets) in gichi-giizhigong, the upper-world.


Below is a glossary (alphabetical list) of the names of the known planets, stars, and constellations according to the anang nibwaakaawin (cosmology) of the Ojibwe Anishinaabeg. The names of these celestial beings correspond with the images depicted in the above sky star map. Emphasis is placed on the star clusters and constellations that are doodem/clan related. Furthermore, each constellation and planet is individually described through a segment of the Gaagige Giizhig map.

Anishinaabewaki miinawaa odakiimiwaan (Ojibwe homelands) are vast and have many regional dialects and stories; it should therefore be noted that the planets/stars and star constellations and asterisms have various different names and meanings, depending on the oral tradition of the community and the region in question. It is also important to understand that the list contains words and descriptions that cannot be thoroughly understood without complete experiential and contextual understanding of their (spiritual) significance. Also, there are many, many ways to tell a story. The list, therefore, is far from complete and limited in its cultural and spiritual accuracy. Still, an attempt has been made to compose the list from an ancient (pre-contact)² Anishinaabe perspective to stay as close as possible to the connections that exist with the Anishinaabe language, worldview, and places of origin in which the Gete-Anishinaabeg ezhi-nanda-gikenindizowaad (ancestral Ojibwe self-identitiy) is embedded.

In order to honor and protect the inherent wisdom of Anishinaabe star lore, and limit the loss of deeper subtleties and nuances of Anishinaabe meaning to a minimum, I therefore did my best to filter the narratives through a lens unstained by Christian/post-colonial influences and stay within the context of its linguistic origins where possible.


Gaawiin giwanitoosiimin gidanang-gikendaasowininaan: We are not losing our star knowledge!




AN ILLUSTRATED, ALPHABETICAL LIST OF THE KNOWN ANISHINAABE STARS, CONSTELLATIONS & PLANETS


A to Z:


AADAWAA'AMOOG, or ODAADAWAA'AMOOG: “They Go With Someone in a Canoe.”

The three stars in the middle of the Gaa-biboonikaan winter constellation named Orion on Western star maps.



AADAWAA'AMOOG OGIMAAG, "Chiefs Go in a Canoe with Someone" (planets). Also called: Akiwag ("Worlds").


From left to right: Ogichidaa Aki, Ogimaa Aki, Gitigaane Aki, Waakwiing, Gichigami Aki, Naawinaagoz Aki.

AADAWAA'AM OGIMAANS, "Little Chief Goes in a Canoe with Someone" (dwarf planet).

Example: Naawinaagoz (Pluto)

AGWAJ-AYI'II WAAWIYEYAA, "It Is a Far Away Circle"

(2nd Asteroid Belt)


AJIIJAAK ("Crane")


'Ajijaak is translated into English as Sandhill Crane. Another word for this 9-star constellation is Bineshi Okanin, the skeleton bird. This star formation is called Cygnus in Western astrology. Cygnus (a Latinized Greek word for Swan) is the official International Astronomical Union constellation name. The Anishinaabeg, however, see this summer constellation as a sandhill crane flying northward with its long legs trailing behind. Ajiijaak, or Bineshi Okanin, reflects and represents the Ojibwe Crane Clan (and possibly the Binesi/Thunderbird clan) on earth. It is this constellation – together with the Maang Anang, "Little Dipper/Ursa Minor" asterism – where our leader clans come from.

The Ajijaak clan on earth, which represents leadership and communication with the outside world, has two metaphorical names: Baswenaazhi ("Echo Maker") and Animikii (“Thunder”). These names suggests a symbolical link with Binesi, the Thunderbird; it is therefore not unimaginable that there is a direct relationship between the Crane clan in the below-world and the Binesiwi-miikana in the above-world. This notion is expressed in the top image, which shows the stylized image of a Thunderbird-- a depiction of an old rock painting -- attached to an upside-down flying red crane flying north. The image to the left shows a detail of a sterling silver bolo tie designed by the author, depicting a Sandhill Crane flying flying high in the southern sky, heading west while showing the Anishinaabeg Peoples the way to their destination.

See also: Binesi, Binesii-wazison, and Maang Anang.



AKI: literally "world," or "land." The plural form is AKIIN, or AKIWAG. Used to denote, among others, the planets.


Many moons ago, when the World was not yet born, there was only something, a Great Mystery that perhaps comes close to what we would call a Dream. This Dream, or Vision, was filled with a vast sky filled with many stars and the day-sun and the night-sun, and beneath it was the earth in the form of a giant sea turtle. One day this Dream, or Vision, was materialized into rock, water, fire, and wind.

These substances were born spontaneously, seemingly out of nothing, and into each was breathed a sacred life breath that our people nowadays call GICHI-MANIDOO (Literally: Great Mystery, or sum of all Mysteries). So it is understood that from these four sacred substances, each gifted with a different soul and spirit and nature and shadow, was created Cosmos, or Order. This brand new Order was filled with what could be called akiwag, or worlds. These akiwag were a family unit of the Sun and lesser stars, the Moon, and the Earth as well as many other planets.


All these relatives the sun, the stars, the planets, the night-sun, and the earth — were animated by this vital life force named GICHI-MANIDOO...³


AKI GIMAAMAAMINAAN, "Our Mother the Earth" (Planet Earth)


Also called Akiing: "On the Earth," Gookomisinaan: "Our Grandmother, Ogashinan: "Earth-Grandmother, Maamaanaan/Omaamaamaa "Mother," Ashkaakamigokwe: "Green Earth Woman," Omizakamigokwe: "Everywhere on Earth Woman."


Another, metaphorical, way to denote planet Earth is Minisi: "Island," or Mikinaakominis: "Turtle Island." The earth that the Anishinaabeg live on is imagined to rest on the shield of a giant sea turtle. Depicted here as a silver turtle hair barrette featuring a stylized turquoise and red coral wolf paw. The wolf paw represents the Anishinaabeg doodeman (Ojibwe clans) on earth.


See also: Giizhigookwe and Dibiki-giizis.



AKIIN ANANGOOKAANING: "Planets among the Stars."

See: Aadawa'amoog and Aki.

AMIK ANANGOOG ("BEAVER STARS")


Amik Anangoog is translated into English as the Beaver stars, or Beaver Constellation. This winter constellation, which is called Gemini on Western star charts, is also visible in spring. Amik (see the red and white figure with the five spirit lines emanating from its back) reflects and represents the Ojibwe Beaver Clan on earth.


The diligent beaver - who is sometimes referred to with its metaphorical name, Bimaawidaasi , or "Carrier" - is known and loved for his kindness, recourcefulness, and wisdom. He belongs to the clan group of GAAYOSEDJIG (the Providers: scouting, hunting and gathering). Other doodeman (clans) that belong to the Providers clan group are Moozwaanowe (Little Moose-tail), Moozens (Little Moose), Mooz (Moose), Adik (Caribou), Mishewe (Elk), Waabizheshi (Marten), Waawaashkeshi (Deer), Wazhashk (Muskrat), Esiban ("Clam Killer"; Raccoon), and Waabooz (Rabbit).



ANANG AKIIWAN (The Star World)

Anang Akiiwan is translated into English as the Star World, or the Universe (literally: “there is a star world”).


ANANGWININI, or ANANGOWININI: "Star Man." The Ojibwe word for Planet XI.


It is still mysterious and uncertain who and where this Starman, the eleventh aki (planet) is. Today, according to the International Astronomical Union, if counting the dwarf planets as planets, the eleventh planet from the Sun would be Haumea.



However, the actual identity of this eleventh planet is really subject to the criterion for an aki, as well as numbering methodologies. In 2006 the IAU redefined the term "planet" to exclude the new category of dwarf planets (just as some planets had earlier been recategorised as asteroids). In 2006 Naawinaagoz (Pluto), Eris, Haumea, Makemake, and (in the inner Solar System) the asteroid Ceres were reclassified as dwarf planets.


Be that as it may, to our Peoples, the existence of the starman is without question. To us, the debate about what qualifies as an aki , or "planet" and what not isn't very real. Nor the criterium of what is "observative" and not. This whole defining and redefining of astronomical bodies , to us, it is just semantics. Click here to read a story about Anangwinini, told by Jonas Waisegizhig, a 62-year old man from Rama First Nation. (Link will soon be active.)



BAASHKANANGOOG: shooting stars


See: Jiingwanan


BAGONEGIIZHIG ("Hole in the Sky")


Bagonegiizhig is translated into English as the Hole in the Sky. Called the Pleiades on Western star charts, Bagonegiizhig (depicted as a ring with inlaid spider-and-sun designs around which seven sister-guardians can be seen dancing) is a star cluster in the greater constellation of Taurus. This is the Hole in the Sky through which Giizhigookwe (Sky Woman) (or, according to a very old tradition, Asikibaashi, Spider Woman; see the figure in the bottom right corner) lowered the first anishinaabeg (humans) to the Earth. It is through the same Hole in the Sky that the jiibayag (soul-spirits) of deceased humans ascend and travel toward their final destination in the Jiibay-miikana (Milky Way). Two important ceremonies are related to Bagonagiizhig: the madoodiswan, or sweat lodge purification ceremony, and the jiisaakaan, or shaking tent ceremony.

The seven stars of Bagonegiizhig, besides telling the traditional story of the seven sisters, are believed to represent the seven poles used in the construction of the jiisakaan. In a spiritual context, the lodge that the jaasakid (shaking tent medicine person) build also acts as a spiritual doorway, similar to the spiritual doorway that is the Bagonegiizhig.


To those who are involved in the Sweat Lodge ceremony, however, the seven stars of the Hole in the Sky sometimes represent Madoodoowasiniig, which are the Grandfather stones used in the ceremony; in yet another context the star cluster symbolizes Binesii-waawananoon (eggs) that lie in a Thunderbird's nest.


Bagonegiizhig sits almost opposite the brightest star in the Madoodiswan (Corona Borealis) constellation. This is the binary star called Alphecca on Western star charts. It is the third star to the right in the Madoodiswan constellation; see the inserted image. Also starting in mid-November, the Bagonegiizhig cluster appears in the east-northeast after dusk, crosses the sky during the night, then gleams over the west-northwest sky before dawn. Bagonegiizhig and Madoodiswan trade places in the sky after about 12 hours time.


What else can be said about the Bagonegiizhig? In Anishinaabeg aadizookaanan (Ojibwe stories) the Bagonegiizhig is considered to be our origin. It is the place of Nizhwaaswi Gagiikwewinan (the Seven Grandfather and Grandmother Teachings). It is where our mitigwakik (water drum) originates from and where our doodem/clan system comes from and where we derived our bloodlines from. So many stories come from the Bagonegiizhig. We have stories of sky woman, of the seven sisters, and of our 13 grandmothers. In the summer the Wenabozho constellation (Nanabozho) points the way to the Bagonegiizhig. In our sacred stories, Wenabozho tells us where we come from. Our clans in the night sky make preparations to welcome the gete-Anishinaabeg, the Elders, when it is their time to leave the earth world. Geget sa, the night sky is full of stories of the Anishinaabeg... See also: Binesii-wazison, Gaa-biboonikaan, Gozaabanjigan, Madoodiswan, Madoodoowasiniig, and Wenabozho.

BEBOONIKED ANANGOOG: see Gaa-biboonikaan

BIIDAABAN ANANGOOG ("Dawn-Arrive Stars")


Biidaban anangoog, is translated into English as the Dawn Arrives Stars. The smaller star (which we will call Biidaaban anangoons) is called Gamma Aquila on Western star charts. This star, colored red with a white core on the map, is the first to rise in the east. The second to rise, and larger star, is called Altair on Western star charts. We will call this star Gichi Biidabaan Anang. It is the white star depicted directly above the red star. The Biidaaban-Anangoog are the children of Waaban-anang, the Morning Star, represented by the gold and turquoise and rose quartz pendant in the illustration, a little left of the image of the big round planet Giizhigo-anang (Venus) which is also a reference to the Waaban-anang. The Biidaaban Anangoog arrive before Waaban-anang, in the false dawn, and are aligned one above the other so that they point to where Waaban-anang will appear. See also: Waaban-anang.


BIINJ-AYI'II WAAWIYEYAA, "Nearby Circle" (1st Asteroid Belt).

BINESI: the Thunderbird constellation

The Binesi (Thunderbird) motif (see the white bird figure at the top of the inserted image) figures prominently in several Ojibwe Anishinaabe stories, ceremonies, and depictions on rock, tree bark, and animal hide and is the overall symbol that unifies all Anishinaabeg.


It is believed that a long time ago Binesi was sent by Wenabozho – a semi spirit central in Anishinaabe creation storytelling – to bring fertility to the earth and to protect the Anishinaabeg against underground and underwater creatures, and also to teach them to organize themselves in doodeman (clans), thus shaping the bedrock of a strong society.

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 related to the south and the summer – which is the time of year when the storms rumble over the Great Lakes. The peal of thunder echoing from every side of the lakes – which are surrounded by dense forests and bordered by rocks – makes it impossible to be unaware their powerful presence. The Binesiwag 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.


The Binesi constellation is the stellar reflection of the binesiwag that visit the below-world in spring and summer. It is believed that some of the old paintings and inscriptions of the Thunderbird figure that can be found on cliff walls all across the Great Lakes and a vast territory to the north and northwest are artistic depictions of the celestial Binesi constellation.


It has also been suggested that some depictions of the Binesi star formation are equivalent to the constellation of Ajijaak, the Sandhill Crane. (To the Anishinaabeg, both Binesi and Ajijaak are ogimaag or leaders; where crane is the first in council, the Thunderbird is a leader in the spiritual and ceremonial domain.) The Binesi/Ajijaak star formation (see below image) is called Cygnus (the Swan) on Western star maps. It is also possible that our ancestors regarded the nearby constellations of the Pegasus/Andromeda as a Thunderbird. There is no reason to think that there could only have been one Binesi constellation; to our ancestors, the region of the night sky was filled with Thunderbirds. As for the rock paintings, the many artistic depictions of binesiwag might well represent different constellations in the night sky. See also: Ajijaak, Binesii-wazison, and Madoodiswan.

BINESIWI-MIIKANA, “the Thunderbird’s Path”


Binesiwi-miikana is a term used occasionally by the Anishinaabeg to denote Jiibay-miikana, the “Spirit Road.” This is the path marked across the sky by the Milky Way galaxy when it is turned westward. In autumn, when it points south, the birds follow it. In spring, it turns north and the birds follow it back again. The name “Thunderbird’s Path” reflects and emphasizes the link between the Spirit Road and the Ajijaak/Bineshi Okanin constellation (Cygnus on the Western star charts): see the two-headed red bird with outstretched wings drawn upside down. See also: Ajijaak/Bineshi Okanin and Jiibay-miikana.

BINESII-WAZISON: Thunderbird Nest


Also called Animikiii-wazison, this spring and summer constellation, depending on the perspective of the storyteller and the context of the story told, is also known as the Madoodiswan (Sweat Lodge). When this star constellation (depicted here as seven bright stars) rises above the tree tops of the forest the Anishinaabeg know that ziigwan (spring) is approaching and the land comes back to life after the winter cleansing.

The Sweat Lodge plays a sacred role in many Native cultures throughout Turtle Island (North America), including that of the Anishinaabeg. The basic design for a madoodiswan – as is the Ojibwe word for the sweat lodge – is a low canopy of wooden poles covered with animal skins or canvas cloth. Participants gather within the madoodiswan as heated stones -– sometimes addressed as nimishoomisaabikoon, "Grandfathers" – are brought in and placed in a depression in the center. Water is poured over the stones to create steam. The madoodiswan is a place to cleanse and heal the spirit, mind, body, and emotions.

The Sweat Lodge is depicted in the image as a silver bracelet adorned with Thunderbird feather designs and mounted with turquoise stones and a crown of red corals. The Thunderbird's Nest/Sweat Lodge appears among the same stars as the Greek constellation of Corona Borealis. The seven bright stars depicted directly underneath the bracelet -- resembling the Corona Borealis -- are the waawananoon (eggs) that lie in the Thunderbird's nest. The Thunderbird Nest and and the Hole-in-the-Sky (Bagonegiizhig) constellations trade places in the sky after about 12 hours time.

In the old days, Anishinaabeg weshkiniigijig (youth of both genders) underwent a ritual complex called makadekewin, or “Vision Quest.” They received preparatory instructions for the makadekewin from their grandparents or trusted community Elders. Final preparation required gii'igwishimowin, or spiritual fasting, which typically lasted eight days. The waaseyaabindamowin, or dream-vision (literally: "being in a state of being light, or clear") was usually sought after in remote, mystic spots where there was a large density of spiritual presence. Isolated fasting and plaintive contemplation, usually for four days and nights, were necessary to reach such a state of spiritual enlightenment which, once realized, ideally provided for guidance for life. In times of confusion, stress, or trouble, the owner of a waaseyaabindamowin could reflect on the most minute elements of the dream-vision or upon the broadest cosmological symbolism of the dream-vision. The waaseyaabindamowin was usually of a bawaagan: a guardian spirit in the form of an animal or a bird. The subject of the waaseyaabindamowin could be an awe- inspiring thing, animal, or natural phenomenen, such as Thunder, which had profound cosmological significance.


The higher the altitude of the location and the more powerful the subject of the dream, the more spiritually powerful the dreamer would become in his later life. A dream-vision of Migizi (Bald Eagle), or a Giniw (Golden Eagle), or an Eshkamegwenh (Osprey), and, particularly, a Binesi (Thunderbird), was gichi-mashkawendaagwad (deemed extremely powerful). A possible stage for such a dream-vision could be a bird's nest at the top of a tall, limbless zhingobiiwaatig (pine tree) at the edge of a steep cliff. But such elevated places, filled with dangerous levels of the spiritual energy of the raptorial birds that inhabited them, were only reserved for the bold; no humble or timid youth would seek such a dream since they would likely fall to death ... Lesser visions that were less demanding on the dreamer were never a cause for shame. Yet there are instances known of Anishinaabe teenager vision-seekers who were bold enough to go out to a rocky area to build a nest of sticks in a tall tree; some of them even stayed seven or nine days or whatever it took to achieve a vision. Needless to say that if they received a vision and could make it back to their community alive, their future would be marked with gichi animikii-manidookewin (great thunder power).

The Binesii-wazison constellation in the night sky is a reflection of the Thunderbird nests that can be found at higher altitudes on Earth. Persons who laid eyes on these nests and were lucky enough to live to tell about it, returned with stories of how they spotted Binesii-waawananoon (Thunderbird eggs) in the nests; it is these eggs that we can still see in a clear night sky in the form of a constellation of seven bright stars close together, it's bowl-shape suggesting the shape of a Thunderbird nest. See also: Ajijaak, Binesi, and Madoodiswan.

CHI-OGIMA ANANG, or GICHI-OGIMA ANANG


Translated as the Great Chief Star, and called Vega in English. The Great Chief Star is depicted as a six-rayed, bluish white star, placed in the center of the star map. It is part of the Midewigaan constellation, called Lyra on the Western star maps, and symbolically linked to the nearby Ajijaak (Crane) constellation. Gichi-ogimaa rises some four minutes earlier each day as Aki (the Earth) moves around the sun. Although it is considered a late spring or summer star, it’s actually so far north on the sky’s dome that – from mid-latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere – you can find it at some time during the night, nearly every night of the year. Gichi-ogimaa controls all the other anangoog (stars) – and therefore also the clans and assigns them their roles, so that there is nothing on Aki that does not have a ruling spirit or star in the skies. It also controls the force of gravity and causes the water to be lifted off the lakes and rivers, and it is believed this star stores up the waters and later releases them to cause snowfalls. It is said that as long as Gichi-ogimaa wills it, the spirit of biboon (winter) covers the earth with a thick blanket of snow and the fish will remain locked underneath the frozen waters of creeks and rivers and lakes. It is also said that as long as waabi-makwa, the spirit of the polar bear, rules the north and Gaa-biboonikaan, the star constellation called Orion by the white man, rises in the east and travels across the southern night sky, the animals and the people on earth hide from biboon's icy breath in their snowed-in dens and caves and houses, and the very ground under their feet will remain hard as flint for a long, long time... (Source: Zhaawano Giizhik, The Gift of Spring.) See also: Ajijaak, Midewigaan.

DIBIK-GIIZIS: the Moon (literally: Night Sun)


Often called Gookomisinaan, our Grandmother. See also Gichi Makwa.

DITIBININJIIBIZON GITIGAANII AKI: "Ring Around the Garden World." (Planet Saturn) (oshki-ikidowin/neologism)


See: Gitigaane.

GAA-BIBOONIKAAN ("Bringer of Winter")


Gaa-biboonikaan, which translates into English as “One Who Brings the Winter,” is called Orion on Western Star charts. Also called Bebooniked Anangoog, the Winter Maker Constellation. The Winter Bringer, which uses many of Orion’s stars and whose arms stretch from Aldebaran (in Taurus the bull) to Procyon the Little Dog Star, embraces the whole of the winter sky. The presense of Gaa-biboonikaan heralds winter; when spring appears, Gaa-biboonikaan sinks into the west.



The Gaa-biboonikaan constellation is also called Misaabe by some Anishinaabemowin speaking people, which translates into English as “the Giant.” Some Anishinaabeg use the term Nanabozho Anang (Wenabozho Anang) for the Orion constellation during the summer moons; as soon as the first snow falls Nanabozho Anang sinks in the west and the Gaa-biboonikaan takes his place again. Wenabozho points the jiibayag (soul-spirits of the deceased) the way to our source and our origin: the Bagone-giizhig –“Hole in the Sky,” a constellation the ancient Greeks named the Pleiades –, represented in the image by the white gold ring featuring a sun and spider design.