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Stories and Teachings from the Earth, part 6: Giiwedinong? Geget!

Manoominike-giizis (Ricing Moon), August 17, 2021




I was in a sweat lodge in Manitoba, it was June 2016, and was criticized in a mild way by Nakawē Anishinaabeg, family of my ex Simone, when I said geget.¹ Their g sounds more like a hard k, mine sounds more guttural.

Simone had told me once that her late mother, who was an Anishinaabemowin teacher at Winnipeg University, used to pronounce giiwedin² completely different than I have heard it pronounced in some areas south of Gichigami: it sounds like ki--WAH-tin where I say: gi-WAY-din. As for giiwedin, do you notice the difference in pronunciation of the "g" between, for example, speakers from Nigigoonsiminikaaning³ (in northwestern Ontario) and Odaawaa-Zaaga'iganiing⁴ (in Wisconsin)? And listen to how the first "g" of geget is pronounced by the speaker from Leech Lake as opposed to the speaker from Obaashiing - both Minnesotan reservations? The sound the speaker from Leech Lake produces is - at least, to my ears - a crispy "k" while the second speaker utters a more guttural sound - like "g" in "God."

When I was corrected by my hosts in the damp darkness of that sweat, with only the orange glow of grandfather rocks to see by, I nodded, smiling, and said nothing. What I should have said was, Hoowah! Miigwech for teaching me the beauty of our ᐅᒋᐺᒧᐎᓐ language!

I do love that "k" sound from giiwedinong izhi bangisimong, it is like hearing a dry twig fall on the earth on a crispy cold winter day.


For further reading, see: Ojibwe Phonology


¹ Geget: Certainly! Sure! Indeed!

² Giiwedin: the North; the North Wind ³ Nigigoonsiminikaaning: A First Nation, formerly known as the Nicickousemenecaning First Nation and as the Red Gut First Nation. It is a Nakawē Anishinaabe band government who inhabit the banks of Rainy Lake of the Rainy River District in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. The name Nigigoonsiminikaaning means "Place abundant with Little-Otter berries." Due to the First Nation's main Reserve Rainy Lake 26A located on Red Gut Bay of Rainy Lake, Nigigoonsiminikaaning was also known as the "Red Gut Band" and later as "Red Gut First Nation." Odaawaa-Zaaga'iganiing: Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. The literal maning of the name is "Odaawaa (Ottawa) Lake."

Leech Lake: A reservation in North-Central Minnesota. Its Ojibwe name is Gaa-zagaskwaajimekaag: "Where Leaches Are."

Obaashiing: "At the Narrows." A place at the edge of Red Lake, nowadays called Ponemah, and part of the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

Giwedinong izhi bangisimong: the Northwest.

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1 Comment

Reta Underwood
Reta Underwood
Aug 20, 2021

Miigwich for the "sound K" insight.

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