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  • Writer's picturezhaawano

Teachings from the Tree of Life, part 24: What's the Link between Fire and Sound?

Updated: Mar 14

Onaabani-giizis (Snowcrust Moon), March 10, 2024


Binesi Maamoyaawewin /Ishkode Biinjina ("Thunder Prayer/The Fire Inside of Us
Binesi Maamoyaawewin /Ishkode Biinjina ("Thunder Prayer/The Fire Inside of Us") ©2024 Zhaawano Giizhik


Just a thought.


It is believed in our culture that ishkode, that “first spark of the heart” called “fire” in the English language, is the sacred possession of Binesi, the Thunderbird Clan. The ishkode is the means by which sacrifice and petitions are sent to the manidoog/spirits. This makes the ishkode especially sacred, and those who own it, the Binesi Clan people, have something spiritual that is truly unrivaled. The ishkode is located in naawakamig: The bosom and center of the earth. The center is the place of control where all the cardinal points converge. Whoever controls the center, therefore, controls the cardinal points, and thus, gakina gegoo: Everything in the waawiyebii'igan/circle and everything in waawiyekamig/the round lodge/universe.


The light of the ishkode itself has the power of radiation, and thus reaches out simultaneously to all the cardinal points in relation to which it is the center. I believe that when it comes to gidinwewininaan (our language), madwewechigewin (sound-making) has a similar power as waaseyaawin/ishkode/light, since madwewechigewin also has this same property of radiation from a center in all directions. T

Never underestimate the power of MADWEWECHIGEWIN, sound-making. SOUNDS are the core and essence of our language and our ceremonial practice, and therefore, of izhinamowin, our worldview. his is why the rattles and water drums are so important in our ceremonies. These spirit-instruments radiate sound equally in all directions. Both madwewechigewin and waaseyaawin lie at the core of our spirituality.

The key to understanding the language is being able to learn by initamiwin/sound-hearing. So, in a way, who controls the language through the principle of initamiwin-sound-hearing, sits in the center.


I call this: NISIDOTAN...recognizing/comprehending by sound/HEARING.


It is by returning to the center, through the principle of NISIDOTAN, that we not only LEARN the language, but also get to OWN it.

Initam - (s)he hears certain sounds, understands something heard/init+am-/: /iN-/ thus, in a certain direction, in a certain manner; /-t/ hear it
Onisidotaan - (s)he recognizes by listening
/nisidot-/: /nisidaw-/ recognize
/-t/ hear it
/o-/ /-aan/ he/she

Nahaaw mii sa iw. Miigwech gii agindaasoyeg. OK that is all, thank you for reading.

To read more about the topic of onisidotaan (learning through sound), go to Teachings from the Tree of Life: Why Bears Never Speak Backward but Some Indians Do.



biinjina - inside (the body): bin-jih-NAH

binesi - (thunder)bird: bih-neh-SIH, bih-NAY-sih

gakina gegoo - everything: kak-ih-nah-gay-GOO/kag-ih-nah-GAY-goo

gidinwewininaan - our language: gid-in-weh-wih-nih-NAAN

initam - (s)he hears certain sounds, understands something heard: ih-nih-TUM

initamiwin - sound-hearing: ih-nih-TUM-oh-win ishkode - fire: ish-koh-TEH

madwewechigewin - sound-making: mad-weh-WEH-tchih-geh-win

manidoog - spirits: mah-nih-DOW-g

maamoyaawewin - prayer: maa-moh-YAA-weh-win

miigwech gii agindaasoyeg - thank you for reading: mee-GWETCH-gee-ah-gin-dauh-SOH-yeg

mii i'iw - thats all: MEE-ih-IW

naawakamig - in the middle of the earth: NAUH-ah-kah-MIK

nisidotan - (s)he understands it, recognizes, identifies it (by hearing): nih-sih-doh-TUN

onisidotaan - (s)he learns/recognizes through sound: oh-nih-sih-doh-TAAN

waaseyaawin - light:  wau-seh-YAA-win

waawiyebii'igan - circle: wau-wih-yay-bee-ih-GUN

waawiyekamig - (the Universe): wau-wih-yay-kah-MIK


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