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The Trees Speak, part 4: Why We Must Learn to Remember the Old Language

Updated: Jan 25

Gichimanidoo-Giizis (Great-Spirit Moon), January 1, 2023


 


 

Boozhoo indinawemaagan, gidinimikoo miinawaa! Biindigen miinawaa nindaadizooke wigamigong; enji-zaagi'iding miinawaa gikendaasong. Hello my relative, I greet you in a good way! Welcome back in my storytelling lodge where there is love and learning.


Today I like to share with you a musing about the importance of relearning the old language, and of using it to reconnect with the spirits of the Universe.


A long time ago all Anishinaabeg (Turtle Island peoples) had one language and they could see their ancestors the anangowininiwag (star people), far away into the night sky. All our inawemaaganag (relations) could communicate and understand each other. The stars, the plant people, stone people, the four legged, the winged, every living being knew the same language. But one bad day the Turtle Island people became out of balance thinking of themselves as better and smarter than the rest of creation. So GICHI-MANIDOO (the Great Mystery) shortened their sight and confused them giving them many languages. After that time, Anishinaabe could no longer speak in this first language -- which nowadays would be called "telepathy" -- in the same way. Only a chosen few people born with mashkiki ("medicine") still know this language. It is said that our brothers and sisters, the spirits of the Sky, the Waters, and the Earth, never forgot this language. This is why we must learn from the spirits and respect them as our ancestors did. The stars, the eagles, the fish, and the trees are our teachers, and it is through ceremony, watching, and honoring those and a myriad of other spirits that we are accepted back into the circle and taught the old language. Through our pipes and drums and rattles and through our dreams and visions and our traditional storytelling we are reconnected to the roots of true communication and the spirit that runs through all things. This is but one of the many reasons why today we start to go to ceremony again and retell the old stories, why we we still wear our traditional regalia, and why we wear our hair long .


Ahaaw, miigwech gibizindaw -- ok, thank you for listening.


 

- Text loosely based on a teaching by Gianni Crow (Source: Mishkiki) - Illustration: Wenabozho and the Gift of the Tree Nation ©2022 Zhaawano Giizhik

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