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  • Writer's picturezhaawano

The Way of the Heartbeat, part 15: As Your Heart Beats

Updated: Jun 5

Namebine-giizis (Suckerfish Moon)/Zaagibagaa-giizis (Budding Moon) - June 4, 2024


"As Your Heart Beats" painting by Zhaawano Giizhik
"As Your Heart Beats," ©2024 Zhaawano Giizhik


Listen to your heart

And your heart

Alone, my child.

As your heart beats

So will you be

So will you be, my child

As you are

So will your people

Remember you, my child

As you were

So will your ancestors

Welcome you, my child

Listen to your heart

And your heart

Alone, my child.


Ah, the language of the heart. It is the easiest and at the same time most difficult language to learn easy, since it simply takes a heart to speak it; difficult, since dominant society or settler society as it is called nowadays has taught us to dislike ourselves. The heart knows only one way to speak. The words that come out of our mouths may be plenty and even false, but the heart is averse to rhetoric; it never lies.

Listen to no heart but your own. It is one of the first things we must teach gidabinoojiininaanig our children. We must teach them about the gift of the Heart. It is the strongest, most powerful gift there is.

We must give our children careful attention and show them that they, in order to find unconditional love by others, must first tend their own, spiritual, heart. We must make our children understand that self-worth  – or the quality of their lives should never be ruled by how bad their kin, or society at large, treat them. It has to come from within.

Anishinaabe gete-ayaa, the ancestors, understood the power of self-reflection. They knew that to find knowledge is to know wisdom and that to know love is to know the Universe. They passed on to us this important teaching, which in turn was passed on to them by Migizi, the white-headed eagle spirit that lives in the East.

Inde'mowin, I call this teaching. Literally: "Language of My Heart."


As Your Heart Beats -detail of a panting by Zhaawano Giizhik
"As you were, so will your ancestors welcome you, my child."


Inde'mowin, the language of the heart, is a spiritual language and therefore the most important language of all languages. It takes courage to listen to what our heart tells us. It tells us to love and respect ourselves and live according to the spiritual teachings that our ancestors passed on to us. It also tells us, for example, not to disagree with, or criticize, each other for our blood quantum and skin color or for not being fluent in the language or for not being knowledgeable in the ceremonial ways and procedures of our culture. We all have different backgrounds, and we are all unique when it comes to our abilities and limitations and gifts and talents.

So, let's breathe life into gidizhide’wewininaanin, the language of our hearts and teach our children right. In the end, we all have a beating heart, its pulse part of a universal rhythm that unites us all.

Ishkwaaj gakina-awiiya: In the end, we are all related.

One last note. Judgement, guilt, rules, are things settler society and religion forced upon us. But it has never been the Anishinaabe way. You see, to realize that is to realize how the gete-ayaa walked, how they saw life. To not judge others, to not try to invade another person's spiritual domain, it is that what makes the Anishinaabe way so unique and beautiful. This is what I believe. Mii i'iw.

 Onjida, thank you for listening to me today.


>Episodes of The Way of the Heartbeat series published thus far:

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