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What's Your Doodem, part 8: The Story of the Fisher and Marten clans

Ode’imini-giizis (Strawberry Moon) / Baashkaabigonii-giizis (Blooming Moon), June 11, 2023

 



 

== THE ORIGIN AND SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FISHER AND MARTEN CLANS ==


Boozhoo, biindigen! Today I want to share with you a clan teaching, illustrated by a set of gold-and-silver clan wedding rings.


The design of this set of clan rings, presented with flowing outlines and a explicit narrative character, originates from the deep appreciation I feel for my Anishinaabe heritage — a once hidden treasure that the late artist Miskwaabik Animikii (Norval Morrisseau) made me aware of in various different ways and levels of consciousness.


The rings, made by hand in the minimalist, Ojibwe-style, graphic overlay style that is my trade mark, feature a stylized Fisher (left ring) and a stylized Marten (right ring). The rings are constructed of 14K white gold, 14K yellow gold inlay (Fisher clan ring), and 14K red gold inlay (Marten clan ring); the interiors of both rings consist of sterling silver.


The Fisher is a forest-dwelling, weasel-like animal related to but larger than the American marten. Its range covers much of the boreal forest of Turtle Island (present-day Canada and the northern fringes of what is now the United States).



Historically, the Marten and Fisher clans of the Anishinaabe Peoples have a common origin and share segments of a common culture.


Among some Ojibwe communities, the Waabizheshi odoodem (Marten clan) consists partly of descendants of the Maanadwe odoodem (Fisher clan) of the Odagaamii Meshkwahkihaki, a sibling Anishinaabe Nation* that once lived along the south shore of Gichigami (Lake Superior) in what is now Wisconsin and who were defeated in a fierce battle with the Ojibweg; throughout time, the Ojibwe Marten clan would also adopt many persons with a non-Native father and an Ojibwe mother.


The Odagaamiig were once economically and politically allied to the Dakota Nation, and it is said that one of the reasons the Ojibweg went to war with the Dakota was because of the sibling rivalry between the Odagaamiig and the Ojibweg. This is one of the reasons why back in those days, before the Maanadwe Odoodem became adopted into the Ojibwe Marten clan, the Dakota were looked upon as fierce but noble enemies and the Odagaamii Fisher Clan as “evil enemies,” beyond mythical proportions even…


Fishers, or Ojiig(w)ag in the Ojibwe language, were known by the Anishinaabe Peoples as lively hunters and also for their fierce nature. Waabojiig, the White Fisher was especially loved by the Ojibweg. They stand particularly for singleness of purpose, and good sense.


Several great War Chiefs of the Ojibweg who lived in the 18th and 19th century were named after Waabojiig, the White Fisher.


Ojiiganang, a beloved constellation of seven bright stars in the northern skies, called Big and Little Dipper by the Euro-Americans, was also named after the Fisher.


> Read about the Anishinaabe Wolf Clan: He Who Walks Around the Turtle Island.


 

* The name Meshkwahkihaki is derived from the Meskwaki creation story, in which their culture hero, Wisaka, created the first humans out of red clay. Meshkwahkihaki means "the Red-Earths." The Anishinaabeg peoples called the Meskwaki Odagaamii, meaning "people on the other shore," referring to their territories south of Gichigamiin (Great Lakes). The Euro-Americans called these people "Fox."



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