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Our Knouiledge Is Oot Primitiue

The Iroquois and Their Neighbors


Christopher Vecsey, Series Editor
O T H E R BOOKS IN T H E I R O Q U O I S AND T H E I R N E I G H B O R S S E R I E S

Archaeology of the Iroquois: Selected Readings and Research Sources


J O R D A N E. K E R B E R , e d .

Big Medicinefrom Six Nations


TED W I L L I A M S ; DEBRA R O B E R T S , ed.

The Collected Speeches of Sagoyewatha} or Red Jacket


G R A N V IL L E G A N T E R , ed.

The History and Culture of Iroquois Diplomacy: An biterdiscipliyiary Guide


to the Treaties of the Six Nations and Their League
F R A N C I S J E N N I N G S , cd.

In Mohawk Country: Early Narratives about a Native People


D E A N R. S N O W , C H A R L E S T. G E H R I N G ,
a n d W I L L I A M A. S T A R N A , e d s .

Iroquoia: The Development about a Native World


WILLIAM ENGELBRECHT

Iroquois Medical Botany


J A M E S W. H E R R I C K ; D E A N R. S N O W , e d.

The Mashpee Indians: Tribe on Trial


J AC K C A M P I S I

Oneida Iroquois Folklore, Myth, and History: New Tork Oral Narrative
from the Notes of H. E. Allen and Others
ANTHONY WONDERLEY

The Reservation
T E D C. W I L L I A M S

Seven Generations of Iroquois Leadership: The Six Nations since 1800


L A U R E N C E M. H A U P T M A N
Our Knowledge
Decolonizing Botanical Anishinaabe Teachings

Is Pot Primitiue
Wendy [Moons Geniusz
Illustrations by Hnnmarie Geniusz

Syracuse University Press


Copyright © 2009 by Syracuse University Press
Syracuse* New York 13244-5160

All Rights Reserved

First Edition 2009

09 10 11 12 13 14 6 5 4 3 2 1

Cover photograph by Annmarie Geniusz

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements


of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence
of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.1M«»

For a listing of books published and distributed by Syracuse University Press,


visit our Web site at SyracuscUnivcrsityPrcss.syr.edu.

ISBN: 978 0-8156-3204-7 (doth)

pibrary of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Geniusz, Wendy Djinn.


Our knowledge is not primitive: decolonizing botanical Anishinaabc
teachings / Wendy Makoons Geniusz. — 1st cd.
p. cm. — (The Iroquois and their neighbors)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-8156-3204-7 (hardcover : alk. paper)
1. Ojibwa Indians—Ethnobotany. 2. Ojibwa Indians—Ethnobotanv—
History—Sources. 3. Ojibwa Indians—Colonization. 4. Decolonization—
United States. 5. Eurocentrism. 6. Ethnology—Social aspects—United States.
7. Ethnology—Research—United States. I. Title.

E99.C6G647 2009

325\3973—dc22 2008055508

Manufactured in the United States o f America


To Nookomis, NimishoomisMakwa
And to Mom and Dad
w en d y m ak o o n s g e n iu szthe director of Ameri­
IS

can Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau


Claire. She is Bear Clan and of Cree, Metis, and Polish
descent, although she was raised with Ojibwe language and
culture. Geniusz has worked with several Ojibwe language
revitalization projects throughout Wisconsin, Michigan,
and Minnesota. While in graduate school, she directed the
University of Minnesota’s Ojibwe Language CD-ROM
Project for three years. Geniusz has also worked with the
Chicaugon Chippewa Community of Iron River, Michigan,
to start an Ojibwe language program in their community
and to prepare an application for federal recognition. She
has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of
Minnesota.
Contents

ILLUSTRATIONS ix
PREFACE xi
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xvii

Introduction: Decolonization and Biskaabiiyang Methodologies


1. The Presentation of Botanical Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin
in the Written Record 13
2. Botanical Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin
Within Anishinaabe-izhitwaawin 51
3. The Colonization and Decolonization
of Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin 89
4. Giizhikaatig miinawaa Wiigwaasi-mitig
A Sample of Decolo?iized Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin 121
Conclusion 158

APPENDIX
Instructionsfor Working with Giizhikaatig and Wiigwaasi-mitig
GLOSSARY 189
REFERENCES 197
INDEX 207
Illustrations

1. Ojibwc “hieroglyphs” as drawn by Keewaydinoquay 84


2. White cedar, giizhikaatig (Thuja occidentalis) 122
3. Paper birch, wiigwaasi-mitig (Bctula papyrifera) 123
4. Bearberry, makwa-miskomin (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi L.) 124
5. Detail of attaching warp strips to basswood cord 176
6. Attaching warp to basswood cord 177
7. Attaching warp to weaving frame 178
8. Weaving first weft and attaching both ends 179
9. Continuing weaving pattern 179
10. Pulling basswood cord across bottom of weaving 180
11. Finishing bottom of weft with same folding technique used
to finish side and top edges 180
12. Tucking in loose ends, tying off loose cords, and removing finished mat
from weaving frame 181
13. Basic weaving pattern 182
14. Variation on basic weaving pattern 182

TA BL E S

1. Anishinaabemowin terms used frequently in this research 11


2. Pronunciation key for double vowel Ojibwe 189
Preface

I was raised with the anishinaabe teaching that one must always introduce
the source of one’s teachings. Before presenting this research, therefore, I
introduce those elders who shared information with me, and without whose
assistance this project would not have been possible.

&

The late Kecwaydinoquay, a mashkikiiwikwe (medicine woman) and ethno-


botanist, was one of my first teachers of anishinaabe-gikendaasowin (ani­
shinaabe knowledge). She identified herself as ajijaak (Crane) Clan. She led
Midewiwin ceremonies and trained oshkaabewisag (apprentices) to continue
her work as a medicine woman and spiritual leader. Keewaydinoquay was
born in 1918 (Tanner, pers. comm.).1 She said that she spent much of her
childhood in an anishinaabe village on Cat Head Bay, which is on the tip
of the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan (Tanner, pers. comm.; M. Gen-
iusz, pers. comm.). At approximately nine years old, she was apprenticed
to Nodjimahkwe, a well-respected mashkikiiwikwe in her village (Keeway­
dinoquay 1989a). As a child, she was one of only five children in her village
who was not taken away to boarding school, giving her the opportunity to
visit with and learn from all the elders in the village, many of whom greatly
missed their own grandchildren away at school. She says that by the time she1

1. This date comes from a letter that Kecwaydi noquay’s mother wrote as the date of
Kccwaydinoquay’s birth in a letter she wrote to her own father, Keewaydinoquay’s grandfa­
ther (Tanner, October 14,2004). A copy of this letter is in the possession of Helen Hornbeck
Tanner.

xt
i

Xll P R E F AC E

realized the great extent of knowledge that these elders and Nodjimahkwe
had taught her, it was too late to thank them. She decided that sharing this
knowledge with others would be the next best thing, and so she spent much
of her life doing that (Keewaydinoquay 1991a). She founded the Miniss
Kitigan Drum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching anishinaabe
culture, in one effort to preserve and teach this knowledge. Keewaydino­
quay was also an ethnobotanist and taught courses, beginning in 1981,
on philosophy and ethnobotany at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
(Keewaydinoquay n.d.a). She held several formal academic degrees, includ­
ing a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University, which
she received in 1944, and a Master of Science in Biology degree from Cen­
tral Michigan University, which she received in 1977 (Keewaydinoquay
n.d.e). She also completed the coursework for a Ph.D. in biology with an
emphasis in ethnobotany at the University of Michigan, but she was unable
to complete the required exams to begin writing her dissertation (W. Gen-
iusz 2005,193).

My mother, Mary Siisip Geniusz, was another of my first teachers of ani-


shinaabe-gikendaasowin. Geniusz is Makwa (bear) Clan and was born in
Cornwall, Ontario, in 1948. She is Cree, but she was one of ICeewaydino-
quay’s oshkaabewisag and, as such, practices anishinaabe culture. Geniusz
also worked as a teaching assistant for Keewaydinoquay’s university courses.
She did the majority of her work with Keewaydinoquay when I was between
the ages of five and twelve. Many times during my childhood, my mother
and I would collect botanical materials to make everything from mats for a
wigwam to cough medicine. More recently, seeing this project as an oppor­
tunity to enrich my cultural and academic lives simultaneously, Geniusz
has worked with me on even more ethnobotanical projects. Geniusz has
a master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Wisconsin-Mil­
waukee, and she is completing a Master of Indigenous Knowledge degree
from Seven Generations Education Institute in Ontario. Geniusz currently
teaches courses on anishinaabe ethnobotany for Minnesota State University-
Preface xiii

Moorhead’s American Multicultural Studies Department and the University


of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Continuing Education Program.

My husband’s grandparents, George McGeshick, Sr., and his late wife,


Mary McGeshick, also taught me many things about anishinaabe culture
and language. Mary McGeshick had already passed over before I began this
research, but many of the teachings that George McGeshick shared with
me for this research came from experiences that he had had with his wife.
George McGeshick was born in 1914. He is Wciwaazisii (bullhead) Clan
and a fluent Ojibwe speaker. McGeshick is chief of the Chicaugon Chip­
pewa of Iron River, Michigan, and he has led that community for many
years. He is also enrolled in the Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.
He remembers living with the Mole Lake Band when they lived at Pickerel
Dam in Wisconsin before they were granted a reservation in the 1930s.
McGeshick is a well-known birch bark canoe maker, who, with the help of
his wife and family, has made canoes for many organizations, including the
Smithsonian Institution.

3 $

Dora Dorothy Whipple, whose anishinaabe name is Mezinaashiikwe, has


also taught me many things about anishinaabe-gikendaasowin and the
Ojibwe language. Whipple is an elder from the Leech Lake Reservation in
Minnesota, where she was raised near Boy River. Whipple’s official birth
date is November 9, 1919, but the records of her birth were lost in a fire
at the Cass Lake office. Birth certificates were reissued after this fire, but
Whipple says that those rewriting these records made guesses as to how old
the people were. She thinks she was actually born in the fall of 1920. Whip­
ple adds that although her birth certificate says she was born at Cass Lake,
she was actually born five miles away (Whipple, pers. comm.). Today she
is a respected member of Minneapolis’s anishinaabe community. Whipple
is a fluent Ojibwe speaker who has worked on many language revitaliza-
xiv PREFACE

tion projects, including the University of Minnesota’s Ojibwe Language


CD-ROM Project.

Ken Johnson, Sr., whose anishinaabe name is Waasebines, also worked with
me on this research. Johnson is Wazhashk (muskrat) Clan, from the Seine
River First Nation Reserve in Ontario. He is in his fifties and, unlike many
of his generation, a fluent Ojibwe speaker. Johnson still practices the ani­
shinaabe way of life and graciously shares his teachings with students from
Canada and the United States. Johnson has worked on several Ojibwe lan­
guage and culture revitalization projects, including the University of Min­
nesota’s Ojibwe Language CD-ROM Project.

Another elder, who asked not to be identified, worked with me on this


project. At her request, I identify her as Rose in this research. She wishes
those reading this research to know only that she is from Canada.

W RITING FROM AN A N IS H IN A A B E P E R S P E C T IV E

Boozhoo. Mashkiigookwe indaaw. Makwa indoodem. Odinawemaaganan


a’aw ninga onjibaawan iwidi Zhaaganaashiiwakiing gaye odinawemaaga­
nan a’aw noos agaami-gichigamiing onjibaawan. Anishinaabewikwe aawi
niiyawen’enyiban, Keewaydinoquay izhinikaazoban. Wiin Minis-gitigaan-
ing onjibaaban. Minowakiing niin nindoonjibaa. Makoons indizhinikaaz,
anishinaabewinikaazoyaan.
Hello. I am Crce and a member of die Bear Clan. My mother’s people come
from Canada, and my father’s people come from Poland. My namesake was
Ojibwe,2 and her name was Keewaydinoquay. She came from Garden Island,
Michigan. I come from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I am called Makoons.

2. In Ojibwe, niiyawt’enh (my namesake) refers to a reciprocal relationship between the


person doing the naming and the one who is named.
Preface xv

It is in accordance with anishinaabe protocol that I introduce myself this


way. According to our customs, I must explain who I am, to whom I am
connected, and where I come from so that those listening to me will know
the origin of my teachings. To do otherwise would be disrespectful to the
many people who have sacrificed their time and energies to teach me these
things. Genetically I carry a mix of Cree and non-native backgrounds. Cul­
turally, however, I am anishinaabe because I was raised, in accordance with
my Anishinaabe namesake’s wishes, with the teachings of that culture. When
writing this book, I am speaking from an anishinaabe perspective.

ANISHINAABE NAMES

Anishinaabe names, commonly called Indian names, appear throughout this


text. Out of respect for the individuals who have these names, no attempt ha:
been made to analyze their meaning. In cases where I knew the individual,
I let him or her choose how to spell his or her name. Otherwise, I chose the
spelling of the name as found in the original source.

T R E A T M E N T OF O JIB W E W OR DS

As will be explained in the introduction, Ojibwe words are an integral part


of this text. Singular and plural forms of Ojibwe nouns are used throughout
this text. The first occurrence of an Ojibwe word not quoted directly from a
written document is followed by an English translation given in parentheses
and cited in the glossary. There are no standard rules of capitalization for
Ojibwe words, so I have chosen to capitalize only proper nouns. I have capi­
talized Anishinaabe only when referring to the Anishinaabe people, leaving
the word in the lower case when using it to describe some facet of life or
culture, such as “anishinaabe communities.” I have used the diacritic ’ to
signify a glottal stop in Ojibwe words.
Acknowledgments

I would like to thank all of the elders who helped me with this research.
Miigwech (thank you) to: Keewaydinoquay, George and Mary McGeshick,
Dora Dorothy Whipple, Ken Johnson, Sr., Rose, Cheryl Podgorski (Auke-
equay) and Mary Geniusz. Without the knowledge you shared with me, I
would not have been able to write this book.
For their support and suggestions throughout the years, miigwech to my
thesis advisor, John D. Nichols, and my entire committee: Patricia Albers
Jean O’Brien-Kehoe, and David Martinez. Thank you to all the others who
have given me invaluable support and suggestions: Helen Hornbeck Tanner,
senior research fellow at the Newberry Library, Chicago; John Aubrey of
the Newberry Library, Chicago; Douglas Harder of the Ronald E. McNair
Program; and Robin Kornman and Diane Amour of the University of
Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Thank you also to Neil T. Luebke of the Milwaukee
Public Museum Botany Department.
I am grateful to all the people who helped fund my writing and research.
Thank you to: Michigan State University for the Predoctoral Fellowship in
American Indian Studies, the Newberry Library for the Frances C. Allen
Fellowship, Colgate University for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Predoctoral Fellowship in Native American and Educational Studies, and the
American Studies Program at the University of Minnesota for the Graduate
Summer Research Grant.
Miigwech to all my relations for their support and encouragement, with­
out which I could not have completed this work. Thank you especially to: my
parents, Robert and Mary Geniusz; my sister, Annmarie Geniusz, and her
husband, Stephen Bockhold; my uncle, Edward Geniusz; my grandparents;
xv it
XViii | ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Lynn Ningwiisiisis Simonsen; and my clan sister, Mary Jane Allen, and her
husband, Harvey Allen. Finally, miigwech to my husband, Errol Geniusz,
who put aside his life so that he could support me in mine. Thank you for
inspiring me to want to succeed and for encouraging me to do so.
Our Knowledge Is Oot Primitiue
Introduction
Decolonization and Biskaabiiyang Methodologies

Many of us have this image, ingrained in our heads since primary school,
of the colonists, those brave individuals of long ago who came to a “New
World” and managed to make a life for themselves out of the bare wilder-'
ness. Ask any American child today what a colonist looked like, and she or
he will probably describe men in black hats with huge silver shoe buckles and
women wearing plain long dresses and shawls. We associate such images with
the past, which is where we mentally place colonialism. For many adults,
colonialism exists only in past centuries. After all, there were revolutions in
the Americas; colonies broke away from their “mother” countries in Europe.
Still, to some of us, and I speak here as a native person and a scholar in
American Indian Studies, colonialism goes much further and much deeper
in our society than these images, and it continues to be a driving force.
Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Maori scholar and author of Decolonizing Meth­
odologies, argues that the colonizers and the colonized have viewed impe­
rialism and colonialism in very different ways. From the perspective of the
colonizers, imperialism was a state of mind that allowed Europeans to
develop a sense of who they were and enabled them to “imagine the pos­
sibility that new worlds, new wealth and new possessions existed that could
be discovered and controlled.” European colonialism facilitated imperialism
by “securing,” “subjugating,” and “exploiting” indigenous peoples, allow­
ing imperialism to expand economically and to maintain control over new
territories. Smith describes European colonies as “outposts” of imperialism,
“cultural sites which preserved an image or represented an image of what the
West or ‘civilization’ stood for.” This image of civilization stood in sharp
1
2 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

contrast to that of the indigenous peoples surrounding these outposts of


imperialism (L. Smith 1999, 20-25).
Those who have been colonized often have an entirely different view of
imperialism. From this perspective, colonialism is about one people com­
pletely taking over another people. It is not just about land. It does not
end when one government gains control of another. It is about one society
absorbing another society, and it continues until that process is accomplished.
Yes, lands and governments are taken over, but so is every other facet of life,
including language, culture, religion, knowledge, bodies, and beings. Many
indigenous people, especially those trying to interpret imperialism and colo­
nialism in order to understand what was done to them and their societies,
look beyond the immediately noticeable results of imperialism, such as the
colonization of land and the exploitation of peoples and resources, to the not
so readily noticed results: the colonization of oneself. Linda Smith explains,
ttThc reach of imperialism into ‘our heads’ challenges those who belong to
colonized communities to understand how this occurred, partly because we
perceive a need to decolonize our minds, to recover ourselves, to claim a
space in which to develop a sense of authentic humanity” (1999, 21-23).
In the Americas, the early colonists used a variety of tactics to maintain
and increase their landholdings. This part of the story usually is not debated.
Yes, the history books tell us of wars between the colonists and the Indians.
Yes, some colonists used underhanded tactics to attain land. Yes, some colo­
nists also purchased land from the Indians, as exemplified by the existence of
deeds, treaties, and other legal documents. For indigenous people, coloniza­
tion was not just economic and physical exploitation and subjugation. It was
also the exploitation and subjugation of our knowledge, our minds, and our
very beings. This process was an important mechanism, which members of
the colonial ruling elite used to gain control of the land and people in the
“New World.” To achieve and maintain their position of dominance over the
land and its original inhabitants, members of the colonial ruling elite set into
motion certain psychological, social, and economic mechanisms from which
their descendants continue to benefit and because of which the majority of
American Indians, other peoples of color, and the poor continue to suffer.
Over the last few decades scholars such as Howard Zinn, Ronald Takaki,
George Lipsitz, and Elizabeth and Stuart Ewen have added to a growing body
Introduction | 3

of literature on how the European ruling elite, at the beginning of American


colonization, created images of race and the “other” in order to establish
dominance in the “New World.”1 One multifaceted mechanism, which con­
tinues to maintain this power structure, is the colonization of knowledge.
Those charged with carrying out various assimilation tactics were taught to
view native knowledge as “primitive” or “evil,” and, as a result, they often
prevented its continued dispersal within native communities. Native people
were also made to view their knowledge as “wrong” or “inferior” and non­
native knowledge as “right” or “superior,” and, having such views, many
naturally chose what was made to look like the better knowledge.
The colonization of native knowledge assisted the colonizers in assimi­
lating native peoples, but it also gave them another important benefit: They
gained this knowledge for themselves. When looking at the colonization of
botanical knowledge, the subject of this text, one sees that the colonizers did
indeed gain much knowledge. In Science and Colonial Expansion: The Role
of the British Royal Botanic Gardens, Lucile H. Brockway argues that not
only did colonizers benefit from native botanical knowledge, they also were
able to use this knowledge to fuel their imperialist efforts. Brockway does
not describe the mechanisms of colonization that forced native peoples and
others to view indigenous knowledge as primitive, but her examples illustrate
the tremendous benefit the elite colonizers gained by making native knowl­
edge appear “primitive.” Once native people came to view their knowledge
as inferior, some were willing to part with it, for a price reflecting its primi­
tive, inferior nature. Others, seeing the devastating effects of assimilation
efforts, chose to entrust this knowledge to researchers as a means of preserv­
ing it. In the end, the colonization process both destroyed and preserved
native knowledge, and that is the beginning of this text.
This book examines the colonization of botanical anishinaabe-gikend-
aasowin (anishinaabe knowledge) and suggests ways that this information
can be decolonized, reclaimed, and made useful to programs revitalizing
anishinaabe language and culture. Anishinaabey or Anishinaabeg in the
plural, is the self-designation of several American Indian peoples, including
the Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawatomi. There are contemporary anishinaabe

1. Please see references for examples of works by these authors.


4 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

communities in several states and provinces, including Michigan, Wisconsin,


Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and
Quebec. Although these tribes have similar cultures and languages, there are
differences between them, and because of those differences one should not
assume that everything written in this book about the Anishinaabeg applies
to all of these groups. References made to anishinaabe culture and language
in this book refer specifically to those of the American Indian people who
are commonly referred to in English as the Chippewa, Ojibway, Ojibwa, or
Ojibwe. The Anishinaabeg call their language Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwe-
mowin, although in English it is often called Ojibwe. Tribal stories confirm
linguistic and anthropologic research demonstrating that the Anishinaabeg
are related linguistically and culturally to other Algonquian tribes including
the Menominee, Meskwaki, and Cree.
Researchers have recorded a fair amount of information about how the
Anishinaabeg work with plants and trees; however, much of this information
has been colonized. In order to use this knowledge for cultural revitaliza­
tion, it must be reworked and reinterpreted into a format that is appropri­
ate and usable to anishinaabe-izhitwciawin (anishinaabe culture). One could
argue that any published text is colonized because colonizers brought the
publishing industry to North America, but such an argument focuses on the
immediately noticeable results of imperialism and the colonization process:
one people controlling another people’s land, government, and resources.
While this is an important part of colonization and should not be deval­
ued or overlooked, I choose to look deeper into the process of colonization
by focusing on the often unseen mechanisms through which the colonists
continue to maintain their power. In this context, a “text” refers to the writ­
ten documentation of this research: a book, article, or unpublished note. A
“colonized text” fits either or both of the following definitions: it serves the
interests of the colonizers and the processes of systemic racism and oppres­
sion, or it presents information according to the philosophies, cosmologies,
and knowledge-keeping systems of the colonizers, which are alien to those
of anishinaabe-izhitwaawin.
Some of these colonized texts are insulting because they make degrad­
ing statements about the Anishinaabeg and their knowledge. Excuses for
such statements are often made: “This writer is merely a product of the times
Introduction | 5

in which she or he was writing.” “This is only the opinion of the few people
involved in the writing and publishing of this research.” That may be, but
these statements support something much larger and much more powerful
than those who wrote or produced these texts. By insulting the Anishinaabeg
and their knowledge, these texts are contributing to the mechanisms of colo­
nization, those same mechanisms that made native peoples, other peoples of
color, and the poor appear “inferior” and other people “superior.” Some of
these colonized texts are nearly unusable, or in some instances dangerous,
because the presentation of the information in them is so abbreviated that
one could not actually use the botanical material in the way suggested. As
discussed in chapter 1, the academic disciplines out of which these research­
ers were writing and publishing often dictated how they presented this infor­
mation. Although it would be inappropriate to blame these researchers for
following their own traditions and those of their disciplines when presenting
this information, those traditions are the traditions of the colonizers. In fact,
most of these colonized texts, even those that are not abbreviated, present
this information according to the philosophies and theories of the colonizer.
This presentation of information is alien to anishinaabe culture, so for pur­
poses of using this information in an anishinaabe cultural context, it must
be reworked.
Anishinaabe people and organizations often attempt to use colonized
texts of anishinaabe-gikendaasowin in their language and culture revitali­
zation programs, but these texts often fall short of being adequate tools
of cultural revitalization. For example, I saw an Anishinaabe woman at an
organized cultural program demonstrating to a group of children how to
make dream catchers, an ornament often made from twigs bent into a circle
with webbing in the center.2 The woman giving this demonstration did not
understand that the written source she read aloud to her participants and
used to make handouts had been written by an Asian scholar who tried to
have her text translated into Ojibwe so that it would appear more “authen­
tic.” I only know of this scholar’s efforts because she approached a friend
of mine to make this translation. This text contains gross inaccuracies,

2. Twigs often used to make dream catchers are taken from one of two trees: willow (Salix
spp.) or red osier dogwood (Cornnsscricea L.).
6 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

including references to spirits who are not part of anishinaabe cosmology.


The woman who used this text in her demonstration was not a scholar and
was apparently unaware of the questionable nature of the material in this
text. She was just looking for a written source of material to use in her dem­
onstration. I have also seen language programs use Plants Used by the Great
Lakes Ojibwa, a text that will be discussed in greater detail in the succeeding
chapters, as their only resource for botanical anishinaabe-gikendaasowin.
The authors of this text do not give enough details to make many of their
descriptions usable, and they do not cite the sources of their botanical infor­
mation. Further, researchers who did not know the language gathered many
of the Ojibwe names presented in this text, and many of their plant names
are thus unpronounceable. Despite these problems, this text is used by many
anishinaabe programs, probably by virtue of the fact that it is one of the only
widely available texts on the subject. Some of our people see this text and,
possibly owing to its size, assume that it contains lots of information about
how we use plants and trees. When describing my research on anishinaabe
botanical knowledge to Anishinaabe people involved in cultural revitaliza­
tion, I am often told, “Well, have you seen Plants Used by the Great Lakes
Ojibwa? All the information you could possibly want on plants and trees is
right there.” This is not an accurate statement, and new materials need to be
written before our elders, many of whom still hold this information, are no
longer here to help us.
Before colonized texts can be used in a program revitalizing anishinaabe
culture, they need to be “decolonized”; that is, changes need to be made
to these presentations of anishinaabe-gikendaasowin. Degrading comments
need to be removed, and additions need to be made to abbreviated instruc­
tions so that they can be safely followed. The presentation of this information
needs to be brought back into the context of anishinaabe worldview, rather
than left in the non-native context in which it currently exists. For exam­
ple, researchers have split anishinaabe-gikendaasowin into separate areas of
study, such as folklore, religion, music, and botany. Although the Anishinaa-
beg have stories, religions, music, and botanical information, these are not
the extremely specialized, narrowly defined categories of non-native scholarly
work. Within an anishinaabe cultural context, one does not ignore informa­
tion in one of these categories in order to concentrate exclusively on another.
Introduction | 7

This research joins decolonization efforts in American Indian studies and


in indigenous communities around the globe today. Although taking many
forms, decolonization movements are ultimately based on the premise that
indigenous people’s lives and knowledge systems around the globe have been
colonized along with their lands and resources, and it is now time to reverse
the colonization process. Individuals from alien cultures have taken our lands,
brainwashed our children, stolen our dead, and tried to make every part of
our bodies and minds just like theirs. The colonizers have also collected and
critiqued our knowledge and cultures, resulting in volumes of written materi­
als that attempt to explain and present us to the rest of the world. Decoloniza­
tion efforts seek to reclaim all these aspects of indigenous lives.
By breaking away from the colonizers and regaining control of our
bodies, minds, and lives, those of us involved in decolonization attempt to
reverse the colonization process. In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon
depicts the decolonizing process as a struggle between opposing binaries:
the colonizer and the colonized. He calls for colonized peoples to decolo­
nize and free themselves from European states, institutions, and societies.
Fanon writes, “let us not pay tribute to Europe by creating states, institu­
tions and societies which draw their inspiration from her. Humanity is wait­
ing for something other from us than such an imitation, which would be
almost an obscene caricature” (1968, 255). Fanon argues that decoloniza­
tion is more than just breaking away from Europe; it is also about breaking
away from European ideas and the structure of European institutions. It is
about creating something new. More recently, in Decolonizing Methodologies,
Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith applies the decolonization concept to
academic theories, research, and methodologies. She describes this process
not as discarding research, but rather as “centering our concerns and world
views and then coming to know and understand theory and research from
our own perspectives and for our own purposes” (1999, 39). According to
Smith, then, decolonization is about changing, rather than imitating, the
European or Western concept of research so that it fits into and can be used
in conjunction with indigenous cultures.
The theoretical foundation of this decolonization of anishinaabe-gikend-
aasowin is based on premises similar to that of Kaupapa Maori, approaches
to research developed by the Maori people as a means of combating the
8 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

dehumanizing ways in which they have been depicted through academic


research and of showing other Maori that they can use research to their
own benefit. Before the development of Kaupapa Maori, the tendency of
many Maori was to completely discard all research because of their people’s
negative history with research and researchers. Maori researchers, educated
in non-native institutions, were trained to be detached from their research
and found it difficult to work among their people until those working with
Kaupapa Maori began developing methodologies for conducting research in
one’s own community. Kaupapa Maori accepts that Maori people have their
own priorities and questions, which research can help answer and which are
different from those of nonindigenous academics because they come from an
entirely different worldview (L. Smith 1999, 183-93).
Like the Maori, we as Anishinaabeg have our own priorities and ques­
tions when conducting research ofanishinaabe-gikendaasowin. Although our
culture and language continue to live, there are pieces of both that are lost
or are in danger of being lost because they are no longer practiced or used.
Knowledge about working with plants and trees to make everyday items,
food, and simple remedies is one of these areas. Our priorities in recording
or reclaiming this information differ from those of non-native researchers,
who often view their research on us as: a preservation effort, a final attempt
to save strands of a dying culture, a bringing of native knowledge to the rest
of the world, or a means of gathering data to prove some academic theory.
Instead, our priority is to revitalize this knowledge within our own lives so
that it will be there for our children and grandchildren and their children
and grandchildren.
Given that the decolonization of anishinaabe-gikendaasowin has objec­
tives so different from those of standard academic research, it stands to
reason that the theoretical foundation of this research should come from
a different philosophy than that of standard academic research. The Maori
have found this to be true for their own research, and the foundations of
Kaupapa Maori approaches to research come from Maori language, culture,
teachings, and philosophy (L. Smith 1999,183-93). The Anishinaabeg have
an effort similar to that of the Maori. In 2003, the newly formed Masters
of Indigenous Knowledge/Philosophy Program of the Seven Generations
Education Institute, which is nestled between Couchiching First Nation
Introduction [ 9

Reserve and Fort Francis, Ontario, on Agency One Land, began developing
Biskaabiiyang approaches to research that attempt to decolonize the Anishi-
naabeg and their knowledge. This book implements Biskaabiiyang research
methodologies to decolonize anishinaabe-gikendaasowin.
The Biskaabiiyang approach to research was developed in courses for the
Masters of Indigenous Knowledge/Philosophy Program when students and
instructors asked Anishinaabe elders to describe in Ojibwe certain concepts
associated with how an Anishinaabe person learns within anishinaabe cul­
ture. The elders involved in this project include Delbert Horton and Ann
Wilson of the Rainy River First Nations, Tobasonakwut Kinew of the Oni-
gaming First Nation, and Edward Benton-Benai of Lac Courte d’Oreilles.
The Anishinaabe academics involved in this project helped the students cor­
relate these anishinaabe cultural concepts with those of traditional academia.
This project resulted in a list of terms in the Ojibwe language, describing
the anishinaabe way of being, to be used by those conducting research on
anishinaabe-gikendaasowin. Those following Biskaabiiyang approaches to
research use these research terms. Mary Siisip Geniusz, a master’s student in
this program, provided the copy of this list of terms used in this book.
In the context of this methodology, the word biskaabiiyang means
“returning to ourselves” (“Anishinaabe Wordlist” 2003). Laura Horton,
director of the Post Secondary Education Program at Seven Generations,
describes Biskaabiiyang research as a process through which Anishinaabe
researchers evaluate how they personally have been affected by colonization,
rid themselves of the emotional and psychological baggage they carry from
this process, and then return to their ancestral traditions (Horton, pers.
comm.). As far as the survival of Anishinaabe people and culture is con­
cerned, this is the most crucial part of Biskaabiiyang research methodologies.
Not only does this approach to research give Anishinaabe academics and
communities a common ground on which to begin talking about research,
it also gives all of us a means of coming to terms with, to quote Linda Smith
again, “The reach of imperialism into ‘our heads.’” For generations Anishi­
naabe and all native peoples have been bombarded by negative stereotypes
about our cultures and ourselves. Some of us have been conditioned to view
ourselves and our cultures through the lenses created by those stereotypes.
When using Biskaabiiyang methodologies, an individual must recognize and
10 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

deal with this negative kind of thinking before conducting research. This is
the only way to return to the teachings of our ancestors, and it is the only
way to conduct new research that will be beneficial to the continuation of
anishinaabe-gikendaasowin and anishinaabe-izhitwaawin.
The foundations of Biskaabiiyang approaches to research are derived
from the principles of anishinaabe-inaadiziwin(anishinaabe psy
way of being). These principles ar cja-izhth at which
is given to us in a loving way (by the spirits). They have developed over gen­
erations and have resulted in a wealth of (traditional legends,
ceremonies); dibaajimowin(teachings, ordinary stories, personalstories,
histories); Anishinaabemowin(language as a way of life); and anishinaabe-
izhitwaawin (anishinaabe culture, teachings, customs, history). Through
Biskaabiiyang methodology, this research goes back to the principles o f
anishinaabe-inaadiziwin in order to decolonize or reclaim anishinaabe-
gikendaasowin.
For indigenous people, an important step in decolonization is taking con­
trol of research. The Maori have begun taking control of their own research
through naming the approaches to research used in Kaupapa Maori. Linda
Smith explains, “This naming of research has provided a focus through which
Maori people, as communities of the researched and as new communities o f
the researchers, have been able to engage in a dialogue about setting new
directions for the priorities, policies, and practices of research for, by and
with Maori” (1999, 183). Decolonizing research is more than just having
indigenous people working on research projects in their own communities.
It is also about naming the research process and theories used to conduct
that research. Therefore, this decolonization of anishinaabe-gikendaasowin,
as demonstrated in the previous paragraph, includes the use of terms from
the Ojibwe language to describe certain facets of anishinaabe knowledge and
way of life. Table 1 provides the terms with which the reader will need to be
familiar as they appear many times throughout this text.
Within the text, these terms are not explicitly marked with the word ani­
shinaabe. Following the conventions of Ojibwe discourse, once the explicit
modified forms of such words are introduced, further references use the
unmodified form with the fuller meaning understood. For instance, in the fol­
lowing chapters, izhitwaawin is used in place of anishinaabe-izhitwaawin.
Introduction | II

I. A N ISH IN A A B E M O W IN TERMS USED FR EQ U EN TLY

IN T H IS R E S E A R C H

Explicit Modified Form Unmodified Form Gloss

anishinaabe-gikendaasowin gikcndaasowin knowledge, information,


and the synthesis of our
personal teachings
anishinaabe-inaadiziwin inaadiziwin anishinaabe psychology,
way of being
anishinaabc-izhitwaawin izhitwaawin anishinaabe culture,
teachings, customs, history
aadizookaan (sing.) traditional legends,
aadizookaanan (pi.) ceremonies
dibaajimowin (sing.) teachings, ordinary stories,
dibaajimowinan (pi.) personal stories, histories

Because they come from our language, these terms more closely describe
certain aspects of our knowledge and way of life. For example, we are not
just talking about “knowledge,” we are talking about anishinaabe-gikcnd-
aasowin, our own specific knowledge, unique to the Anishinaabe people,
which includes not just information but also the synthesis of our personal
teachings. Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin has been around since before the
birth of the first human being. Anishinaabe authors Edward Benton-Banai
and Basil Johnston outline the additions that Ncnabozho, son of the West
Wind Manidoo (spirit) and an Anishinaabe woman, made to anishinaabe-
gikendaasowin (Benton-Banai 1988; Johnston 1976; Johnston 1995). As
one of the original contributors to anishinaabe-gikendaasowin, Nenabozho
categorized and labeled all of the earth’s flora, fauna, and geographical fea­
tures. Included in the information Nenabozho brought to the Anishinaabeg
is guarded anishinaabe-gikendaasowin, such as Midewaajimowin, the teach­
ings of the Midewiwin, an anishinaabe religious organization. One only
receives such knowledge upon completion of certain degrees of training,
and this knowledge is not the subject of this research. The anishinaabe-
gikendaasowin discussed in this text is knowledge that every Anishinaabe
12 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

needs to know for survival and in order to participate in anishinaabe-in-


aadiziwin and anishinaabe-izhitwaawin.
Finally, throughout this text I will use the first person when describing
information that comes from my own life and experiences. Use of the first
person is an important difference between Biskaabiiyang and other research
methodologies. Biskaabiiyang approaches to research begin with the Anishi-
naabe researcher, who must look at his or her own life and how he or she has
been personally colonized in order to conduct research from the standpoint
of anishinaabe-inaadiziwin. Rather than assuming an unbiased stance to
research, a researcher using Biskaabiiyang approaches to research submerges
him or herself within anishinaabe-inaadiziwin and anishinaabe-izhitwaawin,
the very things that he or she is researching. From this position, the Ani-
shinaabe researcher must acknowledge his or her personal connection to the
research he or she is conducting because, as will be explained more fully in
chapter 2, the protocols of anishinaabe-izhitwaawin require that one always
explain his or her personal and intellectual background whenever he or she
shares an aadizookaan or dibaajimowin, such as those presented in this
research. To do otherwise takes credibility away from the information pre­
sented and insults those who gave that Anishinaabe those teachings.
1

The Presentation of Botanical


Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin
in the Written Record

INTRODUCTION

This chapter discusses the documentation of botanical gikendaasowin over


the last 170 years.1 For those looking for this information in the written
record, this chapter provides an overview of what is available.12 It provides
sample entries from these texts to give readers an idea of the quality and
quantity of information available and the degree to which these texts may
be useful to a revitalization program. Many of these texts contain colonized
information that if reworked and decolonized could be very useful to pro­
grams revitalizing izhitwaawin. Some of them contain language or state­
ments that serve the interests of the colonizers and the process of systemic
racism and oppression. Most of these texts present information according to
the philosophies, cosmologies, and knowledge-keeping system of the colo­
nizers, which are alien to those of izhitwaawin. Chapter 3 discusses spe­
cific passages from these texts, exemplifying how they represent “colonized”

1. This calculation is based on the earliest list of Ojibwe plant names that I have found,
that found in part 2 of John Tanner’s captivity narrative (James [1830] 1956). There have
been earlier texts written on plant knowledge from various tribes, including many journals
of expeditions, but this is the earliest list I have found that is identified specifically as a list of
Ojibwe plants and trees.
2. The reference list includes citations for sources containing a large amount of botanical
gikendaasowin. Not all of these sources arc discussed fully in this chapter.

13
14 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

texts. This chapter focuses on the history of how botanical gikcndaasowin


has been colonized. It is important for those working with these texts to
be familiar with the backgrounds of their authors and the conditions under
which they were written because this understanding can help to explain the
presentation of this information and can aid us in reworking and decoloniz­
ing it. Although short details about how the Anishinaabeg work with plants
and trees can be found in works covering almost any topic having to do with
the Anishinaabeg, this chapter focuses on those sources presenting large
portions of this knowledge.

A B R I E F H I S T O R Y OF D O C U M E N T A T I O N
OF B O T A N I C A L K N O W L E D G E

The colonized texts of gikendaasowin are part of a much older non-native


tradition of gathering and recording botanical knowledge, traceable at least
as far back as 4000 B.c. to the clay tablets of Sumer, which contain botanical
recipes for treating ailments, prayers, and other spiritual information used to
help with the healing process (Erichsen-Brown 1979, vi). This tradition con­
tinued in Classical times. One of Aristotle’s students wrote the earliest known
Greek herbal around 300 B .c. (Collins 2000, 31). Dioscorides, a Greek physi­
cian living around a . d . 50-68, wrote the earliest Western herbal from which
a complete pharmacopoeia has survived,3 and this herbal, containing warn­
ings about poisonous plants, information about when to gather certain plants,
botanical recipes, and a discussion of the economic potential of some exotic
plants, became the basis for European herbals throughout the Middle Ages.
When the Europeans reached the Americas, they had only recently begun
collecting and recording new botanical information from their local areas.
Before the Renaissance, European herbals were nothing more than embel­
lishments of Dioscorides’ text (Collins 2000, 32; Davis 1995, 40-41).
Upon reaching the Americas, the Europeans encountered native peo­
ples who also had extensive traditions of gathering, recording, or otherwise
remembering knowledge about plants. Learning of this knowledge, the

3. The original text by Dioscorides has not survived, although early manuscript copies of
it do (Collins 2000, 299).
Botanical Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin in the Written Record | 15

Europeans continued their own traditions of documenting and utilizing it.


Some of them began writing information about indigenous plant use in their
journals and expedition reports. For example, in the account of his second
voyage, 1535-36, Jacques Cartier describes how the Laurentian Iroquois,
living at what is now Montreal, cured his crew of scurvy using a tea made
from a local tree (Erichsen-Brown 1979, ix).4 Expedition and “exploration”
literature such as this continued to be written for several centuries, giving
varying degrees of detail as to the origin of this knowledge. For instance,
when describing a plant identified as “winter green” in his Travels Through
the Interior Parts of North America in the Tears 1766, 1767, 1768, Jonathan
Carver writes, “The Indians eat these berries, esteeming them very balsamic,
and invigorating to the stomach. The people inhabiting the interior colonies
steep both the sprigs and berries in beer, and use it as a diet drink for cleans­
ing the blood from scorbutic disorders” (1781, 510-11). Unlike the example
in Cartier’s report, here the reader is left to wonder which group of “Indi­
ans” Carver describes. Given that many such passages exist in the expedition
literature, it is difficult to find in these documents botanical information
coming from any specific tribe.
It seems that those in Europe were eager to read about botanical informa­
tion from the Americas. Nicholas Monardes, a Spanish doctor from Seville,
created the first herbal of plants from the Americas in 1569, and it was so
popular that it was translated into Latin, French, and English (Rohde 1922,
120-41). John Gerard includes several plants from the Americas, along with
the first published depiction of the potato, in his herbal, one of the most
famous English texts of that genre (Gerard 1597; Rohde 1922, 93, 104).
Gerard mentions the usage of certain plants by native people such as in this
entry for “Corn,” which he also identifies as aFrumentnm Indicum f and
“Turkic corne”:

4. Erichsen-Brown suspects this tree was either the “spruce” or the “hemlock” (1979, ix).
Kccwaydinoquay teaches that the use of “conifers” to treat scurvy is an important teaching in
gikcndaasowin. She explains that the high vitamin C content in all of the conifers cures scurvy,
adding that the varieties of spruce, those of the family Ptcea spp., have the highest content of
vitamin C, which they release into hot water faster than any o f the other conifers (Keewaydino-
quay 1988; M. Gcniusz, pers, comm.).
16 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Turky wheate doth nourish far lcssc than cither Wheate, Rie, Barly or
Otcs. . . . Wc have as yet no certain proofe or experience concerning the
vertucs of this kinde of Corne, although the barbarous Indians which know
no better, are constrained to make a vertue of nccessitie, and think it a good
food; whereas we may easily judge that it nourisheth but little, and is of hard
and evill digestion, more convenient food for swine than men. (1597, 77)

Like his contemporaries and generations of researchers to come, Gerard


makes no distinction between different groups of “Indians.” He also belit­
tles their knowledge of using this plant, saying that they “know no better”
than to enjoy eating corn, which they are forced to do out of necessity. As in
the expedition literature, herbals are also generally unhelpful when trying to
identify information from a specific tribe.
The search for botanical knowledge helped to drive the force of European
colonization in the Americas and around the world. Many “explorers” and
their sponsors sought the economic opportunities brought by “discovering”
previously unknown plants and botanical knowledge. In 1494, for instance,
Henry VII of England sent John Cabot to North America specifically to
look for spices and medicines, which he intended to sell in his new spice and
drug depot. He hoped his depot would be larger than that in Alexandria, the
contemporary capital of that trade (Erichsen-Brown 1979, x). In Science and
Colonial Expansion, Lucille Brockway argues that the search for botanical
indigenous knowledge encouraged, fueled, and made possible European col­
onization of the globe. Initially, Europeans brought plants from the Ameri­
cas back to Europe and Asia, improving nutritional quality and quantity of
food, which caused a population explosion and created a physical force for
colonization (1979, 39-46). Later, European research institutions, such as
the Botanic Gardens at Kew, began experimenting with plants and indig­
enous botanical knowledge from the Americas, creating products to benefit
British health and economy as well as those of their colonies. Medicinals
from the Americas, including the malaria treatment found in cinchona bark,
helped European colonists settle in other tropical regions of the world such
as India (1979, 103-33). The colonizers also used indigenous knowledge to
exploit the people from whom it came. In 1810, for example, a rubber indus­
try began in Brazil, which used indigenous knowledge of gathering natural
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b c -g ik e n d a a so w in in th e W ritte n R e c o r d | 17

rubber while forcing indigenous people to do all of the hard labor involved
in this process (1979, 144-50).
Although coming from different histories and locations, similar cir­
cumstances affected the documentation of gikendaasowin and indigenous
knowledge in other parts of the Americas. Personal employment and pres­
tige were certainly factors for these collectors. The prospect of being the
first to “discover” some portion of indigenous botany was undoubtedly
appealing to them. There was also the excitement of being the one person
to document a people’s remaining knowledge before it was gone forever. It
is important to acknowledge the connections between the colonization of
anishinaabe botanical knowledge and that of other native peoples because,
essentially, the same forces and philosophies recorded and appropriated all
of this knowledge. From this history, we find other native groups in similar
states of colonization; together we can build decolonization strategies.

OJIBWE WORDLISTS

The earliest texts dedicated specifically to the documentation of botanical


gikendaasowin are lists of Ojibwe plant names. The vocabularies found in
part 2 of the 1830 publication of A Narrative of the Captivity and Adven­
tures of John Tanner; edited by Edwin James, which are often omitted from
republications of this text, contain the oldest of these. One of the vocabular­
ies, “Catalogue of Plants and Animals,” includes lists of Ojibwe names for
trees, plants, and animals, each with varying degrees of identification and
usage information. Sources are not given for this botanical information. All
the text says is that Edwin James edited parts 1 and 2, but John D. Nichols,
who is editing these vocabularies, suspects that this material is from John
Tanner (Nichols, pers. comm.). James and Tanner worked together on sev­
eral Ojibwe texts, including translating the gospels together in 1830 and
1831 (Ficrst 1986, 31). Both men also worked for the U.S. government.
Tanner was an interpreter, James an army medical doctor (Fierst 1996,227),
The lists in this vocabulary are divided into sections, each having an Ojibwe
and an English title, such as: “Ne-bish-un—Trees with broad leaves” (James
[1830] 1956, 293, 297). As seen in this example, these categories appear to
follow more closely a non-native scientific perspective than an anishinaabe
18 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

one, especially given that ?ie-bish-un, or aniibiishan, literally means “leaves


or tea” (Nichols and Nyholm 1995, 11). In some entries, little information
is given about the plant listed, such as the following entry: “Sah-sah-way-
suck—Turkey potatoes” (James [1830] 1956, 297). Here James gives little
identification for this plant, other than putting it into the category of “Wea-
gush-koan—Weeds, or herbaceous plants.” In other entries, he gives more
identification information, such as “Ba-se-kwunk—This is a red astringent
root, much valued by the Indians, as an application to wounds. Avens root?”
(James [1830] 1956,299). Although this example is one of the few entries in
which James does more than simply list the Ojibwe name of a plant, he also
questions whether this plant is “Avens root.”
The next published wordlist of Ojibwe plant names is found in the short
grammar at the end of Andrew J. Blackbird’s History of the Ottawa and
Chippewa Indians of Michigan: A Grammar of Their Language, and Per-
sonal and Pamily History of the Author, published in 1887 (107-28). Unlike
Tanner’s captivity narrative, we know that Blackbird himself wrote this text
because an editor’s note at the end of this text reads, “This work is printed
almost verbatim as written by the author” (Blackbird 1887, 128). Blackbird
was educated in the non-native tradition, and he worked as a U.S. interpreter
at Traverse City, Michigan, for many years (1887, 3). In his introduction,
Blackbird says that he has included these vocabularies and the other lan­
guage materials in his text for the interest of “all who may wish to inquire
into our history and language” (1887, 5). He says that he wrote this text to
correct the writings of previous authors who attempted to write about the
Ottawa and Chippewa, all of which he has found to be inaccurate (1887, 7).
In a section entitled “The Author’s Reasons for Recording the History of
His People, and Their Language,” Blackbird writes.

T h e In d ian tribes are con tin u aily d im in ish in g o n th e face o f this c o n tin e n t.
S o m e have already passed en tirely o u t o f ex isten ce and are fo r g o tte n , w h o
o n c e in h a b ite d th is part o f th e c o u n tr y .. . . M y o w n race, o n c e a very n u m er­
o u s , p o w e r fu l an d w arlike tribe o f In dians, w h o p rou d ly trod u p o n th is so il, is
also n ear th e e n d o f existen ce. In a few m o re gen eration s th ey w ill b e so in ter­
m in g le d w ith th e C aucasian race as to be hardly d istin gu ish ed as d e sc e n d e d
fro m th e In d ian n a tio n s, and their lan gu age w ill b e lo st. ( 1 8 8 7 , 2 4 )
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in in th e W ritte n R e c o r d | 19

Blackbird’s grammar, then, is an attempt by an Ojibwe speaker to save some


portion of his language from what he sees as inevitable extinction. The
Ojibwe names for plants, trees, nuts, and fruit include the following: “Au-
zhaw-way-mish, pi. eg beech tree” and “Wau-be-mis-kou-min, pi. og; white
raspberry” (1887, 123). As seen in these examples. Blackbird identifies the
trees and plants in his list by Ojibwe and common English names only. How­
ever, he gives names for only a few trees and plants, and most of the ones he
does list, including the black ash and black raspberry, are so common that
the names he uses may provide enough identification information.
At this point one might ask: how are these wordlists examples of colo­
nized texts? This question is exacerbated by the identity of these authors.
Clearly James is identified as editor of the earlier set of vocabularies, but if
Tanner is indeed the source of the information in these lists, and if he had a
hand in writing this text, as might be assumed given that part 1 of the text
tells his life’s story, then one might argue that this cannot be a colonized
text because it is written by someone who lived much of his life as an Anishi-
naabe. This assumption is even truer of Blackbird, who identifies himself as
Anishinaabe and who claims to be using this text as a means of preserving
some of his people’s history and language. Blackbird, Tanner, and James all
worked for the U.S. Indian Service or the army. They were part of the sys­
tem that attempted to subjugate and oppress the indigenous peoples of this
country. Does that make their texts “colonized”? Well, not necessarily, but it
is an important point to make because it shows the perspective out of which
they were writing. Even if they held these positions purely for the economic
benefits, they were a part of and could have been influenced by the coloniz­
ing structure. Ultimately, however, it is the presentation of information in
these texts that makes them “colonized” and proves that James, Blackbird,
and possibly Tanner, if he was involved, were influenced by the system of
which they were a part. The practice of gathering lists of words or names is
part of non-native knowledge-keeping systems, not those keeping gikendaa-
sowin. While the practice of making vocabularies is not inherently wrong or
detrimental to gikendaasowin, it is still part of an alien knowledge-keeping
system. As explained in chapter 3, such wordlists are wonderful examples of
texts that can be decolonized, reworked, and made useful to programs revi­
talizing izhitwaawin, but the language in them needs to be checked so that
20 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

the words may be properly used and pronounced. If the goal of a program is
to present botanical gikendaasowin within the context of izhitwaawin, then
these wordlists will also need to be incorporated into a format that does
more than simply list plant names.

PUBLISHED AN TH RO PO LO G ICA L SOURCES

Shortly after the publication of Blackbird’s list, anthropological sources


began publishing botanical gikendaasowin. The Bureau of American Eth­
nology, or BAE, published the earliest. Originally known as the Bureau of
Ethnology, the BAE was founded on March 3, 1879, when an act of Con­
gress combined several existing government surveys into the U.S. Geologi­
cal Survey and gave the anthropological research that had been carried out
under those government surveys to the Smithsonian Institution. Major John
Wesley Powell, who had been the director of one of the surveys combined
under the Geological Survey, was given the responsibility of becoming the
Bureau of Ethnology’s first director (Powell 1881, xi-xii; Judd 1967, 3-6).
The Smithsonian, and later the BAE, dominated American anthropology
from the founding of that institution in 1846 until the death of BAE Direc­
tor Powell in 1902 (Hinsley 1981, 9). These institutions were interested in
getting information from anyone who had any contact with Indian people,
and of course it must be remembered that, unlike today, this was the begin­
ning of anthropology, when there was little, if any, professional training in
ethnology. The first secretary of the Smithsonian, Professor Joseph Henry,
sent questionnaires to army officers, missionaries, merchants, and others who
had regular contact with Indian peoples, and he received lots of data, some
more useful than others, in response. Powell began working with this data
before and after becoming director of the BAE and used it to publish eight
volumes entitled Contributions to North American Ethnology (Judd 1967,
7-9). As director of the BAE, Powell continued asking people who had con­
tact with Indians to send the BAE information. In his introduction to the
Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, Powell writes,

T h e p r e se n t o p p o r tu n ity is u sed to in v ite an d u r g e a g a in th e a ssista n c e


o f e x p lo r e r s, w riter s, an d stu d e n ts, w h o are n o t an d m ay n o t d esire t o b e
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b c -g ik c n d a a so w in in th e W ritten R e c o r d | 21

o fficia lly c o n n e c te d w ith th is B u rea u . T h e ir c o n t r ib u t io n s , w h e th e r in th e

sh a p e o f s u g g e s t io n o r o f e x te n d e d c o m m u n ic a t io n s , w ill b e g r a te fu lly

a c k n o w le d g e d a n d c a r e fu lly c o n s id e r e d . I f p u b lish e d in w h o le o r in p a rt,


e ith e r in th e serie s o f r e p o r ts o r in th e m o n o g r a p h s o r b u lle t in s , as th e lib ­

e ra lity o f C o n g r e s s m ay in fu tu r e a llo w , th e c o n tr ib u to r s w ill alw ays rec eiv e


p ro p er c r e d it. ( 1 8 9 1 , x v - x v i)

The BAE apparently received many papers in response to such advertise­


ments, giving them ample materials to publish. Until it stopped being a sepa­
rate bureau of the Smithsonian and merged with the U.S. National Museum’s
Department of Anthropology on July 29, 1964, to form the Smithsonian’s
Office of Anthropology, the BAE published eighty-one annual reports. The
BAE also published 193 bulletins, beginning in 1886 and ending in 1964
(Judd 1967, 7). The bulletin series began when Director Powell saw that the
Bureau was receiving many papers, which, as he wrote to Secretary Baird of
the Smithsonian, “should be published but are scarcely worthy of publica­
tion in the Annual or in the quarto series” (as cited in Judd 1967, 96-97).
When Congress gave the BAE funding in 1886 and 1888, the bulletin series
began. After fiscal year 1931, the BAE reports no longer included accom­
panying ethnographic essays, and these papers were then published in the
bulletin series (Judd 1967, vii, 78-79, 112).
While the BAE was still a fairly new organization, other anthropologi­
cal organizations began incorporating themselves and producing their own
publications. Among these were the American Anthropological Association,
publisher of the American Anthropologist? and the Wisconsin Archeological
Society, publisher of the Wisconsin Archeologist. The American Anthropo­
logical Association, incorporated in 1902, was created as an attempt to unite
American anthropologists into a national organization. The purpose of this
organization, as stated in its articles of incorporation, is “to promote the sci­
ence of anthropology, to stimulate and coordinate the efforts of American5

5. The Anthropological Society of Washington had a journal called the American


Anthropologist} but when moves were made to start a national anthropological organization,
this society discontinued their journal and gave its name to the national organization (AAA
1903, 179).
22 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS NO T P R I M I T I V E

anthropologists, to foster local and other societies devoted to anthropology,


to serve as a bond of union among American anthropologists and anthropo­
logic organizations present and prospective, and to publish and encourage the
publication of matter pertaining to anthropology” (American Anthropologi­
cal Association [AAA] 1903, 178, 182-82). Early officers of this organiza­
tion include prominent names in anthropology of the time, including W. H.
Holmes, F. W. Hodge, and Major Powell (AAA 1903, 190).6 Articles from
the American Anthropologist are some of the most readily available published
sources on gikendaasowin as this journal can be read and printed from the
online database JSTOR. The Wisconsin Archeological Society was incorpo­
rated in 1903, although the first volume of their journal was published in
1901. Articles found in the Wisconsin Archeologist relate to the archeology of
Wisconsin and surrounding states (Wisconsin Archeological Society [WAS]
2003). Like authors of papers published by the BAE, authors of articles pub­
lished by the AAA and the WAS during the late nineteenth and early twenti­
eth centuries included any individuals who had any information to share about
native peoples. Both the AAA and the WAS are still very active and continue
to produce the journals mentioned here, as well as other publications.
The BAE, and arguably its contemporary anthropological organiza­
tions given that they were also staffed and connected with those running the
BAE, was an integral part of the mechanisms that supported the colonizing
structures in North America. It was part of the federal government, and
many of those working and researching for it were also personally connected
to the subjugation and oppression of Indian peoples. The BAE’s first direc­
tor, Powell, had been a major of artillery in the Union Army during the Civil
War (Judd 1967, 4). Although this position did not necessarily put him in
armed engagements with Indian peoples, Powell still fought for the same
colonizing force that did.
Those submitting research to BAE publications were often themselves
working to colonize Indian peoples because these were the people who, in
their jobs as teachers, members of the military, and Indian agents, came into
contact with and could gather information from Indian peoples. As with the

6. It appears that Powell died before he could take his position as vice president in 1903
(AAA 1903,190).
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b c -g ik c n d a a so w in in th e W ritten R eco rd | 23

wordlists, the background of their authors does not condemn the informa­
tion in these texts, nor does it automatically make them “colonized,” but it
does give us a perspective out of which these texts were recorded and writ­
ten, and it docs suggest certain biases.
The first anthropological publication containing a substantial amount of
botanical gikendaasowin was “The MideViwin, or ‘Grand Medicine Soci­
ety’ of the Ojibwa,” written by Walter James Hoffman and published by the
BAE. Hoffman was a medical doctor who had worked as an army surgeon.
In 1877 he was put in charge of the ethnological and mineralogical collec­
tions of the U.S. Geological Survey. When the BAE was founded, Hoffman
became an assistant ethnologist for that bureau and conducted fieldwork
among Indian tribes across the United States and Canada (Chamberlain
1900,44). Hoffman worked with the Ojibwe long enough to publish several
ethnological articles on that tribe.7
“The MideViwin” includes six pages listing plants identified as those
that candidates for the Midewiwin learn at various times in their training
(Hoffman 1891, 197-201, 226). Here is a sample entry:

Q iicrc u s a lb a , L . W h ite O a k . M T tig’d m is h ’.


1. T h e bark o f th e r o o t a n d th e in n e r bark scra p ed fro m th e tr u n k is b o ile d
a n d th e d e c o c t io n u se d in te r n a lly fo r d iarrh ea.
2 . A c o r n s eaten raw by c h ild r e n , an d b o ile d o r d ried by ad u lts. (1 8 9 1 , 1 9 8 )

In this example, as in most of his entries, Hoffman identifies the plant by


scientific, common, and in most cases an Ojibwe name. For some Ojibwe
names he also gives a literal translation. This is the approximate length of
most of his entries. As seen here, Hoffman gives very little instruction as to
how to gather, prepare, or use any of the recipes described in this list. For
example, he says that a “decoction” of the inner bark of this tree is “used
internally for diarrhea,” but he does not say how strong a decoction should
be used or how often it should be administered (1891, 201-2).
Frances Dcnsmore, whose research appears in BAE reports and bulletins
and in American Anthropologist articles, was the second person to publish

7. For examples see Hoffman 1891; Hoffman 1889; and Hoffman 1888.
24 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

anthropological texts on botanical gikendaasowin, the two most detailed


being “Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians” and Chippewa Customs
([1928] 1974; [1929]1979). Densmorc was a musician who worked closely
with a number of Indian tribes because of her interest in recording Indian
songs, a project that resulted in approximately 2,500 wax cylinder record­
ings (Vcnnum 1980, 185). Considering her background as a musician, one
might be surprised that Densmorc took the time to research and write texts
on other aspects of anishinaabc culture. She explains that while collecting
songs for Chippewa Music (1910, 1913), Anishinaabe consultants sang her
healing songs, offering to show her the plants connected to those songs and
to explain how they are used ([1928] 1974,281). She later says that studying
anishinaabe songs “led to a friendliness with the people and a willingness on
their part to give information concerning their customs” ([1929] 1979, 1).
Densmore was one of the BAE’s few paid collaborators, but not a mem­
ber of its staff. Her relationship with the BAE began after she conducted
some of her first field investigations with the Anishinaabeg in 1907 and
asked the BAE for financial support to study and record American Indian
customs, which she viewed as being on the verge of extinction. They agreed
to assist her (Densmore 1941, 528-29; Archabal 1977,101).
Other anthropological organizations became interested in her research,
and when the BAE brought her to Washington in 1907 to present her
research,8 the American Anthropological Society invited her to give a lec­
ture for them. They repeated this invitation when she came to the BAE
to report on the completion of her Chippewa music research (Densmore
1941, 529; Archabal 1979, 102). Densmore also published research in this
society’s journal, American Anthropologist, including a brief account, “An
Ojibwa Prayer Ceremony,” in their “Anthropologic Miscellanea” section
and a transcript of a speech she gave at the Central States Branch entitled
“The Native Art of the Chippewa” (Densmore 1907, 443-44; Densmore
1941,678-81).
From her own description of her research methods, it is clear that Dens­
more sees her research as a preservation tool for future generations, including

8. Densmorc says that this was in 1907, but Archabal says it was in 1908 (D ensm orc
1941, 529; Archabal 1977, 102).
Botanical Anishinaabc-gikcndaasowin in the Written Record | 25

future generations of native peoples. She also claims to have self-imposed


restrictions on what kinds of information she is willing to record. After seeing
how her “friend” Maingans9 was banned from continuing to attend Midewi-
win ceremonies after allowing her to record his Midewiwin songs, Densmore
says that she stopped accepting “material that is surrounded by superstition.”
She explains, “I tell the Indians that I am trying to preserve the material so
their children will understand the old customs, and that I do not want them
to worry or be unhappy after I have gone. Sometimes this allays their fears
and they are willing to talk freely, but I would rather miss some information
than cause such distress as that of my old friend, Maingans, the Chippewa”
(1941,529-30). Later she writes of her work with Indian music, saying, “My
work has been to preserve the past, record observations in the present, and
open the way for the work of others in the future” (1941, 550).
Densmore spent approximately twenty years collecting information
from the Anishinaabeg ([1929] 1979, 1), and both “Uses of Plants by the
Chippewa Indians” and Chippewa Customs contain much gikendaasowin as
a result. Densmore divides the information she presents in “Uses of Plants
by the Chippewa Indians” into categories describing how plants are used a
food, medicine, dyes, “charms,” and “useful and decorative arts.” Perhap:
acknowledging the limitations of her research abilities, she had scientists
working for various government institutions identify her plant specimens,
classify the diseases for which they are used, and describe their medicinal
properties and medical constituents ([1928] 1974, 281). Densmore pro­
vides descriptions of varying lengths of how the Anishinaabeg use certain
plants and trees. Her “Plants as Medicine” section consists of some detailed
descriptions of how plant knowledge is maintained within anishinaabe cul­
ture, as well as some descriptions of various medical procedures. She presents
the medical recipes in this section in a chart. The abbreviated nature of the
recipes presented in this chart, coupled with the fact that it is printed on sep­
arate facing pages, makes this chart hard to decipher. In one of these, Dens­
more gives a recipe to make a treatment for a cold using a plant identified as
“ Acoruscalamus L. (Calamus).” Indicating that the root of this plant is used,
Densmore provides the following instructions on how to prepare this plant

9. Spelled M aingans in an earlier publication (Densmore 1913, 63).


26 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

in one column of her chart: “(1) pulverized,” and on the next line she writes,
“(2) Decoction.” In the next column, describing how these medicines are
administered, she writes, across from the pulverized description, “Snuffed
up nostrils,” and across from the decoction description, “Internally” ([1928]
1974, 340-41). As in this example, some of these entries describe more
than one preparation method for the same plant part, and it is often difficult
to be certain whether or not one is matching the preparation method with
the correct plant because these two columns appear on opposite pages, not
properly aligned. In addition, the recipes presented in this chart appear to
be purposely abbreviated so that they will fit. Densmore uses this same chart
format in other sections, although these other charts are not spread out
over two pages. In entries for other, nonmedicinal, uses of plants, Densmore
often includes recipes written in a much easier to decipher paragraph format.
For example, Densmore gives the following recipe for a red dye made from
“Junipcms Virginiana L. Red cedar”: “The bark of this tree was used by
Chippewa women in Ontario for coloring the strips of cedar used in their
mats.10A decoction was made of the dark red inner bark and the strips were
boiled in it” ([1928] 1974, 371). This recipe appears to be somewhat clearer
than those found in the medicine section. From this dye recipe readers know
what part of the tree to use and how to prepare it. The information in “Uses
of Plants by the Chippewa Indians” is not limited to recipes. Densmore also
provides bits of cultural information about these plants, including two ani-
shinaabe stories: “Legend of Winabojo and the Birch Tree,” and “Legend of
Winabojo and the Cedar Tree” ([1928] 1974, 381-86).
In Chippewa Customs, Densmore also provides quite a bit of information
about how the Anishinaabeg use plants and trees. This is a much longer text
than “Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians,” but Densmore tends not
to repeat the information she presents in the earlier text. She docs not cover
medicinal recipes in Chippewa Customs, although she does mention various
cultural practices associated with the maintenance of medicinal knowledge,
including the sweatlodge and the Midewiwin. She also provides an overview

10. Note: Densmore is speaking of two different trees in this recipe. Although the com­
mon name for Jutiipcrusvirginiatia L. is red cedar, this tree is different from Thuja occidentalis
L., commonly called cedar, the bark of which is used to make cedar mats.
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in in th e W ritte n R e c o r d | 27

of anishinaabe culture, and descriptions of various objects and practices


associated with that culture. Plants and trees are used to make many of these
objects, so they are an integral part of this text. Instead of giving specific
recipes for medicines, foods, and dyes, as she does in “Uses of Plants by the
Chippewa,” Densmore provides instructions of varying lengths for making
material objects, such as canoes, torches, and mats.
At the same time that Densmore was working on her research, Dr. Albert
B. Reagan was researching gikendaasowin. While working as an agent for
the U.S. Indian Service, beginning in 1899, Reagan conducted ethnological
and archeological research among the native peoples where he was stationed,
and he published his findings in a variety of journals, including the Ameri­
can Anthropologist and the Wisconsin Archeologist (“Notes and News” 1937,
187). In one of his assignments, he was stationed on the anishinaabe reser­
vation at Nett Lake in Minnesota, where he conducted research among the
Bois Fort Chippewa (Reagan 1922, 332). While there, he researched with
George Farmer, an Indian policeman on the reservation. Farmer had a note­
book filled with medicinal recipes and songs, which Reagan “accidentally”
discovered. Reagan describes this event by saying, “Once when at his placf
I accidentally discovered that he had a large note book. His little daught)
gave it to me, and on opening it, I saw writing in it, but in a language
did not recognize. After a good deal of persuasion, I succeeded in getting
him to translate the words.” (1922, 332). Reagan says that Farmer allowed
him to copy the Ojibwe lines in this notebook, and he published medicinal
recipes from this notebook in 1921 and the songs in 1922. In the article
containing the recipes, Reagan presents readers with a line of the original
Ojibwe, as he copied it out of Farmer’s notebook, followed by a line of direct
English translation. After presenting an entire recipe this way, Reagan gives
an “Explanation” section, in which he presents more information about the
recipe. Here is an example:

K i-s h a -o -ti-s o t a -k o -b i-so n : (a) O k -i-n i-m i-n a -g a sh (b) k a -w a -g o -m ish ,


(F o r ) c u t f o o t ap p ly o n r o se b u sh b itter r o o t

(c) m i-g w a -m i-g e -s h i-n a 'g w a g . M i-s q u i-w it badj m i-n a -a


e lm for b le e d in g little d r in k
28 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Explanation
For a cut foot apply a tea made by boiling together roots of the rose-bush,
bitter root, and elm. A little of this tea is also taken internally in cases of
bleeding. (1921,249)

As seen here, the plants in Reagan’s articles are identified by common English
names and Ojibwc names. As will be explained in chapter 2, keeping medici­
nal notebooks such as Farmer’s is a common practice among members of
the Midewiwin. The individual who creates one of these notebooks intends
it for his or her personal use. Therefore, the recipes in them do not need
to include step-by-step instructions, and in Farmer’s, the recipes are clearly
abbreviated. Here, we know that this tea should be applied to a hurt foot,
but we do not know how strong a tea, or how long, or how often it should
be applied. When presenting Farmer’s songs in the other article, Reagan
presents the entire song as written in Farmer’s notebook and then divides it
into separate lines, giving a “free translation” and a more literal translation
of each line. He also explains when some of these songs are sung. All these
songs appear to be Midewiwin songs; some of them are even labeled as such.
In neither article does Reagan offer information about the original arrange­
ment of recipes and songs in Farmer’s notebook.
Reagan also published gikendaasowin in the Wisconsin Archeologist,
including “The Bois Fort Chippewa,” “Picture Writings of the Chippewa
Indians,” and “Plants Used by the Bois Fort Chippewa (Ojibwa) Indians
of Minnesota” (1924; 1927; 1928). These articles also come from Reagan’s
fieldwork on the Nett Lake Reservation. In “Plants Used by the Bois Fort
Chippewa,” Reagan describes the source of the information he presents in
this article: “For those who are interested in a medicinal way, the following
general medicinal receipts are given as the writer found them copied in a
medicine man’s note book, the scientific names being added by the writer;
the rest is given in direct translation” (1928, 231). Reagan docs not name
this medicine man, but these recipes are different from the ones in his previ­
ous article, which he says he copied from George Farmer’s notebook.
Between 1932 and 1940, shortly after Densmore’s and Reagan’s last
publications on gikendaasowin, Sister Mary Inez Hilger began conducting
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b c -g ik e n d a a so w in in th e W ritten R e c o r d | 29

anthropological research among the Anishinaabeg. Hilger sent Chippewa


Child Life to the BAE for publication in 1940, but it was not published until
1951 because of budget cuts brought on by World War II (O’Brien 1992,
xv). Unlike Hoffman and Densmore, Hilger was trained in ethnology, and
she held a Ph.D. in sociology, anthropology, and psychology from Catholic
University, which she received in 1939 (Spencer 1978, 650).
As seen in the title Chippewa Child Life and Its Cultural Background,
one of Hilger’s research interests was childhood in various cultures. Robert
Spencer, who wrote an obituary for Hilger, explains her research, saying,
“Sister Inez saw the child as part of a whole cultural and social system. Her
writings attest to her wish to depict the place of the child and the range
of institutions touching childhood in selected social systems” (1978, 650).
Along with Chippewa Child Life, Hilger published texts dedicated to the
child life of other tribes (1951; [1951] 1992; 1952; 1957). Hilger says that
she began studying the child in Indian tribes after finding that there was no
such study available for any tribe at the time she was conducting her research
(1960, i).11 She explains her purpose for concentrating on “Chippewa” child
life: “The purpose of this study is to record the customs and beliefs of the
primitive Chippewa Indians of the United States as evidenced in the devel­
opment and training of the child” ([1951] 1992, xxvii).
In Field Guide to the Ethnological Study of Child Life, Hilger describes
the method she used to research the childhood of various tribes between
1932 and 1952 (1960, i, xi). This field guide provides a list of topics and
associated questions for fieldworkers to ask native consultants about children
and childhood. Hilger covers many of these topics in Chippewa Child Life.
For example, under the topic of “Diapers” in her field guide Hilger writes,

W h a t su b sta n c e s are u se d as d ia p ers ( e .g ., m a n u r e , fu r, m o s s , in n e r b ark s,


w o v e n m a teria ls, o r w hat)? W h o p rep ares th e s e ( e .g ., e x p e c ta n t m o th e r or
h er m o th e r , o th e r rela tiv e, m id w ife , a n y w o m a n )? W h e n are th e y p rep a red 1

11. Hilger docs acknowledge that Margaret Mead wrote texts with a similar subject.
Coming of Age in Samoa and Growing up in New Guinea, but she says, “neither of these was
like the study that I was undertaking” (1960, i).
30 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

(e .g ., ju st b e fo r e b ir th , at a n y tim e , sto red for fu tu r e u se an d re-u sed )? H o w

are th e y p rep ared (e .g ., w a sh e d , s u n n e d , sm o k ed )? A re th e y ev er o b ta in e d

as g ifts o r purchases? ( 1 9 6 0 , 9 )

In Chippewa Child Life, she gives details on some of these topics as they
relate to the Anishinaabeg:

A lth o u g h rab b itsk in s w ere u se d as d ia p ers, b e in g w a sh ed a n d r e u s e d , o r

m o re o fte n th r o w n aw ay, sw a m p m o ss (asa’k am ik ) a lo n e o r m ix e d w ith

w e ll-d r ie d d o w n o f c a tta il, w a s m o s t g en e r a lly u se d . M o s s w a s g a th e r e d

from sw a m p s a n d m a rsh es in s u m m e r , h u n g o n b u sh es u n til d ry , a n d th e n

sh ak en a n d p u lle d apart s o as to rid it o f all in se c ts an d d ry w e e d s . M o th e r s


kep t su p p lies o f it o n h a n d , s to r in g it in m a k o k \ . . . " W h e n m o ss w a s u s e d
for d iap ers th e b ab y s e ld o m b e c a m e c h a fe d , and w h e n it w as u n w r a p p e d

y o u c o u ld sm e ll o n ly s w e e t m o s s .” ([1 9 5 1 ] 1 9 9 2 , 2 5 )

As seen here, Hilger’s field research methods resulted in very detailed infor­
mation. Although focusing her research on childhood, Hilger does present
information on a variety of topics, including, as seen in this example, various
ways the Anishinaabeg work with plants and trees.
In 1940, the same year that Hilger submitted Chippewa Child Life for
publication, Gerald C. Stowe published “Plants Used by the Chippewa” in
the Wisconsin Archaeologist. No place in his five-page article does Stowe give
a source of information, but it is clear that he copied this text entirely from
Densmore’s “Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians.” Both Stowe and
Densmore credit W. W. Stockbergcr, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
with identifying sixty-nine plants used by the “Chippewa” that are also used
medicinally by “white people” (Densmore [1928] 1974, 299; Stowe 1940,
8). Stowe claims he is citing information that Stockbergcr gained by work­
ing directly with the Chippewa, but he cites no text by Stockbergcr, and
multiple bibliographic searches have concluded that Stockbergcr never pub­
lished any separate texts with this information. Densmore, however, thanks
Stockberger in her foreword for preparing this report for her to include in her
publication and clearly states that Stockberger is describing the use of these
plants by non-natives ([1928] 1974, 281, 299-303).
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e -g ik c n d a a so w in in th e W ritten R eco rd | 31

Throughout his article, Stowe gives the same uses for plants that Dens-
more gives, copying her sentences almost verbatim. For example, in his
“Seasoning” section, a subsection under “Plants as Food,” Stowe writes,
“The red berries of the bearberry were cooked with meat as a seasoning”
(1940,11). In her section of the same title, Densmore writes under the entry
“Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng. Bearberry,” “The red berries of this
plant were cooked with meat as a seasoning for the broth. The leaves were
smoked” ([1928] 1974, 318). Besides the obvious similarities in wording,
this section is an example of plagiarism because here Stowe copies a mistake
made in Densmore’s research. I work with bearberry quite a bit, and I have
eaten this plant’s berries. They have very little taste, and I can only compare
the texture of the berry itself to eating a synthetic sponge. This berry would
provide no “seasoning” for any food; I guarantee it. Keewaydinoquay told
Mary Geniusz that she had heard researchers say that the Anishinaabeg
added bearberries to their soups and stews, but she insisted that bcarberries
are used as a means of extending an available source of food, not as a means
of seasoning it. The bearberries, and not the food to which they are added,
are being seasoned when used this way (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.). Citing
Densmore’s passage, Keewaydinoquay responds to the statement that bear­
berry is used as a seasoning by saying, “Chances are that the purposes were
the reverse, i.e., the bearberry nutlets were added because of their nutri­
tional value and the broth was intended to make the bearberries palatable”
(1977, 8-9). Keewaydinoquay writes that Grandfather LoonHeart, an elder
in her village, said that even the bears do not enjoy eating bcarberries, and
they only do so when they are starving and there is nothing else to eat. He
admonished Keewaydinoquay and the other children listening to this teach­
ing that they should remember how bear uses the bearberry, in case they
too ever need to cat this food in times of starvation (Keewaydinoquay 1977,
8-9).12 It seems that Densmore did not understand why the bearberries

12. Keewaydinoquay also says that her grandmother told her that when there was no
other food available, the Anishinaabeg would fry bearberries in fat, mash them, and mix them
with a few cut-up dried apples, and then flavor them with wild garlic, wild onion, yarrow,
and wild basil, Keewaydinoquay adds to this recipe, uIt required a family with strong teeth to
masticate this cuisine" (1977, 10).
32 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS NO T P R I M I T I V E

were added to the broth, and when he copied her research, Stowe copied
this misinformation.
The final anthropological research cited in this text is Karen Daniels
Petersen’s “Chippewa Mat-weaving Techniques,” published in a 1963 BAE
bulletin. After this publication Petersen, a graduate of the University of
Minnesota, published several texts on American Indian ledger art, and in her
1964 publication A Cheyenne Sketchbook, Petersen is listed as a staff member
of the Science Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota (Cohoe 1964). The informa­
tion in “Chippewa Mat-weaving Techniques” was the result of four research
trips that Petersen made to anishinaabe reservations in Minnesota during
1957, 1961, and 1962. Petersen explains that she conducted this research
because learning mat-weaving techniques from weavers was much more use­
ful than studying woven samples found in museums. Obviously seeing her
research as a means of preserving valuable information about mat weaving,
Petersen writes, “in the foreseeable future such observation will no longer
be possible among the Chippewa. The more difficult arts are dying with the
older generation” (1963,217). She adds to this statement that, even with the
many acquaintances she made in anishinaabe communities over nine years,
she had difficulty finding Anishinaabeg who still knew how to weave mats.
Of those she did find she says, “All of these women were past middle age,
and in no case did the younger woman who assisted the weaver know the
technique before seeing it done for the purpose of research” (1963, 217).
In her article, Petersen gives detailed accounts of how the Anishinaabeg
weave mats out of several different materials, including cedar bark, cattails,
reeds,13 and sweetgrass. She describes how the materials used to make the
mats are gathered, prepared, and woven and provides diagrams for some of
the weaving techniques she describes. She gives a brief biography for each
“informant” she observed making mats. In this example, Petersen describes
how to make a sweetgrass mat using a “coiling” technique:

T o b e g in a m a t, th e r o o t en d s o f a b o u t 10 s h o o ts , u se d w it h o u t se p a r a tin g
th e m in to th e ir ap p roxim ately 16 separate leaves, are w o u n d in to as sm a ll a

13. Petersen identifies these “reeds” as Phragmitcs communis Trin. Var. bcrlandicri
(Fourn.) Fern.
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in in th e W ritten R e c o r d | 33

c o il as p o ssib le . A s e w in g n e e d le is th r e a d e d w ith a s in g le o r d o u b le str a n d

o f lig h t w e ig h t c o t t o n c r o c h e tin g th rea d k n o tte d at th e e n d . Jon es ( 1 9 3 6 , p.

2 7 ) sp e c ifie s N o . 10 th r e a d t o w h ic h b e e sw a x is a p p lie d to m a k e th e s e w in g

ea sier o n th e w o rk er an d o n th e stra n d s o f g rass. S e w in g is b e g u n in th e

sh a p e o f th e sp o k e s o f a w h e e l, ea ch stitc h p a ssin g a r o u n d th e o u tsid e o f th e

c o il a n d h a lfw a y th r o u g h th e o p p o s ite c o il. T h is ste p as d e sc r ib e d by J o n es

( 1 9 3 6 , p. 2 8 ) d iffers in b e g in n in g w ith k n o t t in g th e e n d o f th e b u n d le a n d
s e w in g th e first c o il to it. ( 1 9 6 3 , 2 7 4 )

As seen in this passage, Petersen compares the techniques she observed


while working with the Anishinaabeg to those observed by previous research­
ers. Here one also sees her attention to detail; rather than simply telling
readers that the sweetgrass is formed into a coil and stitched into place, she
describes the entire process of coiling. Someone who had strands of sweet-
grass, but who did not know how to begin making one of these mats, could
easily follow her instructions.
Spanning approximately seventy-two years, these texts show the evolu­
tion of colonized botanical gikendaasowin within the discipline of anthro­
pology. They also exemplify varying degrees to which this information has
been colonized and to which this information could be made useful to pro­
grams revitalizing izhitwaawin. Unlike the wordlists, non-natives, outsiders
to anishinaabe culture, wrote all of these anthropological sources. While
this alone does not make them colonized, the presentation of this infor­
mation, and, as will be discussed in chapter 3, the fact that some of these
sources contain degrading statements about the Anishinaabe and their
culture docs. These researchers have taken gikendaasowin and interpreted
and presented it according to the expectations of anthropology during the
times in which they were publishing. This is why many of these sources
do not attribute pieces of information to specific consultants. In the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries this attribution was not expected
of an anthropological publication. One can see that by the time Petersen
was writing, this practice was starting to change. The authors of these texts
were describing the Anishinaabe and their knowledge to other non-natives.
They were also actively trying to preserve pieces of Anishinaabe culture by
writing about them.
34 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

U N P U B L I S H E D AN TH RO PO LO G IC A L SOURCES

There is also unpublished anthropological research of gikendaasowin pre­


served in various archives. The earliest of these cited in this book comes
from the papers of the WPA [Work Projects Administration] Indian
Research Project, directed by Sister Macaria Murphy and conducted from
1936 through 1940 on the Bad River Chippewa Reservation in Wisconsin.
Sister Mary Crandall, who wrote an introduction to the archived version of
this research, says that this research was funded with a WPA grant, which
Murphy received in 1935. Murphy was a college graduate who worked at
Odanah, on the Bad River Reserve, from 1895 until 1946. Anishinaabe
people conducted the research for this project, and Murphy assisted and
directed them in their work (WPA 1936-40). The material gathered during
this project was never published, but it was typed and compiled into a series
of notes containing information about a wide range of topics within izhit-
waawin. Some of these notes cite a person, or persons, who gave the infor­
mation as well as a person who conducted the interview, while some of them
just cite the person from whom the information came, perhaps because these
individuals wrote their own notes. According to the description Crandall
gives of this project, the people from whom this information came and the
people conducting these interviews were all Anishinaabeg living on the Bad
River Reservation. In this note, labeled “Pitch,” Peter Marksman describes
how the Anishinaabeg gather balsam pitch:

In p r o c u r in g th is p itch th e bark w as c h ip p e d o f f w ith it an d later th e e r u d i-


ate w as rem o v e d . T h is m ass w as th e n b o ile d in w ater, d u r in g w h ic h p r o c e s s
th e p u re p itch rose to th e su rface an d w a s s k im m e d off. T h e p itc h w a s a g a in

b o ile d u n til th e su b sta n c e a ssu m e d th e c o n s is te n c y o f resin w h e n c o o l . I n


t h is c o n d it io n it w as ready to b e sto r e d for fu tu r e u se . W h e n n e e d e d t h e
a p p lic a tio n o f h ea t ren d ered it p liab le at o n c e . T h e a d d itio n o f fat o r g r e a s e
in v a r y in g q u a n titie s cau sed th e p itch to rem ain s o ft an d p lia b le e v e n in
v ery lo w tem p era tu res. (W P A 1 9 3 6 - 4 0 , e n v e lo p e 8 , 4 5 )

The paragraph quoted here is only part of a page of notes on balsam pitch.
Marksman goes on to say that there are many uses for balsam pitch. It is
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e -g ik c n d a a so w in in th e W r itte n R e c o r d | 35

used to heal cuts and scratches, as well as ringworms and other diseases of
the skin. It was also used to make canoes watertight and to make torches
(WPA 1936-40, envelope 8,45). The notes found in the papers of the WPA
Indian Research Project are of varying lengths, and many of them, such as
this one, provide usable information on how the Anishinaabeg work with
plants and trees.
The next group of unpublished anthropological materials on botani­
cal gikendaasowin cited in this book comes from Erminie Wheeler-Voege-
lin’s research conducted during the 1940s. Wheeler-Voegelin, who in 1939
became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in anthropology from Yale Uni­
versity, was instrumental in the founding of the American Society for Eth-
nohistory (Tanner 1991, 62, 69). For two decades, beginning in the 1930s,
she conducted research on various American Indian tribes with her husband,
linguist Charles (Carl) F. Voegelin (Tanner 1991, 51-65). For one of their
joint projects they conducted research in Ojibwe and Ottawa communities
in and around Birch Island, Ontario, and Manistique, Michigan. During the
summer of 1940, the two conducted a house-to-house survey of the com­
munity living at Birch Island, and during the summer of 1941 they returned
to conduct linguistic and ethnographic fieldwork in this and surrounding
communities under a Social Science Research Council grant. They intended
to complete this research in the summer of 1942, but complications brought
on by the United States’ entry into World War II prevented them from doing
so and ended this research, the results of which were never published (Tan­
ner 1991, 63).
Among the professional books and papers that Erminie Wheeler-
Voegelin gave to the Newberry Library in 1985 are her field notes from this
research conducted with the Ojibwe and Ottawa in the Upper Great Lakes.
As they exist now in the Newberry’s Ayer Manuscript Collection, Wheeler-
Voegclin’s field notes from the summer of 1941 consist of four spiral note­
books filled with notes she took while talking to Anishinaabe consultants
(EMV, folders 270, 271, 267, 268, 269). Information about these consult­
ants is noted in the “Ethno-Linguistic Survey Summer—1941,” by Erminie
Wheeler-Voegelin and Carl F. Voegelin (EWV, folder 274). According to
the names and locations written on the covers of these notebooks, Wheel­
er-Voegelin worked with three Anishinaabe consultants on this research.
36 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Angcline Williams’s name appears on the majority of Wheeler-Voegelin’s


field notes, filling two and one-half of the notebooks. Williams is “Marten”
Clan and was born in Manistique, Michigan. She was sixty-four years old
and living at Sugar Island, Michigan, when the Voegclins were conducting
their research (EWV, folder 274). The name “Katherine Osogwin” appears
on one of Whecler-Voegelin’s notebooks. Osogwin is “Manomeg” Clan
and was born in Hessel, Michigan. She was approximately forty-nine years
old and living in Hessel when the Voegelins were conducting their research
(EWV, folder 274). Alec Boisoneau’s name is written on one of Whceler-
Vocgelin’s notebooks, and information from Boisoneau fills half of this note­
book. On the “Ethno-Linguistic Survey,” only a Theophile Boisoneau is
listed as a native consultant, and he is “Unicorn” Clan and was born on the
Garden River Reserve in Ontario. He was seventy-three years old and living
at Garden River during the summer of 1941 (EWV, folder 274).
Whccler-Voegelin’s notebooks are filled with botanical gikcndaasowin.
These notebooks contain information necessary for day-to-day living, such
as this recipe for soup, given by Katherine Osogwin: “Whitefish—put on in
cold water, + when it comes to boil, fish jiggled so later it will float on top o f
broth; when it comes to boil, it’s done. Have cooked cornmeal in another
pot; put fish on a dish; put cornmeal into fish broth + let it come to boil;
then serve this soup first, + eat the fish next” (EWV, notebook 20). These
notebooks also contain medicinal information, such as these medicinal recipes
given by Angeline Williams: “Roots of Milkweed—when dizzy—used for
heart trouble. Dried out of doors. Rubbed fine to powder. 1 tablespoonful
to 1 qt. water, mixed; 1 whiskey glassful drunk. Take qt. in all. Pods put on
hot ashes—breathe in smoke of them for heart trouble. Big medicine. Young
shoots of [milkweed] not used” (EWV, notebook I9a). As seen in these
examples, the gikcndaasowin found in these notebooks spans a breadth o f
topics. Wheeler-Voegelin seems to have asked these Anishinaabeg many
questions and taken copious notes on their answers. These notebooks are all
handwritten, but Wheelcr-Vocgelin’s handwriting is quite clear, and, as seen
in these examples, her abbreviations are generally easy to decipher.
It is difficult to talk about specific “colonized” aspects of either the WPA
or Wheeler-Voegelin notes because they are unpublished. No presentation
of these materials has been made. Accessibility of these materials is limited
Botanical Anishinaabc-gikcndaasowin in the Written Record | 37

to those with the resources to travel to locations where they are housed;
however, it is commendable that they exist at all, given that they are just
notes. They are mentioned here because they could be valuable resources for
revitalization.

E T H N O B O T A N IC A L SOURCES

Approximately four decades after the publication of the first anthropologi­


cal source on gikendaasowin, ethnobotanists began publishing research on
this topic. Although no single definition for the term exists, ethnobotany is
the study of the place of plants in a people’s culture (V. Jones 1941, 119-
220; Schultes and Reis 1995,11-12; Herron 2002, 8). Some ethnobotanists
argue that the roots of their discipline can be traced back to Ancient Egyp­
tian, Chinese, and Greek societies (Schultes and Reis 1995,11,20), but John
Harshberger, a botanist from the University of Pennsylvania, first coined the
term “ethno-botany” in a speech given in Pennsylvania before the Univer­
sity Archaeological Association on December 4, 1895 (Harshberger 1896,
146; Harshberger 1928, 4-5; V. Jones 1941, 219; Davis 1995, 41). In this
speech, later published in the Botanical Gazettey Harshberger speaks briefly
about the importance of “ethno-botany” as a means of clarifying whether
a tribe practiced agriculture or primarily hunted, determining where plants
once grew, showing ancient trade routes, and suggesting new uses for plants
(1896, 146-53).
Huron H. Smith’s Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians, published in the
Milwaukee Public Museum’s 1932 bulletin, appears to be the first published
ethnobotanical research on gikendaasowin. A scientist who did graduate
work at Cornell University Smith was the curator of botany at the Milwau­
kee Public Museum from 1917 until he was killed in a car accident in 1933
(Barrett 1933, prelim.). While working at the Milwaukee Public Museum,
Huron Smith began writing an ethnobotanical series, originally meant to
include six volumes, on Wisconsin tribes. To write this series, Smith drew
on his fieldwork, the objective of which was “to discover their present uses
of native or introduced plants and, insofar as is possible, the history of these
plant uses by their ancestors” (1932, 333). He published his research on
the following four tribes in volumes of the Milwaukee Public Museum’s
38 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

bulletin:14 the Menomini, the Meskwaki,15 the Ojibwe [Anishinaabe], and


the Potawatomi, which was published posthumously. Smith also conducted
ethnobotanical fieldwork among the Winnebago and the Oneida (Barrett
1933, prelim iv (unnumbered); H. Smith 1923; 1928; 1932; 1933).
The information in the volumes of Huron Smith’s ethnobotanical series
is presented in a consistent format, each one divided into categories of use.
The volumes contain sections on medicines, foods, fibers, and dyes. There
are sections on miscellaneous use and medicine materials that are not plants.
Smith also provides photographs of some of the plants of which he writes
and of certain materials made from plants and trees. He acknowledges that
his volumes, although each a book in itself, are only a sample of the knowl­
edge maintained by these tribes. In the conclusions to his Potawatomi and
Ojibwe volumes, he states that he has only been able to spend a few months
with these tribes and that this short time has not been long enough to learn
much of their ethnobotanical knowledge (1932, 433; 1933, 125). The fol-
owing example, taken from Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians, is typical of
Smith’s entries:

C a tn ip (N c p e ta c a ta r ia L .) tttc i’ n a m e ’ w u c k ” [b ig s tu r g e o n p la n t]. T h e
F la m b e a u O jib w e b r e w a tea o f c a tn ip leaves for a b lo o d pu rifier. T h e m in t
w a ter o b ta in e d b y s te e p in g th e h erb in lu k ew arm w ater is u sed to b a th e a

p a tie n t, to raise th e b o d y tem p e r a tu r e . T h e p lan t is e m p lo y e d b y w h it e s


as an e m m e n a g o g u c a n d a n tisp a sm o d ic . It h as b e e n u sed as a c a r m in a tiv e
to allay fla tu le n t c o lic in in fa n ts, an d is s u p p o se d to b e u se fu l in a lla y in g
h y ste ria . ( 1 9 3 2 , 3 7 2 )

As in many of his other entries, here Smith identifies the plants in his
texts by scientific, common, and native names. He gives several sentences on
how the plant is used by the native people of whom he is writing. He also
notes whether non-natives use this plant.

14. All o f these tribal names arc spelled according to how Smith spells them in his
volumes.
15. H. Smith notes that the Mcskwaki do not live in Wisconsin at the time he is research­
ing, but he says that he includes them because they once did (1928,180).
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e-g ik en d a a so w in in th e W ritten R e c o r d | 39

Four of the ethnobotanists who worked with the Anishinaabeg were


associated with the University of Michigan’s Ethnobotanical Laboratory. The
earliest anishinaabe ethnobotany produced by the University of Michigan is
Melvin R. Gilmore’s “Some Chippewa Uses of Plants,” published in 1933.
Gilmore, who held a doctorate in botany, was the first curator of ethnology
for the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He was also
one of the founders and the first director of the Ethnobotanical Laboratory
(Cowan 1988, 456; DiBella 2004). Gilmore says that he and his cofounder
first saw the need for the Ethnobotanical Laboratory during the summer
of 1930, when several archaeologists asked Gilmore to identify botanical
materials from their fieldwork. They decided that a place was needed where
archaeologists could send botanical samples for proper identification because,
as Gilmore writes, “the development of a people’s phytotechnic is fundamen­
tal to the development of all their arts of life” (1932a, 12). He argues that
a people cannot be understood if one does not know both the geographical
and the botanical features of that people’s environment (1932a, 17). Gil­
more clearly saw ethnobotany as an important component in any cthnologi
cal study, and he wrote “Importance of Ethnobotanical Investigation” as i
helpful guide for anyone undertaking ethnological fieldwork (1932b, 327).
Gilmore’s “Some Chippewa Uses of Plants” consists of a list of 115 plant
species, which he divides into 49 plant families. Under die identification infor­
mation for each plant arc short descriptions of how the Anishinaabeg use, think
about, or interact widi diat plant. These descriptions are short, ranging from
one sentence to three paragraphs in length, and to his credit he does note that
“Chippewa Uses of Plants” is only die beginnings of an edmobotanical study
(1933, 120). By the mid-1930s, Gilmore was in very poor health (Cowan
1988, 456), which may explain why he never published a lengthier report on
anishinaabe ethnobotany. Here is a sample of one of Gilmore’s longer entries:

T h u ja occidcjitalis L . A rb o r V ita e. K iz e k , K isk en s, K isg c n s , S o n g u p


T w ig s o f arb or vitae w ere b u rn ed as a d isin fe c ta n t to fu m ig a te a h o u s e in
w h ic h o n e w as sick o f a c o n ta g io u s d ise a se , su ch as sm a llp o x . M a n y y ears
a g o w h e n sm a llp o x first ca m e to th e C h ip p e w a s th e y m o v e d in to a rb o r v ita e
s w a m p s a n d ca m p e d th ere d u r in g th e p erio d o f th e p la g u e . T w ig s w e r e
u s e d in th e vap o r b a th , a n d w ere b u rn ed for in c e n se in r e lig io u s c e r e m o n ie s
40 | O U R K N O WL E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

a n d as a c o m m o n d eo d o ra n t. T h e leaves w ere in fu s e d in h o t w a ter to m a k e

a b ev era g e lik e tea; th e y w ere a lso u sed for p e r fu m e for th e c l o t h i n g a n d


c o m b in e d w ith g r o u n d h e m lo c k for m e d ic in a l p u r p o se s. R ib s o f c a n o e s , as

w e ll as to b o g g a n s and h a n d les o f s tu r g e o n sp ea rs, w e r e m a d e o f a rb o r v ita e

w o o d . ( 1 9 3 3 ,1 2 3 )

As seen in this entry, Gilmore provides several ways to identify each plant,
including scientific, common, and Ojibwe names. From his other article it
is clear that he views proper plant identification as an essential component
of the ethnobotanical investigation (1932b, 325-27). In this entry, Gilmore
includes physical uses for this tree, such as making ribs of a canoe or making
tea, but he also writes about the spiritual connection between this tree and
the Anishinaabeg. Gilmore is critical of ethnobotanists who were only seek-
ing “economic” uses for plants, such as making food, textiles, and tools, and
he argues that ethnobotanical investigation should be a mix of this economic
otany along with the “whole range of knowledge of plants and plant life”
1932b, 322). Gilmore was also interested in Ojibwe plant names, and lists
a few of them in his article. He encourages others working with native plant
knowledge to do the same as these names may “disclose significant facts not
otherwise discoverable” (1932b, 327).
Volncy Hurt Jones was also an ethnobotanist at the University of Michi­
gan, and he became the director of the Ethnobotanical Laboratory upon
Gilmore’s death in 1940 (Cowan 1988, 456). Volney Jones’s career at the
University of Michigan began in 1933 and continued until shortly before
his death in 1982, although he retired in 1969 (Cowan 1988, 456-59).
Jones held an M.A. from the University of New Mexico with a biology major
and an English minor (Griffin 1978, 3-4). He conducted fieldwork among
Indians in Michigan and Ontario during 1933 and 1934, and this fieldwork
resulted in several publications on the ethnobotany of the Anishinaabeg,
including one describing how the Anishinaabeg make brooms, another not­
ing their uses for sweetgrass, and two describing different kinds of woven
mats (Griffin 1978,4,11; V. Jones 1935; 1936; 1946).16Jones coauthored an

16. Jones’s final article containing anishinaabc ethnobotanical information, “The Bark
of the Bittersweet Vine as an Emergency Food among the Indians of the Western Great Lakes
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e -g ik c n d a a so w in in th e W ritten R e c o r d | 41

article with Vernon Kinietz on Anishinaabe consultants making rush mats


(Kinietz and Jones 1941).17
In “The Nature and Status of Ethnobotany,” Volney Jones outlines
advice for how ethnobotanical investigations should be conducted, which he
follows in his articles on gikendaasowin. Criticizing other ethnobotanists for
simply describing how native peoples used plants, he argues that the purpose
of ethnobotany is to look at “the entire range of relations between primitive
man and plants” (1941, 219). Jones’s articles on anishinaabe ethnobotany
differ from those texts by Huron Smith and Melvin Gilmore in that rather
than listing many plants and briefly stating ways in which the Anishinaabeg
use those plants, Jones focuses each of his articles on one plant or one cul­
tural practice. In “Some Chippewa and Ottawa Uses of Sweet Grass,” Jones
provides a detailed account of how the Anishinaabeg tend, gather, prepare,
and use sweetgrass for prayer and to make baskets and ornaments (1936).
He also provides photographs of the finished products. For example, after
describing all the materials used to make a sweetgrass basket, even describing
how the thread is drawn through beeswax before being used, Jones writes

T h e w o r k m a n is se a te d a n d h as a ta b le o r o th e r su p p o r t for m a teria ls an d
e q u ip m e n t. T h e n e e d le is th r e a d e d , a n d o n e e n d o f th e th rea d is k n o tte d ,
s o th a t it m ay b e u se d for sin g le -s tr a n d s e w in g . A sm a ll b u n d le o f th e grass
a b o u t o n e fo u r th o f an in c h in d ia m e te r is ta k en ; th e e n d s are e v e n e d an d
th e c o a r se b a ses c u t o f f w ith th e scisso rs. I f th e c o il is to b e e n tir e ly o f g ra ss,
th e b ase e n d o f th e b u n d le is k n o tte d b y lo o p in g th e e n d o v er th e b u n d le
a n d p u llin g it th r o u g h . T h e first c o il is sta r te d by w r a p p in g th e lo n g en d o f
th e b u n d le a r o u n d th is k n o t. T h e s e w in g is first t h r o u g h th e k n o t , lo o p in g

Region,” is written entirely from secondary sources and from Jones’s own experiment of cook­
ing and eating this bark (1965).
17. This article is typical o f Jones’s other articles on gikendaasowin. Although the authors
state that neither of them watched the entire process o f making a rush mat, together their
notes in this article provide step-by-step instruction on processes related to making rush mats.
Kinietz published other research among various Indian tribes, including Chippewa Village:
The Story of Katikitegon and The Indians o f the Western Great Lakes, 1615-1760, but neither of
these contains very much information about botanical gikendaasowin (1947; 1965).
42 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS NO T P R I M I T I V E

th e th r e a d a r o u n d th e lo n g en d o f th e g rass, an d back th r o u g h th e k n o t. A s
ea ch stitc h is m a d e th e grass is b en t firm ly a g a in st th e k n o t a n d th e th r e a d

p u lle d tig h t. A fte r th e grass has c o m p le te ly e n circle d th e k n o t, th e s e w in g

is in t o th e p r e v io u s c o il in stea d o f in to th e k n o t. (V . J o n es 1 9 3 6 , 2 8 )

Jones continues with this detailed description, even explaining which


fingers and which hands hold which parts as the process continues. From
this description, it is clear that he actually watched this process and took
careful notes. He does not simply tell readers to coil strands of sweetgrass;
he explains, step by step, how this coil is made. Jones argues that the ethno-
botanist’s job is to negotiate between the fields of plant science, plant ecol­
ogy, and anthropology, presenting research that will be of interest and use
to researchers in all of these fields. He adds that ethnobotanists need to be
“familiar with the techniques, methods and approach of both anthropology
and the plant sciences,” and he encourages continued cooperation between
\ese fields (1941, 220).
Kecwaydinoquay, who occasionally published under her English name,
Margaret Peschel, was also an ethnobotanist at the University of Michigan.18
According to her academic advisor, Richard I. Ford, she completed all of
the coursework for a doctorate of philosophy in biology from that univer­
sity (pers. comm.).19 As stated previously, Keewaydinoquay also held a mas­
ter’s degree in biology from Central Michigan University. It is hard to place
Keewaydinoquay’s work strictly within the category of anishinaabe ethno-
botany as she was both an academic and a mashkikiiwikwey and as such her
work with gikcndaasowin really falls into two categories: academic preserva­
tion and community maintenance of this knowledge. During her lifetime,
Keewaydinoquay published several short books on the ethnobotany of the
Anishinaabeg, including MukwaMiskomin or Kinnickinnick: aGift of Bear”:
An Origin Tale Never Before Recorded How to Use Bearberryfor Teasy Emer­
gency Foody Treating Diabetes and Internal Infections, Making Non-narcotic

18. For more information on Kccwaydinoquay’s life, see Peschel 2006 and W. Geniusz
2005.
19. Ford says that Keewaydinoquay did not complete this degree because she was unable
to pass a proficiency' test in German (pers. comm.).
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e -g ik c n d a a so w in in th e W ritten R e c o r d | 43

Smoking Mixture (1977). She also made audiotapes of some of her class lec­
tures at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she taught courses
on ethnobotany and the philosophy of Great Lakes Indians, and made vide­
otapes of her lectures at ethnobotany and philosophy workshops sponsored
by the Miniss Kitigan Drum. In each of her texts and lectures, Keeway-
dinoquay focuses on one plant or one plant family. Ford describes how her
ethnobotanical studies differ from those of most ethnobotanists:

S h e is d e e p ly in te r e ste d in h o w p e o p le relate to p la n ts a n d r e sp ect t h e m , n o t

ju st h o w th e y u se th e m as is tr a d itio n a l in m o s t e th n o b o ta n ic a l s tu d ie s . A s

s u c h , h er e t h n o b o t a n y is d iffe r e n t fro m m o s t a n d th a t is w h a t g iv e s it s p e ­

cial s ig n ific a n c e , u n u su a l q u a lity , an d u n p a r a lle le d im p o r ta n c e . U n f o r t u ­


n a tely , m a n y e t h n o b o ta n is t s c o n c e n tr a te o n e x a m in in g th e u tilita r ia n v alu e

o f p la n ts a n d fo r g e t, o r d o n o t u n d e r s ta n d , th e ir m e a n in g in th e liv es o f th e
p e o p le . K e e w a y d in o q u a y is an A h n is h in a a b e g (C h ip p e w a ) eld e r w h o w a n ts
u s to lea rn e t h n o b o ta n y , n o t fro m a w e s te r n , sc ie n tific p e r s p e c tiv e , b u t by

a p p r e c ia tin g th e b o ta n y o f a p e o p le — a d e e p e r a n d m o r e sig n ific a n t m e a n ­

in g o f e t h n o b o ta n y — tr u ly th e b o ta n y o f th e p e o p le . ( 1 9 9 8 , ix)

Keewaydinoquay’s ethnobotanical teachings focus not only on how th<


Anishinaabeg use a particular plant but also on many teachings about that
plant from the perspective of izhitwaawin. She begins Mukwamiskomin or
Kinnickinnick: aGift of Bear” with the origin story of mukwamiskomin, also
called Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng, or Bearberry, which MiddOgema,
her grandfather and a leader of the Midewiwin, told to her as a child (1977,
1-3). In this same text, Keewaydinoquay presents four teachings from Nod-
jimahkwc, her Anishinaabe teacher. In one of these teachings, Keewaydino­
quay recounts Nodjimahkwe’s words:

N o w to sp ea k o f o n e w h ic h is very im p o r ta n t fo r o u r p e o p le , th e tr o u b le o f
s u g a r in th e ir w a ter o r slo w d e a th w h e n a n ts c o m e to th e ir u r in e . M a k e o f
th e B lu eb er ry leaves (V a c c in iu m sp.) an d fr u its, at th e tim e th e y arc r ip e ,
th e tin c tu r e , as I have s h o w n y o u . T h e y w ill p reserv e th e m s e lv e s b e c a u s e
o f th e ish k o te w a b o . M a k e a lso a tin c tu r e o f M u k w a -M is k o m in lea v es a n d
b erries; th is o n e is a little ea sier b e c a u se y o u can d o it a n y t im e fr o m A u g u s t
th r o u g h N o v e m b e r . H a v e th e o n e s s o a ffe c te d (b y d ia b e te s m e llitu s ) p r ep a re
44 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

a c u p o f s p r in g w a ter w h ic h can b e co ld o r h o t— n o t b o ilin g . T o th is t h e y


m u st a d d 2 0 - 4 0 d ro p s o f th e b lu eb erry tin c tu r e and 1 0 - 2 0 d r o p s o f t h e

B ea rb crry tin c tu r e , d e p e n d in g o n th e n eed o f th e ca se. N o m o r e at o n e

t im e , ever! T h is s h o u ld b e tak en 2 or 4 tim e s a day. ( 1 9 7 8 , 2 3 )

In this passage, Keewaydinoquay provides a recipe with enough details to


enable readers to make this medicine. This recipe provides dosage information
as well as a warning about not taking too much at one time. Keewaydinoquay
also provides notes for her readers to clarify certain parts of the recipe, includ­
ing an explanation that “slow death when ants come to their urine” is diabetes
mellitus. As Ford says, Keewaydinoquay’s ethnobotanical teachings do not
stop at usage information. She also presents these teachings within the con­
text of izhitwaawin. After this passage, for example, Keewaydinoquay provides
cultural information about this medicine, including how she was to learn it
within the context of izhitwaawin by reciting this recipe to Nodjimahkwe
every day “until the next full moon has come and gone” (1977, 23).
In her writings and recorded lectures, Keewaydinoquay also uses her
non-native training as an ethnobotanist to embellish and strengthen the cul­
tural teachings that she provides. In Min: Anishinaabe Ogimaawi-minan:
Blaeberry: First Fruit of the People, Keewaydinoquay gives a dibaajimowin
about blueberries that she writes in “hieroglyphs” and Ojibwe using Roman­
ized letters (see illustration 1 in chapter 2), providing English translations
for both. This dibaajimowin says that a family who dries plenty of blueber­
ries during the Blueberry Moon will walk in strength in the spring (1978,
33). With this dibaajimowin about blueberries, Keewaydinoquay presents an
analysis of this teaching, partially based on scientific information. She states,
“BlueBcrries contain a high proportion of macronutrients and micronutri­
ents which are necessary to maintain good health” (1978, 33).
As seen from these sample entries, most of these ethnobotanical texts
contain detailed descriptions about how the Anishinaabeg work with plants
and trees. They could be invaluable resources for a revitalization program.
Some of them also include Ojibwe names, which, as discussed in chapter
3, could be worked with to produce even more resources. With the pos­
sible exception of Keewaydinoquay’s text, these sources are all colonized to
varying degrees. As discussed in chapter 3, some of them contain degrading
Botanical Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin in the Written Record | 45

comments about the Anishinaabeg and their knowledge. All of them present
information, in some cases quite detailed, according to the philosophies and
knowledge-keeping systems of the colonizers. In most cases, they discuss
the physical properties of these plants, while mentioning briefly or ignoring
entirely the spiritual ones. One might categorize Keewaydinoquay’s text as
colonized as well because although writing from the perspective of izhit-
waawin, she includes scientific information, making it appear as though she
writes from the perspective of the colonizer. Some will argue that this makes
her work colonized; others will disagree. Once again, debating what should
or should not be labeled as a “colonized” text takes our focus away from the
real issue—how can we bring this information back into anishinaabe com­
munities? Labeling aside, what it comes down to is the desires of the specific
program trying to use this knowledge. Many programs wish to teach this
information orally to participants in the form of outdoor lectures, so this
information will end up being reworked no matter who wrote it. In sue
cases, individuals may choose to ignore the scientific data Keewaydinoqu;
presents and simply not include it in their presentations. Chapter 3 contains
a longer discussion on the importance of not ignoring gikendaasowin simply
because it has been influenced by non-native knowledge-keeping systems.
Readers should take caution, however, and realize that the goal of this dis­
cussion is to show what is out there, not to label sources as “colonized” and
to ignore them completely. Such finger-pointing takes our focus away from
the real goal here: to decolonize our gikendaasowin so that it may help our
people regain their strength.

R EC EN T SOURCES

Over the last two decades authors from various backgrounds and disciplines
have published texts on botanical gikendaasowin. One example is Rice
and the Ojibivay People, by Thomas Vennum, Jr., who acknowledges that
when researching this text he went outside of the topics generally researched
by those in his field of ethnomusicology (1988, ix). In discussing previous
publications on wild rice, Vennum notes that the two existing publications
by Albert E. Jenks and Eva Lips are “generally inaccessible and both need
updating” (1988, viii). In comparison, Vennum’s publication is definitely
46 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

accessible, being still in print after almost twenty years, and it is often avail­
able for sale at pow wows in the Midwest. He provides a detailed account o f
contemporary as well as historical wild rice harvesting and its context within
izhitwaawin. Looking at this topic from many angles, Vennum discusses
everything from the traditional harvest of wild rice and its importance to
izhitwaawin to a more scientific look at the plant itself and a nutritional
breakdown of vitamins and minerals found in wild rice. His research draws
on numerous published and archival resources and interviews with contem­
porary Anishinaabe wild rice harvesters. Vennum’s text might serve as a
model for a decolonized text. Yes, a non-native wrote it. Yes, like Keeway-
dinoquay’s texts, it does include some scientific information. It also includes
important gikendaasowin, which is presented in a respectful way. Vennum
worked with Anishinaabe elders on this research, and he gives them proper
credit for sharing their teachings with him.
Soon after the publication of Vennum’s text, Ron Geyshick, a medicine
man from the Lac La Croix Reserve in Ontario, wrote Stories by an Ojibway
Healer: Te Bwe Win: Truth with Canadian filmmaker Judith Doyle. In her
introduction, Doyle explains that the stories that Geyshick tells in this book
are his own stories, and that she has not changed these stories for publica­
tion. She says that when she met Geyshick while working on a documentary
film at Lac La Croix three years before the publication of this text, he had
already begun writing this book. She adds, “It was important for me not to
change the form of his stories” (Geyshick 1989, 7). Geyshick writes about
gikendaasowin and shares a few medicinal recipes with his readers. Gey­
shick clearly wants to share all of the information he presents in his book
with future generations. He writes, of the medicines in his book, “These
are important medicines to know, and I want to pass them on. Anyone who
picks this medicine should leave some tobacco by the tree and tell the spirits
I told them to come and ask for this assistance” (1989, 27). Geyshick also
shares other information about izhitwaawin, including dibaajimowin and
information about being a healer, in this text. Here is one of the recipes that
Geyshick shares with his readers:

I f a w o m a n falls d u r in g her p reg n a n cy a n d starts fe e lin g p a in s, th e r e is n o t h ­


in g w h ite d o c to r s can d o for th a t. B u t w e have a m e d ic in e . S o m e o n e s h o u ld
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b c -g ik c n d a a so w in in th e W ritte n R e c o r d | 47

ru n r ig h t in t o th e b u sh an d fin d a little b a lsa m tr e e — h o w b ig d e p e n d s o n

h o w m a n y m o n th s a lo n g th e w o m a n is. A t t w o m o n t h s , y o u s h o u ld p u ll o u t

th e s m a lle st tr e e , r o o ts an d a ll. A t fo u r m o n t h s , p ick o n e m a y b e six in c h e s

h ig h . A n d at six m o n th s it s h o u ld b e a r o u n d a fo o t . T h e fu r th e r d u e sh e is,

th e b ig g e r a tree y o u p u ll o u t. B o il th e w h o le t h in g , r o o ts a n d a ll, a n d h ave


h er d r in k th is. ( 1 9 8 9 , 2 6 )

As seen in this example, Geyshick gives these recipes and provides details
as to the dosage that should be used in different cases. He usually identifies
the trees and plants by English common name, and in cases where he does
not know an English name for a plant, he provides a description of the plant
in question and its growing conditions. It is clear from his descriptions that
Geyshick has made these medicines himself. For example, when giving the
recipe just quoted he writes, “Now in the winter, it can be hard to see these
tiny balsam trees under the snow, but you can use a bigger one instead. Break
the very top off, about one year grown, and boil it. Often where there are
bigger trees you’ll find the little ones, if you dig under the snow” (1989,26).
Here Geyshick provides instructions for possible problems that one might
encounter when making this medicine. One who had no experience making
this medicine would most likely not be able to predict this problem and read­
ily offer a solution to it.
Another recent text on anishinaabe plant knowledge is the Great Lakes
Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission’s [GLIFWC] Plants Used by the Great
Lakes Ojibwa, by James E. Meeker, Joan E. Elias, and John A. Heim.20 This
text is still available through GLIFWC and is for sale at many pow wows.
It is a reference work, which provides identification information for plants
growing in the Great Lakes area, along with very brief descriptions of how
Indians, not necessarily the Ojibwe, have used these plants. Although in the

20. An abridged version of Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibrva was also published in
1993 by GLIFWC, containing only the original introductory pages and the tables of plant
names (Meeker, Elias, and Heim 1993b). All of this material appears exactly as it does in the
original text, except for a change in the pagination. The tables found in this text list Ojibwe,
common, and scientific names for all of the plants presented in the unabridged text, but they
include neither the diacritics nor the standardized plant names found in the body of the una­
bridged text.
48 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

preface the authors say, “Each of the plants named in this book was used
by the Anishinabe [sic]”, it is questionable what tribe the authors refere
in the descriptions of how some of these plants are used, and they do not
cite specific sources in their entries. Their entry for (red
elderberry) exemplifies this: “The fruits are used in jellies, wines, and pies,
but the vegetative parts are poisonous. In Native American medicinal prac­
tices a decoction of inner bark was used as an emetic or cathartic although
it was considered dangerous. An infusion of the root was also used for
unspecified medical purposes” (1993a, 305). From this entry it is unclear to
what tribe Meeker, Elias, and Heim are referring. All the reader sees is the
broad category of “Native American.” It is also unclear who makes “jellies,
wines, and pies” out of this plant. As this example demonstrates, one could
not actually use any of the plants with just the brief descriptions provided
in this text. To their credit, however, it should be noted that Meeker, Elias,
and Heim are some of the few authors who include warnings about poison­
ous plants.
The authors of Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa also include Ojibwe
names in their text, such as these listed for Nymphaea odorata (the white
water lily): “Akandamoo (Baraga: akandamo, -g ‘a kind of big root growing
in the water’; Riiodes: kandmoo) [Smith: odite’abug wa’ bigwun, odite’abug
wabi’gwun; Zichmanis and Hodgins: anung pikobeesae]” (Meeker, Elias,
and Heim 1993a, 143). As seen here, some of these entries include plant
names written in a standard orthography, presented in bold font. John
Nichols, who collected the Ojibwe names presented in this source, explains
that he collected these names from Maude Kegg and Edward Benton-Banai,
two Ojibwe speakers. In some cases, Kegg or Benton-Banai supplied the
name listed and in others, they verified a name found in a written document.
Plants for which there is no standardized Ojibwe name arc plants that neither
Kegg nor Benton-Banai recognized. Nichols explains further that, as seen in
this example, immediately after a standardized name are similar names for
that plant written as they appear in other sources, followed by other Ojibwe
names for that plant (pers. comm.). The introduction also explains that it
was not possible to figure out all of the names in this text, and these names
are left as the original researcher wrote them (1993a, 1). There are some
entries, such as those for Ranunculus sceleratus (the cursed crowfoot) and
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b c -g ik e n d a a so w in in th e W ritten R e c o r d | 49

Rumcx altissimus (the water dock) for which the authors provide no Ojibwe
name at all (1993a, 180-81).
The last six years have seen the production of several new ethnobotanical
texts on gikendaasowin. In a recent dissertation, Scott M. Herron evaluates
retention of plant knowledge in Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potowatomi com­
munities in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Southern Ontario. He also identi­
fies plants known to individuals in these communities and briefly describes
their use (2002). Recent ethnobotanical investigations have also looked at
categorization of plants and trees within the Ojibwe language. A master’s
thesis by Mary B. Kenny (2000) and an ethnobotanical article by Ian J.
Davidson-Hunt, Phyllis Jack, Edward Mandamin, and Brennan Wapioke
(2005) both compare Brent Berlin’s theories of universal folk taxonomy to
Ojibwe categories of plants. In their respective works, which concentrate on
separate communities of speakers, these authors conclude that, although ir
some ways Ojibwe categories do fit into this system, in other ways they d<
not. Davidson-Hunt, Jack, Mandamin, and Wapioke further suggest that a
“holistic” approach, rather than one that looks exclusively at plant names
and classification, should be used when studying anishinaabe ethnobotany as
plants are an integral part of the anishinaabe way of life (2005).

CONCLUSION

When looking at gikendaasowin as it has been preserved within the academic


record and as it is maintained by the Anishinaabcg, it is important to real­
ize that these are two totally different information-keeping systems, which
have preserved, in different ways, what was once the same knowledge. Vari­
ous researchers elicited botanical information from the Anishinaabcg. This
information was collected and written according to the guidelines dictated
by these researchers’ backgrounds, professions, and places of publication. We
do have some texts containing botanical gikendaasowin written by Anishi­
naabe authors, but only a few exist and even the ones appearing to be less
influenced by colonization are so short that they contain little information.
We are now in a time of great cultural revitalization among the Anishinaa­
bcg and other Indian peoples. Individuals, schools, and various organiza­
tions are attempting to use written sources documenting gikendaasowin in
50 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS NOT P R I M I T I V E

their revitalization programs. For many reasons, including the background


of the researcher, the era in which he or she was writing, the format of the
publication, and the amount of time the researcher spent conducting his or
her research, the presentation of the information in many of these sources
makes them inadequate tools for the revitalization of izhitwaawin. For the
most part, even in the case of sources written by authors who took very
detailed, careful notes about what they were researching and who published
or otherwise preserved step-by-step instructions on how to work with cer­
tain plants and trees, the knowledge-keeping systems out of which these
sources were written conflict with those of gikendaasowin.
I
Botanical Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin
Within Anishinaabe-izhitwaawin

INTRODUCTION

The first step in Biskaabiiyang research is to return to our teachings. Only


from that perspective can we begin to decolonize our knowledge and our­
selves. When decolonizing written accounts of botanical gikendaasowin,
therefore, we need to know to where we are returning; that is, we need
to know how izhitwaawin maintains gikendaasowin. Part of this process
requires the researcher’s internal self-reflection, and part of this process
requires new external research. By piecing together information from colo­
nized texts and comparing it with information coming from anishinaabe
sources, we can understand how knowledge originates and is maintained
within izhitwaawin. Once we have this understanding, we will be in a better
position to search through these texts of colonized botanical gikendaasowin
and make decisions about which pieces are usable, which pieces need to be
elaborated, and which ones need to be discarded.
As explained in the introduction, we as Anishinaabeg have our own rea­
sons for conducting research on our culture. Rather than trying to explain
ourselves to the rest of the world, we are trying to regain and revitalize
teachings that were or are being lost from our families and communities.
Biskaabiiyang research methodologies can help us achieve this goal by pro­
viding us with a common language through which researchers and com­
munity members can come together to discuss information and a means to
decolonize ourselves so that we may accept and respect the information we
receive through oral and written sources.
51
52 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS NO T P R I M I T I V E

Biskaabiiyang research begins with the researcher, who must evaluate


the effects that colonization has had on his or own life and mind and, having
recognized those effects, must return to our original teachings so that he or
she can conduct meaningful research for our people. A lot of concepts and
teachings in this chapter, when viewed through the eyes of the colonizer,
appear “fictional,” “childish,” “not scholarly enough,” or just plain “ridicu­
lous ” For instance, the importance of someone conversing with a plant and
making an offering before picking it, although something I have done all
my life, is not generally included in a “scholarly” text. Some academic texts
describe this practice as something that Anishinaabeg do, but it is not dis­
cussed as an essential part of the research process. As someone who was
raised in both the dominant culture and the anishinaabe culture, I had to see
past the colonized portion of my mind before I could write this chapter.
Biskaabiiyang research methodologies use informative sources differently
than many other methodologies. This Biskaabiiyang research is an attempt
to regain information so that it may be used to revitalize izhitwaawin; there­
fore, both oral and written sources are equally accepted. In some academic
texts, written sources are used as a means of verifying an oral source, the
accuracy of which is often questioned. One might argue that Biskaabiiyang
research, at least the way it is used in this book, places a higher importance
on oral teachings from our elders than on written sources. In this chapter
and in chapter 4, written and oral sources are used together to help us learn
all we can about these practices so that we may use them in our own lives.
Using multiple sources is particularly helpful when talking about certain
teachings and pieces of information that are no longer a part of our everyday
lives because these are the kinds of things that are most in danger of being
lost from our communities.

PLANTS W ITHIN IZHITWAAWIN

It should be noted that there arc no words for “plant” or “botanical knowl­
edge” in Anishinaabemowin, although there are names for different plants
and various ways one can describe certain kinds of plants. There is a word for
tree, mitig., but whether or not everything we think of as a “tree” in English
falls into this category is a matter to be debated. Although one can describe
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b c -g ik e n d a a so w in W ith in A n ish in a a b e -iz h itw a a w in | 53

wanting to know about how the Anishinaabeg use a mitig, the concept is
alien to gikendaasowin because the use of trees and plants is not a category
prescribed by gikendaasowin. Instead, there are things that one learns within
the context of izhitwaawin, and these various things require learning about
how to use, work with, and ask for the assistance of plants and trees. To make
certain objects, such as shelters and canoes, or to prepare foods and medi­
cines requires a certain amount of knowledge about working with plants and
trees. There are also certain spiritual understandings about plants and trees
that are necessary to participate in izhitwaawin. Therefore, although “plant
knowledge” or “tree knowledge” are not terms that readily translate into
Anishinaabemowin, having this knowledge is essential to many aspects of
inaadiziwin and izhitwaawin. As will be explained in this chapter, botanical
knowledge is an integral part of inaadiziwin and the decolonizing process.

MASHKIKI W ITHIN GIKENDAASOWIN

There are other categories of gikendaasowin into which botanical knowledge


fits, such as mashkiki (medicine), but not everything within that category
comes from botanical sources. When I first explained my research to Dora
Dorothy Whipple, she responded by saying that if I was going to research
plant medicines, I should also include spring water because within gikendaa­
sowin it too is considered a mashkiki. During one of our recording sessions,
she told me more about the importance and origin of mookijiwaninibiish,l
spring water:

M ii g iiw e n h eta g ii-n o o n d a m a a n ik o m e w in z h a , c h i-m e w in z h a . . . A n i ­


s h in a a b e g b w a a -g ik e n d a m o w a a d i’iw n ib i. G a a z h i-b a w a a jig c d a w in in i
a s h i-n ib o , a w in in i a a k o zi. G a a z h i-b a w a a jig e d iw . M in ik w c d i’iw . G iiw e n h
d a -m in o -a y a a . M ii g a a zh i-m a a ja a w a a d in iw g ii-o z h iw a n ik e w a a d g ii-n a n -
d o n e n d a m o w a a d iw n ib i . . . g a a z h i-m ik a m o w a a d i’iw sp r in g w a ter M ii
m aa g ii-k a b e sh iw a a d . M iish iw g a a -m in ik w c d a y iid o g aw in in i a s h i-n ib o d
a a k o z id , M ii g ii-p a w a a jig e g iin w e n h i’iw m in ik w e d i’iw ji-m in o -a y a a d . M ii 1

1. This word comes from George McGcshick, Sr. (pets. comm., July 30-Aug. I, 2005).
Whipple could not remember the word for spring water.
54 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

g c g c t g a a z h i-m in ik w e d Piw , m ii m aa g a b c sh iw a a d A n is h in a a b e g . A s h i-

m in o -a y a a d . M iish ap an c e z h i-n o o n d a m a a n ig o g a a z h i-n o o n d a m a n g w a a

ig o C h i-a n is h in a a b e g c g o o iw o g ii-m a n id o o w e n d a a n a a w a a i’iw n ib i, g ii-

m in ik w c w a a d iw . C h i-w a w a a sa k o g iiw e n h g ii-iz h a a w a g inivv g ii- n a n d o -


n e n d a m o w a a d iw n ib i. (p ers. c o m m .)

Here Whipple says that a man who was very sick, almost dying, dreamed
about spring water. When he drank it, after he awoke, he was well. She adds
that the Anishinaabeg used to dig holes looking for spring water, and they
would camp where they found it. The Chi-anishinaabeg, or Gichi-anishina-
abeg (old-time Indians), saw spring water as a spiritual thing, she adds, and
they would drink it. They would go far away to find it. Before telling this
story, Whipple says that she herself uses spring water.
Mary Geniusz says that Keewaydinoquay had certain medicines that she
would only make if she had water from a specific spring in Michigan. One of
these medicines Keewaydinoquay called a “Spring Tonic.” Geniusz says she
does not know if this name comes from spring water, one of the key ingre-
ients in this medicine, or from the fact that people often drink this in the
springtime. Keewaydinoquay taught that after a winter of eating salty foods
and not being very active, a person’s blood would thicken, and this mashkiki
would thin a person’s blood and clean out his or her system, both very impor­
tant things to do to prepare a person’s body for the activity of spring and
summer. Geniusz says this medicine is also given to people who have circula­
tory problems, diabetes, and certain heart problems (pers. comm.).
There are other items as well, which although considered mashkiki are
also not derived from botanical materials. Huron Smith lists rattlesnake flesh,
white clay, and bear fat as being items that are mixed with plants to make
various mashkiki. He says that white clay alone, which he calls “waba’bigan?
is also a mashkiki (1932, 352). Kathryn Osogwin says that when a little
skunk oil is hung on the door, disease will not come to that area as long as a
little of the odor remains (EWV, notebook 20). Whipple says that when she
was a child sometimes a little bit of skunk oil was used to treat her siblings
and her if they were sick (pers. comm.). Mary Geniusz says that Keewaydino­
quay also spoke of how the Anishinaabeg use skunk oil to treat a patient with
pneumonia or another form of heavy congestion. Only a very small amount
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in W ith in A n ish in a a b c -iz h itw a a w in | 55

of skunk oil, approximately one drop mixed with cooking oil, is used to treat
heavy congestion. Keewaydinoquay told Geniusz that when she was a child
people often used a rabbit skin that had been sprayed by a skunk, or one that
was rubbed on something that had been sprayed, as an inhalant in place of
straight skunk oil (pers. comm.).2
It is important to understand these categories so that one can begin
to understand how botanical gikendaasowin fits into inaadiziwin and izhit-
waawin. Botanical gikendaasowin touches many areas of izhitwaawin, and
the concepts that apply to trees and plants, such as those that will be described
in the next section, are only a small part of inaadiziwin.

C A T E G O R I E S OF A N I M A T E A N D I N A N I M A T E
WITHIN INAADIZIWIN

The protocols of izhitwaawin dictate that we must make an offering of


asemaa (straight tobacco)3 or a mixture of herbs, often written in English
kinnickinnicb, when asking the assistance of another being. For example
Whipple tells a dibaajimowin about the importance of making an offering
of asemaa during a thunderstorm to ask the animikiig (thunderbirds) to pity
the Anishinaabeg living in that place and not create weather conditions that
could harm them (Whipple 2006a). When working with us on the CD-ROM
Asemaa: Tobacco, Ken Johnson, Sr., recorded seventeen teachings describing
different times when it is necessary to make an offering of asemaa to differ­
ent beings. For example, one must make an offering to the beings in a body
of water before crossing it and to an elder from whom one wishes to hear a
story (Johnson 2006). These offerings are necessary because of the structure
of inaadiziwin, which views the world differently than most non-native phi­
losophies and ways of being.

2. Keewaydinoquay preferred other decongestants, such as mint, to the heavy odor of


skunk oil. She lectured about skunk oil in her university classes when lecturing on skunk cab­
bage (Symplocarpus foetidus [L.] Salib. ex Nutt.) because both the cabbage and the oil o f the
animal are used the same way to treat heavy congestion (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.).
3. Keewaydinoquay identified asemaa as Nicotina rustica, a different species than the
plant used in the production of commercial cigarettes (M. Geniusz 2005, 15).
56 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Inaadiziwin divides the world into categories of animate beings and


inanimate objects differently than other philosophies. Insisting that one
cannot understand why the Anishinaabeg “have so much faith in the heal­
ing of the plants” without understanding anishinaabe “general philosophy,”
Keewaydinoquay says that things such as rocks, trees, and plants, which are
considered to be inanimate by the dominant society, are considered ani­
mate within anishinaabe philosophy. They, along with all the other beings
of Creation, have a special purpose, which they must follow to maintain
the balance of this world (1991b). We can find linguistic evidence of this
dibaajimowin within Anishinaabemowin, the nouns and verbs of which are
divided into animate and inanimate categories. A verb describing the actions
of an animate noun cannot be used to describe the actions of an inanimate
noun. Therefore, the same verbs that are used to describe the actions of a
human being are also used to describe the actions of other animate beings,
such as rocks, trees, and certain religious items. For example, when speak­
ing about the importance of asemaa and describing different times that the
Anishinaabeg make offerings of asemaa, Ken Johnson, Sr., says, “Asemaan
odaabaji’aan Anishinaabe gii-ando-madoodood. M’apii waabamigoowizid
Anishinaabe owe biindaakoonaad owe gimishoomisinaanig owe asinii’”
(2006). The English translation for this teaching is: The Anishinaabe uses
tobacco when she or he goes to a sweat. This is the time the Anishinaabe is
seen making an offering to our grandfathers, to these rocks. Here “asemaa”
(tobacco) is treated as an animate being because the verb aa a b a j i (to use
someone) is said in reference to asemaa. If asemaa were considered an inani­
mate object, then another verb, “aabajitoon* would have to be used with it.
O f further evidence, however, is the second sentence, in which Johnson says,
“Anishinaabe owe biindaakoonaad owe gimishoomisinaanig owe asinii’.”
Here Johnson says that the Anishinaabe makes an offering to “gimishoom­
isinaanig” (our grandfathers). An animate verb is used in reference to “gimi­
shoomisinaanig” indicating that the grandfathers are considered animate
beings, just as they are in English, After grandfathers, Johnson says, “owe
asinii’,” indicating that the grandfathers of which he is speaking are rocks.
These rocks are spoken of just as one would speak of human grandfathers or
any other animate being.
Botanical Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin Within Anishinaabe-izhitwaawin | 57

en a w en d iw in : our relationships
W I T H A L L OF C R E A T I O N

Within inaadiziwin, all of these animate beings are interconnected and


dependent upon each other. Biskaabiiyang research terminology describes
this interconnectedness as enawendiwin, referring to our relationships with
all of Creation (“Anishinaabe Wordlist” 2003). There are dibaajimowinan
explaining the interconnectedness and interdependency of every being. One
of these, which I heard from Mary Geniusz many times while a child, Basil
Johnston describes throughout Ojibway Heritage (1976). This dibaajimowin
describes the levels of Creation. It explains that the first beings created on
earth were the natural forces, including the rocks, the weather forces, and the
aadizookaanag (those spirits who carry our ceremonies, teachings, songs, and
stories). The second beings created were the trees and the plants. The third
beings created were the awesiinyag, the nonhuman animals. The last beings
created were the Anishinaabeg. When all of these beings were created, they
promised Gichi-manidoo (the Great Spirit) that they would live together anc
help all the other levels of Creation survive. This was an important promise,
for almost all of these beings need each other to survive. Without the plants,
the animals would not be able to eat or breathe. Without the animals, the
plants would not be able to move to new locations, and they would not have
what we now call carbon dioxide. Without the plants and the animals, the
Anishinaabeg would have no food or resources for their survival. Without the
first level, including the sun, rain, and teachings, to guide them, all three of the
other levels would perish. The only level of Creation that could survive without
the other three is the first level, for they were here long before the other levels
of Creation. However, if the rocks, natural forces, and aadizookaanag were
here alone, they would not be content, for they would not have fulfilled their
promise to Gichi-manidoo to ensure the survival of all levels of Creation.
Inaadiziwin places humans as an integral part of the cycle of life, rather
than at the center of the universe or at some level above the animals, plants,
and the rest of Creation. Joseph B. Casagrande describes the way that John
Mink, a medicine man from the Lac Courte d’Oreilles reservation in Wis­
consin, spoke of this part of inaadiziwin:
58 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

F or Joh n M in k th e lin e b e tw e e n th e natural an d th e su pern atu ral w as th in ly

d raw n. H is w o r ld w as filled w id i an in fin ite array o f spirits an d forces th a t

c o u ld in flu en ce th e affairs o f m en . N o r w as m an c o n c e iv e d as a creature apart


from d ie rest o f nature. F or th e O jib w a , as for m an y h u n tin g p e o p le s, an im als

and m en arc akin and th e d ifferen ces b e tw e e n th e m lay ch iefly in o u tw a r d


form . A n im als arc m o tiv a ted as m e n are m o tiv a te d , live in so c ie tie s as m e n
live, act as m en act an d th eir fates are in tertw in ed . T h u s, d ie O ld M an to ld
h o w w h e n a bear w as k illed its fo u r paw s and h ead w ere p la ced in p o s itio n

o n a rush m at an d a feast g iv e n . T h e h ead w as d eco ra ted w ith rib b o n s, b ea d -


w o rk or baby c lo th e s and fo o d and to b a c c o p laced nearby; and sp e e c h e s w ere
m ad e to th e b ear’s spirit so th at it w o u ld return to th e v illa g e o f bears a n d

p ersu ad e o th e r bears to a llo w d ie m se lv e s to be killed. ( 1 9 5 5 , 1 1 8 )

Izhitwaawin dictates certain protocols, such as the bear ceremony Casa-


grande describes, which must be followed in order to keep the balance and
maintain enawendiwin. If one performs this ceremony the bear will “return
to the village of bears and persuade other bears to allow themselves to be
killed.” If one docs not perform this ceremony, the bear may not do this,
leaving the Anishinaabeg without many important resources, including the
bear claws, skin, meat, and grease. Speaking of other protocols that must be
followed to keep the balance, Kecwaydinoquay says,

W h en ev er it se e m s to h u m a n k in d th a t it is n ecessa ry to c h a n g e a b a la n c e
for so m e d esirab le e n d , w h ic h th e h u m a n b e lie v e s is a g o o d o n e , th e n w e
n eed to sp ea k to th e se o th e r b e in g s. W e n e e d to ta lk to th e ro ck s th a t are
g o in g to be g r o u n d u p to m ak e th e fo u n d a tio n o f o u r h o u se an d o u r w a lk s.
W e n e e d to ex p la in to th e m w h y it is th a t w e ’re a sk in g th e m to c h a n g e
fo rm . W e n e e d to have th e m u n d e r sta n d an d n ever tak e a p la n t for h e a lin g
w ith o u t first ta lk in g to th e sp e c ie s an d th e n to th e p articu la r p la n ts th a t are
g o in g to b e u s e d , a sk in g for th eir p e r m issio n , an d a sk in g th a t th e y p lea se
g iv e h e a lin g . (1 9 9 1 b )

These protocols—the bear ceremony described by Mink and the offering made
before gathering described by Kecwaydinoquay—are ways in which those fol­
lowing izhitwaawin show their respect for the rest of Creation and help to
maintain the reciprocal relationships between humans and other beings.
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Maintaining enawendiwin also requires that we do not waste the lives of


other beings. One does not just kill a buck for a trophy set of antlers or a bear
for an ornamental rug. If one takes the life of an animal, then one makes use
of the usable parts of that animal. Kathryn Osogwin describes how the Ani-
shinaabcg used to kill deer at the end of winter, around March. At this time,
men wearing snowshoes would chase a deer, eventually clubbing it to death
when it started to have trouble getting through the hard, icy crust that forms
on the snow during that time of year. Osogwin says that the Anishinaabeg
could kill many deer this way, but they “never killed a deer to be wasted.”
When they did kill a deer, they used all of the meat (EWV, notebook 20).
Plants and trees are an important part of enawendiwin, and the same
protocols apply to them as apply to any other living beings. The question
will inevitably arise here if, from the perspective of izhitwaawin, plants and
trees are considered to be animate beings. Keewaydinoquay says they are,
and she uses this concept as an example of the great differences between
inaadiziwin and non-native philosophies (1991a; 1991b). People who work
with Ojibwe language, however, tend to say that some plants are animate
while others are inanimate. There really has not been enough research in thi:
area to give a definite answer one way or the other, but it seems that a lot ol
the inanimate names refer not to the entire plant, but to a part of the plant.
Sometimes the name for the seed, berry, nut, or fruit of a plant is an inani­
mate noun, while the name for the plant is an animate noun. For instance,
miinan is one Ojibwe name for blueberries, but this word does not describe
the whole plant, it only describes the berries. The name for the entire plant,
miinagaawanzh, is an animate noun (Nichols and Nyholm 1995, 89). Simi­
larly, ozhaaboomin, the berry of the gooseberry plant (Kibes oxyacanthoides)
is inanimate, but the name of the plant itself, ozhaaboominaganzh, is animate
(Rose, pers. comm.).4 Mitigomin, the acorn of the white oak (Qtiercus alba),
is also inanimate, while mitigomizh, the white oak tree, is animate (Rose,
pers. comm.). Rose says that names for plants and trees that end in -min are
referring not to the whole plant, but just to a part of the plant or tree, such

4. With the exception of Sphagnum spp., Rose identified all of the plants in this section
from descriptions given in Meeker, Elias, and Heim (1993a). The scientific names arc listed
here as they are presented in that source.
60 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

as a nut or a berry. Many of these names ending in -min are inanimate. I


do not have enough names for plants and trees to be certain if they are all
considered animate, but of the ones I have collected from elders so far all
are animate. The only exceptions I have found in my own collecting of plant
names that are inanimate are doodooshaaboojiibik} the dandelion (Taraxa­
cum officinale), and aasaakamig, Sphagnum spp., the moss used for diaper­
ing babies (Rose, pers. comm.). These may be examples of inanimate plant
names. Doodooshaaboojiibik, although a name for dandelion, refers specifi­
cally to the root of this plant because of the ending -jiibik, meaning root.
If this name fits in the pattern described above, then there may be another
name for this entire plant that is animate. As for aasaakamig, this name is
usually translated as “moss used to diaper babies,” and as such this name may
be used in reference to the diapering material and not to the plant at all. It is
also possible that within inaadiziwin, mosses are not considered plants.

P R O T O C O L S F OR G A T H E R I N G M A T E R I A L S
F ROM P L A N T S A N D T R E E S

Despite these questions about whether or not all plants are considered ani­
mate, the teachings of izhitwaawin tell us that we must make an offering
and ask permission before picking any botanical material. Whipple explains,
“Akawe, akawe awiiya gegoo baa-mamooyan imaa akiing iw mashkiki, asc-
maa akawe giga-asaa ji-biindaakoodaman i’iw wegonen waa-mamooyan”
(pers. comm.). Here she says that the first thing someone must do before
going to pick medicines is to make an offering of tobacco. Rose explains that
it is important to give asemaa when collecting plants, adding that if one is
collecting many of the same kind of plant all at one time, this offering only
needs to be made at the beginning of the collecting (pers. comm.). Keeway-
dinoquay explains that Nodjimahkwe taught her to treat plants just as one
would treat an animal or another human being. When one wants to ask for
the assistance of a plant, one makes an offering to that plant and asks that
being for help: wOne goes to the plant people and says, ‘From the ancestors I
have learned that your kind has healing,’ whatever it is . . . ‘and I ask you will
you please heal,’ and then . . . whoever it is, is actually recited to the plant like
it was another being that you could communicate with. And then . . . you
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would promise that you wouldn't take so much of it that its grandchildren
won't live after it, which means that you have to learn enough about that
plant to learn how it reproduces so that you can see to it that that happens”
(1989a). According to Keewaydinoquay, this offering is directed to the plant
or tree being collected. She says that one must keep his or her promise to the
plant if he or she wants the plant to keep its promise to heal. She says, “To
our way of thinking, when you accept the gift of a plant you are, either by
way of fueling up with plant food or by applying a plant medicine . . . asking
that plant to become you” (1991a). It is important to ask a plant's permission
before collecting it because if one does not ask that being’s permission, he or
she will not get that being's spiritual healing. Without the spiritual healing,
a person may be physically cured but still sick because that person’s spirit
has not been healed. Keewaydinoquay says this often happens in non-native
hospitals, when patients are released because they are physically healed—for
example, their wounds are healed—but they are still sick (1991a). Hilger
explains that the Anishinaabe consultant with whom she gathered plants
also spoke directly to those plants when gathering their roots: “She dug a lit­
tle hole with her hands, placed a small piece of plug tobacco in each, covered
it with dirt, and spoke to the plant saying: T il take just a little for my use,
and here is some tobacco for you!"' ([1951] 1992, 92).
Other dibaajimowin say that this offering is made to beings who care for
that plant. Huron Smith describes the Anishinaabcg with whom he worked
placing “tobacco” in the hole from where a root was gathered. He explains
that a song accompanies this offering and both of these things are given to
“Grandmother Earth, to Winabojo, and to Dzhe Manido,” so that they may
make the medicine being prepared “potent” (1932, 349). When describing
how John Mink instructed him to make medicines out of plants, Casagrande
writes, “I was carefully admonished to place an offering of tobacco beside
the tree or bush or in the root-hole of the plant where, he said, a blind toad
always crouched” (1955, 114-15). Angeline Williams explains that if a plant
is not properly respected, its owner will follow the one who did not respect
the plant. She gives an example of a red flower that grows on the shores of
Lake Michigan and is used as a medicine for children. Only adults are allowed
to pick this flower, and they are only allowed one each. If an offering is not
made when the flower is picked, the snake who owns that plant will follow
62 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

the person who picked it. She explains that these snakes can “stand up tall” to
see who picked these flowers. Williams tells a dibaajimowin about a woman
whose daughters picked this flower and put it on their hats. A three-foot black
snake with a white stripe and white head followed the girls, until their mother
told them to put the flowers alongside the road. When they did this the flow­
ers disappeared, and they assumed that the snake ate these flowers. Williams
adds that another snake “guards” “swamproot,”5 but that if this plant is gath­
ered in the fall, the gatherer will not see the snake (EWV, notebook 19b).
Permission to pick some botanical materials requires more than an offer­
ing. Songs must be sung when gathering certain materials. Huron Smith
explains that Nenabozho instructed the Anishinaabeg on what roots they
should gather and what songs they should sing. Smith presents the following
song as an example:

Nin ba ba odji’bike oVwe’dasa’sscma


I g o to g a th e r roots; here is tobacco;

minode ni nowi nimicin gi wcdji’bikei’cn


G ive m e d ire c t g u id a n c e , you, m a k er o f roots

da mino wi dji’bikei’an.
T h a t I m a y g e t the pro p er roots . ( 1 9 3 2 , 3 4 4 ; ita lics in o r ig in a l)

The words of this song are similar to a root-gathering song that Keeway-
dinoquay taught to her oshkaabemsag (M. Gcniusz, pers. comm.). From
these lines, it appears that this song is to be sung when someone is going
out to gather any roots, not one specific kind of root. It is also clear that
the singer is making an offering to one who makes roots so that being will
give the singer guidance. Densmore relates a story, which she received from
an Anishinaabc man named Maifl’gans,6 about a song sung when preparing

5. Wheeler-Vocgclin provides this name for “swamp root'”1.Ikigwusk fkigrvitshk, and she
writes that it is “good for anything,” such as cramps and convulsions. She adds that it is not
poisonous (EWV, notebook 19b).
6. Spelled “Maingans” in a later publication (Densmore 1941, 550).
B o ta n ic a l A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in W ith in A n ish in a a b e-izh itw a a w in | 63

a medicine made from a specific root. According to this story, a man who
was Midewiwin dreamed that water spirits came and told him how to make
a medicine called bi’jikiw&ck\ Main’gans continues, “’In order to persuade
them to return he composed and sang a song . . . He was a young man at the
time, but he sang this song until he was old. He sang it whenever he dug the
roots or prepared the bi’jikiwuck’. Others learned it from him and now it is
always sung when this medicine is prepared’” (Densmore 1913, 63).
Izhitwaawin also requires certain ceremonies and feasts before or after
gathering certain botanical materials. The protocols surrounding these cer­
emonies differ in different communities. Some of these ceremonies are open
to the entire community, whereas others are reserved for those with a cer­
tain amount of training. Speaking of how the Anishinaabeg of long ago did
things, Dora Dorothy Whipple says, “Akawe ge gii-ashangcwaad igaye, zagas-
wewaad o’o gegoo ge wii-izhichigewaad, manoomin igc wii-mamoowaad
oshki-miijiwaad. Noongom idash gaawiin izhichigcsiiwag” (pers. comm.).
Here Whipple says that the Anishinaabeg used to have feasts and ceremonies
for what they wanted to do, or when beginning to harvest a food such as wild
rice. Gene Prigge quotes James “Pipe” Mustache from Lac Courte d’Oreillcs
describing a feast held for maple sugaring: “’Maybe a week before sugaring we
Indians would hold a feast and ask the Great Spirit for a blessing’” (1981,1,
7). Ojibwe language teacher Dennis Jones (Pebaamibines) explains how one
speaks in Ojibwe about giving a feast for a plant. He says that when some­
one is feasting a certain plant or tree, he or she says, “Ingaagiizomaa, T am
feasting him or her,”’ using the transitive animate verb gaagiizonu This verb
is used when someone is talking about having a feast for a specific plant, but
when someone is just having a feast in general, and not naming who that feast
is for, that person would say “niwiikonge” (I am having a feast), using the
intransitive animate verb wiikonge (pers. comm.).

P E R M I S S I O N F O R G A T H E R I N G IS N O T ALWAYS G I V E N

It should be noted that just because one follows the proper protocols before
gathering botanical material, one might not necessarily receive permission
to take that material. Keewaydinoquay warns that if we use plants, or any
other beings, for purposes to which they have not agreed, we will fail at
64 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

what we are trying to do because that plant did not give its permission and
is not lending its strength and spirit to our task. For instance, if a plant does
not agree to be part of a medicine, that medicine will not cure its intended
patient. As with any being, Keewaydinoquay says, there are ways to tell if a
plant says yes or no when it has been asked if it may be used for a certain
purpose: “Just as if you ask human beings . . . if you may walk through their
property, there is something that indicates that it is all right with them. . . .
Some people will care an awful lot and they’ll say, ‘Well you better not drop
cigarettes . . . 1or ‘Hell no! Can you see I’ve got a fence?’ You can tell right
away. . . what their attitude is going to be and whether they care . . . and you
get the same kind of a reaction from the plants—the whole thing” (1991b).
After giving this teaching, she tells her listeners about a time when one of
her students made an offering to a plant and attempted to pick it. Before he
could, a bee flew into one of the plant flowers and fell to the ground dead.
The man went to Keewaydinoquay and asked her what she thought of this
rpisode. She had him describe the plant to her, and then she told him that
the plant was telling him that it was not all right for him to pick it because
it was a poisonous plant. Keewaydinoquay tells another story about a time
when, after making an offering, she went into a lake to pick cattails. The
water started getting deeper and deeper, and the leaves began slipping out of
her hands. She continues, “And after about five minutes I sort of caught on.
I wasn’t supposed to be collecting cattail plants. Although I had asked, the
cattail plant had said, ‘No.’ It was a good idea that I got out of there because,
by the time I got out, the waves were going right over the top of the cattails”
(1991b). Keewaydinoquay freely shared information such as this with her
students because this kind of gikendaasowin is important for anyone living
inaadiziwin. As will be explained in the next section, there is other gikend­
aasowin that is guarded and not open to the public.

GUA RD E D VERSUS PUBLI C GI K E N D A A S O WI N

Within izhitwaawin there are different kinds of gikendaasowin. There is


gikendaasowin everyone must know for survival and to live according to
the protocols of izhitwaawin, including the skills necessary to provide one­
self with food, clothing, and shelter and the knowledge of how to properly
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ask permission before gathering botanical materials. Although many peo­


ple today think of medicinal knowledge as “sacred” or “guarded,” public
gikendaasowin does include information about making simple remedies.
Keewaydinoquay told Mary Geniusz many times that there was certain
medicinal knowledge which, even as late as her childhood, was known by
every member of the anishinaabe community in which she lived, and she
openly taught this knowledge in many settings, including university courses
and ethnobotany workshops (pers. comm.). Keewaydinoquay says that there
are some medicines that “belong to the people.” She instructs her oshkaa-
bewisag that, although they may teach others how to make these medicines,
they may not accept payment to do so (1990b). Whipple says that, although
there was a medicine man or woman in every anishinaabe community, all
the elders around her when she was a child made medicines (pers. comm.).
Huron Smith also says this, explaining, “The patient usually calls the medi­
cine man for ailments that have not responded to his own individual treat­
ment” (1932, 351).
Along with this public gikendaasowin, there is also gikendaasowin that
is more guarded, including Midewaajimowin (knowledge taught by the
Midewiwin). This more guarded gikendaasowin is not commonly held by
everyone, and is only given to specific individuals who have gone through
certain ceremonies and degrees of training. For instance, while collecting
information on anishinaabe plant use, both Densmore and Huron Smith
discovered that they had to go to many different people to learn about vari­
ous uses of plants because, although the people with whom they were work­
ing were Midewiwin, they did not all have knowledge about the same plants
(Smith 1932, 345; Densmore ([1928] 1974, 322-23).
Those who have been entrusted with this more guarded knowledge
often specialize in certain medicines and certain kinds of healing. Whipple
describes the differences in the healing abilities of her cousin Jim Jackson,
a mashkikiiwinini (medicine man), and her mother, Waaweeyakamig, also
known as Emma or Ethel Mitchell, who was not a mashkikiiwikwe but was
a member of the Midewiwin and could make medicines to treat her fam­
ily. Whipple compares the medicine that her mother could make to aspirin,
explaining that her mother could make a diarrhea medicine made out of
chokecherries and an eye medicine out of roots. She says her mother knew
66 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

what medicines to use to treat an illness, but that Jackson was a specialist,
who could see inside of a person and determine what was wrong with him
or her. Whipple describes Jackson by saying, “He was a real medicine man,
a specialist,” adding that his specialty was curing the lungs, which he did for
Whipple a couple of times. Jackson also knew if a person was so sick that it
was too late to help him or her (pers. comm.). Mashkikiiwinini Ron Gey-
shick describes his own healing specialty, which he received in 1982 during
an illness. On the fourth day of this illness, “the Lord” came to Geyshick
and gave him his healing powers. Geyshick explains that the Lord said to
him, “’In order for you to believe in me, I am going to give you special pow­
ers. These are the power to heal, and an X-ray vision which will let you see
the illness in a person.’ I use this vision in my healing. It comes in four split-
second flashes, as fast as I could flick my fingers at you” (1989, 23-24).
A mashkikiiwinini or a mashkikiiwikwe often guards his or her special
medicinal knowledge, sometimes by disguising the ingredients in prepared
medicines. Both Huron Smith and Densmore describe “medicine men”
grinding medicinal ingredients so that they are unidentifiable to anyone else
(H. Smith 1932, 35; Densmore [1928] 1974, 324-25). Densmore says that
this was done purposely to prevent anyone from being able to duplicate these
recipes. She explains, “medicine men frequently combined an aromatic herb
with their medicines as a precaution against their identification” ([1928]
1974, 324-25)7 Smith adds, “Even if one knew all of the ingredients, the
amounts of each herb would be difficult to ascertain. Often, as in the case
of Sweet Flag (Acorns calamus), the amount must be very limited since the
medicinal effect is so severe” (1932, 351). George McGeshick, Sr., says that
when he and his family were living at Gete-gitigaaning, the Old Village at
Lac Vieux Desert, the medicine man there would prepare medicines and give
them to his patients without telling them the ingredients. He would give the
patient more medicine when they needed it, but he would not tell them how
to prepare it themselves (pers. comm.).7

7. To this Densmore adds, “The fact that persons were willing to impart their knowledge
of these ancient remedies for publication indicates that the attitude of the Chippewa toward
their old customs is passing away” ([1928] 1974, 324-25).
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G I K E N D A A S O W I N C O ME S F R O M T H E M A N I D O O G

Within izhitwaawin, gikendaasowin, both guarded and public, comes from


many sources, including the Manidoog, dreams, and animals. As stated pre­
viously, gikendaasowin is gaa-izhi-zhawendaagoziyaang (given to us in a
loving way by the spirits). Some gikendaasowin is said to have come from
various manidoog. Nenabozho, who is half-manidoo and half-human,
brought Midewaajimowin to the Anishinaabeg. Johnston describes the ori­
gin of this information in his text. He tells about “Odaemin,” a boy who
died at a time when the Anishinaabeg were very sick. Odaemin wanted
to do something for his people, and when “Kitche Manitou” heard this,
he restored Odaemin to life, promising to send “Nanabush” to the Ani­
shinaabeg so that they could learn about medicine. Nanabush comes to
Odaemin and teaches him how to heal people with medicines. Johnston
describes Nanabush’s teachings: “Plants, he said, possessed two powers, the
power to heal and the power to grow. Nanabush, moreover, taught young
Odaemin that plant beings could lend their powers of healing and growing
to other beings. Animal beings possessed this knowledge. Odaemin must
learn from them. The greatest lesson that Nanabush imparted to Odaemin
was how to learn.” When Nanabush leaves, Odaemin continues to learn and
observe the animals and how they use plants. He passes his gifts of heal­
ing on to another young man, who passed it on to others (1976, 80-82).
Huron Smith writes a brief account, given to him by John Whitefeather, of
how Nenabozho recreated the world after the flood and introduced plants
to that world. He also writes of how Nenabozho brought the Midewiwin
to the Anishinaabeg and taught them the proper protocols for gathering
medicines (1932, 342-44). The aadizookaan “Nenabozho and the Ani-
mikiig,” presented in chapter 4, describes how Nenabozho discovered and
brought knowledge of wiigwaasi-mitig (the birch tree) to the Anishinaa­
beg. Geyshick says that healing powers, not just those related to plants,
come from the manidoog. Specifically addressing young people, he writes,
“Powers come from the spirits, not from humans. To learn, go out in the
woods, and it may take days and nights of fasting for you to receive under­
standing” (1989, 32).
68 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

G I K E N D A A S O W I N C O ME S F ROM D R E A MS

The manidoog often bring information to the Anishinaabeg in dreams,


which are also considered a reliable source of gikendaasowin. Sometimes
this information is given personally to the dreamer. I have heard members
of my own family many times talk about curing themselves by following
information they received in a dream. Kathryn Osogwin says that sometimes
after their first menstruation, women have dreams about how to make medi­
cines from certain plants, and later these women will see those plants and
know how to use them (EWV, notebook 20). Angeline Williams explains
that when an Anishinaabe is shown a certain plant in dreams by his or her
guardian spirit, that person will try that plant when he or she awakes (EWV,
notebook 19b). Anthropologist Paul Radin presents a story about an Anishi­
naabe man who received information this way. He was very sick but did not
know how to make any medicines. By following the instructions he received
n a dream about how to make medicine out of the “buttonwood” tree, this
man recovered (1924, 523).
Sometimes the dreamer receives gikendaasowin to be shared with oth­
ers. Williams describes a dibaajimowin that she heard from her grandfather
about how a young girl first brought asemaa to the Anishinaabeg by follow­
ing information she received in a dream. After being told that “a friend—a
helpful person” would be in her bedding, the girl awoke and found a large
plug of “tobacco” in her bed. For a long time this girl was the only one who
had tobacco, and the other Anishinaabeg would buy pieces of it from her
when they needed it to ask a powerful person questions or to have a feast.
Every so often, the girl would find a new plug of tobacco in her bedding.
Williams says that the Anishinaabeg knew how to use this tobacco because
they received information about it in their dreams (EWV, notebook 19c).
Mashkikiiwikwe and mashkikiiwinini also receive instructions in dreams.
I asked Whipple how someone becomes a mashkikiiwikwe or a mashkikii­
winini, and she said that a person has a dream or a vision when he or she
goes on a fast, which tells that person what he or she is going to be. Whipple
compares becoming a medicine person to being given a pipe, adding that
these are gifts “from the high spirit or manidoo.” She adds, “You can’t just
call anyone a medicine man” (pers. comm.). Smith writes that after checking
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b c -g ik e n d a a so w in W ith in A n ish in a a b e-izh itw a a w in | 69

a person’s physical ailments, such as looking at his or her eyes or tongue, a


medicine person dreams over the ailment: “Usually they want time to dream
over the case, and drink a draught of their own dream-inducing medicine
before going to sleep. In a vision or dream, they are directed to the proper
medicine to use, and concoct it the following day” (H. Smith 1932, 350).

G I K E N D A A S O W I N COMES FROM ANI MALS

Gikendaasowin also comes from animals, and sometimes the Ojibwe name
for a plant or tree contains the name of the animal who brought information
about that plant to the Anishinaabeg. For example, one of the Ojibwe names
for jevvelweed (Impatiens capensis Meerb.) is omakakiibag (frog leaf) (Zich-
manis and Hodgins 1982, 263).8 One dibaajimowin tells how an omakakii
(frog) taught the Anishinaabeg about how to use this plant to heal skin
irritations, such as the rash caused by poison ivy (Rhus radicans L.) and poi­
son sumac (Rhus vernix L.). I have heard this story many times throughout
the years from my mother, who learned it from Keewaydinoquay. Johnston
refers to this story in Ojibway Heritage (1976,42). In this dibaajimowin, the
omakakii escapes being eaten by a snake by jumping into a patch of maji-an-
iibiish (poison ivy) and by waiting for the snake to go away.9 Once the snake
is gone, the omakakii jumps right from the patch of maji-aniibiish to a patch
of omakakiibag. He rolls around in the omakakiibag, getting the juices of
the plant all over his skin, and these juices stop his skin from being irritated
by the maji-aniibiish. Johnston explains, “From the conduct of the little frog
the Anishinabcg learned the cure for poison ivy” (1976, 42).
Makwa (bear) is an important healer who has also taught the Anishinaa­
beg about many plants. Members of the bear clan often become medicine

8. At the end of Flowers of the Wild: Ontario and the Great Lakes Region, Zichmanis and
Hodgins provide a short list of Ojibwe plant names. There is no mention of the Anishinaabeg
in the rest of their text. See references for full citation.
9. Biologist Dr. Peter Kaufman notes that poison sumac (Rhus vernix L.) grows in wet,
swampy areas, often in the same places where jewehveed (Impatiens capensis Meerb.) grows,
and that poison ivy (Rhus radicans L.) grows in more diverse locations and up the trunks o f
trees (Kaufman, pers. comm.).
70 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

people, as this is one of their roles within izhitwaawin. Keewaydinoquay


says, “In our particular tribal group. Bear is considered the chief medicine
spirit,” and adds that medicine people often wear “bear objects” to honor
makwa (1991a). She writes that Nodjimahkwe instructed her to always pay
close attention to any plant named after makwa because these plants are
always important, and for the rest of her life she should always try to learn all
she could about any plant named after makwa. Reiterating Nodjimahkwe’s
instructions, Keewaydinoquay writes, “Now remember this assignment I
have given to you; it is one to last for a lifetime so that the sources of Bear’s
healing shall not be lost to The People” (1977, 16-17). According to the
aadizookaan “The Creation of Nookomis presented in chapter 4,
Mishi-makwa and Nigig first brought makwa-miskomin (bcarberry, Arctos-
taphylos ttva-ursi L.) to the Anishinaabeg so that they would never be hun­
gry. This plant, named after makwa, is a very strong medicine used in many
ways, including the prevention and treatment of diabetes (Keewaydinoquay
1977,21-22; 32-33).

G I K E N D A A S O W I N DOE S N O T C O M E
F ROM R A N D O M E X P E R I M E N T A T I O N

As seen from these examples, within izhitwaawin there are many sources of
gikendaasowin. The Anishinaabeg do not go out into the woods and experi­
ment with randomly selected plants and trees to see what can be made from
each. Instead, they rely on generations of knowledge, originating from vari­
ous sources. I know Anishinaabeg of my generation who believe that in times
past our young people were sent out into the woods to randomly experiment
with any plant or tree they could find, and that they would know, by the
appearance of a plant, how that plant should be used. This is a very danger­
ous misinterpretation of the origins of botanical gikendaasowin. No one in
a survival situation would send strong, healthy young adults out into the
woods to taste, smoke, or rip up anything that they found because there are
many poisonous plants and trees that those young people could encounter.
The result of such random experimentation could cost a community entire
generations of young people. The Gete-anis(old-time I
living among these plants and trees, and they must have known that there
Botanical Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin Within Anishinaabe-izhitwaawin | 71

are certain plants and trees that will kill a human being. None of these
stories suggests that they ever randomly experimented with plants. Instead,
these aadizookaanan and dibaajimowinan tell us that the Anishinaabeg use
information that they receive from some source, whether another human, an
animal, a dream, Nenabozho, or a manidoo, to make the decision on how to
use a previously unknown plant or tree. For example, Radin, H. Smith, and
Wheeler-Voegelin all describe Anishinaabeg receiving information about
how to make certain medicines in their dreams and then trying those medi­
cines out when they awoke (Radin 1924, 523; H. Smith 1932, 350; EWV,
notebooks 19a and 19c).
Mary Geniusz says that Keewaydinoquay was adamant that the “Doc­
trine of Signatures,” the theory that one can tell by the appearance of a plant
what part of the human body that plant can treat, was never a part of gikend-
aasowin. Keewaydinoquay insisted that a mashkikiiwinini or mashkikiiwikwe
would quickly kill an oshkaabewis by instructing him or her to randomly
experiment with plants because that oshkaabewis would inevitably encour
ter a poisonous plant. She often hypothesized that the Doctrine of Signa­
tures was created in Europe after the people living there already had a large
body of plant knowledge and were trying to figure out how it had originated
(Geniusz, pers. comm.).
When experimentation is necessary, those living inaadiziwin rely on gen­
erations of knowledge to make informed decisions about which plant or tree
they should use. The results of this informed experimentation is another
source of gikendaasowin. Keewaydinoquay argues that mashkiki has such
strength because it was gathered and contributed to over thousands of years
(1989a). She explains, “And it’s perfectly true that in times past, when there
was some great scourge of disease, something like that, that a lot of elder
people offer themselves to be experimented on. And this was not considered
a bad thing. A lot of non-Indian people seeing that kind of thing said cOh
isn’t that awful. They tried these things out on their weak old people.’ Well,
see, the Indians didn’t look at it that way . . . it was considered a worthwhile
kind of thing to do” (1985). She says that when elders offered their lives to
be experimented on like this, it was considered a very noble thing that they
were doing for the good of the people. This sacrifice allowed the Anishi­
naabeg to know how these medicines worked on human beings, knowledge
72 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

that, Keewaydinoquay argues, is more valuable than the non-native practice


of experimenting on other mammals (1985).

G I K E N D A A S O W I N IS M A I N T A I N E D T H R O U G H S T O R I E S

Gikendaasowin coming from these sources is maintained and used through


a number of ways including stories, songs, oral teachings, formal apprentice­
ships, and personal notebooks. Dibaajimowin and aadizookaan are one method
used by the Anishinaabeg to maintain and pass on gikendaasowin about plants
and trees. Often gikendaasowin is found in an aadizookaan or a dibaajimowin
explaining a plant origin or the origin of how die Anishinaabeg learned how to
use a certain plant. The dibaajimowin about the plant omakakiibag, described
earlier, explains how to use this plant to cure skin irritations. One simply, as
the omakakii does in the dibaajimowin, rubs the juices of this plant against
the irritated part of the skin to relieve die effects of poison ivy, poison sumac,
and other minor irritations. The aadizookaan presented in chapter 4, “The
Creation of Nookomis Giizhik,” contains gikendaasowin describing the physi­
cal, medicinal, and spiritual uses of this tree. In a recording of diis aadizoo­
kaan, Keewaydinoquay explains to her listeners that the part of the story where
Mishi-makwa and Nigig are looking for a tree to use to make a hole in die
earth is meant to be a teaching section. The first tree that they tried was “cot­
ton wood aspen”10 She continues, “Now cotton wood aspen is all right for
beavers to chew, in fact the outer bark is their favorite and . . . it also contains
good medicine, as we all know, but they put that aspen stick in the hole and
they had only given two or three digs and it snapped right off because you know
how aspen snaps.” Then in an aside to her listeners, Keewaydinoquay says diat,
although she will not be doing so at this time, “One of the purposes of this
story is to teach about the characteristics of all the different kinds of wood, and
what they are good for, and what they aren’t good for, and so diey go through
the whole list of all the different trees” (Keewaydinoquay n.d.c).
Other dibaajimowinan and aadizookaanan, which are not specifically
focused on a particular plant or tree, can also contain gikendaasowin about
plants and trees. For example, Frank Speck presents another teaching story

10. Probably a variety of Populus deltoidcs.


Botanical Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin Within Anishinaabe-izhitwaawin | 73

that he recorded while working with the Timiskaming Algonquin and Tim-
agami Ojibwe. In this story, “Nenebuc” has his head stuck in a bear skull
and is not able to see. As he walks along, Nenebuc has to use the trees to
know where he is. Speck continues, “Then he felt the trees. He said to one,
‘What are you?’ It answered, ‘Cedar.’ He kept doing this with all the trees
in order to keep his course. When he got too near the shore, he knew it by
the kind of trees he met. So he kept on walking, and the only tree that did
not answer promptly was the black spruce, and that said, ‘I’m Se*’se*ga‘ndak’
(black spruce). Then Nenebuc knew he was on low ground.” This line of
trees leads Nenebuc to a lake. After swimming across this lake and falling on
a rock, Nenebuc cracks the bear skull off his head (Speck 1915, 33-34). In
Speck’s text, this story is quite short, only one paragraph long. The fact that
two trees are presented here as key parts in the story so that Nenebuc knows
where he is suggests that in a longer version more trees might be inserted,
and this story could easily become a teaching story about the growing condi­
tions of the various kinds of trees.

G I K E N DA A S O W I N IS M A I N T A I N E D T H R O U G H S O N G S

Songs are also an integral part of teaching about gikendaasowin. John­


ston writes, “Every plant had a place and a purpose; every plant had a time.
For every plant being there was a prayer and a song” (1976, 83). Within
izhitwaawin, there are songs about different plants and trees that contain
dibaajimowinan honoring these beings. One example is a song that Kceway-
dinoquay called “Nookomis Giizhik: The Cedar Song,” presented in chapter
4. There are lines in this song that clearly are meant to be a sign of respect
for this tree, Nookomis Giizhik (Grandmother cedar, Thuja occide?italisb.).
For example, the refrain of this song is: “Nookomis sa giizhik, gichitwaa-
wendaagozivvin.” Nookomis means “my grandmother” and sa is an emphatic
particle. Giizhik is an Ojibwe name for the cedar tree. Gichitivaawendaagoz-
iwin comes from jjichitwaawendaajjozi\ an animate intransitive verb mean­
ing “to be holy, revered, or venerable.”11 The ending win makes this verb a1

11. This definition comes from Frederic Baraga, who writes: Kitchitwatvendajjosfi]
([1878] 1992, pt. 2,195).
74 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

noun. So “gichitwaawendaagoziwin” refers to an animate being who is holy,


worthy of being venerated, honored, or revered.12 This refrain translates as:
“Grandmother! Cedar, one who is honored.” There are also lines in this
song containing gikendaasowin about this tree. For example, one line of
this song says, “gaa-noojimowaad anishinaabeg.” Gaa-noojimowaad comes
from noojimo,13 an intransitive animate verb meaning “one is cured, healed,
or recovered.” The conjugation waad means that “they” are completing this
action. The prefix Gan- is similar to the English relative pronoun who, but it
can also indicate the past tense. So the implied translation of this line is: “the
Anishinaabeg who are healed.” This Ojibwe line corresponds to the English
line of this song: “We call her saving tree, she saves the people.” Both the
Ojibwe and the English line refer to a dibaajimowin that says that this tree
saves or cures the Anishinaabeg, physically and spiritually.14
Songs are also used within izhitwaawin as part of the healing process.
Densmore explains that she was able to gather the information she used to
write Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians because she was studying ani-
shinaabe music. She says, “Songs were used by both the djaskid and Mide,
and considered an essential part of their treatment. Having recorded these
songs, the Chippewa were willing to impart information concerning the
herbs and their uses” ([1929] 1979,44-45).15 Densmore presents two songs
each labeled as a “Healing Song.” She explains that these songs had been
used to cure an elder woman named Mi’jakiya’cig (clearing sky) in her youth,
and she shared them with Densmore (1910, 92-93).
Within izhitwaawin, the trees have another direct link to music: it is
through their wood that the Anishinaabeg sing. As Mary Geniusz says, “You
have to remember that we may sing about cedar but cedar also does our singing

12. Baraga includes this participle in his dictionary. He writes this participle Kitchtt-
wawendagosiwin, and he translates it as “Honor, veneration, glory, glorification, sanctity”
([1878] 1992, pt. 2,195).
13. Noojimo is a vai meaning “recover from an illness” (Nichols and Nyholm 1995,102);
Baraga has “recover,” “cured,” and “healed” as translations ([1878] 1992, pt. 2, 307).
14. This dibaajimowin comes from Kcewaydinoquay, and it will be fully explained in
chapter 4.
15. Djaskid is from jaasakiid: she or he who practices the shaking tent: a participle form
of jiisakii (see glossary for more information).
Botanical Anishinaabe-gikcndaasowin Within Anishinaabe-izhitwaawin | 75

for us” (pers. comm,)* The dewe’igan (drum) and bibigwan (flute) are con­
structed fromgiizhikaatig (die northern white cedar) because this wood gets
hollow as it decays (Keewaydinoquay 1986).16 Densmore describes “courting
flutes” being made out of this wood [1929] 1979, 12).17 It is possible to find
a cedar log in the woods that has already rotted enough to make a round for
a dewe’igan. George McGeshick, Sr., describes searching in the woods for
“ezhi-michaag giizhik, gaa-wiimbaakozid” (a hollow cedar log) to use to make
a drum for the Chicaugon Chippewa Heritage Council’s dances at Chicaugon
Lake in the 1970s. Halfway between his home in Iron River, Michigan, and
Watersmeet, Michigan, he found the stump of an old cedar tree that had been
cut off high above the ground, possibly when deep snow covered the bot­
tom half of the tree. He suspects this giizhikaatig (nordiern white cedar tree)
was cut during the lumbering days before U.S. Highway 2 was constructed.
McGeshick and those working with him cut a piece of tills stump, and used
it to make die dewe’gan who resides in their community (McGeshick, pers.
comm.). There are many spiritual properties of giizhikaatig, as explained in
chapter 4, and so musical instruments used for healing and other ceremo­
nies are often made from this wood. Mary Geniusz says that Keewaydinoquay
inherited a dewe’igan made of giizhikaatig from her grandfather, MideOgema,
and she used this dewe’igan for healing and other ceremonies (pers. comm.).
Keewaydinoquay did not know die exact age of this dewe’igan, but he was well
over one hundred years old when I saw him as a child in the 1980s.18

G I K E N D A A S O W I N IS M A I N T A I N E D T H R O U G H O R A L T E A C H I N G S

Gikcndaasowin is also maintained through oral teachings, passed down gen­


eration to generation. H. Smith writes, “Individual knowledge was handed

16. It should be noted, however, that other trees arc sometimes used as well. Densmore
notes that the Midewakik (the Midcwiwin drum) that she saw is made out o f basswood
(1910,12).
17. In her later text, Densmore notes that flutes arc also made out of “box elder, ash,
sumac, or other soft wood with a straight grain,” although she does not identify these specifi­
cally as “courting” flutes ([1929] 1979, 167).
18. In izhitwaawin the drum is an animate being, often referred to as nimishoomis (my
grandfather).
76 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

down through the family. Instruction to boys and girls usually comes
from the uncle or aunt, and if they have no natural uncle or aunt, then
one is assigned to them” (H. Smith 1932, 349). Whipple describes a similar
descent of knowledge in her community, explaining that her mother learned
about medicines from her mother, and that these teachings were passed on
through the generations. Whipple also learned how to make some medicines
from her mother, although she no longer remembers all of the ingredients.
She says that her brother learned about medicines from both of his parents
(Whipple, pers. comm.).
Being able to trace the descent of one’s dibaajimowinan is an essential part
of how gikendaasowin is maintained within izhitwaawin. Anishinaabe author
Louise Erdrich gives an example of Tobasonakwut, a spiritual leader, using this
protocol when sharing songs: “Tobasonakwut always begins his story of this
song by attributing it to his uncle Kwekwekibiness. Very traditional people are
very careful about attribution. When a story begins there is a prefacing history
of diat story’s origin that is as complicated as the Modern Language Associa­
tion guidelines to form in footnotes” (Erdrich 2003, 39). Densmore explains
diat this attribution is done with all songs: “The history of the Chippewa songs
is well known to the singers, and is furdier preserved by die Indian custom of
prefacing a song with a brief speech concerning it.” Densmore adds diat on
formal occasions the singer of a song will introduce a song by saying whose
song it is, and then they will conclude the song in the same manner (1910,
2). When making recordings of gikendaasowin with elders, I have found that
they often explain the history of their teachings before giving diem. For exam­
ple, when explaining why it is important to make a tobacco offering during
a thunderstorm, Whipple begins by explaining where she learned this dibaa-
jimowin. She says, “Mii giiwcnh mewinzha ko gaa-izhi-noondamaan, gichi-
aya’aawiwag iw, ingii-pizindawaag niin ingiw ingichi-aya’aag. Idash ge niin sa
go chi-aya’aawiyaan. Miish iw wenji-dibaajimoyaan i’iw. Geget igo, indebwey-
endam i’iw gaa-ikidowaad, ingii-pizindawaag niin ingiw ingichi-anishinaabe-
mag” (Whipple 2006a). Here Whipple explains diat this dibaajimowin conies
from her elders, to whom she listened when she was younger. She adds that
now she is an elder herself, and that this dibaajimowin is true.
Within izhitwaawin, the descent of one’s dibaajimowin is so important
that when presenting gikendaasowin, Anishinaabeg introduce themselves by
B o ta n ic a l A n ish in a a b c -g ik c n d a a so w in W ith in A n ish in a a b e -iz h itw a a w in | 77

giving the name of their clans, their home communities, and their anishina-
abe-wiinzowinan (Indian names) so that those listening to them will know
the origins of their teachings. Many of the elders whom Anishinaabe author
Anton Treuer quotes in Living Our Language: Ojibwe Tales and Oral Histo­
ries begin sharing dibaajimowinan and aadizookaanan by first introducing
themselves and their families. For example, Collins Oakgrove begins,

Z h a a w a n o o w in in i in d iz h in ik a a z , m iin a w a a d a sh a’a w o g iis h k im a n is ii

in d o o d e m . Im a a w en jib a a y a a n , im aa M isk w a a g a m iw i-z a a g a ’ig a n iin g , m ii

vvenjiw aad in g it iz iim a g o d o o d e m a n m ig iz iw a n . G a n ab aj a’aw n im is h o o m -

is ib a n Z h a a g a n a a s h iiw a k iin g g ii-o n jib a a . G ii- p i- iz h a a o m a a . A a b a d in g

g a a -ik id o w a a d in g it iz iim a g ap an e.

M y n a m e is Z h a a w a n o o w in in i, a n d m y c la n is th e K in g fish e r . W h e r e I

a m fr o m , th e r e at R e d L a k e, th a t’s w h e r e m y p a r e n ts w e r e fr o m . A n d m y

la te m o th e r , sh e w a s o f th e B ald E a g le C la n . M y g r a n d fa th e r m ay have

b e e n fro m C a n a d a . H e c a m e h ere. O n e tim e h e v is ite d t h is w o m a n th e r e at

P o n e m a h . T h a t ’s w h a t m y p a ren ts alw ays sa id . (T r e u e r 2 0 0 1 , 1 7 0 , 1 7 1 )

After giving this introduction of himself, his clan, his parents, and his
grandparents, Collins Oakgrove introduces the aadizookaanan he is going
to tell. Similarly, when Susan Jackson talks about her childhood, she begins
by saying,

I n g e r in g ii- t a z h i- o n d a a d iz , C h i-a c h a a b a a n in g e z h in ik a a d e g . M ii iw id i
n im a a m a a , m iin a w a a n im b a a b a a gii-a y a a w a a d . M ii iw id i o n d a k a a n e z i-
w a a d , g a a -o n ji-g ik e n d a m a a n a k in a g e g o o g ii-p iz in d a w a g w a a n im a a m a a

m iin a w a a n o o k o m is , g a y c g e g o o g ih k a g w e jim a g w a a gegoo w a a -iz h i-


g ik e n d a m a a n g ii-iz h ic h ig e y a a n g ii-a n i-m in d id o y a a n , M iis h o n o w n a m a n j

g ii-k ik e n d a m a a n g e g o o i’iw.I

I w a s b o r n in In g e r , C h i-a c h a a b a a n in g as it ’s c a lle d . M y m o th e r a n d fa th e r
w e r e o v e r th e r e . T h a t ’s w h e r e th e y c o m e fr o m , w h e r e I g o t m y k n o w le d g e
o f e v e r y t h in g fr o m , lis te n in g to m y m o th e r an d g r a n d m o th e r a n d a s k in g
th e m w h a t I w a n te d to k n o w in w h a t I d id as I g o t b ig g er. T h a t m u s t b e
h o w I le a r n e d th e s e th in g s . (T reu er 2 0 0 1 , 2 0 6 , 2 0 7 )
78 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Here, after explaining a little about her family’s background, Jackson says
that she probably learned everything from listening to her mother and
grandmother and asking them questions. She then shares some of the things
that she learned from them (Treuer 2001, 206-9).
Dennis Jones says that his father told him that one always needs to intro­
duce him or herself by stating his or her anishinaabc-wiinzowin, clan, and
home community. Jones refers to this dibaajimowin as “Ojibwe protocol”
and says that his father was instrumental in encouraging people in Canada
Treaty Three Area to introduce themselves this way. Jones explains, “It is
important to do in any introduction . . . public speaking and ceremonial
speaking.” Jones says that by stating their anishinaabe-wiinzowinan, speak­
ers tell their audiences who they are and that their identity as Anishinaabe is
important enough to them that they sought out an anishinaabe-wiinzowin.
By stating their clans, speakers are telling their audiences to whom they are
related. By stating where they are from, where their home communities are,
speakers are telling their listeners the origin of their teachings (Dennis Jones,
pers. comm.). Introductions such as the one Jones describes are an impor­
tant part of izhitwaawin, and are used throughout anishinaabewakiing.
Keewaydinoquay told Mary Geniusz that it was important for Anishinaabcg
to introduce themselves this way, but she taught that it was important for
speakers to always state their clan first, followed by their home community,
and last of all their individual name. Speakers should put themselves last,
thereby demonstrating their humility (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.).
Being able to trace the origin of one’s dibaajimowinan is one part of the
personal connection to knowledge that exists within izhitwaawin. Accord­
ing to Keewaydinoquay, one’s dibaajimowin is not credible unless that per­
son explains his or her own interactions with what is being presented. These
interactions may include dibaajimowinan that come from the personal
experience of the speaker or from the experience of someone very close to
the speaker (Mary Geniusz, pers. comm.). Keewaydinoquay includes per­
sonal stories about her own experiences working with plants and trees in
her publications. She begins the first chapter of Puhpohwee for the People
with a personal account of how she and people who were very close to her
worked with various kinds of fungi. In this chapter she describes watch­
ing MideOgema, her grandfather, use the smoke from the burning of two
B o ta n ic a l A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in W ith in A n ish in a a b c -iz h itw a a w in |7 9

kinds of puffballs, Fomes igniarius and Fomesfomentariusy to calm a hive of


bees so that he could extract some honey from it (Kcewaydinoquay 1998,
1-5). She begins another publication, Min: Anishinaabe Ogimaawi-minan:
Blueberry: First Fruit of the People, with an account of how she first learned
of the teachings of blueberries from an elder woman in her village named
Nagowikwe (1978, i-iv).
Kcewaydinoquay also includes personal stories about her own experi­
ences working with plants and trees in her class lectures at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee. When lecturing on cattails (Typha latifolia L.), Kee-
waydinoquay begins by speaking about a time when she was a child and her
mother hired a contractor to remodel a wash shed in their cabin and make
it into a modern kitchen. When the contractor took down one of the walls
in this shed, he found cattail down stuffed between layers of flattened card­
board boxes. Keewaydinoquay says that her grandfather must have put this
cattail down there, when he built the wash shed, to insulate the wall. She
uses this story as an example of how cattails are used as insulation, one »
their many uses within izhitwaawin (1985). When lecturing about mothe
wort (Leonurus cardiaca L.), Keewaydinoquay talks about a young girl she
had in her school who had a heart defect that caused her blood to not get
enough oxygen. The doctors said she would not live past grade seven. The
girl’s family tried using Keewaydinoquay’s method of treating the girl with
motherwort, and Keewaydinoquay last saw the girl at her high school gradu­
ation (Keewaydinoquay n.d.tf).

G I K E N D A A S O W I N IS M A I N T A I N E D T H R O U G H A P P R E N T I C E S H I P S

Formal training is also an important maintenance device of gikendaasowin.


Often one who is very skilled in a certain area, such as making medicines or
weaving, will take on oshkaabewisag (apprentices). Nodjimahkwe, a well-re­
spected mashkikiiwikwe living in the village on Cat Head Bay, accepted Kee­
waydinoquay as an apprentice when the latter was approximately nine years
old. Keewaydinoquay says her modier gave her a beautiful beaded bag and
told her to go to Nodjimahkwe and ask her if she would teach Keewaydino­
quay “something worth while for die people.” She adds that in her commu­
nity children were always given as an oshkaabewis to an older member of the
80 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

community so that that child could learn certain skills. Kcewaydinoquay says
that Nodjimahkwe never withheld anything from her, and answered any ques­
tion that Kcewaydinoquay asked (1989a). As an oshkaabewis, Keewaydino-
quay learned many things about gathering, preparing, and working with plants
to make foods and medicines. She also learned how to work widi a plant’s
physical and spiritual properties. Keewaydinoquay eventually trained her own
oshkaabewisag, Maty Geniusz among them, who is now training me.
Written sources also mention a system of formal training within ani-
shinaabe communities. Huron Smith writes, “The young man who had the
proper dream following the period of fasting in his youth, predicting his pre­
dilection towards the medicine man profession, was taken through a rigor­
ous course of training” (H. Smith 1932, 349).19 Anishinaabe James “Pipe”
Mustache says his training to become a mashkikiiwinini began when he was
“’about 15 or 18.’” He says at this time the elders saw that he was interested
in religion and started to teach him many ceremonies, including ones for
births, deaths, and marriages. They did this by bringing Mustache to cer­
emonies so he could “copy their methods” (Prigge 1981, 1, 7).

G I K E N D A A S O W I N IS M A I N T A I N E D

THROUGH PERSONAL NOTEBOOKS

Some gikendaasowin is kept in personal notebooks and on scrolls made of


migivaas (birch bark). Mary Geniusz says that Keewaydinoquay had at least
two bound notebooks in which she kept gikendaasowin. One looked much
older than the other. As part of Geniusz’s oshkaabewis training, Keeway­
dinoquay taught her medicine songs and then let her copy the song from
her newer notebook. Geniusz says that because the protocols of izhitwaawin
prohibit an oshkaabewis from randomly paging through a personal note­
book of his or her teacher, she only saw the portions of the notebook that

19. It should be noted in this passage that Huron Smith talks mainly about the practices
of men because it was mainly men, he says, who were willing to talk to him about plants. Take,
for example, the following statement by Smith: “Most of our informants were men, because
they found it easier to talk to the writer than the women. It was easy to get the women to talk
of old time methods of preparing aboriginal foods” (1932, 334).
Botanical Anishinaabe-gikcndaasowin Within Anishinaabc-izhitwaawin | 81

Keewaydinoquay wanted her to see. These selected portions contained songs


used for certain ceremonies. Keewaydinoquay told Geniusz that Nodji-
mahkwe kept written records of medicinal recipes on a writing tablet and
healing songs on wiigwaas scrolls (Geniusz, pers. comm.).
Evidence of these personal notebooks exists in the written literature as
well. Albert Reagan says that the information found in some of his articles was
copied from the personal notebooks and wiigwaas scrolls belonging to medi­
cine men at Nett Lake. As described in chapter 1, Albert Reagan published
two articles presenting medicinal songs and recipes from George Farmer’s
notebook (1921; 1922). Reagan also says that the information in his article
“Plants Used by the Bois Fort Chippewa (Ojibwa) Indians of Minnesota”
comes from a “direct translation” of the information he found “in a medicine
man’s notebook” (1928,231). Because the recipes given in this article are dif­
ferent from those in Reagan’s article on George Farmer’s medicinal recipes,
one can assume that Reagan has seen more than one of these notebooks.
Reagan also describes medicine men at Nett Lake singing medicine songs
recorded in “picture writing” and written on “birch bark parchments.” One
mashkikiiwinini, he says, had over forty of these parchments (1927, 81-83).
These notebooks are designed for the personal use of their author, so
each one differs in content and presentation of information. Reagan says that
Farmer’s notebook is written completely in Ojibwe using the English alpha­
bet, and he claims that he copied the Ojibwe lines in his articles directly from
this notebook (1921, 246; 1922, 332). Keewaydinoquay told Geniusz that
some of the recipes and songs in Nodjimahkwe’s notebooks were recorded
in “hieroglyphs.” The songs that Geniusz was allowed to copy from Keeway-
dinoquay’s notebook were written mainly in Ojibwe using the English alpha­
bet. Some passages were recorded in “hieroglyphs.” Geniusz’s own notebook
contains copies of these songs, written in Ojibwe using English letters. Gen­
iusz also uses English in her notebook to remind herself of instructions to
be followed during certain ceremonies and to translate some of the Ojibwe
songs (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.).
These notebooks are personal mnemonic devices for the people who
create them, not a means of leaving a written record for future generations.
Keewaydinoquay, for example, instructed her oshkaabewisag to bury her
with her notebook. Geniusz says that is often done with notebooks so that
82 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

a mashkikiiwikwe or a mashkikiiwinini will not leave his or her oshkaabe-


wisag with information that they have not studied in the proper manner. It
would be very dangerous for someone without enough training to try out
a medicine just from reading about it in a notebook. For one thing, Gen-
iusz explains, these notebooks do not always contain all of the information
necessary to conduct a certain ceremony or to make a certain medicine. Key
ingredients arc often left out of these notebooks so that the person writ­
ing down the information could control who had it and who did not (M.
Geniusz, pers. comm.). We can see examples of these abbreviated medicinal
recipes in the lines that Reagan copied from Farmer’s notebook, such as this
recipe used to treat gonorrhea:

(/*) A d jim a g , (b) m itig o m is h , (c) a n ib , (rt) s h is h i-g i-m e -w is h , {e) asa e d e m a

ash o a k w h ite e lm su g a r m ap le p u t in to b a c c o

w e -d a -b a g d ji-g a -tig k o -k o -sa -w e t (or h o -k o -sa -w e t)

cast little c lo s e trees g o n o r r h e a ( 1 9 2 1 , 2 4 7 )

Reagan explains that he added an English translation and an explanation to


each recipe for presentation in the article. The rest he copied entirely from
Farmer’s notebook (1921, 246). Looking at the original Ojibwe recipe, then,
when compared to Reagan’s explanation, it is clear that Farmer has left some
important information out of the recipe as recorded in his notebook. For
instance, he does not say what part of these trees to use, or how to prepare
and administer this medicine. These things are explained by Reagan: “For
gonorrhea make a tea of the root-bark of the following trees: ash, oak, white
elm, and sugar maple; add a little tobacco and set the solution just east of
and quite close to some trees. When it is cool drink a cupful three times a
day” (1921, 247-48). Farmer did not need these specific instructions, as he
undoubtedly knew how to make the recipes recorded in his notebook. Any­
one else, however, would need more information to reproduce these recipes.
Songs kept in these notebooks and on these scrolls of wiigwaas are also
kept in a way that prevents them from being sung by anyone. Even if one
can read the method through which a song was recorded—“pictographs”
or Ojibwe with English letters—that person will still not necessarily be able
B o ta n ica l A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in W ith in A n ish in a a b e -iz h itw a a w in | 83

to sing that song because these written songs do not provide the tune to
which the song is sung. Those songs that Reagan says he copied directly
from Farmer’s notebook are just lines of Ojibwe, with no music notations
(1922, 333-65). I have seen the songs in Mary Geniusz’s notebook, and
they also have no indication of the tune to which they are sung. If one hap­
pened to know the tune to which a song was sung, that person would not
necessarily know other crucial information about the song, such as when the
song should be sung and how the song should be used.

G X K E N D A A S O W I N IS M A I N T A I N E D
T H R O U G H A R E C O R D I N G SYSTEM

Some Anishinaabcg also maintain gikendaasowin through symbols, often


referred to as “pictographs” or “picture writings.” There exists a large body of
literature on anishinaabe “pictographs” and those of other tribes, going back
at least as far as the research of Henry R. Schoolcraft (1851-57) and Garrick
Mallery (1886, 1893). Specific colonized presentations of these symbols ar
discussed in chapter 3. Although non-native scholars argue that these “pictc
graphs” are not a “writing system” (Gelb 1952, 35-36; Rogers 2005, 2-3) ii.
which certain symbols stand for certain sounds, they are a means of recording
messages, thoughts, ideas, and information. Keewaydinoquay explains that this
system records thoughts rather than exact words, but it can be used to depict
anything, although some ideas are harder to depict than others (1989a; 1990a).
Mary Geniusz says that from what Keewaydinoquay taught her of this system,
there are some concepts that are codified and some that are not. She says that
a person learns a basic set of vocabulary, upon which that person is expected
to elaborate should it be insufficient to express a certain piece of information
(pers. comm.). For example, in Kcewaydinoquay’s system one places two circles
around a group of hieroglyphs to indicate that they represent a name (1990a).
I often saw Keewaydinoquay using this system of recording ideas, and she gave
my mother several small wooden plaques on which she had painted various
teachings using this system. When she named my sister and me, Keewaydino­
quay taught us both to draw our names using this recording method.
In the written literature, there exist several descriptions of Anishinaa-
beg using a system of recording thoughts, ideas, and messages that seems
84 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

to be similar to that which Keewaydinoquay used. As previously described,


Reagan discusses songs written in “picture writing” on birch bark. Walter
James Hoffman describes a “pictorial resume of the traditions and history
of the Ojibwa cosmogony” used by the Midewiwin at Red Lake, approxi­
mately fifteen feet long and twenty inches wide, made of pieces of birch bark
sewn together (1888,218). Densmore says that the Anishinaabeg use “picto­
graphy” on birch bark, cedar, ash, other woods, the “perpendicular surface
of rocks,” dry earth, and the dry ashes from fires. When they use pictography
on birch bark, Densmore says that the Anishinaabeg generally use only the
inner bark, but that the Midewiwin scrolls often make use of both sides of
one piece of bark ([1929] 1979, 174). M. Inez Hilger describes members of
the Midewiwin singing songs at a ceremony that were recorded in “picto-
graphs on birchbark rolls” ([1951] 1992, 67).
Although not exclusively used to record botanical gikendaasowin, some
of this knowledge is recorded using this system. Keewaydinoquay told Mary
leniusz that Nodjimahkwe taught her to read this writing system by read­
ing out of her personal notebooks. Keewaydinoquay taught Geniusz how
to read this system by letting her read the “hieroglyphs” written in her
notebook (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.). She also uses it in Min: Anisbinaabe
Ojjimaawi-minan: BlueBerry: Fiist Fruit of the People to describe a dibaaji-
mowin about blueberries (see illustration 1). This dibaajimowin encourages
families to dry many blueberries during the Blueberry Moon so that they
will keep their strength through the winter (Keewaydinoquay 1978, 33). It
is obviously public information used to teach all Anishinaabeg an important
survival skill.

1. O jib w e “ h ie r o g ly p h s” as draw n by K e ew a y d in o q u a y ( 1 9 7 8 , 3 3 ). C o u r te s y o f
M in is s K itig a n D r u m .
B o ta n ic a l A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in W ith in A n ish in a a b c -iz h itw a a w in | 85

Other researchers presenting recording systems do not specifically


describe them as being used to record medicinal recipes, but they do describe
them as being used to record songs, including ceremonial songs, that may
have been used in conjunction with certain medicines. These researchers also
say that this system is used to record different kinds of gikendaasowin, some
of which is guarded and some of which is not. Reagan says this “picture writ­
ing” is used to record “winter counts, medicinal formulas and songs, tribal
history and lodge rituals,” to be “inscribed and handed down from genera­
tion to generation” (1927, 81). Hoffman says that the Midcwiwin are experts
in the use of “pictorial writing,” but it is not a tool used exclusively by them.
He gives an example of a love letter written in “pictographs” by a woman
to her sweetheart asking him to call on her (Hoffman 1888, 223). Dens-
more says that “pictography” is used to confer different kinds of knowledge:
guarded knowledge, which is understood only by those in the Midewiwir
such as Midcwiwin song records, writings, and stories about Nenabozht
and public knowledge, such as names, clans, maps, story illustrations, ana
messages left by travelers. Densmore claims that the kinds of “pictography”
used to pass on the messages for the public have a “simpler symbolism” than
those used to record gikendaasowin held by the Midcwiwin ([1929] 1979,
174-75). Hilger says that of the Midewiwin songs she saw recorded in “pic­
tographs,” only the members of that organization could understand them
([1951] 1992, 67).
Although having varying degrees of details in the figures and other
symbols, the recording systems described and exemplified by these other
researchers sound and look like the one Keewaydinoquay used, but it is pos­
sible that each community has its own set of conventions for using this sys­
tem, which may have developed independently of each other. For example,
Keewaydinoquay says that her grandfather, MiddOgema, taught her a cer­
tain system for depicting if the event being recorded happened to a man or a
woman. Keewaydinoquay adds, however, that she has not seen other people
make this distinction in the same way that her grandfather did (1989b).
Mary Geniusz says that this system is taught from one person to another,
often from a mashkikiiwinini or a mashkikiiwikwe to his or her oshkaabe-
wisag, and because it is handed down in this manner not everyone writes
exactly the same. Geniusz knows how to read Keewaydinoquay’s system
86 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

because Keewaydinoquay taught it to her, but she does not think that she
would be able to fully read and understand the writing system of another
mashkikiiwinini or mashkikiiwikwe who was taught by a different set of
teachers. Geniusz says that some medicine people would not necessarily want
individuals who were not their oshkaabewisag to be able to read his or her
dibaajimowinan written this way because then that person would lose
control of those dibaajimowinan (pers. comm.), and as will be explained
in the next section, proper payment must be secured before certain dibaaji-
mowin and other kinds of gikendaasowin can be shared.

SOME G I K E N D A A S O W I N M U S T BE P U R C H A S E D

When someone is entrusted with certain gikendaasowin, it is important that


proper payment be made for that knowledge. Within izhitwaawin, there is
always a price to be paid for gikendaasowin. Densmore says that members of
the Midewiwin learn certain medicines when entering the Midewiwin and
when advancing to different degrees, but any other medicines they want to
learn have to be purchased from the “old men” ([1928] 1974, 322-23). Later
Densmore says that in the uold days” nobody gave any medicinal informa­
tion to anyone, not even family members, without sufficient payment. She
explains, “one reason for this restriction seeming to be a fear that the infor­
mation would not be treated with proper respect” ([1928] 1974, 324-25).
Geniusz agrees, saying that it is important to charge for gikendaasowin so
that those receiving it will respect and value it (pers. comm.). Ron Geyshick
advises young people, “Help old people, and pay for the knowledge and
help they give you. If you have a lot of food, share it. What you give you’ll
receive back” (1989, 31). Angeline Williams says that one must believe in
a medicine and pay for it in order for that medicine to be effective. She
adds that if one believes in a medicine but does not pay for it, that medi­
cine will not do that person much good. Williams also tells a short story
about a man who unknowingly purchased some fake medicine from another
man. Later, the man who sold the medicine saw his customer in town, and
the man was very grateful for the medicine that he had purchased. He said
the medicine had worked wonderfully. Williams adds to this that “Indian
B o ta n ic a l A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in W ith in A n ish in a a b c -iz h itw a a w in | 87

medicine” works, whether it is fake or not,20 as long as it is purchased (EWV,


notebook 19b), Kathryn Osogwin says that curative medicines are paid for
with a variety of things, including necklaces, pillowcases, or silk sashes. She
says that some medicines are worth more than others. She briefly describes
her father’s medicine for stopping a hemorrhage as an example of a valuable
medicine (EWV, notebook 20). Geniusz says that an oshkaabewis pays with
“time, energy and support” for the information that he or she receives from
his or her mashkikiiwinini or mashkikiiwikwe. Geniusz adds that this is how
she paid Keewaydinoquay for the gikendaasowin that she was taught (pers.
comm.). Mashkikiiwinini John Mink learned a lot of his “pharmaceutical
knowledge” from his older relatives, but he also paid “substantial fees to
other native doctors” for some of his medicines. He learned about other
medicines in his Midewiwin training (Casagrande 1955,114). Huron Smith
says sometimes patients can buy instructions for making medicines fro;
those “medicine men” doctoring them, adding, “The recipient is admoi
ished to see that he does not impart the knowledge unless he is well paid foi
it, as he paid the medicine man” (1932, 351).21
Another form of purchasing knowledge is trading. In some cases gikend­
aasowin is exchanged piece for piece, as is often done with Midewaajimowin
and other guarded knowledge. Mary Geniusz says this trading is done
between peers, those who are at the same degree in the Midewiwin. Some­
one who is at a higher level of the Midewiwin generally does not trade Mide­
waajimowin with individuals who have not had as much training because
the person with less training could easily hurt him or herself by not having
the expertise to properly use that knowledge (M. Geniusz, pers. comm,).

20. In the actual notebook, Wheclcr-Vocgclin abbreviates these words as wInd. m e d ”


(EWV, notebook 19b).
21. To this Smith adds, “This explains the difficulty one encounters when he tries to get
medicinal information. Only by completely securing the confidence o f Indians, can a white
man get this information without pay, and then it must be thoroughly understood that the
investigator is not copying their medicines to take commercial advantage o f this knowledge.
The Indian is quick to appreciate favors and to acknowledge the respect that is given to him by
the white man, and becomes quite confident when he realizes that his confidence is not abused
(H. Smith 1932, 351).
88 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Kccwaydinoquay says that her oshkaabcwisag are rewarded in their third,


fourth, and fifth years of service with new medicinal formulas, and once an
oshkaabewis is gifted with one of these formulas, it is his or hers to barter or
sell as he or she chooses (1990b).

CONCLUSION

As seen in this chapter, those practicing izhitwaawin gather and maintain


knowledge in ways different from those following non-native teachings
and philosophies. Within izhitwaawin, plants and trees traverse physical and
spiritual worlds. Within non-native teachings and philosophies, plants and
trees are objects to be studied. There are also similarities between these
knowledge-keeping systems, but understanding the differences between how
izhitwaawin and non-native philosophies and teachings view plants and trees
is the first step for those trying to decolonize this knowledge. Accepting
these differences and seeing plants and trees through the perspective of our
ancestors is the next step.
3
The Colonization and Decolonization
of Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin

INTRODUCTION

Taking botanical information out of colonized texts and working with elders
to make it a viable part of our communities would be useful to programs
and individuals revitalizing izhitwaawin. However, as mentioned previously,
the colonization process has reached far deeper than merely moving infor­
mation out of one knowledge-keeping system to another and then present­
ing it to the world. Colonization, and the systemic racism it supported, was
and is about one people completely absorbing another. To be truly effec­
tive, colonization must take over every aspect of that “other people,” even
the way in which they view the world. This chapter describes the coloniza­
tion and decolonization processes, particularly as they relate to botanical
gikendaasowin.

COLONIZATION

The concept that colonization has reached into the minds, knowledge, and
beings of indigenous people may be the hardest facet of colonization for us
to accept and reverse. One can see that our lands and natural resources have
been colonized just by looking at them: we no longer control, and in many
cases no longer have access to, much of our ancestral lands or the resources
on those lands. We can also see how our lives have been colonized: many of
us now live on reservations or in places dictated by the dominant society and
by our social and economic standing within that society. Some of our bodies
89
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have also been colonized in death, by continuing to linger on shelves and


storage facilities of museums, universities, and other colonizing institutions.
Unlike these examples, the colonization of our minds is internal and there­
fore not as readily seen at first glance. Some of us might not want to admit
that this internal colonization exists because admitting that colonization is
inside us makes us feel like the enemy.
Using a variety of assimilation efforts, colonizers have attempted to form
indigenous peoples into their own image. It is not just a matter of taking
indigenous children away to boarding schools and teaching them reading,
writing, and arithmetic. Nor is it just a matter of breaking up tribes and
putting individual families onto allotments, or relocating them into cities.
Rather, it is a case of trying to assimilate indigenous people so that they will
see the world and themselves from the perspective of the colonizer.
In The Colonizer and the Colonized, Tunisian theorist Albert Memmi
describes how indigenous peoples are colonized internally. Memmi argues
that the colonizer ascribes certain traits to the colonized, and by insist­
ing that these traits exist, the colonizer can justify his actions toward the
colonized. Memmi uses as an example the colonizers describing the colo­
nized as “a wicked, backward person with evil, thievish, somewhat sadistic
instincts.” Once they establish such an image, the colonizers then claim
that they need to treat the colonized harshly to protect themselves from
these “evil” beings. In treating them harshly, the colonizers further argue,
they are protecting the colonized from harming themselves. This image
created by the colonizer is completely negative: “The colonized is not this,
is not that. He is never considered in a positive light; or if he is, the qual­
ity which is conceded is the result of a psychological or ethical failing”
(Memmi 1965, 83-84). The colonizer ascribes more and more traits to
the colonized until, Memmi argues, “all the qualities which make a man
of the colonized crumble away.” As the colonizer continues to treat the
colonized according to the image that he has created, the colonized begins
to conform to the colonizer’s image. He undergoes a change, becoming “a
pure colonized.” The colonized begins to see himself as this image created
by the colonizer. He starts to believe it. Memmi concludes, “In order for
the colonizer to be the complete master, it is not enough for him to be so
in actual fact, but he must also believe in its legitimacy. In order for that
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n and D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b c -g ik c n d a a so w in | 91

legitimacy to be complete, it is not enough for the colonized to be a slave,


he must also accept this role” (1965, 79-89).
During the assimilation process, indigenous peoples are taught to view
themselves, their peoples, and their cultures from the perspective of the
colonizer. The view that “a pure colonized” has of him or herself is nega­
tive, degrading, and of something not fully human. Linda Tuhiwai Smith
describes one facet of how indigenous peoples have been viewed by their
colonizers: “One of the supposed characteristics of primitive peoples was
that we could not use our minds or intellects. We could not invent things,
we could not create institutions or history, we could not imagine, we could
not produce anything of value, we did not know how to use land and other
resources from the natural world, we did not practice the ‘arts’ of civiliza­
tion. By lacking such virtues, we disqualified ourselves, not just from civi­
lization but also from humanity itself. In other words, we were not ‘fully
human’; some of us were not even considered partially human” (L. Smit'
1999, 25). As Smith explains in this quote, from the worldview of the cole
nizer, indigenous peoples are “primitive,” incapable of producing, doing,
or thinking anything of value. They are not only uncivilized; they are not
human. When indigenous peoples are assimilated and accept the worldview
of the colonizer, this is how they see themselves, their knowledge, and their
cultures. Memmi argues that the colonizers purposely force the colonized to
make this transformation in order to reach their own objectives. If colonized
people are made to think of themselves as less human, less intelligent, and
less able than the colonizers, then they are easier to subjugate. They are not
as tempted to rebel against the colonizers; they will put up with whatever the
colonizer forces them to do (Memmi 1965, 79-80). This gives the coloniz­
ers incredible power over the colonized, their lands, their knowledge, and
their resources.
For indigenous individuals who have been colonized, the thought that
their people’s language and knowledge could produce anything of equal or
greater value than those produced by non-natives seems preposterous. For
the colonizer’s view of indigenous cultures is of something “primitive,” “sim­
plistic,” and far inferior to the great knowledge and breakthroughs made by
non-native civilizations. This belief works to the benefit of the colonizers,
for when the colonized are made to see that their languages and knowledge
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are of no value, they are far more willing to part with those things. They
stop using them. They forget them. They do not teach them to their chil­
dren. Without languages and knowledge that are different from those of the
colonizers, indigenous peoples are easier to assimilate and absorb within the
dominant society. Once they are members of the dominant society, indig­
enous peoples are less likely to see themselves as distinct peoples and less
likely to fight for their rights as sovereign nations.
Linda Smith argues that knowledge and cultures of indigenous peo­
ples were specifically targeted by colonialist powers. She writes, “Knowledge
was also there to be discovered, extracted, appropriated and distributed.
Processes for enabling these things to occur became organized and system­
atic” ( 1 9 9 9 , 58). Smith says that various academic disciplines have collected
indigenous knowledge. She adds, “It is through these disciplines that the
indigenous world has been represented to the West and it is through these
disciplines that indigenous peoples often research for the fragments of our­
selves which were taken, catalogued, studied and stored” (1999, 58-59).
Gikendaasowin has been collected and represented to the world for more
than 1 7 0 years. Many of these publications have negative passages about
the Anishinaabeg as well as about their knowledge. The gikendaasowin in
these colonized texts has been transformed to fit into non-native knowledge­
keeping systems. Today Anishinaabeg are studying the colonized represen­
tations of gikendaasowin to learn more about their own culture, but such
colonized writings are poor tools for cultural revitalization. They need to be
decolonized so they can be made useful to the revitalization of izhitwaawin.
What follows is a description of some of the colonized aspects of these texts
on botanical gikendaasowin.

C O L O N I Z A T I O N A N D TE X T S OF G I K E N D A A S O W I N

The colonizer’s invented negative views of indigenous peoples as “primi­


tive,” not capable of original thinking, run through many of the published
presentations of botanical gikendaasowin. For instance, when introducing
a list of plants used by the Anishinaabeg, Walter James Hoffman writes,
“It is interesting to note in this list the number of infusions and decoc­
tions that are, from a medical scientific standpoint, specific remedies for the
The Colonization and Decolonization of Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin |93

complaints for which they are recommended. It is probable that the long
continued intercourse between the Ojibwa and the Catholic Fathers, who
were tolerably well versed in the ruder forms of medication, had much to do
with improving an older and purely aboriginal form of practicing medical
magic” (1891, 197). In this passage, Hoffman suggests that the Anishinaa-
beg are not intelligent or advanced enough to have gathered and preserved
this knowledge without the help of non-natives.
The labeling of the anishinaabe method of recording thoughts and
knowledge, including botanical gikendaasowin, as “pictographs” or “pic-
ture writing” is another area in which we are depicted as “primitive” people.
Researchers argue that our method is not a “writing system” because it does
not correspond directly to sounds in the Ojibwe language. For instance,
linguist Henry Rogers says that writing “has a systematic relationship to lan­
guage, and it has a systematic internal organization of its own” (2005, 3). In
this method of recording information, symbols respond to ideas, not specific
words or sounds, so perhaps this is not a “writing system” given this defini­
tion. That said, the ways in which this method of recording information are
labeled by various researchers suggest that the Anishinaabeg simply have
not reached a high enough rung on the ladder of evolution. For example, in
“Interpreting Birch Bark Scrolls,” Joan M. Vastokas describes this system as
the “first step in the evolution of writing” (1984, 431). Here Vastokas sug­
gests that the Anishinaabeg are at some beginning stage of development in
their intellectual capacity. They are at the “first step” in creating a writing
system. In a more recent text, Rogers describes this system as “non-linguistic
graphic communication,” and labels it “picture writing” (2005, 3). Others
(Reagan 1922; Hilger [1951] 1992) use the term “pictograph,” which is
just a fancier sounding synonym. “Picture writing” sounds like something a
child or an absent-minded person doodling on an envelope would do. Some
researchers argue that labels such as “pictograph” and “picture writing” are
not primitive enough. Linguist I. J. Gelb argues that the term “pictograph”
is too advanced a label for an American Indian method of recording informa­
tion: “’pictographic,’ meaning ‘picture writing,’ is not appropriate because
there are other systems, such as Egyptian, early Sumerian, etc., also expressed
in picture form, but entirely different in inner structure from such primi­
tive systems as those used by the American Indians” (1952, 35). Although
94 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

coming from a text now over fifty years old, this quote does give readers a
sense of the ways in which this method of recording information has been
described and labeled by the colonizers. Overcoming such views is still an
issue for those working with the decolonization of gikendaasowin and other
native people’s knowledge.
If picture writing is the first step of writing, one might assume that
if colonization had not happened, eventually the Anishinaabeg would have
developed a “true” writing system. Such assumptions ignore the possibility
that oral methods of communicating and maintaining knowledge can be just
as advanced as written ones. I have worked with several elders who cringe at
the idea of writing any Ojibwe word. They say that our language was sup­
posed to be spoken, not written. Not having a means of representing every
sound in their language does not make a people “primitive.” It is simply a
different means of maintaining knowledge.
Kcewaydinoquay resents simplistic and primitive sounding labels such as
"‘picture writing” and “mnemonics,” often used in reference to this system.
She prefers to call these symbols “hieroglyphs”: “Different people have called
hieroglyphs many different things. We are talking about a way of marking
that indigenous people once used to help them remember things. Because
it is simple, most people in these days refer to it as ‘picture writing,’ ‘mne­
monics,’ they hardly ever dignify it as a hieroglyph. And yet, it’s enough like
the hieroglyphs and has changed over the amount of years it has been used
as the hieroglyphs have” (Kcewaydinoquay 1990a). She adds that when her
father was in the Spanish American War in the Philippines, he could read the
hieroglyphs that he saw there because of his knowledge of anishinaabe “hier­
oglyphs” (1990a). Whether or not one agrees with Keewaydinoquay’s label
of this recording system, she does accurately describe the way in which it has
been depicted by non-native researchers. Just because the Anishinaabeg did
not, before the Invasion, design a “writing system” like those of non-native
societies does not make us “primitive” or our method of recording informa­
tion somehow inferior to non-native ones. If this method of recording was
created entirely anew by each person who used it, then others would not
be able to interpret it. As mentioned in chapter 2, there are, at least in indi­
vidual regions, standard methods of recording certain pieces of information
with this system. It is a method of recording information, but it is different
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n an d D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b c -g ik e n d a a so w in | 95

from those used by non-natives. Non-native researchers’ inability to interpret


these records without the help of Anishinaabe consultants should prove that
this is a system of record keeping that one must learn, rather than a simplis­
tic, primitive means of recording information. If it was simplistic, everyone
would be able to read it.
The negation of indigenous histories can also be seen repeatedly through
the colonized presentation of gikendaasowin. Linda Smith describes the feel­
ings of having one’s history put down by others, saying, “There are numer­
ous oral stories which tell of what it means, what it feels like, to be present
while your history is erased before your eyes, dismissed as irrelevant, ignored
or rendered as the lunatic ravings of drunken old people.” She argues that
the negation of indigenous histories has been an important part of coloniza­
tion because these histories were “regarded as ‘primitive’ and ‘incorrect’ and
mostly because they challenged and resisted the mission of colonization”
(1999, 29). Anishinaabe histories about the origins of certain plants are gen
erally not included in these colonized texts of gikendaasowin. If they a:
included, they are often dismissed as fictional stories of a simplistic, “primi
tive” people. For example, Huron Smith writes.

T h e O jib w e s till u se th e s o n g s e s s e n tia l t o d ig g in g m e d ic in e r o o ts . Jack


D o u d , th e o ld s c o u t c a p ta in o f th e C iv il W ar, o f th e o ld F la m b e a u v il­
la g e , to ld th e w r ite r th a t W in a b o jo , th e ir d e ity , h ad r ec eiv ed th e se e d s
o f all p la n ts fro m D z h e M a n id o , th e cre a to r o f t h e u n iv e r s e , a n d th a t
W in a b o jo had g iv e n th e m to N o k o m is , g r a n d m o th e r , th e E a r th , to k eep
in h e r b o s o m for th e u s e o f th e I n d ia n s . Jack D o u d a lso sa id th a t W in a b o jo
t o o k s o m e o f th e n a tiv e f o o d s fro m h is o w n b o d y . H e sa id th a t W in a b o jo
p u lle d o u t a little p in c h o f flesh a n d th r e w it o n th e g r o u n d t e llin g it t o
g r o w th e r e as m a n d a m i n o r c o rn for th e I n d ia n s . A n o t h e r p in c h y ie ld e d
s q u a s h , a n o th e r b e a n s an d s o o n u n til W in a b o jo h ad v ery lit t le flesh le ft
o n h is b o d y . In o th e r w o r d s , th e I n d ia n s d id n o t k n o w th e so u r c e s o f th e ir
c u ltiv a te d c r o p s, a n d had in v e n te d th is tr a d itio n to a tte m p t t o e x p la in

th e ir p r e se n c e . ( 1 9 3 2 , 3 4 9 )

This “deity,” “Winabojo,” of whom Huron Smith writes (called by various


names in aadizookaanan, including Wenabozho and Nenabozho) is an inte­
gral part of izhitwaawin. He is a part-human, part-spirit being at the center
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of anishinaabc cosmology. Winabojo brought the Anishinaabeg many of the


teachings that make up gikcndaasowin. According to aadizookaanan, the
earth as we know it today would not have existed without him. In this pas­
sage, Jack Doud alludes to one aadizookaan about how Winabojo helped to
create this world. To dismiss it, casting it aside as something “invented” by
the Anishinaabeg, negates a history that is at the core of gikendaasowin.
The writers of these colonized texts also deny the existence of gikend­
aasowin by presenting it as something that is now gone. Some of them insist
on talking about izhitwaawin in the past tense, even when they are soliciting
information from living Anishinaabeg who are still doing the things of which
they are speaking. Melvin Gilmore consciously writes about izhitwaawin in
the past tense. He explains this decision: “In noting the various uses made
of plants I have employed the past tense unless I have definite knowledge of
the continuance of such applications to the present” (1933, 121). Gilmore
makes himself the judge of whether or not these aspects of gikendaasowin
are living or dead. He gathers this information from interviews with liv-
ng Anishinaabeg, who obviously carry this information with them, but he
makes himself the expert on what parts of this information are still practiced.
When Densmore writes of the Midewiwin, she slips in and out of the past
tense. She begins one paragraph in the present tense: “It is a teaching of the
Midewiwin that every tree, bush, and plant has a use.” Then, in the same
paragraph she slips into the past tense: “Although the Midewiwin was a
repository of knowledge of herbs it did not have a pharmacopoeia accessible
to every member” ([1928] 1974, 322-23). Throughout this paragraph, she
continues to switch between past and present tenses when talking about the
Midewiwin. Densmore acknowledges that members of this organization are
living and practicing their culture at the time she conducted this research.
She writes, “The men and women who at the present time (1918) treat the
sick by Mide remedies are well poised and keen eyed, with a manner which
indicates confidence in themselves, and which would inspire confidence in
the sick persons to whom they minister” ([1928] 1974, 323). She has obvi­
ously seen living members of the Midewiwin using Mide knowledge to cure
people, yet throughout her text she speaks of the Midewiwin as if it is some­
thing of the past, something that is now gone. To talk about something so
important to izhitwaawin in the past tense is to say that both the Midewiwin
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n an d D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in |9 7

and izhitwaawin are dead. Obviously these examples are from very old texts,
the most recent of which is still over seventy years old, but these are some
of the few texts we have on this subject. These texts arc still used as sources
of information on botanical gikendaasowin, and as such specific colonized
attributes of these texts must be discussed.

C O L O N I Z A T I O N A N D T H E C O L L E C T I N G OF G I K E N D A A S O W I N

Through the colonization process, non-natives from all walks of life have
become “experts” on certain indigenous peoples. Throughout history, cri­
teria for being an “expert” on a particular group of indigenous people have
not been very selective. Often, any non-indigenous person having contact
with an indigenous group could be considered an expert on that group. As
mentioned in chapter 1, the Bureau of American Ethnology once requested
that anyone having any interaction with Indian peoples send informatior
on those people to the BAE. Many of the early reports written by the
“experts” arc still considered important sources of research about vario\
indigenous peoples, just as they were when they were written. Linda Smith
explains that “travelers’ tales” and reports by anyone who had early contact
with indigenous peoples contributed to creating an image of those indig­
enous peoples in the minds of other “Europeans,” thus contributing to the
body of research on those indigenous peoples (1999, 80-83). Officials in
the colonial structure have also conducted research on indigenous peoples.
Linda Smith describes the results of research by various individuals, such as
military officials and land commissioners, who played a role in the subjuga­
tion and colonization of Maori people, but who were also, in later life, con­
sidered experts on those people. She writes, “Their authority as experts in
Maori things was vested in the whole structure of colonialism so that while
engaging in colonial operations with Maori, they also carried out investiga­
tions into Maori life that later were published under their names. Through
their publication, they came to be seen by the outside world as knowledge­
able, informed and relatively ‘objective.’ Their ‘informants’ were relegated to
obscurity, their colonial activities seen as unproblematic, and their chronic
cthnocentrism viewed as a sign of the times” (1999, 82). These research­
ers whom Smith describes colonized Maori knowledge while colonizing
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the Maori people. During this colonization, the world began to see these
researchers, and not the Maori themselves, as experts on Maori knowledge.
Within the academic record of gikendaasowin, we also find examples of
members of the force of colonization colonizing knowledge as well as people.
Hoffman had been a surgeon with the U.S. Army during the “Indian wars”
before becoming an assistant ethnologist for the BAE. He even served with
General Custer (Chamberlain 1900, 44). Having had much contact with
Indian people, Hoffman was hired by the BAE, the leading anthropological
institute of the time, as an assistant ethnologist. As seen in the passage sug­
gesting that “Catholic Fathers” helped to improve botanical gikendaasowin,
quoted earlier in this chapter, Hoffman’s text contains this “chronic ethno-
centrism” of which Linda Smith writes. Although comments such as this one
are often dismissed as “just a sign of the times,” they are also an example of
the views held by the colonizing structure of which Hoffman was a part.
Albert Reagan was also part of this colonizing structure. He conducted
his research with the Anishinaabeg while working as an Indian agent at
Nett Lake in Minnesota, at the beginning of the twentieth century (Reagan
1921, 246; Reagan 1922, 332; “Notes and News” 1937, 187). One of his
main native consultants, George Farmer, was working as a policeman on
the Nett Lake Reservation. As Indian agent, Reagan undoubtedly had some
control over Farmer’s employment, and Reagan admits that it took good
deal of persuasion to get Farmer to translate his personal notebook of medi­
cine songs and recipes (1922, 332). One wonders how Reagan’s position as
Indian agent, during a time when the U.S. Government was bombarding
all Indian peoples with assimilation efforts, influenced the willingness of
Farmer, and other native consultants, to work with him.
Even those not officially working for the colonizing structure were not
above using coercion as one of their research techniques. Densmore, despite
her reservations at recording certain kinds of information, described in chap­
ter 1, admits to trying different approaches to get her consultants to give
her the information she wants to record. She even compares working with
a native consultant to “examining a witness”: “An Indian may be willing
to tell what is desired and not know how to express it. Sometimes one will
question an Indian for a long time and the Indian will leave out the things
one wants most to know; then he will suddenly give the whole information
T h e C o lo n iz a t io n an d D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b c -g ik e n d a a so w in |9 9

without realizing it, or in reply to a seemingly casual question. One must be


like a lawyer examining a witness” (1941, 537). She adds that her consult­
ants often resist answering questions if they feel that someone is questioning
them too closely. Indian people were clearly research subjects to Densmore,
as seen in this statement: “In my own work, I try to have the Indian feel that
we are friends, talking over things in which we are mutually interested. In
that way he becomes interested in clearing up points that I do not under­
stand, and in the end I have the desired information” (1941, 537). This
statement shows that Densmore is not above manipulating the people with
whom she works in order to reach her research objectives. She will even act
like a friend if she can see any benefit to her situation.
Many of the Anishinaabeg consultants who assisted researchers of gikend-
aasowin have been, as Linda Smith describes it, “relegated to obscurity.” In
“The Mide’wiwin or ‘Grand Medicine Society’ of the Ojibwa,” Hoffman
published approximately 150 pages of information on an Anishinaabe reli­
gion, but although frequently mentioning the “Mide’ priests,” he give<-
neither their names nor the names of any of his consultants. He also doj
not specifically state the communities in which he conducted his researc
although he frequently mentions reservations in Minnesota (1891). Gilmort
says that the information in his article comes from a number of Anishinaabeg
living around Pinconning and Lapeer, Michigan, and near Sabrina, Ontario.
He identifies the person who gave him a piece of information in only a few
entries. Usually he mentions neither the native consultant from whom infor­
mation came nor the location of the people who gave it to him (1933).
We do not know if these consultants, living at a time when native
peoples were often persecuted for practicing their religions and cultures,
requested not to be named. The authors do not tell us, but by not naming
the individuals with whom they worked, researchers such as Hoffman and
Gilmore are grouping all Anishinaabeg into one category. They are essen­
tially saying that this use for a plant or this teaching is held commonly by
all Anishinaabeg. Memmi refers to this practice of referring to colonized
people as a group rather than as individuals as part of the “depersonaliza­
tion” of the colonized. Memmi writes, “The colonized is never character­
ized in an individual manner; he is entitled only to drown in an anonymous
collectivity” (1965, 85).
100 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Even when consultants are mentioned, the title of “expert,” whether


given by academics or the general populace, generally goes to the non-native
researcher. For example, many people, native and non-native, have heard of
Frances Densmore, but few can name even one of the hundreds of native
consultants with whom she worked across the United States, although in
her texts Densmore does name, and occasionally provides pictures of, her
consultants.

C O L O N IZ A T IO N AND T H E FRAG MEN TAT ION


OF GI KEN D A A S O W I N

Through the process of colonization, indigenous knowledge has been fur­


ther changed by being divided and fragmented. Referring to the work of
Frantz Fanon and others, Linda Smith argues that colonization disconnected
indigenous peoples from their languages, their knowledge, and their ways of
interacting with each other and the world. She writes, “It was a process of
systematic fragmentation which can still be seen in the disciplinary carve up
of the indigenous world: bones, mummies and skulls to the museums, art­
work to private collectors, languages to linguistics, ‘customs’ to anthropolo­
gists, beliefs and behaviors to psychologists. To discover how fragmented
this process was one needs only to stand in a museum, a library, a bookshop,
and ask where indigenous peoples are located” (1999, 28). This is one of the
dangers of taking information from one knowledge-keeping system and forc­
ing it into the confines and categories of another. It is also a systemic effort
to carve up indigenous cultures while simultaneously separating indigenous
peoples from those cultures in an effort to weaken and assimilate them.
Today we have indigenous peoples struggling to revive their cultures and
reconnect with their languages, knowledge, and ways of interaction. Many of
them turn to colonized texts for assistance. This dependence can cause many
problems. First, as a result of this “fragmentation” process, colonized indig­
enous knowledge is not readily accessible to the people from whom it was
originally taken. Even very usable material, if not easily accessible, is of little
or no use to revitalization programs. The notebooks of information collected
by Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin, for example, are only available to those who
are willing and able to travel to Chicago, stay in the city for several days, and
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n an d D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b c-g ik en d a a so w in | 101

read the manuscripts in a research library. Although some of the published


texts discussed here have been reprinted, most of them are not currently in
print. Some of them have never been reprinted at all. Therefore, many of
these texts are only available to those with borrowing or interlibrary loaning
privileges at academic libraries. There is also the issue of time and resources
to consider. One would really have to look at more than one of these texts
to get enough usable material to create curriculum or exercises for a cultural
revitalization program. So if one could get a copy of more readily available
texts, such as the reprinted versions of Dcnsmorc texts, that person would
still have to have a lot of time and resources to turn the information in those
texts into something appropriate for a program revitalizing izhitwaawin.
Another result of this “fragmentation” of indigenous knowledge is that
pieces of indigenous knowledge are separated into categories that follow
non-native constructs rather than the constructs out of which they originally
came. Anishinaabe elders gave non-native researchers information abou
botanical gikendaasowin. Often those researchers then divided that infor
mation into separate publications, and in some cases they acknowledge this
division in their texts. For example, several times Densmore acknowledges
that gikendaasowin about plants includes certain songs. In the introduction
to “Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians,” Densmore says, “The present
study is related, in two of its phases, to the study of Chippewa music which
preceded it. Herbs were used in the treatment of the sick and in the work­
ing of charms, and songs were sung to make the treatment and the charms
effective. Songs of these classes having been recorded, the Indians were will­
ing to bring specimens of the herbs and to explain the manner of their use”
([1928] 1974, 281). In her earlier publication, Chippewa Music, she says, “In
the working of a charm it is considered necessary to use both the proper song
and the proper medicine. For that reason a small quantity of the medicine
is furnished to a person who buys such a song” (1910, 20). Even though
she repeatedly describes the connection between songs and plants within
izhitwaawin, Densmore divides this information into separate publications,
generally not giving any indication as to what herbs are connected to what
songs. For instance, in her first volume of Chippewa Musicy Densmore writes,
“The treatment of sick is conducted by older members of the MTdc’wiwin,
special songs being sung in connection with the use of medicinal herbs”
102 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

(1910, 92). Shortly after stating this connection, Densmore presents two
such healing songs, mentioned in chapter 2, which were given to her by
Mi’jakiya’clg, an elder woman who is part of the Midewiwin. These songs
were used to cure Mi’jakiya’cig when she was a young woman and was very
ill. Densmore presents the songs, translates them, and analyzes them, but she
neither names nor refers to the herbs used in conjunction with these healing
songs (1910, 92-94). Other researchers do this too. Albert Reagan took the
information out of George Farmer’s medicine notebook and divided it into
two separate articles. Reagan published the songs in 1921 and the recipes in
1922. Neither publication gives an indication as to organization in the origi­
nal notebook. Readers are not told whether some of these medicinal recipes
and songs were to be used together.
When these authors take information from Anishinaabe people and
use another worldview to divide it into categories, they render this material
nearly useless to cultural revitalization programs. These are only two exam­
ples of how this information is divided in various publications. Given that
these examples include information about Midewaajimowin, which from the
perspective of izhitwaawin is guarded knowledge, it might be considered
a good thing that this information has been presented in such a way as to
make it useless to the general public. If, however, the elders who shared this
information with researchers believed that they were doing so to preserve it
for future generations, the presentation of this knowledge has prevented this
from happening. In these publications on botanical gikendaasowin, there
are examples of public knowledge having to do with inaadiziwin that is also
divided into separate publications. For example, books on anishinaabe “folk­
lore” or “myths” often contain dibaajimowinan and aadizookaanan about
the origin, histories, and uses of plants,1but these stories are usually left out
of lists of plant uses such as those discussed in this paper.
Another result of the fragmentation of knowledge is the abbreviation
of gikendaasowin. Some of these authors give short descriptions of how the
Anishinaabe work with these plants, providing just enough details for some­
one to duplicate the process. Unfortunately, the fragmented nature of these
descriptions leaves out important information about how to safely handle

I. For one example of plant stories in a collection of folklore, see Laidlaw 1922, 28 -3 8 .
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n a n d D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in |1 0 3

and administer these plants. Any medicine can be poisonous if not correctly
used, and some medicines require even more caution because of the toxic­
ity of the materials involved. A native medicine person working with these
materials knows how to safely work with them. A researcher gathering a list
of plants and their uses may not know or simply may not be concerned with
such details. For example, Densmore provides detailed recipes for making
medicines and “charms” out of plants, but some of these would not be safe
to use without having some other knowledge of the plants involved. Dens­
more describes a cure for a cold using a “[v]ery weak decoction of roots” of
Apocynum androsaemifolium L., commonly called spreading dogbane. She
adds that this medicine is “[u]sed only for infants” ([1928] 1974, 340-41).
Although someone might be able to make a medicine out of this description,
it would not be prudent to do so without knowing more about this plant.
Spreading dogbane is poisonous and therefore dangerous to use without
proper instruction (Niering and Olmstead [1979] 2001, 346). When not
handled and prepared properly, a poisonous plant can be deadly, especially tc
a small infant. Densmore mentions spreading dogbane several other times
saying that this plant can be used for heart palpitations and earaches, and
that it can be “[c]hewed to counteract evil charms,” but nowhere in the
recipes for any of these medicines does Densmore mention that this plant is
poisonous ([1928] 1974, 336-37; 338-39; 360-61; 376).
In his entry for Jtmiperus communis L., commonly called shrub juniper,
Gilmore describes how the Anishinaabeg use this plant, saying, “The twigs
and leaves were boiled to make a drink to be taken as a remedy for asthma”
(1933, 124). Such a description is dangerous because someone wishing to
make this medicine could very easily get some twigs and leaves of this plant,
boil them, and drink them, without knowing that this plant can be deadly
if one does not know how to properly administer it. In the Field Guide to
Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Steven Foster and James A.
Duke give the following warning about Jtmiperus communis L.: “Poten­
tially toxic. Large or frequent doses cause kidney failure, convulsions, and
digestive irritation. In Germany, use limited to four weeks. Avoid during
pregnancy. Oil may cause blistering” (2000, 254). From this description,
it is obvious that there are many dangers to using Jtmiperus communis L. If
someone used this plant, as suggested by Gilmore, to treat frequent attacks
104 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

of asthma, that person could die from the toxicity levels in this plant. Dens-
more, Gilmore, and many of the other researchers discussed in chapter 1
probably did not see their texts as becoming “how-to” manuals. They also
may not have known about the hazards of working with certain botanical
materials, but the Anishinaabe people who gave them this knowledge most
likely did. In the context of izhitwaawin, medicinal knowledge is passed
down through the generations along with warnings such as who should be
given a medicine, how much, and how often. Somewhere in the collection
or presentation process these authors created a fragmented version of this
knowledge, thereby failing to include important information about how to
work with these plants.

TH E NEED FOR D E C O L O N I Z A T I O N

The purpose of presenting these examples of the colonization of gikendaa-


sowin is not to slander the work of previous researchers, but to demonstrate
why these texts need to be “decolonized” before they can be used in pro­
grams revitalizing izhitwaawin. These researchers conducted their research
to the best of their abilities, and their publications are products of the dis­
ciplines for which they worked and the mentalities of the societies in which
they lived. These researchers and their native consultants were caught up in
various stages of assimilation efforts by the United States and Canada. Hav­
ing seen the destruction of Indian peoples and cultures, there is little doubt
that these researchers and their native consultants believed, on some level,
that they were recording this information so that it could be preserved. For
instance, Hoffman conducted his research at the beginning of the Dawes
Era, when the Anishinaabeg, like many Indian tribes, were preparing to be
moved from their reservations to small, individual parcels of land. At the end
of his paper, Hoffman mentions that the native consultants with whom he is
working are preparing to take allotments at the Red Lake and White Earth
reservations. He says that, anticipating this move, the Anishinaabeg with
whom he is working agreed to provide him with this information because
they were afraid it would be lost very shortly (1891, 299-301). He explains,
“The Chief Mide’ priests, being aware of the momentous consequences of
such a change in their habits, and foreseeing the impracticability of much
The Colonization and Decolonization of Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin |105

longer continuing the ceremonies of so-called ‘pagan rites,’ became willing


to impart them to me, in order that a complete description might be made
and preserved for the future information of their descendants” (1891, 300).
Through these researchers, our elders preserved this gikendaasowin for us.
In order to use this information to revitalize izhitwaawin, however, we need
to decolonize it by taking usable information out of these texts, making
additions where necessary, and leaving behind degrading, ethnocentric com­
ments made by their authors.

D EC O LO N IZ IN G GIKENDAASOWIN:
BISKAABIIYANG APPROACHES

Because of the colonization process, many of us no longer see the strength of


our indigenous knowledge. Our minds have been colonized along with our
land, resources, and people. For us as Anishinaabeg, the decolonization of
gikendaasowin is also part of the decolonization of ourselves. When describ­
ing colonization within Biskaabiiyang approaches to research, one says, agii-
zhacmjjanashiiyaadizid ” which means someone who tries to live his or her
life as a non-native, at the expense of being an Anishinaabe (Anishinaabc
Wordlist 2003). As stated previously, “Biskaabiiyang” means to return to
ourselves, to decolonize ourselves. Biskaabiiyang research begins with the
Anishinaabe researcher, who must look at the baggage that he or she carries
as a result of colonization. That researcher must then rid him or herself of
that baggage in order to return to inaadiziwin (Horton, pers. comm.).
Part of this decolonization is discovering or accepting that the Getc-
anishinaabeg knew a great deal about the world and had the technology to
survive in it. It takes great skill to be able to make a canoe out of materials
found in the forest or to be able to gather and prepare wild foods. It takes
perseverance and strength to gather and maintain the extensive body of phar­
maceutical knowledge known to the Gete-anishinaabeg. As Anishinaabeg,
we should be proud that our ancestors carried and perfected this knowledge.
We should be even more proud that our elders have maintained much of this
knowledge in the face of the best assimilation efforts that non-native society
could throw at them. Part of decolonizing the gikendaasowin preserved in
the academic record is to pick out these physical uses for plants and trees and
106 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

to bring this information into programs revitalizing izhitwaawin. Unfortu­


nately, this decolonizing is not as simple as collecting passages from various
texts on how to use plants and trees and putting them together in some sort
of coherent whole. These are colonized texts, and the information presented
in them is generally not presented in the same way that it would be within
izhitwaawin. This colonization has implications for the presentation of a
plant’s spiritual properties, as will be discussed later, and it also implicates
the accuracy of this information. Additions and deletions must be made to
this information during the decolonizing process. What follows is a brief
overview of how to solve some of the problems found in colonized depictions
of botanical gikendaasowin.

SUGGESTIONS FOR D E C O L O N IZ IN G
BOTANICAL GIKENDAASOWIN

These suggestions on how to decolonize academic presentations of gikend­


aasowin include using other sources and pieces of information from the colo­
nizers. There arc several reasons for using these sources. Whenever possible,
Anishinaabe elders should be our first source of information about how a
certain plant or tree is viewed or worked with within the context of izhit­
waawin. However, many of our elders today have not lived and worked with
this information on a regular basis for a long time, and when information
is not used regularly, pieces of it are often forgotten. When working with
poisonous materials, it is imperative that we find out what part of what plant
is safe to work with before bringing that gikendaasowin into a revitaliza­
tion program, especially one involving children. There are other reasons for
using these texts, however. Some of this information has been lost from our
communities, and it exists now only in these colonized texts. We need to
use information from our ciders along with other colonized texts to help us
decolonize written versions of botanical gikendaasowin. For instance, when
identifying a plant, especially one our elders no longer know, we need to
look at other colonized texts to find out what plant a researcher is describ­
ing, especially if she or he gives only limited identification information.
Finally, our world has changed a lot since the time of the Gete-anishinaabeg,
and we need to realize that things like pollution have also resulted from
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n an d D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in aab e-gik cn d aasovvin J 107

colonization. The colonizers caused these problems, and some of them have
written a great deal about the effects of and how to work safely alongside of
problems such as pollution. Resources of the colonizers, therefore, are part
of the decolonization of gikendaasowin. They colonized us; their knowledge
will help us decolonize our knowledge and ourselves.

D ECOLONIZATION SUGGESTIONS: ADDITIONS NEEDED

As discussed earlier in this chapter, one of the most pressing problems with
these colonized texts is that they contain some inaccurate information. Some
of the information in these texts has been abbreviated, possibly because
these researchers spent such a short time in the field or possibly because
they did not work with this knowledge on a regular basis, as one living
inaadiziwin would. Abbreviated information can be dangerous, as explained
earlier, because certain warnings about how to safely work with a plant or
tree are generally left out of the one sentence or paragraph of information
many of these researchers devote to each plant. If we are going to bring this
botanical information back into the context of izhitwaawin, then part of
the decolonizing process will have to include reconstructing on the basis of
abbreviated information. Proper identification of plants involved is essential
to reconstructing this information so that all available information about
those plants can be gathered. As with the solution to most of these problems,
we need to use all available resources, both non-native and anishinaabe, to
do this. Keewaydinoquay often said of properly identifying plants, “There
is not room for a mistake because dead is dead, and there are no degrees
of deadness, slightly dead is just as bad as very, very dead” [emphasis in
original speech] (1988). Plant identification is much easier in today’s world
than it was when many of these non-native researchers were conducting their
research because today we have the advantage of multiple printed plant and
tree identification books being available in every bookstore. We also have the
information available to us on the World Wide Web, such as the database of
plant identification offered by the Department of Agriculture.2 Those using

2. The database of plant identification offered by the U.S. Department o f Agriculture is


available at http://plants.usda.gov.
108 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

these resources should keep in mind that just because a piece of information
about the poisonous nature of a plant docs not come to us from an anishi-
naabe source, that is no reason to disregard it. As already stated, the Gete-
anishinaabeg undoubtedly knew the dangers of working with certain plants.
After all, they had to use this information on a regular basis, but today some
of this information has not been a living part of our culture for a long time.
Where warnings about the dangers of working with certain botanical materi­
als do not exist in colonized texts or no longer exist in dibaajimowinan, we
need to add them.
In the spring of 2005, when a colleague of mine sent me a list of plants
that she hoped to use with her high school students, I saw the potentially
disastrous effects that texts on gikendaasowin can have when not annotated
with warnings about poisonous natural materials. My colleague compiled
the list of plants from a series of flash cards owned by the school where she
was teaching. She did not know who had created these flash cards nor where
they found the information that was on them, but they were labeled as being
plants used by the Anishinaabeg. She wanted to use the information on this
list with the children in her class. On one flash card was written: S pread­
ing Dogbane: Headache Cure.” Admitting that she did not know about the
plants on this list, she sent me this list in hopes that I might be able to give
her more information. I alerted her to the dangers of using spreading dog­
bane, described previously. If she had not thought to learn more about the
plants on this list before sharing this information with her students, the
results could have been deadly. There is no way of knowing what telling a
class of students about this plant without telling them that it is poisonous
could do. Some students might try out a cure learned in such a class, unin­
tentionally harming themselves or others. It is imperative, therefore, that
anyone wishing to use the information from a book on American Indian
medicine should learn as much as possible about the plants listed in the text
before attempting to use them. If these written texts are going to be used
in cultural programs, then resources are needed that present information
about gikendaasowin, but that also provide warnings about the gathering
and preparations of certain hazardous materials.
We should also remember to find as much information about the levels of
pollutants in various plants as possible. Those who think that the knowledge
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n an d D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b e-g ik en d a a so w in | 109

of pollution and its effects on our environment are not a part of izhitwaawin
should know that when speaking from the perspective of izhitwaawin, Kee­
waydinoquay, Dora Dorothy Whipple, and Mary Geniusz all warn about the
dangers of pollution. In one example, Keewaydinoquay warns that heavy
metals have altered the growth pattern of common mullein (Verbascum thap-
sus L.). Mullein used to have only one flowering stalk, or head, but altered
mullein often have multiple heads. Keewaydinoquay says that one should not
use these altered mullein for any purpose because we do not know what else
has changed within the mullein along with its appearance (1990a). Whipple
warns that people should not use giizhikaandag (cedar) that is growing in
the city. She says that pollution has affected these trees, and that one should
only use giizhikaandag growing in the country (pers. comm.). Mary Geniusz
often speaks of the many virtues of cattails, including how they can be used
as insulation and eaten as food. She warns, however, that cattails like to soak
up anything that is around them, and they are particularly good at inter­
nalizing pollutants. One should never pick and use cattails growing along
a roadside or near some other source of pollution, such as a factory (pers.
comm.). Warnings about pollutants have become part of izhitwaawin. This
fact should not surprise us, as izhitwaawin is not static; it does change. All
living cultures do change. Dangers about pollutants, however, were nearly
unknown when many of these researchers wrote their texts on gikendaa-
sowin. These warnings must be added to a decolonized text.

D ECOLONIZATION SUGGESTIONS: DELETIONS NEEDED

The decolonizing process should also discard or ignore certain portions of


these colonized texts. As exemplified earlier, some of these texts include
degrading comments not only about gikendaasowin but also about the Ani-
shinaabeg. References to the Anishinaabeg being primitive, simplistic, or
somehow lacking intelligence need to be left to rot in the colonized pages
on which they were written. Working with language and culture revitali­
zation is a difficult enough process. Those working in these areas do not
need further discouragement in the form of degrading comments made by
researchers who have been gone for decades. One of my interests in decolo­
nizing this literature is so that other Anishinaabeg, especially members of
110 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

our younger generations searching for pieces of our culture, will not stumble
upon these insults because some colonized version of izhitwaawin was all
that was available to them. Whatever the authors’ original reasons for includ­
ing these insulting passages, they have no place in our revitalization efforts.
We can use information from these texts, such as information on working
with botanical materials or stories explaining the origin of certain plants, but
we need to treat this knowledge with the proper respect by disentangling it
from belittling statements made by the researchers who collected it. These
comments have fueled systemic racism and oppression long enough.
As explained earlier, some of these sources further degrade Anishinaa-
beg by speaking of gikendaasowin and izhitwaawin as if they have com­
pletely disappeared. Gilmore and Densmore, the two researchers cited
earlier who use the past tense, were both writing at a time when many
Anishinaabeg were living in great poverty, surrounded by a society that
had already tried multiple ways to assimilate them. Gilmore and Densmore
might have seen their work as archiving and preserving a dying culture.
By the time Densmore published wUses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians,”
twelve of the Anishinaabeg who gave her the information presented
in this text had died ([1928] 1974, 282-83). Gilmore says that he just
did not see the Anishinaabeg using certain medicines anymore (1933,
121). Researchers like Gilmore and Densmore had their own reasons for
employing the past tense in their articles, but for the purposes of revital­
izing izhitwaawin, speaking of using plants and trees as if we no longer
do these things simply will not work. At the beginning of the twenty-first
century, these presentations of the death of izhitwaawin are discouraging
and insulting to those of us who now know that anishinaabe culture is
not dying. This way of talking about anishinaabe culture seeps into the
speech of Anishinaabeg themselves—another result of colonization. We
began to see ourselves as existing only in the past. When I hear Anishi­
naabeg speak of izhitwaawin in the past tense, I wonder how much o f this
tendency to speak of our traditions as if they were gone comes from the work
of non-native researchers, who insisted upon writing about our culture as
if it were dead and buried. These depictions of the Anishinaabeg and izhit­
waawin must be separated from the valuable information in these texts if
they are to be used for cultural revitalization.
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n an d D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in [1 1 1

D E C O L O N I Z A T I O N SUGGESTIONS:
C H O O S I N G S O U R C E S OF I N F O R M A T I O N

As a resource for the revitalization of izhitwaawin>texts that do not docu­


ment the sources of the information they hold are harder to recontextualize
in accordance with izhitwaawin. Different anishinaabe communities hold
different teachings, and it is important when revitalizing any gikendaasowin
within a community to know whether or not the teachings being read about
in a text are the same as those held by that community. O f course, it is always
advisable to consult with elders in a community to see if the information
about to be taught in a cultural revitalization program supports or conflicts
with their teachings, but when dealing with gikendaasowin that has been
lost, the process is much more difficult.
This difficulty is not simply an issue of not knowing to which elder
goes the proper credit for these teachings. It is also an issue of determin­
ing which pieces of gikendaasowin actually came from an Anishinaabe. We
should continue to be aware of encountering sources such as Gerald Stowe’s
article, “Plants Used by the Chippewa,” which claim that the information
presented in them comes directly from the Anishinaabeg, but names neither
a person nor a community from which that researcher gathered this infor­
mation. As explained earlier, Stowe’s article appears to be a copy of Dens-
more’s text, which did come from Anishinaabeg, but an article such as this
with no sources mentioned could just as easily have been a fabrication of the
author. In addition, as mentioned previously, the authors of Plants Used by
the Great Lakes Ojibwa do not specifically state the sources for the uses of
plants found in that text. The fact that they often describe those using these
plants as “the Indians” rather than “the Ojibwa” suggests that this informa­
tion could describe how any group of Indians on the continent uses these
plants. With the exception of these two texts, all of the authors mentioned
in this research do appear to have actually spoken to Anishinaabeg and col­
lected their information from them. Clues that these texts are not complete
fabrications of their authors’ imaginations are: many of them mention ani­
shinaabe communities where they conducted their research; some of them
mention the names of specific native consultants and give exact years in
which their research was conducted. They also contain similar information.
112 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

This similarity is not always the case, however, and we should be aware
of it. There exists a rather large body of literature claiming to be collec­
tions of “legends,” “tales,” or other stories that come out of izhitwaawin.
Those conducting ethnological research on the Anishinaabeg wrote some
of these. In some cases, a researcher would publish one ethnographic
text on the Anishinaabeg and another on their “folklore.” Paul Radin,
for example, published Some Myths and Tales of the Ojibwa of Southeast­
ern Ontario and later published “Ethnological Notes on the Ojibwa of
Southeastern Ontario” (1914; 1928). In other cases, the author of a book
of “legends” claims to have heard these stories from the Anishinaabeg,
but names neither an individual nor a community. Such collections must
be suspect. Nearly all collections of anishinaabe “legends” are written in
English, occasionally with a few scattered Ojibwe words. Most of these are
also only a paragraph or two in length. Plants and trees do come up quite
a bit in these stories, and they could be revisited and made part of the
revitalization of izhitwaawin. Those conducting this research, however,
should be aware that anishinaabe stories have long been of interest to those
writing children’s literature. Children’s authors have rewritten these stories
to suit younger audiences, but they seldom acknowledge where they first
heard or learned of this story. Because these are not scholarly works, they
are not part of this research, but those interested in retelling these stories
for cultural revitalization programs should be cautious when using them as
many of these stories have been greatly altered from the stories originally
collected from our elders.

T H E D E C O L O N I Z A T I O N OF O J I B W E P L A N T N A M E S

Language is another important component of the decolonizing process. Ani~


shinaabemowin and izhitwaawin are closely connected. Some elders say that
Anishinaabemowin is the vehicle of izhitwaawin and without it we will lose
large portions of izhitwaawin. For example, some dibaajimowinan say that
certain ceremonies have to be conducted in Anishinaabemowin. Programs
revitalizing izhitwaawin often have language components. Although the
information in these colonized texts is primarily presented in English, there
is some Anishinaabemowin found throughout them, in the form of songs,
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n and D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b c -g ik c n d a a so w in |1 1 3

prayers, and names of plants and trees. Given that Ojibwe plant names are
one area of Anishinaabemowin in which certain pieces of information have
been forgotten, these lists of Ojibwe plant names are often very important
to programs revitalizing izhitwaawin. Some work would have to be done,
however, to decolonize these plant names so that they could be usable to
students and teachers of Anishinaabemowin.
Lists of Ojibwe plant names found in these texts have varying degrees
of usability to anishinaabe cultural revitalization programs. For instance,
the writing system Densmore uses to record the Ojibwe names in her text
makes them difficult to decipher properly. When describing her writing sys­
tem, Densmore acknowledges that she hears certain sounds in the Ojibwe
language that she chooses not to record when writing Ojibwe words ([1928]
1974, 283). All of the sounds that Densmore chooses not to indicate in her
recordings of these words, including nasalization, vowel length, and uan
obscure sound resembling h in the English alphabet,” are crucial to the pro­
nunciation of these words. Fortunately, Densmore does provide scientific
names, and from these scientific names it is at least possible to identify the
plants in Densmore’s text; and with these identifications, it is easier to figure
out Densmore’s recorded Ojibwe names by comparing them to those found
in other written and oral sources. She also provides translations of many of
the plant names given in her text, making it possible to reconstruct some of
these words based on these English translations.
In part 2 of John Tanner’s captivity narrative, Edwin James also lists
Ojibwe plant names, but without more information many of the plants
in this list are nearly unidentifiable. For example, in one entry the author
writes, “Muk-koose-e-mee-nun—Young bear’s berries” ([1830] 1956, 298).
Here, “Young bear’s berries” could be a common English name, but it could
also be a literal translation of the Ojibwe name. “Muk-koose” sounds like
it comes from makoons, which literally means young bear, and wMee-nun”
sounds like -minan, a common final found on Ojibwe plant names, one
literal translation of which is “berries.” Whether “young bear’s berries” is
also a common English name for this plant is unknown. Although it appears
to be possible to reconstruct this Ojibwe name, we still cannot identify this
plant, as Ojibwe and English names vary with location, and we do not know
the exact location from which this name comes. Also, we have no other
114 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

information about this plant and almost all of the others in this list, such as
what it looks like, where it grows, or how the Anishinaabeg use it.
Huron Smith includes Ojibwe names for many of the plants in his text.
He claims to have two books written in the Ojibwe language, including a
dictionary written by Bishop Baraga. Smith’s pronunciation key reflects that
he understands there are long, short, and nasalized vowels in the Ojibwe
language. Whether he can distinguish between these sounds when hearing
and recording Ojibwe words, however, is unknown. The accuracy of Smith’s
transcriptions of Ojibwe words must be questioned, especially considering
the following statement in his foreword: “While the writer is not a linguist,
Indian pronunciation came easily to him and he was able to pronounce all
plant names in an intelligible manner to Ojibwe people whom he had never
seen before” (1932, 336). Anyone familiar with studying languages should
see the problem with Smith’s statement. There is a tremendous difference
between being able to say a word “in an intelligible manner” and being able
to say, or write, that word accurately.
Gilmore’s article also includes some Ojibwe plant names. Although he
provides a pronunciation key, he gives no indication of the degree of his
Ojibwe language proficiency, and so there really is no way of knowing if he
was capable of accurately transcribing the names given to him. Gilmore’s
pronunciation key indicates that he is aware of some of the important dis­
tinctions of sounds in Ojibwe, such as long and short vowels, nasalization,
and various consonant clusters, but once again, we cannot judge his ability
to distinguish between these sounds (1933, 122).
In Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa, Meeker, Elias, and Heim include
Ojibwe names in their text, but the names they include come from a variety
of researchers, including some of those just described. Although some of the
Ojibwe names in this text have already been checked with Ojibwe speakers
and retranscribed, the majority of them appear in this text just as the original
researchers who gathered them wrote them. Therefore, these names retain
the questions of accuracy and pronunciation given in the descriptions of
names recorded by Densmore, Gilmore, and Huron Smith. The authors of
Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa do not include in their text pronuncia­
tion keys for any of these other researchers’ writing systems (Meeker, Elias,
and Heim 1993a). In the abridged version of this text, they do not provide
T h e C o lo n iz a tio n an d D e c o lo n iz a tio n o f A n ish in a a b e -g ik c n d a a so w in | 115

important information that would be helpful to anyone attempting to figure


out these words, namely the accent marks found in the original texts and the
standardized names found in the body of the unabridged version (1993b).
In the original texts, some of the authors provide English translations for
the Ojibwe names they list, but none of these translations appears in either
version of Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa (Meeker, Elias, and Heim
1993a; 1993b). Anyone wishing to find these pronunciation keys or transla­
tions would have to look in the articles and books from which these names
were gathered, most of which include some sort of pronunciation key. These
original sources are often obscure and difficult for anyone to reach unless he
or she has access to an academic library.
Some of the Ojibwe names for plants and trees found in these colonized
texts appear to be recoverable; others do not for the reasons just described.
The best way to go over these names is to work with an Ojibwe speaker to
check them for accuracy. I have done this check for all of the plants listed
in Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa, and, although Rose, the speaker
with whom I was working, did not know all of the names for every plant
listed in that text, she did know quite a few of them. In some cases she had
names different from those listed; in other cases she had the same name and
was able to help me make corrections to the names for proper vowel length
and pronunciation (Rose, pers. comm.). For people interested in going over
colonized versions of Ojibwe plant and tree names, it is important to under­
stand that the same plant can have several different names in Ojibwe. George
McGeshick, Sr., says that Anishinaabeg from different communities have dif­
ferent names for the same plant, and often these names are based on how
those people use that plant (pers. comm.). Because names for plants and trees
do vary in different communities, getting local names for plants from the
elders connected to a program revitalizing izhitwaawin is important. Names
found in colonized texts can serve as a memory-sparking device for elders
who have trouble remembering a certain plant’s Ojibwe name. They can
also serve as a tool to reconstruct a name that has been lost. If the original
recorder of a name provides a translation for that name, then even a poorly
transcribed plant name can often be sounded out and reconstructed with
the help of an Ojibwe speaker. Often Ojibwe plant names are compounds,
containing two or more Ojibwe words with meaningful suffixes or prefixes.
116 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

When an analysis of component parts is made of these words, then they can
often be reconstructed. Take, for example, the following entry that Zichma-
nis and Hodgins include in their list of Ojibwe plant names: “Mukikeebug.”
They translate the parts of this word as “frog petal” (1982, 263). When ana­
lyzing this word, it is clear that this name is a compound of omakakii (frog)
and -bag, which means leaf or petal. Given this information, when written in
a standard orthography, this word becomes omakakiibag.

S U G G E S T I O N S ON W H A T TO I N C L U D E
IN A D E C O L O N I Z E D TEXT

It is my hope that, as Anishinaabeg become increasingly aware of the problems


of these colonized texts, those already working with these texts will take steps
to decolonize them. A number of questions about the decolonization process
arise, such as: How much information should be included in a decolonized
presentation of gikcndaasowin? Should we go through every source ever writ­
ten on gikendaasowin and pull out every shred of information that we can find
on plants and trees? When working with a specific community from which a
substantial amount of material has been collected, one might want only to
decolonize materials that were originally appropriated from that community.
Those trying to more generally decolonize botanical gikcndaasowin might
want to take a piece of advice from Keewaydinoquay, who did not teach every
single use for every single plant. She said that keepers of anishinaabe plant
knowledge, such as members of the Midewiwin, taught their oshkaabewisag
the chief virtue or virtues of each plant, and that is how Keewaydinoquay
structured her teachings. In die recordings of her classes, she often criticizes
herbals as being just one big long list of every possible tiling one could do with
a given plant. She says that some plants can do many tilings, but, especially for
endangered plants, one should reserve them for what they do best. For exam­
ple, in one class she reads from a herbal die many uses listed for butterfly weed
(Asclepias tuberosa L.). After reading this list Keewaydinoquay says.

W ell, s ee th a t’s ju st a r u n n in g th r o u g h for e v e r y th in g , an d th e r e ’s n o t enough


o f th is in anyplace I ’ve ever seen in th e M id w e st in ord er to u se it for all o f
th o s e , b u t it is tru e th at th is p articu lar sp e c ie s, A sclepias tuberosa, a lso c a lle d
The Colonization and Decolonization of Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin |117

butterfly weed, is particularly good for pulmonary troubles and especially


fine for pleurisy, which is an infection in the lining of the lungs . . . and it
usually manifests itself in the lower part of the lungs in the back, and some
people who have continual back ache in that area really have . . . chronic
pleurisy. And, because I am who I am . . . I need to say that I would think
that this would be the only excuse for pulling up this herb and using it,
unless for some reason or other you had raised a whole lot of it, in your own
yard or something or other like this, (1985) [emphasis in original speech]

Not every plant is as sparsely populated as butterfly weed, and many


plants do have several things at which they excel. Keewaydinoquay often
mentioned more than one use for the same plant, especially if it was a com­
mon plant found over a large area. Examples of her many teachings on cedar
and birch can be found chapter 4. Still, each plant is not necessarily good at
all the things it can do. Sometimes another plant works even better, and is
just as or more readily available.
Many of the non-native researchers collecting gikendaasowin compiled
laundry lists of the uses of plants, possibly modeled off the non-native herbal
tradition, while others only recorded one or two obscure uses for certain
plants. Both of these recording methods are examples of the biggest dif­
ferences between anishinaabe and non-native knowledge-keeping systems.
Within izhitwaawin, plants and trees are beings with spirits; in other tradi­
tions, they are objects to be studied. For example, consider the following
entry on goldthread (Coptis trifolia [L.] Salib,) written by Gilmore: “The
roots were used to make a yellow dye” (1933, 130). Gilmore provides no
more information. From this passage, it is clear that Gilmore has not tried
this recipe, and it is probable from similar passages throughout his article
that he has not tried any of these recipes. Goldthread does indeed make a
nice yellow dye, but so do many other plants that are much easier to gather.
The roots of goldthread are very small, and an awful lot of them are needed
to make a dye. In their field guide, Foster and Duke describe the minuscule
size of goldthread roots saying, “Today it is seldom used and rarely present
in the herb trade, probably because the root is literally a thread, hence dif­
ficult to harvest in quantity” (2000, 42-43). Other materials that make just
as fine a yellow dye, including the flowers of goldenrod (Solidago canadensis
118 j O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

L.) and the pith of sumac (Rhus hirta [L.] Sndworth), are much more abun­
dant and take much less time to gather and prepare. Goldthread has an even
more important virtue to share with the Anishinaabeg than just being used
as a dye: goldthread can take away the pain of a toothache and cure an infec­
tion in the mouth. To use goldthread this way, one makes an offering to this
plant, explaining for whom these healing abilities are needed. Then, after
picking the plant and cleaning the roots, one puts a piece of goldthread roots
alongside the infection or toothache. In a matter of hours, the pain will be
gone and the infection will start to be cured (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.; Kee-
waydinoquay 1985). Although there are many plants that can make a yellow
dye, there are not so many plants that can treat toothaches and infections in
the mouth. Someone living with this plant and relying on it to cure the pain
of a toothache would not waste it by uprooting it to make a dye because such
an action might render the plant too scarce to gather when the need arose to
use it as a medicine.
When I began this project, I envisioned collecting little pieces of infor­
mation about each plant from a variety of sources. Keewaydinoquay and my
mother taught me that within izhitwaawin plants and trees have spiritual
properties, songs, stories, and talents to share with us. So I was not just look­
ing for botanical information on these plants, I was looking for everything
I could find—stories, songs, recipes, Ojibwe names, everything. It was an
ambitious project, and it produced a mountain of notes and citations. When
I began also compiling Ojibwe names for certain parts of plants, Rose finally
told me that I was thinking like a non-native. She says that in Ojibwe we do
not have to have a name for every single little part of a tree or a plant (Rose,
pers. comm.). English classification categories are not always transferable to
other languages, and not every word in English translates into other lan­
guages. So when working with decolonization, we need to make sure that we
are not simply creating new colonized materials. Encyclopedic resources list­
ing every song, every story, and every use of every plant included in gikend-
aasowin may be interesting to read, but they will not really help us with the
revitalization of izhitwaawin. As soon as those working in these programs
have to start sorting through page after page of material in order to make
lesson plans or to pick topics for their programs, they will most likely be
overwhelmed with this huge amount of material.
The Colonization and Decolonization of Anishinaabc-gikcndaasowin |119

When choosing what information to include in a revitalization program,


the elders who have contact with that program should be consulted about what
plants or trees they use and are willing to discuss. This information should be
a major component of that program. A second choice of information could be
those plants with long detailed descriptions found in the colonized record. If
an author just lists a use for a plant but gives no specific instructions, it would
be hard to reconstruct that piece of information. If, however, an author lists
a recipe for working with a certain plant, or includes specific dibaajimowin
received from native consultants about that plant, then that knowledge would
be much easier to reconstruct. The presence of more detailed information on
a plant or tree could indicate that there simply was more knowledge to gather
and that plant or tree is more widely used in izhitwaawin.
More “modern” information should also be included in a revitalization
program or a decolonized text. Decolonization does not necessarily mean
a complete dismissal of non-native or “modern” information and technol­
ogy. As stated previously, living cultures do change. To deny changes made
to izhitwaawin is to deny the continuation of our culture. As Linda Smith
argues, the refusal to accept the change of indigenous culture or to try to
determine what aspects of those cultures are “authentic” is yet another prod­
uct of colonization (1999,74). According to Keewaydinoquay, Nodjimahkwe
often modernized recipes. She would look at the old recipes, decide what was
available to her at that time, and experiment with the recipe until she found
something else that was easier to get but that would work the same. When
Nodjimahkwe was younger, Keewaydinoquay explained to Mary Geniusz,
she was more mobile and her people had a larger area from which they could
gather plants, but as she got older both her mobility and her people’s terri­
tory decreased. To continue making medicines, she modernized (Geniusz,
pers. comm.). Keewaydinoquay started working with Nodjimahkwe in the
late 1920s, and at that time Nodjimahkwe was already modernizing recipes
(Keewaydinoquay, n.d.r). So this process of adapting new technologies to
gikendaasowin is not a recent development. Nodjimahkwe was doing it over
seventy years ago, and we know from the extensive record on the fur trade
that as soon as iron knives, pots, and axes were available, Indian people began
using these new technologies. Today our elders use modern conveniences
such as blenders, supermarket bags, and pocketknives to gather botanical
120 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

materials and make medicines. Some of them even use ingredients from the
supermarket, such as seen in the recipe for aCedar Lemon Balm” described
chapter 4. We only continue to colonize ourselves when we insist on look­
ing for the “traditional” way of working with plants and trees, while ignor­
ing the gikendaasowin that our elders have to share with us just because it
involves the use of technology unknown to our ancestors.

CONCLUSION

Biskaabiiyang methodologies require that researchers begin their research


by analyzing the teachings and philosophies within themselves, separating
those of the colonizer from those of inaadiziwin. When “returning to our­
selves,” we must center ourselves in the dibaajimowin and aadizookaan that
we receive from our elders, and from that stance we can decolonize ourselves
and our knowledge, and then conduct meaningful research. When looking
at my own background through Biskaabiiyang research methodologies, I
thought of the dibaajimowin and aadizookaan about two trees central to
izhitwaawin that my mother and Keewaydinoquay told me when I was a
child. These trees arz giizhikaatig, also called northern white cedar (Thuja
occidentalis L.), and wiigwaasi-mitig, also called birch (Betula papyrifera
Marsh.). I found that deep inside me, I did agree with the academic belief
that the stories, songs, and teachings I knew about these trees were just not
advanced or authentic enough to be a major part of this research. The colo­
nized portion of my brain assured me that they were “fairy tales” meant to
entertain children. I learned these stories and teachings in English, and my
academic training taught me to question the accuracy of native stories told in
a European language and following non-native storytelling traditions. When
I recognized my prejudice against these dibaajimowin and aadizookaan as
psychological trauma of colonization, I was able to accept these teachings
and engage their help to decolonize this portion of gikendaasowin. The
next chapter presents this information. The Biskaabiiyang approach used to
decolonize this research will be discussed throughout the chapter in hopes
that others will be able to use a similar model to decolonize research done
on their own people.
1
Giizhikaatig miinawaa
. Wiigwaasi-mitig
A Sample o f Decolonized Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin

INTRODUCTION

When teaching within the context of izhitwaawin, one makes sure that
those learning how to work with botanical materials can properly identify
the plants and trees from which those materials come. As explained in chap­
ter 3, there are poisonous plants and trees that injure or kill a person if used
incorrectly; so, learning how to recognize plants and trees is important. It is
impossible for me to take all of my readers out to learn how to identify the
two trees discussed in this chapter, giizhikaatig (white cedar) and wiigwaasi-
mitig (paper birch), so pictures of them, drawn by Annmarie Geniusz, are
presented on the following pages. A third plant, makwa-miskomin (bear-
berry, Arctostciphylos uva-nrsi [L.] Spreng), is also pictured here because it is
mentioned several times in this chapter and in chapter 2.
This chapter is a sample of the decolonization process. I begin with a
presentation of the gikendaasowin I carry from my background so that the
reader can better understand my focus in this research. The first piece of
gikendaasowin that I ever received about the cedar tree was a song, which
Keewaydinoquay taught me when I was approximately six years old. She
says this song is “commonly sung when the people bless themselves. Cause
. . . everything we have, every good medicine we have, whether it’s spiritual
good medicine or whether it’s good medicine for a physical ill . . . contains
something of the grandmother cedar” (Keewaydinoquay n.d.£). This song is
121
122 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

2 . W h ite ced ar, g iiz h ik a a tig (T h u ja occidentalis).


© C o p y r ig h t A n n m a r ie G e n iu sz . U s e d w ith p e r m issio n .

an aadizookaan, that is, it has a spirit that knows that it is being sung. Aadi-
zookaan are important keepers of gikendaasowin, some of which can be seen
in the Ojibwe and English lines of this song. Here is a written transcription
of this song, which Keewaydinoquay often called “Nookomis Giizhik: The
Cedar Song,” with both the English and Ojibwe verses, presented as she
taught them to me:

g iw aab am aa g iiz h ik
m itig a zh itw aa
G iizh ik a a tig m iinaw aa W iig w a a si-m itig

3. P ap er b irc h , w iig w a a s i-m itig (B e tu la p a p y r ifc r a )>


© C o p y r ig h t A n n m a r ie G e n iu s z . U s e d w ith p e r m issio n .

o n e s e n o d a a w a a n , b im a a d iz iw in

g a a -n o o jim o w a a d , a n ish in a a b e g
n in d in a a n o o k o m is , n in d a b a n d e n d a m

R e fr a in :
n o o k o m is sa g iiz h ik , g ic h itw a a w e n d a a g o z iw in

b e h o ld th e ced a r
th e h o ly tree
c o m e le t h er b rea th e y o u , n e w life w ith in
w e ca ll h er sa v in g tr e e , sh e saves th e p e o p le

w e say n o o k o m is , w e s h o w resp ect


124 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

4 . B earbcrry, m a k w a -m isk o m in (A rctostaph ylos m m -n r si L .).


© C o p y r ig h t A n n m a r ie G c n iu sz . U s e d w ith p e r m is s io n .

R e fra in :
n o o k o m is sa g iiz h ik , g ic h itw a a w c n d a a g o z iw in

When conducting this research, I went through the Ojibwe verses of


this song, and found that the English verses were not an exact translation
of the Ojibwe ones. For instance, some of the verbs in the Ojibwe verses
are conjugated for different subjects than are implied in the English verses.
Giizhikaatig miinawaa Wiigwaasi-mitig | 125

One can, however, get a general idea of what the Ojibwe verses mean from
the English verses.
The next piece of gikendaasowin that I used to help me in this research is
a dibaajimowin from Kecwaydinoquay, which I heard many times as a child.
Geniusz says that Keewaydinoquay often referred to this dibaajimowin as “Tra­
ditional Anishinaabe Advice to Youth” or “Ojibwe Kindergarten” (M. Gen­
iusz 2005, 46; M. Geniusz, pers. comm.). The version presented here comes
direcdy from a recording of Keewaydinoquay addressing a university class:

At one time when our elders did all the instruction of the young, they
would tell the children that did the necessitudes of life bring them to a
situation where they might be lost, or washed ashore from a raft, or carried
in a canoe by a storm to a land they didn’t know, put in a situation where
they had no idea what their location was, what direction home was ... they
said not to worry. Go to the nearest high spot and look around and if you
can sec grandmother cedar and grandfather birch, you’re with your family
and you’re safe because although you may not have the finest, most exciting
time of your life, the easiest plushest time of your life, they can provide for
you everything that you need for survival. Because those together will pro­
vide food, and shelter, and material to construct what you need, and water,
and anything else that you need, medicines, antiseptic, anything that you
need. (Keewaydinoquay 1988)

Keewaydinoquay told Mary Geniusz that once children learned this dibaaji­
mowin, they were taught how to work with these two trees to make everything
that they would need in a survival situation (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.).
The next two pieces of gikendaasowin that I know about these trees
are two aadizookaanan, presented on the following pages. These are versions
that I heard as a child, but that is appropriate because the transmission of
gikendaasowin within the context of izhitwaawin begins in childhood. When
relearning or learning these things for the first time, we must put ourselves
in the place of a child. These are not “fairy tales,” but aadizookaan, stories
that have living spirits who know when these stories are being told and who,
when respectfully asked, will help teach both the storyteller and his or her
audience to learn from these stories.
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I realize that I may receive criticism from my fellow Anishinaabeg and


academics for presenting these stories in my research, and before proceeding,
I want to address some issues. First, I do not claim that these aadizookaanan
exist in all anishinaabe communities. These aadizookaanan may be similar to
or far different from those told in other communities, but they are the ones
I know. Biskaabiiyang research methodology requires that I, the researcher,
begin with my own teachings and use them to guide my research. That is
what I am doing.
Second, there are elders who say that aadizookaan can only be told in
the winter and should not be written or recorded. Geniusz says that Kce-
waydinoquay gave her this teaching, but she also told her that stories have
always been told when the gikendaasowin within them is needed. Keeway-
dinoquay told these stories at various times of the year in her university
courses and whenever she was teaching about these trees (M. Geniusz, pers.
comm.). In response to the second point, I was not the first person to write
or record these stories. Keewaydinoquay made an audio recording of the first
if these stories, “The Creation of Nookomis Giizhik,” and she had one of
her oshkaabewisag tell it on the video Native American Philosophy and Rela­
tionships to Plant Life. Dcnsmore provides a written version of the second
story, entitled here “Nenabozho and the Animikiig” ([1928] 1974, 381-84).
Mary Geniusz provides written versions of both of these stories in her text
(2005). I should add that I looked at all of these recorded versions of these
stories before retelling them here, rather than relying solely on my memory
of information I was given as a child.
Third, in response to those academics and Anishinaabeg who question the
accuracy of native stories told in a non-native language and according to non-
native storytelling traditions, I present these aadizookaanan in English to assist
Anishinaabeg who do not yet speak our language in die decolonization proc­
ess. When I needed to learn these aadizookaanan, they were given to me in
English because I did not speak much Ojibwe. Learning Anishinaabemowin is
an important step in decolonization, but learning the gikendaasowin contained
within these aadizookaanan might give those attempting to decolonize them­
selves the necessary incentive to continue that process, as they did for me.
Finally, for those who think that stories should not be part of “scholarly
research,” the spirits within these aadizookaanan deserve more respect than
G iizh ik a a tig m iin aw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 127

to have their stories delegated to an appendix or a mere summary. These


aadizookaanan bring to the reader concepts that form the foundation of
gikendaasowin. Rather than an interruption to this academic text, these
aadizookaanan introduce readers to concepts and teachings without which
one cannot hope to understand the decolonization of gikendaasowin.
Retellings of these two aadizookaanan, wThe Creation of Nookomis
Giizhik” and “Nenabozho and die Animikiig,” are presented on the following
pages. A few references to these stories are made in chapter 2, and more refer­
ences will be made in this chapter.

T H E C R E A T I O N OF N O O K O M I S G I I Z H I K

Gichi-mewinzha gii-osbki-akiiwan, long ago when the earth was young, all
the beings of Creation knew who they were and what was expected of them.1
There were those who lived in the outer air, including the bineshiinyag (the
birds) and the winged ones who fly around the earth. There were those who
lived in the waters, such as the jjfiijfoonyag, the fish and the mishiikenyag, the
turtles. There were those who lived beneath the earth, those who lived in
the ground, and those who burrowed beneath the earth for periods of time.
There were also those who lived on the earth. All the beings of the Crea­
tion knew that they were supposed to take care of one another, for all parts
of Creation are interconnected and dependent on one another to keep the
balance of the earth.
There came a time, however, when one group of beings who live on the
earth, the Anishinaabeg, were in trouble. We do not know what exactly this
trouble was, but it was so great that there was a chance that the Anishinaa­
beg were not going to survive much longer.
The creatures of the outer air saw what was happening to the on-the-
earth creatures and they saw how the Anishinaabeg, the last of these beings
to be created, were suffering. They saw that the Anishinaabeg, who had

L This is a retelling of an aadizookaan that I heard as a child from Kecwaydinoquay and


her oshkaabewisag. The version presented here is based on two recordings that Kccwaydino-
quay made of this story. In one of these versions she tells the story herself (Kcewaydinoquay
n.d.b). In the other she supervises the telling (Kcewaydinoquay 1986).
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neither feathers nor wings nor claws, were not prepared for life on the earth.
The Anishinaabeg were cold and hungry, and had trouble moving from one
place to another. They seemed to walk around among the trees not really
sure of what they were supposed to be doing. Knowing that Gichi-manidoo
would not be happy if they let the Anishinaabeg perish, the creatures of the
outer air decided to get the rest of the beings of the earth to work with them
to help. So they began trying to tell the under-the-water beings and the
under-the-earth beings what was happening, but they were not successful.
Every time Migizi> Eagle, would fly low and skim across the water trying to
warn the giigoonyag of the problem, the giigoonyag would dive deep into
the lakes and streams. Every time Gookookoyoo> Owl, would swoop down in
the evening to tell the waawaabiganoojiinyag, the mice, the problem, the
waawaabiganoojiinyag would scurry under the nearest clump of grass and
hide. And every time Gckek, Hawk, would come down from his perch above
the field to try and tell the waaboozoog, the rabbits, of the problem, the waa-
boozoog would jump into their holes.
So the beings of the outer air decided they needed a messenger who
could talk to the beings who live in the water and the beings who live
under the earth. They chose A m ik > Beaver, who spends his time on the
earth, in the water, and burrowing under the earth, but try as they might,
they could not get Amik to listen to them. The bineshiinyag sat around his
pond and sang to him. They flew over Amik and dropped nuts on his head.
Nothing worked. Amik just kept on chewing down logs and building his
amikmishy beaver lodge. They were just about to give up when Ogiishki-
tn a n is iiy Kingfisher, said that he would get Amik to listen to them, and

Ogiishkimanisii swooped down over Amik and grabbed the fur on the top
of his head with his talons. The place where Ogiishkimanisii grabbed his
fur is still visible on all a m ik w a g y beavers. When the amikwag dive under
the water and come up again, a part can be seen down the middle of their
heads, right where Ogiishkimanisii grabbed Amik’s fir. Amik still did not
listen to the beings of the outer air. He had to finish his amikwiish, and he
wanted to enlarge his pond. There were just not enough hours in the day
for him to complete his work. He had no time to worry about anything
else. So, Ogiishkimanisii took another dive at Amik, but this time Amik
was readv and dove under the water.
4
G iizh ik a a tig m iin aw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 129

When Amik stuck his head out from under the water, Ogiishkimanisii
was waiting for him, prepared to make as many dives as necessary to get
Amik to listen. Seeing this, Amik finally asked what it was that Ogiishki­
manisii and all the creatures of the upper air wanted. They told Amik about
the problems the Anishinaabeg were facing.
Amik listened to the winged ones and agreed with them that the Ani­
shinaabeg were in a pathetic state. He voiced his own opinion on their state,
saying, “They don’t even have nice flat tails to use to warn each other about
danger!” The winged ones, knowing how proud Amik is of his tail, nodded
their agreement to his statement. Some of them casually flashed their tails at
him, showing him that they too had nice flat tails.
“Well, I can see that the Anishinaabeg have trouble, but I don’t under­
stand what I can do about it,” Amik finally said.
“We need you to be a messenger for us,” explained the winged ones.
“We need you to tell the beings who live in the waters and beneath the earth
that the Anishinaabeg need our assistance.”
“Now why would I want to do that?” asked Amik. “I have seen these
Anishinaabeg myself from time to time, and I really don’t see much use in
helping them. They are kind of clueless and really don’t have any impact on
my life at all. Why, not one of them has ever offered to help me move a log to
my amikwiish, and I have never heard any of them helping any of the other
animals either. Why should we help them?”
“Remember,” said the winged ones, “when Gichi-manidoo made us all
promise that we would help each other to maintain the balance of this world?
If we let the Anishinaabeg destroy themselves, then we will be breaking our
promise to Gichi-manidoo.”
Amik was about to say something about how old-fashioned that way of
thinking was, when Ogiishkimanisii stepped closer to him with a stern look
on his face. “All right!” said Amik. “I’ll give your message to the beings who
live under the earth and in the waters.” He set off to contact the rest of Crea­
tion, making a big show of what he was doing. He exclaimed every few feet,
“Well, I’m off to find the beings who live under the earth and in the waters
. . . ” He wanted Ogiishkimanisii to know that he was going to complete
his task, just in case Ogiishkimanisii was thinking of taking another dive at
his head.
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Amik found the beings who live under the earth, and he found the
beings who live in the waters, and he told them about the problems that the
Anishinaabeg were having, and it was decided that all of Creation should
have a council meeting to decide their course of action. First of all, they had
to decide where this meeting should take place. They discussed many pos­
sible meeting places. Someone suggested the place of eternal fire, but some of
the other animals said, “No, I am afraid of that place. It is very hot, and there
is a weird smell there. I am afraid that if I fall asleep there, I may never wake
up.” Many places were discussed, until they decided to have their meeting in
the place of winter slumbers.
The council meeting was very long because, like meetings today in cmi-
shitiaabcwaki, anishinaabe country, everyone had a right to be heard. Some
of the animals gave very long speeches about why it was not their problem
to worry about the Anishinaabeg. Other animals in equally as long speeches
said why it was important to keep their promise to Gichi-manidoo to help
the rest of Creation and thereby keep the balance of this world.
Finally, just when everyone was getting very hungry and tired, one of
the animals had a suggestion. “Why don’t we appoint a committee?” The
other animals eagerly agreed. In fact, this was the first thing they all unani­
mously agreed on during the entire meeting. Now came the question of who
should be on this new committee. Among the animals who had given the
longest speeches on why they should bother to help the Anishinaabeg were
Mishi-makwa>Bear, and Nigig, Otter. So the other animals said to Mishi-
makwa and Nigig, “Well you two keep coming up with all these reasons
why we should help the Anishinaabeg. So we are going to make you two the
committee.” The meeting was adjourned.
Now this was at a time when not too many makwag, bears, or nigig-
wag, otters, had seen an Anishinaabeg, and unlike the bineshiinyag and the
winged ones, they could not fly above the earth and see what was happening.
So, the first thing that Mishi-makwa and Nigig decided to do was to open
a line of communication between the beings who live under the earth, the
beings who live in the water, and the beings who live on the earth.
“We need to dig a hole so that we can reach the Anishinaabeg on the
surface,” said Mishi-makwa.
Giizhikaatig miinawaa Wiigwaasi-mitig | 131

“Oh good,” said Nigig, “That is something that we are both really
good at. With my claws and your claws, we should be able to dig a tunnel
quite nicely ”
So they dug, and dug, and dug . . . and dug . . . and dug. When Mishi-
makwa would dig too vigorously, rocks would fly through the air and hit
Nigig on the head. When Nigig would dig, he found that he was not strong
enough to move very much earth, and he only ended up kicking up sand,
which got into the eyes of Mishi-makwa.
“This just isn’t going to work!” exclaimed Mishi-makwa.
“Oh, you think?!” snapped Nigig, as he rubbed the sore spot on his head
where a rock had just hit him. “What we need is a tool. Something that we
can push up through the earth to make a hole for us so that we can get up
there and find the Anishinaabeg. I am going to go and ask Amik to cut down
a nice tree for us to use.”
Before Mishi-makwa could voice his opinion, Nigig had slid down his
slide and was off to find Amik.
Well, first Amik gave them one of his favorite kinds of wood, the aspen
which the amikwag love to eat and the bark of which is filled with lots <
medicine. When Mishi-makwa and Nigig put that piece of aspen in the hole
and spun it around, it just broke off right away.
Then they tried all of the different kinds of wood that Amik could find,
but none of these woods worked for them. Last of all, they tried the beech,
but it was too heavy for Nigig to lift, and even with all his strength, Mishi-
makwa could not lift the beech by himself.
So they sat around wondering what to do, when Nigig said, “Wait a
second! We’re clan animals, and what is the use of being a clan animal if we
do not use the powers that Gichi-manidoo gave to us? Why don’t we use this
power to contact Gichi-manidoo and ask him what we should do?!”
Well, Mishi-makwa thought this over for a while, as he does with all new
ideas, and he decided that Nigig was right; they should ask Gichi-manidoo
for assistance. After all, Gichi-manidoo created the Anishinaabeg. Mishi-
makwa and Nigig put down their asemaa and prayed to Gichi-manidoo, Hav­
ing never before asked Gichi-manidoo for advice on anything, Mishi-makwa
and Nigig were not sure if they would get an answer. They nearly jumped
132 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

several feet into the air when they heard Gichi-manidoo ask them what they
needed. So Nigig explained the situation in great detail* beginning with how
Ogiishkimanisii had parted Amik’s hair so that he would listen* and Amik
being too busy to carry the message, and so on.
Finally, just when Mishi-makwa had almost fallen asleep listening to this
long saga that Nigig was telling, Nigig ended by saying, “So, we need a tree
that will be strong enough to push through the earth, but light enough to
carry, and oily so that it will slip easily through the earth.” And he described
all of the characteristics of the tree we now call Nookomisgiizhik, Grand­
mother cedar.
Because Mishi-makwa and Nigig asked Gichi-manidoo for help in a
respectful way and because they wanted help for one of their fellow creations,
Gichi-manidoo granted their request. There beside where they stood, a new
tree shot up, fully grown. Mishi-makwa and Nigig thanked Gichi-manidoo,
picked up the new tree, and began pushing it through the earth.
Meanwhile, above the earth perched Baambiitaa-binesi, a sort of wood­
pecker whom we do not see anymore. Baambiitaa-binesi loved to go up to
wood and knock out a message with his beak about anything he saw, sending
it to the other winged ones. For instance, if he saw an ant, he would duti­
fully knock out full descriptions of all of the ant’s activities. He sent so many
messages about so many minuscule things that the other winged ones tried
to ignore him most of the time.
Well, on this day, Baambiitaa-binesi just happened to be in the right place
at the right time to see something really interesting happening to the earth,
so he flew to the nearest mitig to knock out a message to the bineshiinyag and
the other winged ones: “The ground is shaking. The ground is shaking.”
The bineshiinyag heard this, and they said to Baambiitaa-binesi, “Well if
the ground really is shaking, you’d better get out of there because you know
what happens when the ground shakes: KA-BOOM!”
Baambiitaa-binesi knocked out his reply: “No, No, it is different this
time. There is no steam. It is not hot at all. I think this time is different.
Wait, Pm going in for a closer look.”
The other winged ones shook their heads and went about their business,
not expecting to hear from their message relayer again any time soon.
G iizh ik a a tig m iinaw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 133

Baambiitaa-binesi landed right on the spot where the ground was shak­
ing. He began shaking. As he was bouncing all around, he made as many
mental notes as he could about the situation. He felt his feet; they were not
hot. He felt his feathers; they had not been singed. He smelled the air. There
were no funny odors.
Then he started to fed a little dizzy from all the shaking, so he flew over
to the nearest tree to knock out his message to the other bincshiinyag, “The
ground is shaking. I am dizzy.”
The other bincshiinyag responded, “Yes, we know you are dizzy, Baam-
biitaa-binesi. It’s from all that pounding on trees. It is a wonder you have not
pounded your brains out before now.”
Ignoring these comments, Baambiitaa-binesi continued, “My feet are
not hot. My feathers are not singed. There are no funny smells in the air. I
will stay right here and let you know what happens.”
“You do that,” said the other bineshiinyag. “We are going to fly to
safety.”
True to his word, Baambiitaa-binesi stayed on his perch. And then the
ground gave one last shake, and a giant hole appeared. Just as Baambiitaa
binesi was about to tap this message out to his audience, Nigig jumped out of
the hole. So Baambiitaa-binesi began a new message: “There’s a hole where
the ground was shaking. And now a nigig just jumped out of the hole!”
“Okay, now we know you have hit your head against one too many
trees,” responded his listeners. “Nigigwag live in the water. They do not dig
tunnels and come up through holes in the ground.”
But Baambiitaa-binesi was too absorbed in what was happening to pay
any attention to them. He kept tapping out new messages, “Something green
is coming out. Something green is coming out from where the nigig came
out. It’s green and soft. I think it’s grass. No, it’s bigger than grass. It has
wood, and branches. It’s a tree. It’s a new tree.”
“A new tree, eh?” responded his listeners, “It’s probably purple with yel­
low polka dots, right?”
Still ignoring them, Baambiitaa-binesi watched the rest of Nookomis
giizhik come out of the ground. He saw the green, flat foliage come through,
and then the trunk, and the trunk got thicker and thicker as it came further
134 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

and further out of the ground. And then he saw the roots, more and more
roots. Finally, the entire tree, roots and all, was out of the ground.
And then Nigig, who was walking around the tree in circles, when he
was supposed to be pulling on the top of the tree while Mishi-makwa pushed
from below, went up to the hole, and yelled down to Mishi-makwa, “Just
one more push and we should be there.” So Mishi-makwa gave one huge
push, and the whole tree popped out of the ground. So did Mishi-makwa.
As Baambiitaa-binesi looked at the tree he noticed that the top of the
tree was exactly the same shape and in the same proportion as the roots
of the tree. As soon as he recovered from the shock of seeing all of this,
Baambiitaa-binesi diligently reported to his audience, who by this time were
laughing so hard that they nearly fell off of their perches.
Mishi-makwa walked over to Nookomis giizhik, thanked her for her help,
picked her up, and planted her back in the ground. Then he began looking for
the Anishinaabeg. Not seeing any of them, he called out, “Aaniin! Boozhoo! Is
anybody there? Can anybody tell us where the Anishinaabeg are?”
Always the eager reporter, Baambiitaa-binesi jumped to attention, flew
right over to Mishi-makwa, and told him where to find the Anishinaabeg.
Following his instructions, Mishi-makwa and Nigig walked along the top
of the dune beside the shore. As they walked, cedar trees sprang up in their
footsteps. Soon they found a group of Anishinaabeg on the beach pound­
ing bark.
Upon seeing this, Mishi-makwa said to Nigig, “Now why do you sup­
pose they are just pounding that bark without eating it?”
Nigig replied, “Why would they want to eat bark?”
Seeing a gigantic makwa and a nigig coming toward them, the Anishi­
naabeg stopped what they were doing and ran in terror, screaming.
“Well,” said Mishi-makwa, “What are we supposed to do now? These
Anishinaabeg are difficult to find. When we do find them they make awful
noises, and they won’t stay around long enough for us to talk to them.”
Then they heard another sound. This one was even louder than the
sound they had heard the Anishinaabeg making as they ran away. Nigig and
Mishi-makwa looked at each other, and they both looked at Baambiitaa-
binesi, who was just as confused as they were. It was an awful noise, but they
all proceeded in the direction from which it came. There, on the other side
Giizhikaatig miinawaa Wiigwaasi-mitig | 135

of one of the sand dunes, was a little abinoojiiyens, a baby, who had been left
behind in the commotion. Mishi-makwa and Nigig went up to the abinoo-
jiiyens for a closer look, causing the abinoojiiycns to open his mouth really
wide and let out one long, bloodcurdling scream.
“Well that’s the problem! That’s what’s wrong with these Anishinaa-
beg!” exclaimed Mishi-makwa.
“What?!” yelled Nigig, straining to hear over the racket that the abinoo-
jiiyens was making. “What did you say?”
“I know what is wrong with these Anishinaabeg,” yelled Mishi-makwa
in a great booming voice that overcame the scream of the abinoojiiyens.
“See, this Anishinaabe does not have a last berry ”
“A last what?”
“A last berry. He does not have a last berry to keep the other berries
down. See, I have one,” said Mishi-makwa, opening his jaws so that Nigig
could see inside to the pink piece of round flesh hanging on the back of his
throat.
“Why would anybody want a berry?” said Nigig in disgust. “I think that
fish are so much tastier than berries.”
“He needs a last berry or he won’t have anything to chew on,” explained
Mishi-makwa.
“Well, if you think this loud little thing needs a last berry” said Nigig,
“then give him one and let’s get back under the earth. My fur is drying out ”
So Mishi-makwa climbed up onto the dune near the water’s edge, and
slid down, and where he slid a bunch of trailing, wooded vines grew. When
he reached the bottom of the cliff, Mishi-makwa stood up, shook off the
sand, walked over to the vine, and picked off one red berry. Mishi-makwa
took this berry over to the abinoojiiyens, and just as he opened his mouth to
scream again, Mishi-makwa dropped in the berry. The abinoojiiyens did not
scream. He swallowed. He waited a moment and swallowed again.
Then Mishi-makwa spoke to the abinoojiiyens in a very quiet voice:
“There you go. Now you’ll be all right. Now you will know what to do.”
That is why we see abinoojiiyensag swallowing so much; they are trying
to keep their last berry down.
Eventually Mishi-makwa and Nigig were able to find a group of Ani­
shinaabeg and explain to them the wonderful gifts that Nookomis giizhik
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had to offer them. Then Mishi-makwa and Nigig went back under the earth
where all the other beings of Creation were eagerly waiting for them to hear
about the Anishinaabeg. Nigig told them how he had saved the Anishinaa­
beg, with the help of Mishi-makwa, of course.
Mishi-makwa and Nigig saved the Anishinaabeg. They taught the young
to swallow their last berry so that they would learn to keep down the rest
of their food. They also brought the Anishinaabeg Nookomis giizhik, who
opens the line of communication between the worlds, and who has many
physical, medicinal, and spiritual virtues that enable the survival and pros­
perity of the Anishinaabeg.
Mii sa iw. Miigwech. That is it. Thank you.

NEN A B O ZH O AND TH E A N IM IK IIG

One day Nenabozho was seeking fame.2 He wanted to do something so


incredible that the Anishinaabeg would sing songs and tell stories about
him. So he went to an anishinaabe village to ask what great task he could
accomplish to get the fame he sought. Unfortunately, it was a very busy time
when Nenabozho went to the village. And, although they greeted him, none
of the adults had any time to stop and visit with him. Nenabozho continued
through the village until he came to an area where the children were playing.
Upon seeing him, the children dropped their toys and raced over to greet
the great Nenabozho.
aOh children!” exclaimed Nenabozho. “What am I to do?”
The children looked at each other, confused, and then one boy mustered
up enough courage to ask, “What’s wrong, Nenabozho?”
“Well,” said Nenabozho. “I have a problem, and I need your advice.
Could you help me?”

2 . 1 have never heard this story labeled as an aadizookaan or a dibaajimowin, but I believe
it is an aadizookaan because it is about Nenabozho and contains information of how an impor­
tant tree came to the Anishinaabeg. This retelling is based on the story that my mother, Mary
Geniusz, told me several times as a child. She said that Keewaydinoquay told her this story.
M a n Geniusz also writes this story in her manuscript (2005,58-65). Densmorc also provides
a written version of this story ([1928] 1974, 381-84).
Giizhikaarig miinawaa Wiigwaasi-mitig | 137

The children nodded excitedly. The boy exclaimed, “Oh, yes, Ncn-
abozho, we can help you. What do you need?”
“I want to be famous. I want the Anishinaabeg to remember me in songs
and stories for years and years to come. What can I do to be honored for
generations?” asked Nenabozho.
All the children looked blankly at each other. They shrugged, and then
turned expectantly to the boy who had become their spokesman. He thought
for a moment, then opened his eyes widely and exclaimed, “You could be a
great hunter and bring us lots and lots of meat. Great hunters and the feasts
they give are always remembered for years and years.” He looked around to
the other children for their approval, and they all nodded excitedly.
“That is a marvelous idea!” Nenabozho declared, “I will be a great
hunter. I will bring lots of meat to my relatives, the Anishinaabeg. I will
make such a great feast that I will be remembered by your grandchildren and
your grandchildren’s grandchildren.” So off he went.
Now there was one problem with this plan. The reason that Nenabozho
had never been revered as a great hunter before was that he was not a great
hunter. So, when he set off to impress the Anishinaabeg with his hunting
skills, he failed miserably. He did not kill even one animal.
“Whew,” Nenabozho complained to himself, “hunting is not for me.
There has to be an easier way to do this. How am I supposed to be a great
hunter if I don’t even see an animal?”
And then Nenabozho had a splendid idea. He would ask his father to
send him a great wind from the West to blow him a herd of animals. So
Nenabozho prayed to his father, and within moments a tremendous wind
began to blow from the West. The wind blew and blew, and soon animals
began hurtling through the air and landing at Nenabozho’s feet. There
were beaver, deer, birds, and otters. Nenabozho had to step quickly out of
the way as a bear flew by, followed by a buffalo. And then the strange ones
started coming. Animals with long noses, stripes, dots, and long necks. The
pile of meat grew and grew. Nenabozho smiled with pride; he could just
picture groups of Anishinaabeg sitting around winter fires telling stories
about this magnificent day when he, Nenabozho, had brought them all of
this meat. When the pile was so tall that Nenabozho could not see the top
of it, the wind stopped. Nenabozho brushed off the dirt, which had blown
138 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

toward him along with the animals, and set off to invite the Anishinaabeg
to a feast.
When the Anishinaabeg saw a gigantic pile of meat just outside of their
village, they were not happy at all. Instead of praising his hunting skills, they
complained that they were going to have to move the village when all of
that meat began to rot. Instead of marveling at the strange animals that he
had killed, the Anishinaabeg complained that they could not even use these
strange striped and dotted hides.
They left to pack up the village, and Nenabozho sat down beside his kill
and shook his head. Wasn’t there anything he could do to become famous?
Just then the boy who had suggested the hunting idea in the first place came
over to Nenabozho and said, “Maybe it isn’t just the amount of animals a
hunter brings to the village; maybe it’s also the stories that the hunter tells
about how he hunted those animals.”
“Stories about hunting, na?” said Nenabozho. He thought for a moment
and then jumped up. “I know; I could kill the most famous animal and bring
it back to the village and tell the Anishinaabeg all about my hunting adven­
ture. Then they will tell my story for years to come. Who is the most famous
animal?”
“That’s easy,” said the boy. “Name, the Great Sturgeon. Anyone who
could kill Name would be famous indeed.”
Nenabozho thanked the young man, and then raced off to find his
grandmother. She would surely know how to defeat the great Name.
Nenabozho’s grandmother was not eager to help him in his new pursuit.
She thought it was too dangerous, but after a great deal of persuasion, she
finally said to her grandson, “If you want to kill Name, you have to use an
arrow fletched with the feathers of an animikii, thunderbird.”
So Nenabozho set off to kill an animikii. He walked to the west until
he came to the base of the great mountains where the animikiig make their
nests. He saw one of these nests very high atop one of the mountain peaks.
Now all he had to do was think of a way to get into that nest. He watched
as two animikiig left the nest and then returned, carrying small animals in
their talons. “I know,” he exclaimed quietly to himself. “I will turn myself
into a rabbit, and they will think I am a good meal.” So he turned himself
into a rabbit, and before long he was flying through the air in the talons of
G iizh ik a a tig m iinaw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 139

the father animikii, who deposited him in a nest filled with baby animikiig.
The mother soon came back to the nest, and said to her husband, “What are
you doing? Why would you give our babies that rabbit? Don’t you know that
Nenabozho is in the area? We must be very careful.”
“Don’t worry,” said the father, “it’s only a little rabbit. Our children are
safe.” And off they flew to find their own dinner.
As soon as they were gone, Nenabozho changed back into himself and
killed the baby animikiig. Then he quickly scooped up a handful of their
feathers and began to run.
Although she was far from the nest, the mother animikii suddenly knew
that her babies were gone. The two animikiig knew Nenabozho had tricked
them, and they set off to find him, which was not difficult because he was
proceeding rather slowly down that steep mountain.
As soon as they saw Nenabozho, the animikiig began throwing bolts of
lightening at him. Nenabozho jumped to the side to avoid one bolt, just to
have another graze his foot. He tried hiding behind an ishkaatig, a maple,
only to have the animikiig split the tree in half. Nenabozho kept running.
Bolts of lightening broke through the darkness as night fell. He ran down
the mountain, leaving a path of smoldering trees behind him.
Just as he was getting very tired and sure that he could not jump out of
the way of a lightening bolt one more time, Nenabozho came upon a grove
of trees with white bark. A hollow log from one of these trees lay on the
ground directly in his path, and he quickly dove into it.
Seeing their target attempting to hide from them yet again, the ani­
mikiig flew directly toward the hollow log. And then they stopped. Inside
the log, Nenabozho lay huddled in a ball, not making a sound for fear the
animikiig might hear him. He just lay there, afraid that even his breathing
would be too loud. Then he heard the animikiig.
“You have won, Nenabozho. You have found the one place to hide where
we will not strike, inside the bark of a King-child. This is our own child, and
we will not strike this tree.”
Not sure if he was being tricked, Nenabozho lay inside the hollow log
until he was certain that the animikiig had left the area, then he slowly crept
out of the hollow white log. “Howa!” he said to himself. “This tree that
sheltered me is the child of the animikiig. This tree will be very useful to my
140 I O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

nephews the Anishinaabeg because they can stand under it in a storm and
not be struck by the animikiig. If they use the bark of this tree to make their
lodges, they will also be safe in any storm. Since this bark lasts for such a
long time, even longer than the tree inside of it, the Anishinaabeg can use it
to protect their things.”
So Nenabozho marked the bark of this tree, Nimishootnis wiijjwaas,
Grandfather birch, with little black lines in the shape of the baby animikiig.
These markings would show the Anishinaabeg where to find this tree, and
remind the animikiig that this was their child.
And then off went Nenabozho, in search of Name. Mii sa iw. Miigwech.

These aadizookaanan and dibaajimowinan carry information about inaadiz-


iwin as well as pieces of gikendaasowin about giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-
mitig. I have used these aadizookaanan and dibaajimowinan as a guide for
conducting new research with elders and decolonizing existing research on
gikendaasowin about these trees. These aadizookaanan and dibaajimow­
inan, especially “The Cedar Song,” provide the framework through which I
present this research in the rest of this chapter.
Also included in this chapter are references to many items that the Anishi­
naabeg make from giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitdg. When I first explained my
project to Dora Dorodiy Whipple, she said that this text would be an oppor­
tunity to teach people how the Anishinaabeg make things rather than just tell­
ing them that the Anishinaabeg do make things. She criticized other texts for
only listing items that could be made rather than giving specific instructions
(Whipple, pers. comm.). This chapter is meant to be a sample of decolonized
gikendaasowin, and hopefully a resource for cultural revitalization programs,
so I thought it was important to include instructions on how to make the items
mentioned in this chapter. These instructions can be found in the appendix.

GIWAABMAA G I I Z H I K : BEHOLD T H E CEDAR

The first Ojibwe line of “The Cedar Song” is “giwaabamaa giizhik”; in the
English verse, this line is “behold the cedar,” which is very close to the literal
G iizh ik a a tig m iin aw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 141

translation of the Ojibwe line: “You see cedar.” When learning this song,
one learns one of the Ojibwe names for this tree: giizhik. This happens to be
one tree that many Anishinaabeg can name in Ojibwe, but if it were not, this
would be a good time to check the literature on gikendaasowin and to ask
Ojibwe speakers to see if this or other names for this tree are found anywhere
else. When doing this search, we find that this name is found other places.
Huron Smith, for example, writes the Ojibwe name for this tree “gi’jig”
(1932, 421). Meeker, Elias, and Heim have “giizhik” and “gizhikens,” a
diminutive of giizhik (1993a, 387). Ojibwe speakers use this name, along
with some variations, including “giizhikaatig.”
We know from the dibaajimowin “Traditional Anishinaabe Advice to
Youth,” that giizhikaatig is associated with the birch, and therefore it makes
sense to teach about these trees together. We have ways to refer to the cedar
in Ojibwe, but what about the birch? By going through the colonized litera­
ture and checking with Ojibwe speakers, we find that the Ojibwe names for
birch are “wiigwaas,” “wiigwaasi-mitig,” and “wiigwaasaatig.”

m itig a zh itw a a : th e holy tree

The next Ojibwe line of “The Cedar Song” is “mitig azhitwaa,” and the cor­
responding English verse is “the holy tree,” which appears to be an accurate
translation of this line. “Mitig” means “tree,” and “azhitwaa” probably comes
from the verb izhitwaay meaning “to be holy.” By asking elders and looking
at written sources we can explain the importance of both giizhikaatig and
wiigwaasi-mitig to inaadiziwin and izhitwaawin. As Whipple says, “Anooj
igo inaabadizi aw giizhikaandag” (cedar has many uses) (pers. comm.).3 Kee-
waydinoquay makes a similar statement about giizhikaatig: “So many good
things this tree does for us, physical healing, spiritual healing, physical pro­
tection, spiritual protection. They are so many that you wouldn’t believe it if
you didn’t see them” (Keewaydinoquay 1986).
Densmore says that these giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitig are considered
“sacred” to the Anishinaabeg because of their “great usefulness” and because

3. Whipple always translates “giizhikaandag” as “cedar,” but it could also refer specifi­
cally to cedar boughs.
142 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

/
they are both linked to Ncnabozho ([1928] 1974,381). In her text, Densmore
presents two aadizookaanan, told to her by Mary Razer, about Nenabozho’s
association with both of these trees. One of these aadizookaanan, which I call
“Nenabozho and the Animikiig,” was retold earlier in this chapter. The other
aadizookaan she presents is about six Anishinaabc men who go in search of
Ncnabozho to ask him how they can restore to life one of the men’s daughters.
When they find Ncnabozho, he has a giizhikaatig growing out of his head.
They follow his instructions, the final one of which is to lay the spirit of the
girl, tied into a bag, on a bed of giizhikaandag (cedar boughs) in a sweatlodge,
and the girl comes back to life ([1928] 1974, 384-86). Huron Smith also
describes the importance of giizhikaatig: “The Ojibwe worships the Arbor
Vitae or White Cedar and the Paper or Canoe Birch, as the two most useful
trees in the forest. The pungent fragrance of the leaves and wood of the Arbor
Vitae are always an acceptable incense to Winabojo” (1932, 421-22).
Both of these trees have important spiritual properties. Keewaydinoquay
teaches that giizhikaatig is the most sacred tree to all of the Great Lakes
peoples (1988). As the aadizookaan “The Creation of Nookomis Giizhik”
explains, giizhikaatig connects the worlds and opens our communication
with the manidoog. According to the dibaajimowin of Keewaydinoquay, the
growth pattern of giizhikaatig shows this connection because this tree exists
in the same form both above and below the ground. For every branch that
we see above the ground, there is a root below the ground, and for every
piece of foliage that we see above the ground, there is a rootlet below the
ground. Birds nest in the branches of giizhikaatig and small animals, such as
mice and rabbits, nest in the roots of this tree. This structure of giizhikaatig
symbolizes a dibaajimowin integral to inaadiziwin: the importance of living
in balance (Keewaydinoquay 1986; M. Gcniusz, pers. comm.).
Keewaydinoquay also says that giizhikaatig is one of the two most
important ingredients in asemaa, or kinnikinnick, the other being makwa-
miskomin (bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva~ursi [L.] Spreng.). We know from
the aadizookaan “The Creation of Nookomis Giizhik” that these plants
were created to help the Anishinaabeg, and that Mishi-makwa, the Great
Bear, helped to bring both of these plants to the Anishinaabeg. Although
the dibaajimowin about what herbs should be included is different in differ­
ent anishinaabc communities, Keewaydinoquay says that giizhikaatig and
G iizh ik a a tig m iin aw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 143

makwa-miskomin arc always present in kinnikinnick. She adds that a kin-


nikinnick that will be smoked in a pipe should contain giizhikaatig, but only
a small amount because giizhikaatig, like all of the conifers, has resins in it
that give a harsh taste to the smoke (1986).
Wiigwaasi-mitig also has spiritual properties, and this tree was given to
us by the manidoog, as explained in the aadizookaan “Nenabozho and the
Animikiig ” Wiigwaas, birch bark, has an important part in ceremonies. As
mentioned in chapter 2, Midewaajimowin are often recorded on scrolls of
wiigwaas, as are ceremonial instructions, healing songs, and medicinal reci­
pes. According to Angeline Williams, other spiritual customs associated with
wiigwaasi-mitig include putting the dried root of a “wild pea” inside the “thin
inner bark of a piece of wiigwaas,”1and then tying it with basswood and wrap­
ping it with a piece of buckskin so that it will not be lost. The person who
carries this will have good luck with anything for which she or he asks (EWV,
notebook 19b). Williams also describes bitten wiigwaas patterns being used
“like fortune telling,” for activities such as hunting.45 The different symbols,
such as bows and animals, foretell good luck, but there are also symbols that
foretell bad luck. If the prophecy is bad, the person whose fortune is being
told generally throws the patterns of wiigwaas away. If, on the other hand,
the prophecy is good, that person keeps the patterns and uses them “as wrap­
ping,” presumably referring to the wrapping around the dried root of the wild
pea (EWV, notebook 19b). From wiigwaasi-mitig we also get dishes, in which
certain items are placed and burned or laid out in the woods during a cer­
emony. This is a good alternative to using Styrofoam or plastic dishes, which
are dangerous to burn and harmful to the environment if left in the woods.

O N E S E N O D A W A A N BIM A A D I Z I W I N :
C O M E L E T H E R B R E A T H E YOU N E W L I F E W I T H I N

“The Cedar Song” continues with the Ojibwe line “onesenodaawaan


bimaadiziwin”; in the English portion this line is “come let her breathe you

4. Williams adds that sometimes this inner bark is “bitten” so that it looks like the head
of a person (EWV, notebook 19b).
5. Williams adds that “those with good teeth did this” (EWV, notebook 19b).
144 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

new life within.” The literal translation of the Ojibwe line is ashe breathes life
into them [the Anishinaabeg].” When speaking to elders and looking at the
literature, these lines become clearer, and they can be applied to giizhikaatig
and wiigwaasi-mitig because both of these trees bring spiritual and physical
life to the Anishinaabeg. For example, in the story presented by Densmorc
and summarized in the previous section, we see an example of giizhikaatig’s
bringing a girl back to life ([1928] 1974, 384-86).
From giizhikaatig comes an oil that the Anishinaabeg use in many cer­
emonies and important times of life. In the madoodiswan (sweatlodge), Kee-
waydinoquay says, a person should cover his or her entire body, from the
top of the head to the bottom of the feet, with cedar oil. She explains that
practice gives a person “wonderful vibrations and many blessings. And it also
makes it so no matter how hot the steam is, nobody’s ever burned” (1986).
Two of Keewaydinoquay’s oshkaabewisag conducted my marriage ceremony.
During this ceremony, my husband and I were covered in cedar oil, and
giizhikaandag (cedar boughs) hung over the place where we were married.
Cedar oil is also used whenever someone has a hard time in his or her life,
or needs, as Kecwaydinoquay describes it, “a little extra boost.” A person
should use cedar oil on a daily basis by putting a drop of cedar oil on his
or her finger and touching the center of his or her forehead and “life spot”
with that oil. The life spot is the fleshy part on the base of the neck. While
doing this the person says, “I give thanks for the gift of life, and I unite
myself with the ongoing of the people” (Keewaydinoquay 1989a). Keeway-
dinoquay describes the “many miracles” she has seen result from cedar oil.
Some individuals to whom she had given the dibaajimowin about how to
anoint oneself with cedar oil tried it, and it prevented them from committing
suicide because they realized, as they were doing this, that they were saying
thank you for life at the same time that they were thinking of ending their
lives. Keewaydinoquay says that she has also seen cedar oil bring a child back
to life that was not breathing (1989a).
In izhitwaawin, giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitig are both present at the
start of a new life. Keewaydinoquay says that when a child is born one of
those attending the birth covers his or her hands in cedar oil and cups those
hands over the newborn’s nose and mouth so that the baby will smell the
cedar oil and be encouraged to breathe. She adds that this is a much more
Giizhikaatig miinawaa Wiigwaasi-mitig | 145

pleasant way to come into the world than with a smack to encourage the baby
to breathe, as is done in so many hospitals today (1986). Whipple remem­
bers, when she was about five years old, being present when her aunt was
having a baby and seeing the floor covered with mashkosiwan (hay or grass),
and seeing giizhikaandag there as well (pers. comm.). Hilger describes Ani-
shinaabe babies having their first bath in wiigwaas: “A baby’s bathtub was a
nonleakable birchbark receptacle . . . Its length was the distance from finger
tips to elbow; its width two stretches of one hand” ([1951] 1992, 18).6
In izhitwaawin, giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitig continue to surround
a child after birth. When a child is named, every opening of his or her body
is covered with cedar oil so that nothing bad should ever enter that child
(Keewaydinoquay 1986). Anishinaabeg make the dikinaagan (cradleboard)
out of giizhikaatig (Keewaydinoquay 1986; M. Geniusz, pers. comm.). Gey-
shick adds that the dikinaagan can also be made out of birch (1989, 22).
Babies arc strapped into a waapijipizon (moss bag) before being tied into the
dikinaagan. There is a tray made of wiigwaas, called an apabizon,7 inside of
this moss bag that holds both the baby and the aasaakamig (the moss used
to diaper the baby) (Rose, pers. comm.; M. Geniusz, pers. comm.). Through
their infancy, Anishinaabe children are held in this way by giizhikaatig and
wiigwaasi-mitig.
Giizhikaatig contains many life-sustaining medicines, including medici­
nal properties, which help the body to heal and maintain good health. Kee­
waydinoquay teaches her students that giizhikaatig has a high content of
vitamin C, which is very important to overall health (Keewaydinoquay 1988;
M. Geniusz 2005, 47).8 Giizhikaatig is one ingredient in a cough syrup

6. Hilger also describes the bathwater used for this first bath: “Certain plants, among
them catnip, spruce boughs, and twigs of glbalmlna’mlgok, a plant that grows in swamps,
were boiled in water and the baby bathed in the decoction immediately after birth or at least
on the day of birth. Some used ‘an herb that can be found where maples grow’. . . . The bath
was thought to give the child a strong constitution and it might be repeated by the mother any
time she desired” (Hilger [1951] 1992, 18).
7. See the appendix for more information on the apabizon, the birch bark tray inside of
the waapijipizon,
8. Keewaydinoquay teaches that all of the conifers have a high vitamin C content,
and any of them can be used as a source of vitamin C, which is often administered as a tea
146 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

recipe (Densmore [1928] 1974,340-31).9The Anishinaabeg use giizhikaatig


to treat colds by making a tea from the foliage of this tree (M. Geniusz, pers.
comm.).10 This tea also settles stomach gas (M. Geniusz 2005, 47), and it
is good for taking the “fishy” taste out of one’s mouth after a fish dinner
(Keewaydinoquay 1986).
The Anishinaabeg also use giizhikaatig to sustain life by using this
tree to disinfect an area where there has been sickness. Keewaydinoquay
says, UA kinnikinnick that’s made very strong with . . . grandmother cedar
can be used as a fumigant in a sick room.” (1986). Gilmore writes that
twigs of giizhikaatig are burned to fumigate a home in which someone
was sick with a contagious disease. He continues, as mentioned in chap­
ter 1, “Many years ago when smallpox first came to the Chippewas they
moved into arbor vitae swamps and camped there during the period of the
plague” (1933, 123). Mary Geniusz elaborates further on how moving into
a swamp filled with giizhikaatig would have helped these Anishinaabeg
during such an epidemic. She says that these Anishinaabeg were trying to
get as strong a medicine as possible to fight the epidemic. By living among
giizhikaatig, they were able to have constant access to both her physical and
spiritual properties. They would be walking on the fallen foliage, causing
it to release vapors, which are, as Gilmore points out, a disinfectant. It is
possible they were burning the foliage to release more curing properties
into the air. They could have eaten the foliage straight as well, which would
have given them internal doses of medicine. Geniusz says that living among
giizhikaatig would also have provided these Anishinaabeg with spiritual
help as well “because it is through cedar that you call for help. . . . You can
just put your hand on the tree itself and say ‘Grandmother help me’ and it

(Keewaydinoquay 1988; M. Geniusz 2005,47). A very strong cedar tea can cause an abortion;
therefore, pregnant women should not drink it. One should be aware, also, that certain coni­
fers have been introduced as ornamental shrubs. Some of these are poisonous and should not
be used as a source of vitamin C. Make sure to properly identify the conifer as nonpoisonous
before drinking a tea made from it.
9. Densmore docs not give the rest of this cough syrup recipe (Densmore [1928] 1974,
340-41).
10. Sec the appendix for instructions on making cedar tea.
G iizh ik a a tig m iin aw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 147

will go straight into the sprit world because that is what cedar does” (M.
Geniusz, pers. comm.).
Giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitig can sustain life, as described in Kee-
waydinoquay’s dibaajimowin “Traditional Anishinaabe Advice to Children,”
by providing a person with everything he or she will need to survive: water,
food, lire, shelter, transportation, and medicine. What follows is a brief
description of how these trees can do this.
Keewaydinoquay told Mary Geniusz that giizhikaatig likes to grow
where “her feet can be in water,” so where one finds this mitig, one will also
find a water source (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.). Giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-
mitig can provide us with food because the inner layer of the inner bark,
or cambium,11 of both giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitig provide an emer­
gency food. On giizhikaatig, this is the same light-colored inner bark that is
used to make cordage and mats (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.; Keewaydinoquay
1988). The inner bark of wiigwaasi-mitig is harder to describe because the
bark from this tree peels off in so many layers. This edible part is, however,
the part left on the tree after taking a piece of wiigwaas off the tree to make
an item such as a makak (birch bark basket) or a wiigwacisi-jiimaan (birch
bark canoe). Mary Geniusz says that this inner cambium on the wiigwaasi-
mitig is quite distinguishable from the wood of the tree and that when it is
not the right time of year to collect wiigwaas, as will be discussed later, this
inner cambium sticks to the birch bark as it is peeled and has to be sepa­
rated afterward (pers. comm.). The inner cambium of both of these trees is a
very starchy food, which can be eaten straight or cooked like spaghetti. Of the
two trees, wiigwaasi-mitig has a sweeter taste; some native people, including
some Anishinaabeg, make syrup out of the sap of this tree. (M. Geniusz, pers.1

11. The inner bark and the cambium arc the same thing. James Underwood Crockett
describes the cambium as “Only one cell thick” and says it is under the phloem, which is under
the outer bark, the part of the tree that we can see without peeling away any bark (1972, 20).
Lee Peterson describes “the inner bark (cambium)” of trees being used as flour (Peterson 1977,
295). Keewaydinoquay uses the word “inner cambium” when describing this emergency food
source (1988). I have made and eaten bread made out of the light-colored inner bark of balsam
fir, which like cedar is a conifer and is also said to have edible inner bark, and this lighter inner
layer o f the inner bark is very pliable, chewablc, and grindablc, whereas the darker outer layer
of the inner bark acts more woody, and is not as easy to chew or grind.
148 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

comm.; Kccwaydinoquay 1988). This starchy cambium can sustain a person


until he or she has the energy to make other tools to get different kinds of
food, and these trees can help in the making of these tools as well.
The inner bark of giizhikaatig also makes strong cordage, which can be
used for a number of different things, including making tools used to get
food, such as fishing lines, snares, or bowstrings. Mary Geniusz writes that a
fishing line made out of cedar rope might not hold a fish as big as a pike, but
it would hold a smaller fish. A bowstring made of cedar would only last for a
few pulls, but if one knows how to hunt with a bow, this would be enough
to kill a deer (M. Geniusz 2005,47). Although there are other materials that
will make a stronger cordage, the process of making cedar bark cordage is not
as hard on the hands as the process of making cordage out of other materials,
such as the nettle (JJrtica dioica spp. gracilis) (Keewaydinoquay 1986; M.
Geniusz 2005,47).12 Keewaydinoquay describes the basic process of making
cordage from the inner cambium of giizhikaatig, saying, “These long fibers
are rolled between the fingers and spun against the leg, and it makes a won­
derful cordage that can be used for all kinds of things” (1986).13
From wiigwaasi-mitig we can make dishes for gathering, preparing, and
cooking food. George McGeshick, Sr., says that, as a child, he used to eat
ziinzibaaktvad (maple sugar) out of a cone of rolled wiigwaas (pers. comm.).
Kathryn Osogwin explains that a biskitenaagan (a folded container of wiig­
waas usually used to collect sap) can be used to boil liquids in an emergency
situation. One puts a handle on the sap collector before using it this way

12. There are several species and subspecies within the genus of Urtica L., and, according
to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some of these are considered “native” and some are
considered “introduced” (USDA, NRCS 2006). Daniel E. Moerman lists this particular sub­
species of nettles, Urtica dioica spp .gracilis, as being used by the Anishinaabeg and tribes near
them for cordage (1998, 580), It is of course possible that the Anishinaabeg use other subspe­
cies o f nettles as well. Mary Geniusz describes how to make cord from nettles. First one hangs
the nettles until they are dry, because once the plant is dry, the “stinging hairs” on the plant will
no longer sting. Then one breaks down the stalks. The outer, woody layer breaks away when it
is dry, leaving one with just the fiber. This fiber should be soaked before spinning it into a cord.
Geniusz recommends spinning them against one’s legs to make a cord (2005, 47).
13. See the appendix for more information on gathering the inner bark of giizhikaatig
and using it to make rope.
Giizhikaatig miinawaa Wiigwaasi-mitig | 149

(EWV, notebook 20; Nichols and Nyholm 1995, 240). Osogwin also says
that water can be boiled in a pail made of wiigwaas, and that to do this the
pail is put directly over the fire (EWV, notebook 20). Fiorina Denomie, of
the Bad River Reservation, says that the Anishinaabeg put buckets made of
wiigwaas on sticks and lay them over a smoldering fire. She writes that the
liquid inside the buckets prevented them from burning. Denomie remembers
her grandmother heating water, making tea, and cooking food in these buck­
ets at the sugar bush (WPA 1936-40, envelope 8, 42). Osogwin describes
using wiigwaas to cook fish by wrapping an unsealed whitefish in a piece
of wiigwaas and laying the whole bundle in hot ashes. When the wiigwaas
turns brown, the fish is cooked, and one removes the fish, leaving the skin
on the wiigwaas (EWV, notebook 20).
Storage containers for food and other items are also made from giizhikaatig
and wiigwaasi-mitig. Keewaydinoquay says that containers made of the bark
of giizhikaatig will help prevent the items in those containers from molding,
and that for this reason the Anishinaabeg have used such containers to store
food and items made out of leather. One can also pack important items away
in cedar and sweet fern foliage, and the combination of those two plants
would prevent molds from growing and make the stored items smell nice
(Keewaydinoquay 1986; 1989a). Osogwin describes storing “dried pounded
meat” in a covered wiigwaas container, sealed with pine pitch.14She says that
food is also stored in storage pits that are covered with a layer of wiigwaas,
then a layer of “cedar bark,” and then earth. She adds that jam, dried meat,
dried fish, whole squash, maple sugar, maple syrup, and cakes made of maple
sugar can all be stored in the ground this way, but corn and “other things
that couldn’t stand moisture or mold,” such as dried squash or “rice,” are
stored in an ataasoowigamig (a peaked storage house), the roof and sides of
which are covered with bark, used by everyone in the village (EMV, note­
book 20). Bags woven from the bark of giizhikaatig are also used to store
food. Osogwin says that cedar bags are lined with thin sheets of wiigwaas
“like waxed paper,” and then food is put between the sheets of wiigwaas “so
cedar odor wouldn’t taste in the food” (EWV, notebook 20).

14. See the appendix for more information on storing items in a container made of
wiigwaas.
150 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitig also provide us with fire, a necessary


source of warmth and a tool on which we can cook. A bow drill is often made
out of giizhikaatig, and this is one method used to start fires. When I was still
in elementary school, I went to a ceremony at a woman’s house in Milwaukee.
Keewaydinoquay was running the ceremony, and because we were indoors,
she chose to use candles instead of fires for the ceremony. When it came time
to light the candles, someone asked if anyone had a light. A man announced
that he did, and he pulled out a bow drill and a piece of wood with a hole in it.
He placed this piece of wood on the woman’s living room shag rug carpet. He
inserted a stick into the hole in the wood, and then wrapped the bow around
the stick. He then began to move the bow back and forth very quickly, caus­
ing the stick to move inside the hole in a rapid circular motion. Before long
there was smoke coming from the hole in the log. The woman whose house
it was began to pale, but my mother assured her that the man was an expert
and that both her carpet and dwelling were safe. My mother later admitted
hat she really did not know the man who was starting this fire and that she
oo was concerned that the house was about to go up in flames. When a coal
was formed in the base of the drill, the man used it to light the candles for
the ceremony. The house did not burn down, and I learned that, contrary
to my schoolteachers’ Indian curriculum, making fire was much more dif­
ficult than simply rubbing two sticks together. When I was older, my parents
took a workshop where the teacher gave all the students cedar logs and then
proceeded to teach the class how to turn their cedar logs into bow drills.
My father, Robert Geniusz, has successfully started several fires this way, but
my mother insists he start all of them outside of the house and not on her
carpet. Mary Geniusz describes how to make fire out of giizhikaatig, saying,
“The best fire drills arc made of cedar. One makes a hole in a small V-shape
in a flat piece of cedar. Then one spins an upright piece of cedar in the hole
by means of a bow” (2005, 47-48). Radin also mentions the Anishinaabeg
using giizhikaatig to make fire, but he says that they use the stick from the
ttbeech tree,” and twirl this stick very fast inside a hole, made inside a piece
of cedar (1928,662). Once one has made a spark with the bow drill, one uses
a piece of cedar rope to catch the spark and light the wiigwaas, which will
then light the fire. Anyone who has tried to start a log by just burning paper
knows that other fire starters generally need a lot of kindling to start a log
G iizh ik a a tig m iin aw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 151

on fire. Wiigwaas does not. Wiigwaasi-mitig helps us with fire because, as the
aadizookaan “Nenabozho and the Animikiig” tells us, this tree was given to
us by the animikiig (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.).
Once the fire is started, a small piece of smoldering cedar rope or a piece of
cedar bark can be used as an ishkodekaan (something that can easily transport
fire to another location) so that the labor of using the bow drill and log will
not have to be repeated. Before die introduction of modern conveniences like
matches and lighters, cedar bark was used to transport fire from one place to
another, especially when moving to a new camp. One way this was done was
by placing a smoldering cedar rope inside a shelf fungus or between two shelf
fungi (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.; Keewaydinoquay 1998, 3).15 Marie Living­
ston, from the Bad River Reservation in Wisconsin, also describes transport­
ing fire: “They used dry cedar bark which was frictioned into a fleecy cotton
substance in which to carry the fire.” Livingston says that the Anishinaabeg tie
this “fleecy cotton substance” into “bundles about three inches in diameter
and twelve or fifteen inches in length” and tie the whole bundle with wiigob
(basswood fiber). The hot coals are placed inside this bundle. When they need
to make a fire, the Anishinaabeg untie this bundle, put the hot coals down,
and pile kindling on top of them, and, as Livingston says, “in a short time a
vigorous fire would be produced” (WPA 1936-40, envelope 8, 39).

15. Keewaydinoquay identifies the fungi fire carriers as “any of the group Xylnria and
says that they arc commonly called “Dead men’s digits” (Peschcl [1978] 1998,5,65). Kceway-
dinoquay quotes her grandfather describing the process of using this fungi to transport hot
coals: “There is really nothing to it. Just set three coals on a dry shelf fungus until they have
burned their way into the soft punk a little. Turn another fungus upside down over the top o f
it and you can carry fire safely through all kinds of travel and wet weather” (as cited in 1978,
3). In this section Keewaydinoquay identifies the fungi as “JibiEpitshKwaejjtin (polyporus shelf
fungi),” and in the glossary she identifies this Ojibwe name as “Any of the group Xylnria”
(1978, 3, 65). However, Xylnria are not shelf fungi, and Mary Geniusz says that they are not
the same plants that Keewaydinoquay showed her when describing the fire carriers. Geniusz
says that Keewaydinoquay identified the fire carrier as Fomcsfomentnriusy a hoof-shaped fun­
gus that grows on birch trees. Keewaydinoquay told Geniusz that the Anishinaabeg used this
fungus to transport smoldering pieces of cedar rope (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.). When lectur­
ing, Keewaydinoquay mentions carrying fire on a piece of cedar rope, and her slide collection
docs contain a picture of a smoldering cedar rope (1989a).
152 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Fire made from giizhikaatig is also used to find a lost person. Angeline
Williams says that those in her community knew that if they were lost, they
were to climb a tree and look around the area. Those looking for that person
would start a big fire, and the person who was lost would see this fire from
the tree they had climbed and know where the rest of the group was. First
the Anishinaabeg would make a big fire, and then they would put lots o f
cedar on it so that it became a really smoky fire, which would be easier for
the lost person to see (EWV, notebook 1941,19a).
Giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitig provide the Anishinaabeg with torches
for hunting and fishing in the dark.16 Joe Wilson, of the Bad River Reser­
vation, told Peter Marksman, who worked on the WPA Indian Research
Project, that the Anishinaabeg make torches out of “cedar bark, birch
bark, hazel brush, or basswood timber” (WPA 1936-40, envelope 8, 37).17
Describing two kinds of torches, George McGeshick, Sr., says the waas-
waagan is a handheld torch and the zaka’aagan is a “headlight.” Among
other things, the waaswaagan is used when spear fishing in the dark, and the
wka’aagan is worn on the head when hunting deer in the dark (McGeshick,
pers. comm.).18
Before modern housing, many Anishinaabeg lived in a wiigiwaam or
waaginogaan, both of which are often made of giizhikaatig and wiigwaa­
si-mitig.19 The wiigiwaam is a peaked or cone-shaped lodge,20 which looks
similar to what one calls in English a “teepee” (Rose, pers. comm.). The

16. For photographs of torches, see Densmore [1929] 1979, plate 56.
17. See the appendix for more information on making torches.
18. McGeshick says that two of the reservations in Wisconsin are named for these torches,
Waaswaaganing is the Ojibwe name for Lac du Flambeau, and Zaka’aaganing is the Ojibwc name
for Mole Lake, the reservation at which McGeshick is enrolled (McGeshick, pers. comm.).
19. O f course, not every wiigiwaam or waaginogaan is made from or covered with these
two mitigoog. McGeshick says that, as with anything made from natural fibers, the Anishinaa­
beg use the materials that are available to make the waaginigaan (McGeshick, pers. comm.).
Osogwin seems to agree, as she told Whecler-Voegclin that the top of the waaginogaan is
usually covered with the bark of giizhikaatig, but if that is not available then elm or basswood
bark is used (EMV, notebook 20).
20. It should be mentioned that wiigiwaam is also a general term for any o f these
houses.
G iizh ik a a tig m iinaw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 153

waaginogaan or waaginigaan is a domed lodge that one often refers to in


English as a “wigwam” (McGeshick, pers. comm.; Nichols and Nyholm
1995, 116). Both of these lodges often have coverings made from either or
both wiigwaasi-mitig and giizhikaatig. Osogwin explains that the wiigiwaam
usually has wiigwaas on the top and the bark of giizhikaatig on the bottom,
but if one is traveling and only intending to use the wiigiwaam for one or
two nights, only the wiigwaas coverings are used (EWV, notebook 20). The
mats found on the lower portion of the waaginogaan and on the inside of
this lodge are often made of the bark of giizhikaatig. Geniusz says that,
although mats of either cedar or cattails are often used on the lower portion
of the waaginogaan,21 cedar mats are a lot stronger and last longer than their
cattail counterparts (pers. comm.). Keewaydinoquay says that cedar mats are
often used on the floor of the waaginogaan because they have a natural deo­
dorant in them, they are very tough, they are easily cleaned when shaken,
and they retard mold (1986). Densmore writes that in northern Minnesota,
where rushes are not as available, the Anishinaabeg make cedar mats for
the floors of their waaginogaan ([1929] 1979, 156). Wiigwaasi-mitig is also
used to cover the waaginigaan. Wiigwaasibaky or wiigwaasabakway, are large
sheet-like coverings made of wiigwaas, which can be taken off one lodge,
rolled, and transported to a new location. Wiigwaasibak often cover both the
wiigiwaam and the waaginogaan (Rose, pers. comm.).22
It should be mentioned that the wiigiwaam and the waaginogaan are not
just shelters; they are an important part of inaadiziwin. Rose says that where
she lives in Canada the Anishinaabeg have built an “Elders5 Cabin,” in which
elders talk to young people. This cabin has no floor, just earth. Rose says that
the idea for the Elders5Cabin was inspired by the wiigiwaam because when the
Anishinaabeg lived only in such lodges, they always touched Gimaamaanacm
(Our Mother, the Earth), but now the Anishinaabeg are always up high, not
touching the ground. The elders working with the Elders5 Cabin think that
this disconnection from the Earth may be the cause of some of the problems
that the Anishinaabeg are facing today (Rose, pers. comm.).

21. Sec the appendix for directions on making mats out of giizhikaatig.
22. See the appendix for more information on making a wiigwaasibak (a covering for a
lodge).
154 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

Giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitig sustain the Anishinaabeg by provid­


ing them with transportation in the form of the wiigwaasi-jiimaan (the
birch bark canoe). The ribs of the wiigwaasi-jiimaan are all made out of
giizhikaatig (cedar wood) and the shell of the canoe is made out of wiigwaas
(birch bark). Huron Smith says that the Anishinaabeg prefer to use cedar to
make “light, strong straight-grained canoe frames and ribs” (1932, 421-22).
Keewaydinoquay says that the Anishinaabeg prefer to use giizhikaatig to
make wiigwaasi-jiimaanan because this wood does not decay in water; it is
tough, lightweight, and can bend without cracking (1986).
George McGeshick, Sr., has made several wiigwaasi-jiimaanan, includ­
ing one that is now at the Smithsonian Institution. McGeshick says that the
materials to make a wiigwaasi-jiimaan are becoming harder and harder to find
around his home on the eastern end of the Michigan-Wisconsin border. In the
summer of 2004, my father and I worked with McGeshick and several mem­
bers of the Chicaugon Chippewa to build a wiigwaasi-jiimaan. Unfortunately,
we were not able to complete our project, as we had trouble finding usable
giizhikaatig and wiigwaas, a problem that McGeshick says he has encountered
for many years now. While we were looking for our materials, McGeshick was
able to teach us important details about what materials will and will not work
to make a wiigwaasi-jiimaan. The wood of giizhikaatig is used to make the
entire frame of the wiigwaasi-jiimaan. This wood must come from a straight
tree that is tall enough to have a long, smooth lower portion free of branches.
Lower branches, as we discovered, cause too many knots in the wood and
make it impossible to split into straight pieces. If the tree is not straight
enough, it will not split into straight sheets. Because the giizhikaatig needs to
be spilt into very thin pieces, having wood that will split straight is essential
(McGeshick, pers. comm.). Unfortunately, the woods in northern Wisconsin
no longer have large enough quantities of giizhikaatig and wiigwaasi-mitig to
find the right size and shape of each of these trees to make canoes.

GAA-NOOJIMOWAAD ANISHINAABEG:
WE C A L L H E R SAVING T R E E , S H E SAVES T H E P E O P L E

The next Ojibwe line of “The Cedar Song” tells us “gaa-noojimowaad ani­
shinaabeg,” corresponding to the English line “we call her saving tree, she
G iizh ik a a tig m iin aw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 155

saves the people.” The literal translation of the Ojibwe line refers to the Ani­
shinaabeg, saying that they are “the ones who are healed or cured ” As the
aadizookaan “The Creation of Nookomis Giizhik” tells us, Mishi-makwa
and Nigig brought giizhikaatig to the Anishinaabeg to help them, and
taught them many uses of giizhikaatig, including how to make medicines
out of this tree.
The Anishinaabeg use giizhikaatig as an important healing ingredient in
a variety of medicines, including one that removes warts and one that heals
chapped skin. Both of these medicines are unguarded gikendaasowin, and
Keewaydinoquay gives these recipes in the video Native American Philosophy
and Relationships to Plant Life (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.; Keewaydinoquay
1986). The wart medicine combines ground cedar foliage with apple cider
vinegar. This medicine is applied directly to the wart and tied with a band­
age. This was one of the first mashkikiwan that I was taught how to make
because my mother was using it to treat a plantar wart on my foot. It removed
the wart without the pain caused by physician-prescribed wart medicines (M
Geniusz 2005, 52).23 Another medicine made from giizhikaatig Kcewa
dinoquay calls “Cedar Lemon Balm.”24 This name comes from the two mai
ingredients of this medicine: cedar and lemons. Before the Anishinaabeg
had access to lemons, they used common wood sorrel as the acid for this
medicine.25 Mary Geniusz says that Keewaydinoquay told her she thought
that Nodjimahkwe, who was skilled at modernizing recipes, was the one
who changed this ingredient from wood sorrel to lemons, which were readily
available by the time Keewaydinoquay first learned this recipe. The switch to
lemons makes sense, Geniusz adds, because, although wood sorrel is a very

23. See the appendix for a “Cedar Wart Medicine” recipe.


24. See the appendix for a “Cedar Lemon Balm” recipe.
25. Geniusz identifies two species of wood sorrel, Oxalis montana Raf. and Oxalis stricta
L,, as the possible ones used in the “Cedar Lemon Balm” recipe (M. Geniusz 2005, 52). Gen­
iusz says, however, that in her class notes she wrote that when she asked Keewaydinoquay what
was used in this medicine before the Anishinaabeg had access to lemons, Keewaydinoquay
said common wood sorrel, which she identified only by the genus name, Oxalis (M. Geniusz,
pers. comm.). Both of these species live in the Great Lakes region, and they arc both native to
North America. They arc both said to have a sour taste, and they look very similar (Nicring
and Olmstcad [1979] 2001, 670-71; USDA, NRCS 2006).
156 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

common plant, it can only be used in this recipe when it is green. This limits
the times when one can make this mashkiki, and because it does not keep
for more than one month, it is not always available if made with wood sorrel.
Lemons, however, are currently available to us twelve months of the year,
and so it is much easier to grind up lemons for this recipe than to use wood
sorrel (M. Geniusz, pers. comm.).
Geniusz writes that Keewaydinoquay often taught her university stu­
dents how to make this medicine, and she encouraged them to use it as a
general skin care product. “Cedar Lemon Balm” is made from equal parts
ground cedar foliage and lemon. Once ground, these ingredients are mixed
with just enough grease so that the mixture can easily spread on the skin
(M. Geniusz 2005, 51-52). Keewaydinoquay says that bear grease used to
be used in this recipe before the Anishinaabeg had alternatives that would
work just as well (1986). Keewaydinoquay told Geniusz that when Nodji-
mahkwe taught her to make this medicine, she used bear grease, but that
Keewaydinoquay changed the recipe to Crisco so that she could make this
mashkiki without affecting the dwindling bear population. Keewaydino-
quay’s mother used to use porcupine grease instead of bear grease in this
recipe because it does not have any odor or taste as does the bear grease.
Geniusz adds that any edible grease can be used in this recipe (2005, 51-52;
M. Geniusz, pers. comm.).
In her university courses, Keewaydinoquay often added other ingredi­
ents, including olive oil and glycerin, to this skin cream. Geniusz explains
that the only essential ingredients of cedar lemon balm are the cedar foliage
and the acid because these two ingredients soften the skin. The grease is
used to hold this mixture against the skin. Geniusz adds to this information
that in a survival situation, for example if someone is walking a long distance
and his or her feet begin to crack and bleed from the walking, smashed cedar
foliage alone, applied to the skin, can heal it much faster than applying noth­
ing at all. Long ago, an Anishinaabe traveling with cut feet would smash up
cedar foliage with a rock and tie it onto the feet with a thin strip of birch
bark, or by some other means, and then continue the journey. Walking on
the cedar in that way would keep the healing oils of the cedar against skin,
and even more of the oils would be released by the pressure of walking (M.
Geniusz, pers. comm.).
G iizh ik a a tig m iinaw aa W iig w a a si-m itig | 157

N IN D IN A A NOOKOMIS, NINDABANDENDAM:
WE SAY N O O K O M I S , WE S H O W R E S P E C T
N O O K O M I S SA G I I Z H I K , G I C H I T W A A W E N D A A G O Z I W I N

The final Ojibwe line of “The Cedar Song” before the refrain is “nindi-
naa nookomis, nindabandendam,” corresponding to the English line “we
say nookomis, we show respect.” Literally this Ojibwe line means “I say to
her, nookomis, I am respectful.” The refrain, “nookomis sa giizhik, gichit-
waawendaagoziwin,” as explained in chapter 2, has a similar meaning. The
refrain emphasizes that this tree is our grandmother, and this is holy. O f
giizhikaatig, Keewaydinoquay says, “It really does not matter what we call
her as long as we treat her with respect” (1986). She says that names show-
ing a familial relationship are often added to the Ojibwe names for cedar and
birch because these trees are so highly respected in anishinaabe-inaadiziwin
(1988). She calls cedar “Nookomis giizhik, Grandmother cedar,” and birch
“Nimishoomis wiigwaas, Grandfather birch” (1988).
I have never heard any other Anishinaabeg refer to either of these trees
as Nookomis or Nimishoomis. Keewaydinoquay says that these terms of
respect were once used frequently by the Anishinaabeg, but that during the
lumbering days they stopped being used because it was difficult to think of
these trees as “my grandmother” or “my grandfather” when cutting them
down to make a living (1989a). The teaching of respect for these trees cer­
tainly exists in inaadiziwin, as does the dibaajimowin that all life should be
respected. Examples of these teachings come from elders as well as from
written texts. As explained in chapter 2, the protocols of izhitwaawin teach
us to respect other beings and accept that, whether we call them by a famil­
ial name or by a more general name, these other beings can assist us in
our physical and spiritual lives because we are all interconnected. As will be
explained in the conclusion, we need to look at differences, such as this one,
between inaadiziwin and non-native worldviews to find our greatest weap­
ons against further colonization.
Conclusion

If cultural revitalization is our goal, then it makes sense that all of this infor­
mation, both the very detailed and the not so detailed, must be brought back
into the context of izhitwaawin. In order to do that, we must understand
how botanical knowledge is viewed through inaadiziwin and maintained
within izhitwaawin. I began this process in chapter 2. If we understand at
least some of the basic principles of inaadiziwin—the knowledge-keeping
system out of which this information came—then we will be in a position to
assess the value of this information for cultural revitalization programs. If
we do not know, for example, the proper protocols for gathering botanical
materials within izhitwaawin, then knowing how to use those materials can
only help our cultural revitalization to a certain degree. Being able to make
a mat out of the bark of cedar is an important part of izhitwaawin, but if we
do not know how to properly address the cedar to ask for her physical and
spiritual assistance, then we will be missing a key component of inaadiziwin.
Without this vital information, our cultural programs are only craft work­
shops or art classes where participants learn skills without understanding
the cultural context and the worldview out of which those skills come. O ur
people will be able to understand something about izhitwaawin, and having
even this small piece of gikendaasowin may help them, but they will not be
able to utilize the full healing abilities of izhitwaawin. They will not be able
to completely undo the colonization process within themselves.
Vine Deloria, Jr., argues that the strength of tribal knowledge lies not
in how it is similar to “science” but where it is different. He writes, “We may
grant that the energy described by quantum physics appears to be identi­
cal to the mysterious power that almost all tribes accepted as the primary
constituent of the universe. But what does this conclusion say about theories
158
Conclusion | 159

of disease, powers of spiritual leaders, or interspecies communications with


sympathetic birds and animals?15(2001a, 5). I began to answer some of these
questions in chapter 2. Deloria sees these differences as one area in which
tribal knowledge can aid the rest of the world because tribal knowledge is
willing to take into account many phenomena that science ignores. He argues
that Indian students can “bring to science a great variety of insights about
the world derived from their own tribal backgrounds and traditions55(2001b,
28). He uses these questions of differences between native and non-native
philosophies to encourage Indian scholars to bring their tribal worldviews to
their scientific investigation so that they may better accomplish the goals of
those investigations and so they may help the world “make more constructive
choices in the use of existing Indian physical and human resources” (2001b,
23-28). Deloria’s suggestions are also applicable to the topic of decoloniza­
tion. In relation to the decolonization of botanical gikendaasowin, these
differences between scientific and tribal knowledge are an area in which we
can find the greatest strength of inaadiziwin. This piece of it is so powerful
that it not only helps us to decolonize botanical gikendaasowin, it can also
help us to decolonize ourselves.
In Ojibwe one describes another person as “colonized” by saying,
“Zhciaganashiiyaadizi? which means that person tries to live his or her life
as a non-native, at the expense of being an Anishinaabe. Such a person is liv­
ing a life of unbalance. One of the major goals of Biskaabiiyang research is
for an individual to bring him or herself back to inaadiziwin. Biskaabiiyang
research attempts to correct the state of Gaawiin wiiskiwizisii wii-maazhised,
which means a person is not living in balance; his or her behavior is unnatural
and therefore could lead to death (“Anishinaabe Wordlist” 2003). Reaching
a state of wiiskiwiziwin (balance) is an important part of the decolonizing
process. Keewaydinoquay ended every one of her ceremonies by having all
the participants join hands and say, “Blessings and balance; Balance and
blessings; for from balance comes all blessings. Ahaw.” This dibaajimowin
exemplifies one of the major differences between inaadiziwin and non-native
philosophies: the idea that balance is the source of blessings. From balance
comes good. From balance comes health. Keewaydinoquay often said that
the reason people are not always cured by non-native medicine was that they
were healed physically but not spiritually (1991a). The great virtue of plants
160 | O U R K N O W L E D G E IS N O T P R I M I T I V E

is that they can, when asked properly, help us maintain our own balance by
bringing us both physical and spiritual healing. We maintain this state of
balance when both our bodies and our spirits are in good health. There are
also certain plants that specifically help us to restore balance in our lives.
As stated in chapter 4, giizhikaatig is our line of communication with the
manidoog and the aadizookaanag, those beings who can help us when we
need assistance in bringing balance back to our lives. One way to do this is
to make an offering to this tree and ask through her for the required assist­
ance. Other plants and trees can assist us as well. Ken Johnson, Sr., says that
mina'ig? which he identifies as the highland spruce, has the ability to help us
when we have a great sadness or mental anguish. He says that to ask mina’ig
for this help, one goes up to this tree, lays down asemaa, and then explains
the problem to this tree (Johnson 2006).
Colonization has forced many Anishinaabeg, and other indigenous
people, into a state of unbalance. Drug and alcohol abuse are prevalent in
many anishinaabe families. So are feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness,
and thoughts of suicide. Some parents are so lost in their own inner tur­
moil that they physically cannot raise their children. Children grow up not
only knowing nothing about what it means to be Anishinaabe, but also not
knowing what it means to have parents. For a lot of Anishinaabe children
hunger is a fact of life, not just something seen in infomercials request­
ing funds for children on other continents. I have been a part of several
programs revitalizing izhitwaawin. I know that teaching an Anishinaabe
child or adult how to make a pair of moccasins or how to speak a few words
of Ojibwe can be a powerful thing. Many of the children and adults with
whom I have worked had no pride at all in being Anishinaabe, but learning
these things seemed to give them some sense of cultural pride. I am not sure
how long term the effects of these feelings were, however, especially know­
ing that shortly after the conclusion of our programs, many of the adults
involved were back in the bars. Our programs had some effect, but they did
not decolonize our participants.
I started this research hoping to create resources that could be used for
programs revitalizing izhitwaawin. I wanted to decolonize texts containing1

1. Rose identifies mina’ig as the white spruce, Piceajjlauca (Mocnch) Voss (pers. comm.).
C o n c lu s io n | 1 61

botanical gikendaasowin because I saw my fellow Anishinaabeg, especially


those involved in revitalization programs, using some of the colonized texts
described in this research to learn about how our people use plants and trees.
I wanted to create a resource for these individuals and programs to replace
these colonized texts. The first step in researching or using this knowledge,
either information from a colonized or a decolonized text or from an Ani-
shinaabe elder, is to decolonize oneself. I can write about the gifts that many
plants have offered the Anishinaabeg, but if the reader looks at it through
the eyes of the colonizers, then the information I am sharing with him or her
will not fully help that person. Through colonization we have been trained
to refer to anything that is not human as “it.” Although in English “it” does
not necessarily mean inanimate, the use of this pronoun places the entire
nonhuman world in a separate category, generally viewed as being beneath
us. Following this line of thinking, plants, trees, animals, and the rest of
Creation were placed here for us to use. As Deloria argues, not opening
our eyes to other worldviews greatly limits our creativity and abilities to
solve problems (Deloria and Wildcat 2001). From the perspective of izhit-
waawin, if we cannot recognize that plants and trees have the ability to help
us reclaim our balance, hope, and sense of self-worth, then our revitalization
programs will never be fully effective. So ultimately, we need to decolonize
gikendaasowin as it is preserved within the academic record and as it is pre­
served within ourselves.
Colonization has been happening to us for many generations; decolo­
nization will not happen quickly or easily. We need to be patient and accept
that, although we cannot expect to be completely decolonized all at once,
every step we make in that direction is something of which to be proud.
One of these steps is seeing plants and trees through the perspective of
inaadiziwin. We are surrounded daily by plants and trees, beings who can
help us. By acknowledging and accepting this help we will have begun the
journey back to our teachings and ourselves. We will bring our people and
ourselves that much closer to becoming decolonized.
fippendio | Glossary | References | Index
Appendix
Instructions fo r Working with
and W iigwaasi-mitig

I n s tr u c tio n s are g iv e n o n th e f o llo w in g p a g e s for w o r k in g w it h g iiz h ik a a tig a n d


w iig w a a s i-m itig t o m a k e s o m e o f th e m e d ic in e s a n d o t h e r ite m s m e n tio n e d in c h a p ­
ter 4 . T h e s e in s tr u c tio n s are g iv e n s o th a t read ers w ill k n o w h o w to m ak e th e se
t h in g s , rath er th a n ju st k n o w in g th a t th e y ca n b e m a d e.

A c c o r d in g to th e p r o to c o ls o f iz h itw a a w in , o n e m u st m a k e a n o ffe r in g o f ase-


m aa o r k in n ik in n ic k a n d e x p la in to th e tree o r p la n t w h y it is n e c e ssa r y for th a t b e in g
to b e u s e d for a n y p u r p o se . T h is o ffe r in g a n d e x p la n a tio n s h o u ld b e m a d e b efore

fo llo w in g a n y o f th e s e recip es o r in s tr u c tio n s . A ls o , b e fo r e w o r k in g w ith a n y b o ta n i­


cal m a teria l, it is im p o r ta n t to b e aw are o f p o llu ta n ts th a t m ay h ave a ffe c te d th e p la n t
o r tr e e o n e in te n d s to u se. F in a lly , a lth o u g h th e re c ip e s o n th e f o llo w in g p a g e s are
rela tiv ely sa fe , in d iv id u a ls ca n have a lle r g ie s to a n y t h in g , s o d o n o t u s e an y o f th e se
r e c ip e s, e s p e c ia lly th e m e d ic in e s , in large q u a n titie s u n til it is c e r ta in th e p e r so n
u s in g th e m is n o t a llerg ic to th e m a teria ls in v o lv e d .

D I R E C T I O N S FOR MAK I N G A TEA FROM G I I Z H I K A A T I G

A s m e n tio n e d in ch a p ter 4 , th e A n is h in a a b e g m a k e a tea fr o m g iiz h ik a a tig , w h ic h is


h ig h in v ita m in C a n d can b e u se d t o treat c o ld s , a llev ia te sto m a c h g a s, a n d ta k e t h e
“ fish y ” ta ste o u t o f o n e ’s m o u th after a fish d in n e r . T o m a k e tea fro m g iiz h ik a a tig :
b o il s o m e w a ter, le t th e w a ter sta n d for five m in u te s , an d th e n p o u r it o v e r s o m e
ced a r fo lia g e . T h e w a ter n e e d s to sta n d for five m in u te s b e fo r e b e in g p o u r e d o v e r th e
fo lia g e s o th a t m o r e v ita m in C is relea sed in to th e tea (M . G e n iu s z , p ers. c o m m .) .
K e e w a y d in o q u a y c a u tio n s h er s tu d e n ts n o t to leave th e fo lia g e in th e w a r m w a te r
lo n g e r th a n te n m in u te s o r th e tu r p e n e s , w h ic h are p r e se n t in g iiz h ik a a tig a n d o t h e r
c o n ife r s , w ill b e relea sed in to th e h o t w ater a lo n g w ith th e v ita m in C . S h e e x p la in s

165
166 | APPENDIX

th a t th e s e tu r p e n e s are n o t a h e a lth y t h in g to d r in k , as th e y are t h e so u r c e o f t u r ­

p e n tin e ( 1 9 8 8 ) . I u su a lly leave th e fo lia g e in m y tea fo r a b o u t five m in u te s . M a r y

G e n iu s z w a rn s th a t a p r e g n a n t w o m a n sh o u ld n o t d rin k a s tr o n g tea o f c e d a r o r it

m ay c a u se h er to lo s e th e c h ild sh e carries ( 2 0 0 5 , 4 7 ) .

R E C I P E FOR “ C E D A R WART M E D I C I N E , ”
A M E D I C I N E F R O M K E E WAYD I N OQ UA Y

G iiz h ik a a tig is a lso an im p o r ta n t in g r e d ie n t in a m e d ic in e u se d t o r e m o v e w a r ts . T o

m ak e th is m e d ic in e , o n e sep arates th e fo lia g e o f g iiz h ik a a tig fro m t h e w o o d y t w i g s

an d g r in d s it. T h e n o n e m ix e s th e g r o u n d fo lia g e w ith ap p le cid e r v in e g a r . G e n i u s z

w r ite s th a t th e se tw o in g r e d ie n ts sh o u ld b e m ix e d to g e th e r “ u n til th e p u lp is m u s h y
an d s tic k y ” ( 2 0 0 5 , 5 2 ). K e ew a y d in o q u a y d escrib es th is m ix tu r e as “s o r t o f a s a u c y

m ix ” ( 1 9 8 6 ) . B asically, th e r e su ltin g m ix tu r e is stick y a n d g o o e y .


T o apply th is m e d ic in e , o n e p u ts a p o u ltic e , or g lo b , o f th is m ix tu r e o n t o t h e
w art a n d covers it w ith a b a n d a g e . G e n iu sz w r ite s th a t th is sh o u ld b e d o n e at n i g h t
2 0 0 5 , 5 2 ). W h e n I had a w a rt o n m y f o o t , I reap p lied th is m ix tu r e e v e r y t im e I
►vashcd m y fe e t, s o it w a s alw ays o n m y fo o t. T h is m e d ic in e k eep s for a c o u p le o f

w eek s w h e n sto red in a g la ss jar in th e refrigerator. A rela tiv ely n e w w a r t, w h e n


trea ted th is w ay, s h o u ld c o m e o f f w ith in a w eek o r tw o . I f it is an o ld e r w a r t, it m a y

have to b e p u lle d o u t w ith th e fin gers o n c e it has b e e n lo o s e n e d by th is m e d ic in e .


T h e w a rt o n m y f o o t had n o t b e e n th ere very lo n g , a n d I w a s a b le to p u ll it o u t
w ith in th r e e w e e k s, an d it n ever reap p eared . T h is m e d ic in e w a s n o t p a in fu l a t a ll to
apply to th e w a r t, as is th e m e d ic in e th a t d o c to r s p rescrib e fo r r e m o v in g w a r ts. W h e n

I tried a p h y sicia n -p rescrib ed m e d ic in e o n a n o th e r w a r t, it ate aw ay s o m u c h o f t h e


s u r r o u n d in g sk in th a t I h ad to sto p u s in g it, an d w h e n th a t w a rt fin a lly w e n t aw ay, it

t o o k a w e e k for m y sk in to h ea l from th e effects o f th e m e d ic in e .


I f th e w a rt is very o ld a n d w ill n o t c o m e lo o s e o n c e th is m e d ic in e is a p p lie d ,
th e n o n e a p p lies s u n d e w (D rosera in te r m e d ia H a y n e )1 t o th e r o o t a fte r r e m o v in g
th e to p o f th e w a rt w ith th e “ C e d a r W art M e d ic in e ” (K e e w a y d in o q u a y 1 9 8 6 ; M .
G e n iu s z 2 0 0 5 , 5 2 - 5 3 ) . K e e w a y d in o q u a y d e sc r ib e s s u n d e w as “ a sw a m p p la n t t h a t
is a c tu a lly a m ea t ea ter” an d says th a t w h e n a p p lie d to th e s k in , th e s u n d e w w ill e a t

1. Sundew (Drosera intermedia Hayne): Geniusz is not sure if she made this identification
or if Keewaydinoquay did (pers. comm.). Meeker and colleagues list another species, Drosera
rotundifolia, as being used by the Anishinaabeg, but they do not say how this plant is used
(1993a, 192).
Appendix | 167

away the old wart, making room for new tissue to grow in its place (1986). Gen-
iusz showed me this plant once when we were in a sphagnum swamp in northern
Wisconsin. She writes that this plant should be gathered fresh, and the little drop­
lets, which look like dew, found on the tiny hairs of this plant should be squeezed
onto the wart. These little droplets attack the root of the wart so that it will come
out (2005, 53). It should be noted, however, that Drosera intermedia Haync is
endangered in many areas, and one should check the U.S. Department of Agricul­
ture Web site before picking this plant in his or her area.2 In izhitwaawin, this is a
secondary cure, tried only if the first cure, the wart medicine made from cedar, is
ineffective. In today’s world we have so many other ways of treating warts that we
have alternatives to uprooting this endangered plant. Killing the last of one kind
of plant in an area, as described previously, goes against the protocols dictated by
izhitwaawin. Also, one should know that this plant is not something to be handled
without caution. Keewaydinoquay warned her students that this plant can dissolve
skin, and if one is administering this plant to a patient, he or she should be careful
not to get these little droplets on his or her skin as well. If an unaffected piece of
skin does come in contact with these droplets, it should be washed immediately (M.
Geniusz, pers. comm.).

R E C I P E FOR “ CEDAR LEMON BA LM ,”


A M E D I C I N E F R OM KE EWAYDI NO QUAY

Giizhikaatig is an important ingredient in “Cedar Lemon Balm,” a mashkiki used


to heal chapped skin. To make it: first grind, grate, or chop equal parts cedar foliage
and lemon. Use the entire lemon except for the seeds. Electric blenders work nicely
for this process, but I have also used mechanical meat grinders and electric coffee
grinders.3 To tell if the mixture contains the right amount of cedar and the right
amount of lemon, taste it. If it tastes like both lemon and cedar, then the mixture has
the right amount of both ingredients. If one taste dominates the mixture, add more
of the other ingredient until the two can be tasted equally. Then mix just enough
Crisco into the mixture so that it can be easily spread on one’s skin, without large
clumps of the cedar and lemon mixture falling off right away. When making a large

2. To check if a particular plant is endangered, sec the U.S. Department o f Agriculture


Web site: http://plants.usda.gov.
3. I recommend a coffee grinder that is only used for grinding herbs; otherwise coffee
will get into the skin cream.
168 [ APPENDIX

q u a n tity o f th is m e d ic in e , su ch as w ith a class o f a b o u t th ir ty p e o p le , a s i x t e e n - o u n c e


C r isc o c o n ta in e r p ro v id es e n o u g h g rease to u se w ith th r e e g r o u n d le m o n s a n d a

q u arter o f a g r o ce ry sto re b a g o f ced a r fo lia g e.


W h e n M a ry G e n iu s z w as w o r k in g as K e e w a y d in o q u a y ’s te a c h in g a ssista n t a t t h e

U n iv e r sity o f W isc o n sin -M ih v a u k e e , sh e u sed to d istr ib u te h a n d o u ts o f th is r e c ip e t o

th e s tu d e n ts. In th e recip e th a t K e ew a y d in o q u a y gave to h er s t u d e n ts , sh e in c lu d e d


o th e r in g r e d ie n ts th a t are n o t e sse n tia l to th is m e d ic in e , b u t th a t are rea d ily a v a ila b le

in to d a y ’s w orld an d are h elp fu l to th e h e a lin g p ro cess. T h is recip e in c lu d e s a d d in g

a little o liv e o il, ap p ro x im a tely o n e te a s p o o n , w h ic h G e n iu s z e x p la in s h a s h e a lin g


p ro p erties in it th a t h elp m ak e th is m e d ic in e e v e n m o re e ffe c tiv e . T h e o liv e o il is

h elp fu l i f th e ced ar b e in g u sed is n o t v ery o ily , e sp e c ia lly d u r in g th e w in te r . T h is


recip e calls for ten d ro p s o f b e n z o in , w h ic h acts as a p reserv a tiv e. G e n iu s z sa y s, h o w ­
ever, th a t it o n ly p reserves th e lo tio n for a sh o r t tim e a n d is n o t e sse n tia l t o t h e fin a l

p ro d u ct. K e e w a y d in o q u a y ’s recip e a lso in c lu d e s g ly c e r in , w h ic h a ls o h e lp s t o s o f t e n


h an d s. K eew ayd i n o q u a y u sed to sen d G e n iu sz to b u y th e g ly c e r in fo r th e e t h n o -
b o ta n y lab s, s p e c ify in g th a t G e n iu s z w as to b u y o n ly v e g e ta b le -b a se d g ly c e r in ra th er

th a n th e ch eap er k in d , w h ic h w as a n im a l-b a se d . K eew ayd i n o q u a y lik e d to u s e g ly c ­


erin in m an y o f her recip es, b u t so m e o f her stu d e n ts d id n o t w a n t to in c lu d e g ly c e r in
in “ C ed a r L e m o n B a lm ” b eca u se it ca n d ry th e sk in (M . G e n iu s z , p ers. c o m m .) .
G e n iu sz ex p la in s th a t th e o n ly essen tia l in g r e d ie n ts o f “ C e d a r L e m o n B a lm ”
are th e ced ar fo lia g e an d th e acid from th e le m o n s b e c a u se th e s e t w o in g r e d ie n ts s o f ­

te n th e sk in . E ven th e g rea se is n o t an e sse n tia l in g r e d ie n t, as it is p r e se n t p r im a r ily


to h o ld th is m ix tu r e a g a in st th e sk in . I asked G e n iu sz i f th e m e d ic in e w o u ld w o r k
b etter i f it w as n o t d ilu te d b y b e in g m ix e d w ith th e g r e a se , a n d sh e sa id th a t it d o e s
n o t m a tter i f it w o u ld w ork b e tte r w ith o u t th e g rea se b e c a u se th e m e d ic in e w ill o n ly
w o rk i f th e p a tien t u ses it. K e e p in g a g r o u n d m ix tu r e o f c ed a r a n d le m o n a g a in s t t h e
sk in w ith o u t g rea se is d iffic u lt, b u t a p p ly in g cream is n o t. I f th e p e r so n u s in g th is
m e d ic in e w ill u se it m o re o fte n b eca u se it is ea sy to apply, th e n th e g r e a se is d e f in ite ly
n e e d e d a n d th e m e d ic in e w ill w ork b e tte r for th a t p e r so n b e c a u se it is m ix e d w it h
g rea se (M . G e n iu s z , pers. c o m m .).
I have m a d e “C ed a r L e m o n B a lm ” several tim e s u s in g ju st g iiz h ik a a n d a g , le m ­
o n s , an d C r isc o . I have ap p lied th is m ix tu r e to m y h a n d s b efo re g o in g to b e d w h e n
th e y w ere ch a p p ed so b ad ly th a t th e y w ere b le e d in g , a n d in th e m o r n in g t h e y w e r e
nearly h ea le d . G e n iu s z s u g g e sts th a t o n e ap p ly “ C e d a r L e m o n B a lm ” to t h e f e e t o r
h a n d s b efore g o in g to b e d , an d cover th e se areas w ith so c k s s o th a t th e little p ie c e s o f
ced a r fo lia g e w ill n o t flake o u t o n to th e sh e e ts d u r in g th e n ig h t ( 2 0 0 5 , 5 2 ). C o t t o n
g lo v e s, su ch as th o se available in m a n y c o s m e tic d e p a r tm e n ts, s h o u ld w o r k ju s t as
A p p e n d ix | 169

w e ll. I h a ve a ls o a p p lie d “ C e d a r L e m o n B a lm ” t o m y sk in an d th e n c o v e r e d m y sk in
w it h c lo t h in g , w h ic h s u c c e s s fu lly h e ld th e m ix tu r e in p lace.

T o p reserv e it for a p p r o x im a te ly t w o w e e k s , k eep th is m a sh k ik i in a g la ss jar in


th e refrig erator. K e e w a y d in o q u a y in s is te d th a t all h er m a sh k ik i b e k ep t in g la ss jars
b e c a u s e s h e w o r r ie d th a t th e c h e m ic a ls in h er m a sh k ik i w o u ld react w ith p la stic ,
c a u s in g c o m p lic a tio n s (M . G e n iu s z , p ers. c o m m .).

D I R E C T I O N S F O R G A T H E R I N G T H E I N N E R BARK OF G I I Z H I K A A T I G

T h e in n e r b ark , a lso ca lle d th e c a m b iu m ,4 o f g iiz h ik a a tig ca n b e u sed as an e m e r ­


g e n c y f o o d a n d to m ak e m a ts a n d r o p e . B ark ca n b e g a th e r e d fro m a liv in g o r d ea d
g iiz h ik a a tig . In h er u n iv e r sity le c tu r e s , a n d in th e v id e o N a tiv e A m e r ic a n Philosophy

a n d R e la tio n sh ip s to P la n t L ife, K e e w a y d i n o q u a y sh o w s slid e s o f h o w o n e p eels ced ar


bark fro m a d o w n e d tree . In th e s e s lid e s , th e p e r so n p e e lin g th e bark u se s an ax to

p ry th e bark o f f th e tree b it by b it in s h e e ts . K e e w a y d in o q u a y says in th is v id e o th a t

bark is e s p e c ia lly e a sy to p e e l fr o m a tr e e th a t h as b e e n ly in g in a lak e o r in a sw a m p


for a w h ile (K e e w a y d in o q u a y 1 9 8 6 ; M . G e n iu s z , p ers. c o m m .). I have p e e le d bark
fro m a tr e e th a t had fa lle n m o n t h s earlier, a n d o n ly th e p o r tio n th a t w a s ly in g in th e

m u d fo r an e n tir e w in te r w as p o ssib le t o r e m o v e . T h e rest o f th e bark w a s very d ry


a n d c o u ld n o t b e p ried lo o s e . F ro m th e p o r tio n I c o u ld p e e l, I w a s o n ly ab le to g e t
sm a ll strip s o f f at o n e tim e , b u t I w a s o n ly u s in g a p o c k e tk n ife , n o t an ax.
W h e n p e e lin g bark fro m a liv in g g iiz h ik a a tig , o n e sh o u ld k eep in m in d th a t
s tr ip p in g all o f th e bark o f f a liv in g tr e e w ill k ill th e tr e e , a n d w it h in th e c o n te x t o f
iz h itw a a w in , o n e d o e s n o t ta k e a life w it h o u t ju stific a tio n . V o ln e y J o n e s w r ite s th a t
N e il B o y er, o f th e G ard en R iv er R e se r v e in O n ta r io , to ld h im th a t a c e d a r tree fro m
w h ic h bark w as g a th e r e d w o u ld c o n tin u e to live i f o n e -th ir d o f th a t tr e e c ir c u m fe r ­
e n c e w a s s till c o v er ed in bark ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 3 ) . M a r y G e n iu s z says th a t w h e n ta k in g bark
o f f a n y tree it is im p o r ta n t t o b e ca r e fu l n o t to g ir d le th e tree; th a t is, n o t to c u t th e
in n e r bark o f f in a r in g a r o u n d th e tree . I f o n e is n o t g o in g to u se th e e n tir e tr e e ,
f o llo w in g B o y e r ’s a d v ice , o n ly s tr ip p in g tw o -th ir d s o f th e bark w o u ld b e a w a y t o
a v o id ta k in g th e life o f g iiz h ik a a tig u n n e c e ssa r ily . A ll th e w r itte n s o u r c e s str e ss th e

4. The inner bark and the cambium arc the same thing. Crockett describes the cambium
as “only one cell thick” and says it is under the phloem, which is under the outer bark, the
part of the tree that we can see without peeling away any bark (1972,20). Lee Allen Peterson
describes “the inner bark (cambium)” of trees being used as flour (1977, 295). Kcewaydino-
quay uses the words “inner cambium” when describing this emergency food source (1988).
170 | APPENDIX

im p o r ta n c e o f r e m o v in g th e bark from g iiz h ik a a tig w h ile th e sap is f lo w in g in t h e


tr e e . D e p e n d in g o n th e area in w h ic h o n e is p e e lin g , th is can b e as early as M a y a n d

as late as A u g u s t (V . Jo n es 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 1 , 3 4 3 ; P etersen 1 9 6 3 , 2 2 1 ) . I have p e e le d c e d a r

bark in n o r th e r n W isc o n sin d u r in g th e m o n th o f J u n e, th e sa m e t im e w h e n t h e


bark o f w iig w a a s i-m itig is read y to p e e l, an d d u r in g th a t tim e th e bark s lip p e d e a s ­

ily fro m th e tree; it d id n o t ev en g e t stu c k a ro u n d th e tree b ra n ch es. W h e n I p e e le d


th is b ark , b o th th e u n d e rsid e o f th e bark and th e e x p o s e d w o o d o f th e tr e e b e n e a th
w ere w e t. In th is c o n d itio n bark is ea sy to b en d in to a spiral for sto r a g e . T h e b ark

I w a s p e e lin g w as fro m a tree th a t w e had c h o p p e d d o w n to m ak e a c a n o e , s o I ju s t

sta rted p e e lin g th is bark fro m w h e re th e tree had b e e n sev ered fro m its r o o ts w it h
th e ax. V o ln c y Jon es d escrib es h o w B o y er g a th ered bark fro m a liv in g tree: “ W ith

an ax h e c u t th r o u g h th e bark a b o u t tw o feet ab ove th e g r o u n d le v e l, n o t c h in g t h e

bark tran sversely for ap p ro x im a tely t w o th ird s o f th e d ista n c e a r o u n d th e tr e e . H e

th e n pried th e bark free , s o th a t it c o u ld b e g rasp ed w ith th e h a n d s an d p u lle d lo o s e


from th e tree in lo n g n arrow strip s as far as th e first lim b s, w h e re it b ro k e o f f ” ( 1 9 4 6 ,
3 4 3 ). J on es says th a t th e trees B o y er p ee le d w ere “ six in c h e s to o n e f o o t in d ia m e te r
an d th a t th e y had n o lo w er lim b s ” ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 2 - 4 3 ) . I w as p e e lin g a m u c h s m a lle r
tree , w h ic h had lo ts o f tin y b ran ch es c o m in g o f f o f its tr u n k . I c lip p e d o f f th e sm a ll

b ra n ch es, s o th e bark o n ly had to p eel over th e stu b s w h e r e th e b r a n c h e s h ad b e e n ,

n o t o v er th e b ran ch es th e m se lv e s. A t th e se s tu b s , th e bark ju st fo r m e d a h o le a n d
c o n tin u e d to p e e l. P etersen says th a t M rs. G o o d s k y an d h er a ssista n ts c u t o f f a ll t h e

b ra n ch es th e y c o u ld reach an d th e n m a d e a o n e - a n d -o n c -h a lf-in c h -w id e h o r iz o n ta l
c u t a p p ro x im a tely six te e n to tw e n ty -fo u r in c h e s from th e g r o u n d . T h e y lo o s e n e d th e
bark w ith an ax b lad e an d u se d th e ir fin gers to p u ll o f f “a sh o r t v er tic a l s tr ip ,” a n d
th e y c o n tin u e d to g a th er bark fro m cith e r sid e o f th is e x p o s e d s e c t io n o f th e tr e e
(1 9 6 3 , 2 2 1 -2 2 ).

O n c e p e e le d o f f th e tree , th e o u te r an d in n e r barks n e e d to b e se p a r a te d . O n ly

th e in n e r bark, o r c a m b iu m , o f g iiz h ik a a tig is u se d as an e m e r g e n c y f o o d a n d as a


m aterial to m ak e co rd a g e an d m ats. Jon es an d P etersen b o th d e sc r ib e th e p e o p le t h e y
w o rk ed w ith sep a ra tin g th e o u te r an d in n e r ced a r bark s o o n after g a th e r in g it .5

T h e y a lso b o th d escrib e a sim ila r p ro cess o f d iv id in g th e t w o b ark s b y b e n d in g


th e strip s o f bark so th a t th e o u te r bark b rok e in to p ie c e s, w h ic h w e r e th e n p e e le d

5. Jones describes the two layers being separated before the strips of bark arc rolled up
to be transported, and Petersen describes the two layers being separated after the bark has
already been rolled up and transported to another location (V. Jones 1946, 344; Petersen
1963,222-24).
A p p e n d ix | 171

fr o m t h e in n e r bark (V . J on es 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 4 ; P e te r se n 1 9 6 3 , 2 2 2 - 2 4 ) . I h a v e se p a r a te d

th e in n e r a n d o u te r barks lo n g a fter th e y w e r e g a th e r e d b y s o a k in g th e b ark o v e r ­

n ig h t s o th a t it w a s p lia b le. M r s. B e lla n g e r , w h o a d v ise d V. J o n e s , says th a t d r ie d

c e d a r bark c a n b e so a k e d to m a k e it p lia b le o n c e m o r e , b u t w h e n th is is d o n e a th e

bark a s su m e s an u n d e sir a b le red c o lo r ” (V . J o n e s 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 5 ) . It s h o u ld b e n o t e d ,

h o w e v e r , th a t B e lla n g e r g a th e r e d a n d d y e d h er strip s fo r w e a v in g a c e d a r m a t, n o t
fo r u s e in a su rv iv a l situ a tio n .

D I R E C T I O N S F O R M A K I N G R O P E O U T OF G I I Z H I K A A T I G

R o p e c a n b e m a d e o u t o f th e in n e r bark o f g iiz h ik a a tig . T h is r o p e c a n b e u se d fo r a

v a r ie ty o f t h in g s , in c lu d in g m a k in g a sn are o r a b o w s tr in g . A s w it h a n y ite m m a d e

fro m a b o ta n ic a l fib er, th e r e arc d iffe r e n t w ays to w o r k w ith c e d a r bark to m a k e a

c o r d o r r o p e . S ev era l o f K c e w a y d in o q u a y ’s o s h k a a b e w is a g ta u g h t m e h o w to m ak e
c e d a r r o p e w h e n I w a s tw e lv e , a n d th e y sa id th a t t h e y le a r n e d h o w to m a k e th is ced a r

r o p e fr o m K e e w a y d in o q u a y . F irst o n e r o lls th e in n e r bark a g a in s t o n e ’s le g , s o th a t


it fo r m s a r o u n d p ie c e o f c o r d , w h ic h is th e n fo ld e d in h a lf. E a ch e n d o f th e c o r d ,

s ta r tin g at th e fo ld , is th e n t w is te d in d iv id u a lly in o p p o s ite d ir e c t io n s , a n d th e n th e

t w o h a lv es are tw is te d to g e th e r . F o r e x a m p le , t w is t th e r ig h t h a l f c lo c k w is e an d th e n

th e le ft h a lf c o u n te r c lo c k w is e , a n d t h e n t w is t th e t w o h a lv es t o g e t h e r c lo c k w is e .
A d d itio n a l fib ers are tw is te d in to th e c o r d a g e as n e e d e d .

D I R E C T I O N S F O R M A K I N G MATS O U T OF G I I Z H I K A A T I G

M a ts m a d e o f g iiz h ik a a tig are o fte n u se d to c o v e r th e lo w e r p o r t io n a n d th e flo o r o f


th e w a a g in o g a a n . T h e r e are m a n y w ays to w e a v e th e s e m a ts, a n d w h a t fo llo w s are
d e s c r ip tio n s b y t w o resea rch ers, V o ln e y J o n es a n d K aren D a n ie ls P e te r s e n , o n t w o
v ery s im ila r m e t h o d s o f w e a v in g m a ts o u t o f g iiz h ik a a tig . F o llo w in g th is s e c t io n
th e r e are d ia g r a m s, d ra w n b y A n n m a r ie G e n iu s z , o f th e w e a v in g p r o c e ss. T h e s e are
b a se d m a in ly o n th e d e s c r ip tio n s g iv e n b y J o n es a n d P e te r se n . O n c e th e lig h t-c o lo r e d
in n e r bark o f g iiz h ik a a tig is g a th e r e d a n d p r o c e s s e d , th e p ie c e s o f bark are d iv id e d
in t o strip s o f u n ifo r m w id th a n d le n g th th a t w ill b e u se d t o w ea v e th e m a t. V. J o n e s
d e s c r ib e s M r s. B e lla n g e r a n d h er d a u g h te r c u t t in g fo u r -fo o t-lo n g strip s fo r t h e w a r p
a n d c u t t in g lo n g e r , s ix -fo o t-lo n g strip s fo r th e w e ft ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 5 ) . 6 O n c e th e str ip s are

6. Petersen also describes two lengths of strips being cut for the weaving (1963,
224-25).
172 | APPENDIX

c u t, th e w eaver ca n d ye th e m v ariou s co lo rs. W h e n p rep a rin g th e strip s for w e a v in g ,

M rs. B c lla n g e r m ea su res th e w e ft strip s, w h ic h w ill b e w o v e n t h r o u g h th e w a r p , s o

th a t th e y are all eq u a l le n g th s . S h e p rep ares th e w arp s t r i p s - t h e v e r tic a l str ip s o n


w h ic h th e w e a v in g is d o n e --b y t h in n in g fo u r in c h e s o f f o n e e n d o f ea ch strip . S h e
d o e s th is b y c u t t in g in to th e bark w ith a k n ife a b o u t h a lfw a y t h r o u g h its t h ic k n e s s ,

an d th e n fo ld in g th e bark w h ere it w as cu t. T h is step cau ses th e bark to b rea k s o o n e

ca n strip o f f th e to p layer. T h e o th e r en d o f each strip is “ ta p ered to a p o in t ” ( 1 9 4 6 ,

3 4 5 ) . M rs. B e lla n g e r h a n g s th e w arp o f h er ced a r m at o n a b a s sw o o d t w in e .


B efo re b e in g p u t o n th e fra m e, th e w arp o f th e ced a r m a t is crea ted b y a tt a c h in g
ea ch strip o f th e w arp to th e b a ssw o o d co rd . F irst, th e b a s sw o o d tw in e is tie d t o a n

o b je c t th a t w ill h o ld it stead y w h ile th e w eaver m ak es th e w arp . A c c o r d in g to J o n e s ,


M rs. B clla n g er fasten s th e e n d o f th e b a ssw o o d tw in e to a w a ll w ith an ice p ick . S h e
leaves fo u r feet o f b a ssw o o d tw in e d a n g lin g fro m w h e re it is tie d t o th e ic e p ic k , a n d

th e o th e r e n d , w h ic h is six te e n feet lo n g , sh e u ses to tie th e strip s o f c e d a r b ark t o


form th e w arp. S h e fo ld s th e t h in n e d p o r tio n o f th e w arp strip s a r o u n d th e b a s s ­
w o o d tw in e a b o u t fo u r in ch es from th e e n d . T h e sh o r te r en d o f th e strip h a n g s o n
th e b ack , an d th e lo n g e r e n d h a n g s o n th e fro n t. M rs. B e lla n g e r b r in g s th e s h o r te r
en d u n d er th e tw in e , across th e fro n t p ie c e , an d lays it a g a in st th e b a s s w o o d t w in e .
T h e n sh e fo ld s th e n e x t tw o ced a r strip s o v er th e e n d o f th is strip th a t lie s a g a in s t
th e b a ssw o o d tw in e . A s th e m at p r o g r e sse s, th e sh o r t en d o f e a ch strip is b o u n d b y
th e tw o b esid e it. W h ile sh e is d o in g th is ste p , V. Jon es r e p o r ts, M r s. B e lla n g e r k e e p s
a su p p ly o f ced a r w arp strip s a ro u n d h er sh o u ld e r s s o th a t sh e ca n e a sily g r a b t h e m
to tie th e n ex t p iec e o n . S h e a lso lo o p s th e fin ish e d p o r tio n o f th e w a rp a r o u n d t h e
ice pick as it b e c o m e s t o o h eavy u n d e r th e w e ig h t o f all th e w arp strip s a d d e d t o it.
W h e n sh e has to in terru p t th is w o rk , sh e tie s th e lo o s e e n d s o f th e w a rp w it h a p ie c e
o f b a s s w o o d fiber, an d le ts th e e n tire w arp h a n g fro m th e ice p ick . S h e ta k es t h is fib e r
o f f w h e n sh e c o n tin u e s her w ork . W h e n sh e is d o n e m a k in g th e w a rp , M rs. B e lla n g e r
tie s th e lo o s e en d s w ith b a ssw o o d t w in e , u n fa ste n s th e w a rp fro m th e ice p ic k , a n d
tie s it o n th e w e a v in g fram e. T h is fram e c o n sists o f t w o u p r ig h ts w it h o n e c r o s s p ie c e
o v er th e to p , an d V. Jon es n o te s th a t th e fram e u se d to w ea v e th e c e d a r m a ts is t h e
sa m e k in d o f fram e he saw u sed to w eave ru sh m a ts ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 5 - 5 0 ) . 7

7. The method that Jones describes is, of course, only one way of weaving a cedar bark
mat. Petersen, for example, describes Mrs. Goodsky using commercial twine instead o f bass-
wood twine to tic the warp strips of her mat, and Mrs. Strong, another weaver, used a strip
of cloth instead of any kind of twine as the foundation for the first selvedge (edge) o f the
mat (1963, 226). Mrs. Goodsky, according to Petersen, tied her warp strings to the twine
A p p e n d ix | 173

O n c e t h e se lv e d g e for th e w arp is c o m p le te d , th e w arp is la sh ed t o a fra m e o n


w h ic h th e a c tu a l w e a v in g w ill ta k e p lace. V. Jon es d e sc r ib e s M rs. B c lla n g e r ’s m a t

as b e in g tie d o n t o th e c r o ssp ie c e o f a fram e th a t w a s c o n s tr u c te d b e fo r e sh e b e g a n

m a k in g th e w a rp ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 5 - 4 6 ) . 8 T h e b a s sw o o d tw in e th a t w ill fo rm th e le ft sid e
o f t h e m a t rea ch es all th e w a y fro m th e to p o f th e w arp to th e g r o u n d . T h e o n e th a t
w ill fo rm th e r ig h t sid e o f th e m a t, h o w e v e r , reach es farth er, as it w ill fo rm b o t h th e

r ig h t sid e o f th e m at a n d th e b o t t o m o f th e m at ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 6 ) .9 P etersen says th a t th e


w a r p is la sh e d to th e c r o ssp ie c e w it h a p ie c e o f s tr in g , w h ic h is w ra p p e d a r o u n d b o th
t h e t o p t w in e o f th e w arp an d th e c r o ssp ie c e a p p ro x im a tely ev ery t w o to th r e e strip s
(1 9 6 3 , 2 2 8 -2 9 ).

W h e n w e a v in g th e c e d a r bark m a t, sim p ly w ea v e th e w e ft strip s o v er an d u n d e r


t h e w a rp strip s. T h e e n d o f th e w e ft strip is fa ste n e d t o th e b a s s w o o d tw in e h a n g in g
o n th e le ft s id e , ju st as th e w a rp strip s w e r e fa sten ed to th e b a s s w o o d tw in e o n th e
t o p o f th e w e a v in g (V . Jon es 1 9 4 6 , 3 5 0 ) . T h e w e ft strip is w o v e n o v e r o n e w arp strip
a n d th e n u n d e r th e n e x t an d th e n o v e r th e n e x t, a n d s o o n , u n til th e en d o f th e ro w
is r ea c h e d . A t th e en d o f th e row , th e w e ft strip is fa ste n e d t o th e b a s sw o o d tw in e
h a n g in g o n th e r ig h t sid e. T h e w o v e n w e ft strip is fa ste n e d to th e r ig h t sid e w ith th e

s a m e p r o c e d u r e as it w as fa sten ed to th e le ft s id e , b u t P e te r se n n o te s th a t th e d ir e c ­
t io n is r ev e rsed , an d th a t th e w e ft is a lso tr im m e d to a b o u t th r e e in c h e s b efo re it is
fa ste n e d to th e tw in e o n th e rig h t sid e . T h e n e x t r o w is d o n e th e sa m e w ay, ex cep t
it is a lte r n a te d ; w h e r e th e first r o w w e n t o v e r o n e o f th e w a rp str ip s, th e s e c o n d row
g o e s u n d e r th a t sa m e w arp strip (V. J o n es 1 9 4 6 , 3 5 0 - 5 1 ; P e te r se n 1 9 6 3 , 2 2 8 - 2 9 ) .
T h e r e arc v a r io u s d e s ig n s th a t c a n b e a d d e d to th e m a t b y m e a n s o f strip s d y ed in

following the same method that Mrs. Bcllangcr used, but Mrs. Goodsky fastened her twine
to a chair instead of a wall, and she worked from right to left folding her strips over the twine,
instead of working from left to right as Mrs. Bcllangcr did. Mrs. Goodsky also had someone
move the chair onto which her warp was fastened, rather than looping the warp over an ice pick
as Mrs. Bcllanger did (Petersen 1963, 226-28).
8. Mrs. Goodsky’s mat is tied onto the crosspiece of the frame before that crosspiece is
lashed to the uprights of the frame. Petersen suggests that this movable crosspiece is easier to
tic the warp onto because it allows the weaver to tie the warp on at any comfortable height
(1963,228-29).
9. Petersen describes the ends of the twine on which the strips of the warp are tied as
being tied in a bow near the ends of the crosspiece of the weaving frame. During the weav­
ing, these ends of the twine arc used to tic the ends o f weft, to finish off the ends o f the mat.
Another piece of regular string is then used to tie the warp to the crosspiece (1963, 228).
174 1 APPENDIX

d iffe r e n t c o lo r s a n d b y m e a n s o f c h a n g in g th e w ay th e w e a v in g is s tr u c tu r e d fr o m
o n e r o w t o th e n e x t. F o r e x a m p le , D e n sm o r e d e sc r ib e s d iffe r e n t p a ttern s b e in g c r e ­

a ted b y p a ssin g o n e w e ft strip o v er t w o o r m o re w arp strip s in stea d o f ju st o v e r o n e

([1 9 2 9 ] 1 9 7 9 , 1 5 6 - 5 7 ) .
W h e n th e m at is w o v e n to its d esired le n g th , o n ly th e b o t t o m o f t h e m a t h a s

t o b e fin ish e d o ff, as th e to p o f th e m a t w as fin ish ed b e fo r e th e m at w a s p u t o n t h e


fra m e, an d th e sid e s o f th e m at w ere fin ish ed as th e w e ft strip s w ere w o v e n . V. J o n e s
w a rn s th a t th e m at m u st b e fin ish e d o f f b efo re th e w e a v in g reach es fa rth er th a n fo u r

in c h e s from th e b o tto m o f th e w arp strip s b eca u se th is m u ch m aterial is n e e d e d t o

fin ish o f f th e w e a v in g ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 5 2 ). V. J on es d escrib es o n e n ail b e in g d r iv e n in t o


each o f th e u p r ig h ts d ir e c tly across from th e last row o f w e a v in g . T h e n th e c o r d

o n th e r ig h t sid e o f th e w e a v in g is lo o p e d a ro u n d th e n ail in th e r ig h t u p r ig h t a n d

b r o u g h t across th e w arp w h e re it is tie d o n th e nail in th e le ft u p r ig h t. T h is is th e


sa m e co rd th a t th e w e fts w ere a tta ch ed to o n th e rig h t sid e an d th e sa m e c o r d th a t
w as p u r p o se ly m ad e lo n g e r th a n th e cord o n th e left sid e ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 5 2 - 5 3 ) . 101 It is

th is cord to w h ic h th e b o tto m e d g e o f th e m at w ill b e tie d . T h e b o t t o m e d g e o f t h e


m at is fin ish ed o f f ju st as all th e o th e r e d g e s w e r e , w ith o n e strip b e in g fo ld e d o v e r
th e tw in e an d th e n b r o u g h t a ro u n d itse lf, an d laid o n th e tw in e , a n d th e n e x t str ip

g o in g over th is tw in e (V. Jon es 1 9 4 6 , 3 5 3 ; P etersen 1 9 6 3 , 2 3 1 ). A t th e v ery e d g e o f


th e m a t, o n c e th e en tire b o tto m is tie d o ff, M rs. B ella n g cr b raid s th e e n d o f t h e last
w arp p ie c e , th e last o n e to b e fasten ed to th e b o tto m c o r d , w ith th e e n d o f t h e lo w ­
e s t p iece o f th e w e ft, w h ic h w a s sp lit s o th a t it c o u ld b e b ra id ed . S h e t h e n tu r n s th is
braid to th e back o f th e m at an d fasten s it th ere w ith a p iec e o f b a s s w o o d c o r d . W h e n
th is m at is p u t o n th e flo o r, th is braid w ill b e o n th e b o tto m o f t h e m a t a n d o u t o f
sig h t. V. Jon es a lso says th a t th e lo o s e cord o n th e le ft o f th e m a t, p r e su m a b ly th e
o n e th a t w as b r o u g h t across from th e r ig h t to fo rm th e cord o n w h ic h th e b o t t o m o f
th e w e a v in g w as fa sten ed , is lo o p e d a ro u n d th e b o rd er o f th e m a t a c o u p le o f tim e s
b efo re it is tied and c u t o f f ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 5 3 ) .n
B o th Jon es and P etersen offer s o m e g o o d a d vice a b o u t h o w to fix in e v ita b le
p ro b lem s th a t arise w h ile w e a v in g . J on es w arn s th a t i f o n ly o n e p e r so n is d o i n g th e

10. Petersen says that Mrs. Goodsky docs not use nails but simply brings the cord from
the right side to the left side of the weaving frame (1963, 231).
11. Petersen says that Mrs. Goodsky, upon finishing off the bottom of her weaving, tics
all the ends “together firmly with several turns of sewing thread and several knots” and then
cuts them so that they arc one-half inch long (1963, 231).
A p p e n d ix | 175

w e a v in g , th e w e ft p ie c e s o n c ith e r sid e m u st b e tie d in p lace b e c a u se o n e c a n n o t

h o ld th e m w h ile w e a v in g th e m id d le . O n th e m a t h e w a s w e a v in g th is s te p w a s n o t

n ecessa ry , as th e r e w ere th r e e p e o p le w e a v in g : o n e t o h o ld o n t o fa ste n e d p ie c e s o n

ea ch sid e a n d o n e to d o th e w e a v in g in th e m id d le ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 5 1 ) .12 W h e n le a v in g th e

w e a v in g fo r a t im e , M rs. G o o d s k y p r e v e n ts th e w e f t fro m s a g g in g b y m a k in g a d o u ­

b le b e n d in a w arp str in g , a b o u t t w o in c h e s fro m th e b o t t o m o f th e last w e ft row ,


an d th e n p u s h in g th is b e n t p ie c e u p b e tw e e n th e la st t w o w e ft strip s. S h e rep ea ts

th is p r o c e ss acro ss th e e n tir e w e a v in g a b o u t e v e r y th r e e to six in c h e s (P e te r se n 1 9 6 3 ,

2 3 0 ) . A s w it h an y w e a v in g p r o je c t, k e e p in g t h e m a r g in s o f th e ced a r m a t str a ig h t

is im p o r ta n t. V. J o n es d esc r ib e s a t h o n g b e in g tie d a r o u n d th e e d g e o f th e m a t a n d

th e u p r ig h t b e sid e it to k eep th e te n s io n e v e n , a n d th is t h o n g is m o v e d d o w n as th e

w e a v in g m o v e s d o w n ( 1 9 4 6 , 3 5 1 ). P e te r se n says th a t M rs. G o o d s k y tie s th e tw in e

o n w h ic h th e e d g e s o f th e w e ft arc fa ste n e d ta u tly a n d k e e p s th e m tie d n o m o r e th a n

tw e lv e in c h e s b e lo w th e p o r tio n sh e is w e a v in g . P e te r se n says th is ste p m ay h elp M rs.

G o o d s k y k eep her m a r g in s str a ig h t. W h e n a w e f t b rea k s, a fe w in c h e s o f th e w e a v in g


arc rip p ed b ack an d a n o th e r strip o f c e d a r bark is in s e r te d . T h e n th e t w o are u sed

t o g e th e r as o n e d o u b le d strip for a fe w in c h e s ( 1 9 6 3 , 2 3 0 ) .
A n o t h e r im p o r ta n t t h in g to r e m e m b e r w h e n w e a v in g a c e d a r bark m a t is th a t
th e m a teria ls b e in g u se d in th e w e a v in g m u st r e m a in w e t o r th e y w ill b e c o m e less

flex ib le a n d crack. T h e m aterials m u st a lso b e w e t for m a k in g r o p e o u t o f c e d a r bark.


F o r th is r e a so n , ced a r m ats arc o fte n w o v e n in th e sh a d e t o p rev en t th e m aterials

fro m d r y in g o u t t o o fast (V . Jon es 1 9 4 6 , 3 4 5 - 4 6 ; D e n s m o r e [1 9 2 9 ] 1 9 7 9 , 1 5 7 ).


D c n s m o r e p r o v id e s a p h o to g r a p h o f a s tr u c tu r e b u ilt for m a t w e a v in g , a n d th is s tr u c ­
tu r e w o u ld o b v io u s ly p ro v id e w eavers w ith a sh a d y an d sh e lte r e d p lace in w h ic h t o d o
th e ir w e a v in g ( [ 1 9 2 9 ] 1 9 7 9 , p late 6 2 ). P e te r se n says th a t M rs. G o o d s k y , w h o d id h er
w e a v in g in sid e h er h o u s e , m o v e d th e fra m e o f h er w e a v in g in to th e sh a d e w h e n th e
su n s h o n e in o n it. P etersen a lso d e sc r ib e s m e th o d s o f k e e p in g th e w e a v in g m a te r i­
als d a m p . T h e w e ft strip s w a itin g to b e u s e d are k ep t c o ile d in a p an w ith w a te r a n d
s o m e tim e s p a tte d w ith a d a m p c lo th . T h e p arts o f th e w arp th a t have n o t y e t b e e n
w o v e n arc k ep t d a m p b y th r o w in g w a ter fro m a c u p o n th e m ( 1 9 6 3 , 2 2 9 ) .

12. Petersen says that Mrs. Goodsky does not tic the end of her wefts and they do not
come unfastened. Petersen suggests that the difference between the mat-weaving techniques
Jones describes and those used by Mrs. Goodsky might be because Mrs. Goodsky’s “ more
pliable and narrower strips (about half as wide) could be pulled more tightly at the selvedge”
(Petersen 1963, 230).
APPENDIX

5 . D e ta il o f a tta c h in g w arp strip s to b a s sw o o d co rd . © C o p y r ig h t A n n


m arie G e n iu sz . U se d w ith p e r m issio n .
APPendix

6. A ttach in g warp to basswood cord. © Copyright Annmarie Geniusz. Used


w ith perm ission.
178 | APPENDIX

7. Attaching warp to weaving frame. © Copyright Annmaric Geniusz. Used


with permission.
A p p e n d ix | 179

8. W e a v in g first w e ft a n d a tta c h in g b o t h e n d s . © C o p y r ig h t A n n m a r ie
G e n iu s z . U se d w ith p e r m is s io n .

9. C o n t in u in g w e a v in g p a ttern . © C o p y r ig h t A n n m a r ie G e n iu s z . U s e d
w it h p e r m is s io n .
180 APPENDIX

10. P u llin g b a s s w o o d c o r d a c r o ss b o t t o m o f w e a v in g . © C o p y r i g h t

A n n m a r ie G e n iu s z . U s e d w i t h p e r m is s io n . 1

1 1 . F in is h in g b o t t o m o f w e f t w it h s a m e f o l d i n g t e c h n i q u e u s e d t o

fin ish sid e a n d t o p e d g e s . © C o p y r ig h t A n n m a r ie G e n i u s z . U s e d w i t h


p e r m is s io n .
A p p e n d ix | 181

12. T u c k in g in lo o s e e n d s , ty in g o f f lo o s e c o r d s, an d r e m o v in g fin ish e d m at fro m


w e a v in g fram e. © C o p y r ig h t A n n m a r ie G e n iu s z . U s e d w ith p e r m is s io n .
182 | APPENDIX

13* Basic w e a v in g p a ttern . © C o p y r ig h t A n n m a r ie G e n iu s z . U s e d

w ith p erm issio n .

14. V ariation o n basic w e a v in g p attern . © C o p y r ig h t A n n m a r ie


G e n iu s z . U s e d w ith p e r m issio n .
A p p e n d ix | 183

D I R E C T I O N S F O R G A T H E R I N G WI I G WA A S

T h e A n is h in a a b e g u se w iig w a a s (b irch bark) to m ak e a v a riety o f ite m s in c lu d in g

r o o fs o f lo d g e s a n d sto ra g e c o n ta in ers. K e ew a y d in o q u a y c a u tio n e d her stu d e n ts to

o n ly g a th er w iig w a a s fro m d ead trees b eca u se sh e felt th a t m o st p e o p le w o u ld n o t


k n o w h o w to g a th er w iig w a a s ca re fu lly e n o u g h s o as n o t to k ill th e tree . S h e rec­

o m m e n d e d u sin g p iec es o f w iig w a a s th a t had fallen o f f o f r o ttin g lo g s in th e w o o d s


( 1 9 9 0 b ) . W iig w a a s ca n b e g a th e r e d from a liv in g tree w ith o u t k illin g th e tr e e i f o n e

k n o w s h o w to d o it properly. F resh w iig w a a s is g a th ered in th e sp r in g w h e n th e sap has

alread y b e g u n to flo w th r o u g h th e tree an d th e leaves have alread y b e g u n t o c o m e o u t.

G e o r g e M c G e sh ic k , Sr., w h o h as b e e n g a th e r in g w iig w a a s for d eca d es o n th e b ord er

b e tw e e n W isc o n sin a n d M ic h ig a n ’s U p p e r P e n in su la , says th a t for h is area, th e tim e to

g a th er w iig w a a s is a ro u n d th e m id d le o f Ju n e (p ers. c o m m .). A n g c lin c W illia m s says


th e b e st tim e to g a th er w iig w a a s is w h e n it rains b eca u se th a t is w h e n it Mrips o f f ” w ell

(E W V , n o te b o o k 19a). D u r in g th e s u m m e r o f 2 0 0 4 , G e o r g e M c G e sh ic k ta u g h t so m e

m em b e r s o f th e C h ic a u g o n C h ip p e w a , m y fath er, an d m y s e lf h o w t o p eel w iig w a a s in


p rep a ra tio n for m a k in g a w iig w a a si-jiim a a n (a b irch bark c a n o e ). H e says th a t, con trary

to w h a t researchers su ch as D e n sm o r c a n d H u r o n S m ith c la im , it is n o t n ecessa ry to

c u t d o w n a w iig w a a si-m itig b efo re g a th e r in g w iig w a a s to m ak e a w iig w a a si-jiim a a n


(M c G e s h ic k , pers. c o m m .; D e n sm o r e [ 1 9 2 9 ] 1 9 7 9 , 1 5 0 ; H . S m ith 1 9 3 2 , 4 1 4 ). I f o n e

is ca refu l n o t to c u t t o o d eep ly in to th e tr e e ’s in n e r bark w h e n c u ttin g th e bark, o n e


w ill n o t kill th e w iig w a a si-m itig . B asically, o n e sh o u ld n o t c u t s o d e e p in to w iig w a a si-
m itig th a t o n e can see th e w o o d in th e p lace fro m w h ic h th e bark has b e e n p eeled .
M c G e s h ic k says th a t a w iig w a a si-m itig th a t has b e e n p e e le d w ith o u t e x p o s in g its w o o d
w ill c o n tin u e to live, b u t th e w h ite bark o f th a t tree w ill never g r o w back a g a in ; in stead
th e bark w ill b e c o m e black (p ers. c o m m .). H e sh o w e d u s a tree th a t h e h a d o n c e tak en
a large p iece o f w iig w a a s fro m to m ak e a c a n o e . T h e tree w as still a liv e, b u t th e p lace
fro m w h ic h M c G e sh ic k had tak en th e w iig w a a s w as r o u g h an d black. W h e n d ir e c tin g
o u r birch bark p e e lin g , M c G e sh ic k had us m ak e a c u t stra ig h t d o w n w iig w a a si-m itig
w ith a c u rv ed k n ife. H e r e c o m m e n d s u s in g a u tility k n ife w ith a sm all h o o k o n th e
e n d , sim ila r to th e k n ife u se d by m o d e r n roofers. H e a lso had u s m ak e o n e c u t a r o u n d
th e tree at th e to p o f th is vertical c u t an d o n e cu t a ro u n d th e tree at th e b o tto m o f th is
vertica l cu t. W e n e e d e d to d o th is o n a stra ig h t s e c tio n o f th e tr u n k , s o w e h ad to s to p
at p arts th a t b ra n ch ed o u t in to b ran ch es o r r o o ts. T h e n w e w ere to pry th e w iig w a a s
lo o s e o n eith er sid e o f th e vertical c u t w ith th e h o o k e d k n ife an d w ith a p u tty k n ife .
O n c e w e lo o s e n e d th e p o r tio n a ro u n d th e c u t, th e rest o f th e w iig w a a s w o u ld ju st
p e e l rig h t o f f by p u llin g . U n fo r tu n a te ly , th e se p articu lar w iig w a a s i-m itig o o g w e r e n o t
184 | APPENDIX

ready to b e p e e le d y e t, a lth o u g h o th ers several m iles aw ay w ere ready. M c G e sh ic k sa id

th a t th e p lace w e w ere p e e lin g m ig h t have b een in t o o m u ch sh a d e , ca u sin g th e sap in


th e w iig w a a si-m itig to take lo n g er to travel up th e trees an d ca u sin g th e trees to ta k e
lo n g e r to b e ready to p eel (p ers. c o m m .). L ike th e bark o f g iiz h ik a a tig , w iig w a a s c a n
b e rolled and tied in b u n d le s an d k ept for later u se. M c G e sh ic k says th a t o n c e r o lle d ,

w iig w a a s can b e u se d years later as lo n g as it is n o t stored in a place w h e re it w ill d e c a y

q uickly. H e re c o m m e n d s k eep in g w iig w a a s in a c o o l p lace, su ch as a b a se m e n t (p e r s.


c o m m .). W h e n o n e w a n ts to u se th e w iig w a a s, o n e sim p ly h eats it to m ak e it flex ib le

ag a in . U n le ss it is fresh from th e tree , w iig w a a s w ill crack w h e n o n e tries to b e n d it

i f it is n o t w a rm ed (E W V , n o te b o o k 2 0 ; W P A 1 9 3 6 - 4 0 , en v e lo p e 8 , 3 8 ). M c G e s h ic k
says o n e can easily w arm th e w iig w a a s by u n r o llin g th e w iig w a a s an d le a v in g it in th e

su n to w arm (pers. c o m m .). P eter H alfd ay, w h o w ork ed for th e W P A p ro ject o n th e


Bad R iver R eserv a tio n , says that lea vin g w iig w a a s in th e su m m e r su n can w a rm it, b u t
h e a lso su g g e sts w a r m in g w iig w a a s over a fire (W P A 1 9 3 6 - 4 0 , e n v e lo p e 8 , 3 8 ). M a r y
G e n iu sz o fte n u ses a c lo th e s iron to h eat up w iig w a a s to m ak e it pliab le a g a in , a n d s h e

adds th a t, a lth o u g h m a n y p e o p le try to soak w iig w a a s to m ak e it p liab le, h eat a n d n o t


w ater is n eed ed to g e t th e resins in th e w iig w a a s active e n o u g h to m ak e it w o rk a b le
(pers. c o m m .).13 I u se a w a rm -m ist electric h u m id ifier to b en d w iig w a a s.

D I R E C T I O N S FOR M A K I N G AN A P A B I Z O N ,
T H E B I R C H BARK TRAY I N S I D E T H E W A A P I J I P I Z O N

A baby is strap p ed in to a w a a p ijip izo n (m o ss b ag) an d th e n tie d in to th e d ik in a a -


g a n (cra d leb oard ). In sid e th e w a a p ijip izo n is th e a p a b iz o n , a tray m a d e o f w iig w a a s ,

w h ic h h o ld s th e aasaak am ig (Sphagnum L ., th e m o ss u se d to d ia p er th e b ab y). M a r y


G e n iu s z learn ed h o w to m ake o n e o f th e se trays w h ile sh e w as w o r k in g o n h er M a s ­
ters o f I n d ig e n o u s T h o u g h t at S ev en G e n e r a tio n s E d u c a tio n I n s titu te in O n ta r io ,
a n d I w a tc h e d her m ak e o n e d u r in g th e su m m e r o f 2 0 0 3 . T h e s e in s tr u c tio n s c o m e
fr o m m y o b se r v a tio n s w h ile w a tc h in g her m ak e th is tray.
F irst, ta k e tw o p ieces o f w iig w a a s an d face th e m to w ard ea ch o th e r , s o th a t th e
w h ite o u te r barks arc o n th e in sid e an d th e in n er bark is o n th e o u ts id e . T h is p o s it io n

13. I have heard from other people that soaking wiigwaas will not rejuvenate it, but I
should add that my aunt, Sue Leather, who used to make containers out of wiigwaas, said that
she would soak very thin pieces of wiigwaas in her bathtub for very long periods o f time, and
eventually they would become soft enough to bend into a makak. I have two of these contain­
ers, and the wiigwaas from which they are made is very, very soft and thin.
A p p e n d ix | 185

k eep s th e tray stiff. T h e n b e n d th e b o t t o m o f th is tray to fo rm a s o r t o f lit t le s h e l f at

o n e e n d , le a v in g th e to p str a ig h t. G e n iu s z b e n t th e w iig w a a s w h ile it w a s s t ill fresh

o f f t h e tr e e , a n d sh e h eld it in p lace w ith t w o c lo th e s p in s . F in a lly , s e w th e t w o p ie c e s


o f w iig w a a s to g e th e r u s in g w iig o b , a fib er m a d e fro m th e in n e r bark o f th e b a s s w o o d

tr e e . T h is is th e sa m e fib er u se d to s e w up a m ak ak . T o m ak e w iig o b , o n e p e e ls bark

o f f w iig o b a a tijj (th e b a s sw o o d tr e e ), an d sep a ra tes th e o u te r an d in n e r b ark s. T h e


in n e r bark is th e n u se d r ig h t aw ay for s e w in g o r is d rie d a n d later s o a k e d s o th a t it

b e c o m e s p lia b le a g a in an d is th e n u se d ( R o s e , p ers. c o m m .).

G e n iu s z says th a t th e d ried aasaak am ig is w ra p p ed in a p iece o f clea n c lo th a n d p u t

o n th is tray. T h e baby is laid o n th e tray a n d th e n tie d in to h is o r h er m o ss b a g . T h e


baby is p la ced o n th is tray o n ly w h e n very y o u n g , b efo re th e fo n ta n e llc c lo se s. T h e d ik i-

n aa g a n is n o t u sed b efore th e fo n ta n e lle c lo se s. W h e n th e tray is n o lo n g e r u se d , th e

baby is sim p ly tied in to th e m o ss b a g , w h ic h is tie d to th e d ik in a a g a n (p ers. c o m m .).

D I R E C T I O N S FOR S T O RI N G I TEMS
I N A C O N T A I N E R M A D E OF W I I G W A A S

T h e A n is h in a a b e g u se w iig w a a s to m a k e c o n ta in e r s a n d t o s to r e c e r ta in ite m s. K a th ­

erin e O s o g w in g iv e s th e fo llo w in g in s tr u c tio n s fo r s to r in g “d r ie d p o u n d e d m e a t” in


a c o n ta in e r m a d e o f w iig w a a s. O n c e th e d r ie d m e a t is p u t in to th e c o n ta in e r , ta llo w

is p o u r e d o v er th e m ea t to sea l it. A n o t h e r p ie c e o f w iig w a a s is p la ce d o v e r th e to p o f


th e c o n ta in e r , a n d th is p ie c e o f w iig w a a s is s e a le d w ith p in e p itc h . O s o g w in ad d s th a t
m a p le su g a r is se a le d an d sto r e d th e sa m e w ay. S h e says th a t th e p in e p itch is b o ile d
in clea r w a ter a n d str a in e d . W h e n th e w a ter is c o ld , th e p itch rises a n d is s k im m e d
o f f th e su rfa ce o f th e w ater. T h e n th e p itc h is b o ile d a s e c o n d t im e u n til th e w a ter is
o u t o f it a n d it is th e r ig h t c o n siste n c y . O n c e th is is d o n e , fish o il o r ta llo w is a d d ed
to th e p itc h s o th a t w h e n th e p itch is u se d to sea l m e a t, “ it w o n ’t crack o r b e stic k y .”
T h e p itch is p o u r e d o n to p o f th e m e a t w h ile it is w arm t o sea l th e m e a t, a n d at th is
tim e th e p itc h is tra n sp a r en t. S h e a d d s th a t th is sa m e p itch is u se d to m a k e a p a il
m a d e o u t o f w iig w a a s w a te r tig h t s o th a t it ca n b e u se d for m a p le s u g a r in g (E W V ,

n o teb o o k 2 0 ).

D I R E C T I O N S FOR MAKING A WIIGWAASIBAK,


A C O V E R I N G F OR A L O D G E

A w iig w a a s ib a k , o r w iig w a a sa b a k w a y , is a birch bark c o v e r in g u se d o n a w a a g in o g a a n


an d o th e r sh elters. R o s e says sh e m a k es a w iig w a a sib a k by s e w in g p ie c e s o f w iig w a a s
186 | APPENDIX

t o g e t h e r e n d t o e n d , w ith w a d a b (sp ru ce r o o t). T h e a m o u n t o f w iig w a a s u s e d t o


m a k e ea ch w iig w a a sib a k d e p e n d s o n th e s iz e o f th e p iec es o f w iig w a a s. O n c e all t h e

p ie c e s are s e w n to g e th e r , th e t w o e x p o s e d e d g e s o f th e w iig w a a sib a k are c o v e r e d

w ith a strip o f ced a r b ark, w h ic h is se w n o n w ith w a d a b , to s to p th e m fro m s p lit t in g .


A p ie c e o f w iig w a a s , c u t in to a sem ic ir c le , is se w n o n t o th e m id d le o f th is p ie c e o f
ced a r bark. T h e b r o w n p art o f th e w iig w a a s, th e u n d e rsid e o f th e bark, faces u p , a n d
th e o u te r w h ite bark is sa n d w ic h e d a g a in st th e ced a r bark strip . S tr in g s o f w a d a b are

a tta ch ed to th is sem icircle o f w iig w a a s, an d th e s e str in g s are u sed t o tie th e w iig w a a ­

sib ak to th e w iig iw a a m o r w a a g in o g a a n (R o s e , pers. c o m m ,). T h e w iig w a a s ib a k is


tie d o n t o th e lo d g e w ith th e w h ite p art fa cin g u p w ard . R o se ad d s th a t w h e n d e s c r ib ­

in g th is c o v e r in g b e in g tie d to th e lo d g e , o n e says, *w iig w a a sib a k a p a k w c n 3>( p u t u p


th e c o v e r in g ). W h e n a sk in g s o m e o n e to h elp pu t u p th e se c o v e r in g s, o n e sa y s,

“A p a k w c d a a ” ( le t ’s p u t up th e co v er in g s) (p ers. c o m m .).

D I R E C T I O N S F OR M A K I N G T O R C H E S

W iig w a a si-m itig an d g iiz h ik a a tig are a lso tw o trees u se d to m ak e to r c h e s. J o e W il­


s o n , o f th e Bad R iver R e se r v a tio n , to ld P eter M a rk sm a n , w h o w o r k e d o n t h e W P A

In d ia n R esearch P ro ject, th a t th e A n is h in a a b e g m ak e to rch es o u t o f “ c e d a r b ark ,


birch bark, h a zel b r u sh , o r b a ssw o o d tim b e r .” T o m ak e a to rch o u t o f c e d a r b ark ,

W ilso n says, o n e cru sh es th e bark in to a “s h e e t o f lo o s e fib ers,” a n d th e n r o lls t h is


sh e e t tig h tly an d tie s it w ith strip s o f w iig o b . O n e d ip s th e roll in t o a m ix tu r e o f
m elte d p itch an d p o w d er ed c h a rco a l, w h ic h ad d s “ firm n ess an d d u r a b ility ” t o t h e
to rch . T h e to rch is a b o u t “ th e s iz e o f a m a n ’s fo rea r m ,” an d it is s to r e d u n til n e e d e d .
B efo re u sin g th e to r c h , th e A n is h in a a b e g d ip it in p itch o n c e m o r e . W ils o n says th a t
th e A n ish in a a b e g m ake to rch es o f h a zel b ru sh an d b a s sw o o d in a sim ila r m a n n e r .
H e a d d s th a t th e A n ish in a a b e g u se b lo c k s o f ced ar, w h ic h are sp lit in t o t h in b o a r d s ,
as reflectors an d “ as sh ield s to c o n c e a l th e o c c u p a n ts o f th e c a n o e ” (W P A 1 9 3 6 - 4 0 ,
e n v e lo p e 8 , 3 7 ).
P eter H a lfd a y , w h o w ork ed for th e sa m e p ro ject o n th e Bad R iv er R e s e r v a tio n ,
d escrib es h o w to m ake a torch o u t o f w iig w a a s. It is a s su m e d , g iv e n th a t H a lfd a y
m e n tio n s ca rr y in g th is to rch , th a t th e to rch d e sc r ib e d h ere is a w a a sw a a g a n (a h a n d ­
held to rch ). F irst, H a lfd ay says, c u t th e w iig w a a s in to o b lo n g s h e e ts , a n d th e n h o ld
ea ch s h e e t o v er “a b la zin g fire u n til it b e g in s to cu rl u p .” T h e n ro ll th e s e s h e e ts o f
w iig w a a s in to a torch . H a lfd a y ex p la in s th is p r o c e ss b y s a y in g , “T h e h e a tin g a n d th e
r o llin g is really a c o m b in a tio n p ro cess. B e g in n in g at th e c o r n e r o f th e b irch s h e e t , it
is ro lled to w a rd s a d ia g o n a l corn er.” T h e r e su ltin g to rch is a b o u t th r e e fe e t lo n g an d
A p p e n d ix | 187

h as a th r e e -in c h d ia m eter . T h e to rch lo o k s lik e a “ f u n n e l,” a n d is r o lle d v e r y tig h tly .


H a lfd a y says th a t a to rch r o lled c o m p a c tly lik e th is “ b u r n s w ith a ste a d y lig h t ,” b u t
h e w a rn s th a t a to rch ro lled t o o lo o s e ly “ w ill flare u p an d b u rn o u t q u ic k ly .” T h e
A n is h in a a b e g w in d w iig o b a ro u n d th e th in lo w er e n d o f th e to r c h to ca rry it ea sily

a n d sa fely (W P A 1 9 3 6 - 4 0 , e n v e lo p e 8 , 3 8 ) .
<
Glossary

2 . P R O N U N C I A T I O N KEY F O R D O U B L E V O W E L O J I B W E

Letter or Symbol Ojtbwe (translation) Roughly Equivalent


Sound in English

Long Vowels
aa n a a n a n (five) fa th e r

ii n m v in (fo u r) knee
oo b oozh oo (h e llo ) b oot, b o a t

c b o z h ig (o n e) w «gh

Short Vowels
a n iiz h t a n a (tw e n ty ) cap

i n rsw i (th ree) it


o n in g o d w a a sw i (six) SO
Consonants (all the rest sound as they do in English)
S n in ^ o d w a a sw i (six) goat
zh m\zh (tw o ) trea su re

Other Sounds
’ [g lo tta l sto p ] a’aw (th a t o n e ) o -o h !

n h [in d ic a te s n a sa liz a tio n g iig o o n h (fish)

o f p r e v io u s v o w e l]

Note on pronunciation: This orthography is made up oflong and short vowels, the former of
which are emphasized.

189
190 | GL OS S A RY

Note: T h e e n tr ie s in th is g lo ssa r y are arran ged in th e fo llo w in g m an n er: H e a d w o r d


p a r t o f speech: d e fin itio n (so u r c e ).1 T h e h ead w o rd s are O jib w e w o rd s fo u n d t h r o u g h ­
o u t th is te x t. N o u n s arc fo llo w e d b y a h y p h e n a n d a s e t o f le tte r s in d ic a tin g th e ir
plural fo rm . F or exam p le: a m ik , - w a g : a m ik is a b eaver, a n d a m ik w a g is b ea v ers.

T h e p a rts o f sp e e c h are ab b reviated as fo llo w s:12

na: a n im a te n o u n
ni: in a n im a te n o u n
pc: p a rticle
vai: a n im a te in tra n sitiv e verb
v a i + o: a n im a te in tra n sitiv e verb th a t can tak e an o b je c t
vii: in a n im a te in tra n sitiv e verb
vta: a n im a te tra n sitiv e verb
v ta : in a n im a te tra n sitiv e verb

Parts o f s p e e c h fo llo w th e h ea d w o r d . O n e o r m o r e d e fin itio n is g iv e n for e a c h h e a d


w o r d , an d th e so u r c e for each w ord is g iv e n in p a ren th esis at th e e n d o f ea ch en try .

a a d iz o o k a a n , - a g na: th e sp irit o f o r ch aracter in a tra d itio n a l o r sacred sto r y o r a

le g e n d (J o h n so n , pers. c o m m .),
a a d iz o o k a a n , -a n ni: a tra d itio n a l le g e n d ; all o f o n e ’s rela tio n s; c e r e m o n ie s (“A n i-
sh in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .
a a n iin pc: h ello ! g r e e tin g s! ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 18).
a a s a a k a m ig , - o o n ni: m o ss u sed to d ia p er b ab ies (R o s e , p ers. c o m m .; N ic h o ls a n d
N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 18). G e n iu s z w r ite s th a t K e e w a y d in o q u a y id e n tifie d th is m o s s as
Sphagn um sp p. (M . G e n iu s z 2 0 0 5 , 2 4 5 ) .
a b in o o j iiy e n s , - a g na: baby (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 3).
a jija a k , -w a g na: sa n d h ill crane (N ic h o ls and N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 7 ) .
a m ik , - w a g na: beaver (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 8).
a m ik w iis h , -a n ni: beaver lo d g e (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 8 ).
a n i m i k i i , - g na: th u n d er b ird , th u n d er er (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 9 ).
A n i s h i n a a b e , - g na: an In d ia n , an O jib w e p erso n ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 0 ).

1. Double Vowel Orthography was devised by Charles Ficro. For more detailed informa­
tion, see Nichols and Nyholm 1995.
2. For further explanation on the abbreviation used in the glossary, see Nichols and
Nyholm 1995.
G lo ssa r y | 19 1

a n i s h i n a a b e - g i k e n d a a s o w i n ni: a n ish in a a b e k n o w le d g e : n o t ju st in fo r m a tio n b u t


a ls o th e s y n th e sis o f o u r p e r so n a l te a c h in g s. E x p lic it fo r m . (“A n is h in a a b e W ord -
li s t ” 2 0 0 3 ) .

a n is h in a a b e -in a a d iz iw in ni: a n ish in a a b e w a y o f b e in g , b eh a v io r, p s y c h o lo g y .


E x p lic it fo r m . (“A n is h in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .

a n is h in a a b e -iz h itw a a w in ni: a n ish in a a b e c u ltu r e , te a c h in g s , c u s to m s , h isto ry .


E x p lic it fo rm . ( “A n is h in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .
A n i s h i n a a b e m o w i n ni: O jib w e la n g u a g e , la n g u a g e as a w ay o f life ( “A n is h in a a b e
W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .

a n is h in a a b e w a k i ni: a n ish in a a b e c o u n tr y , a n ish in a a b e w a k iin g : in a n ish in a a b e


c o u n tr y ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 10).
a n i s h i n a a b e - w i i n z o w i n , -a n ni: I n d ia n n a m e . E x p lic it fo rm ( D e n n is J o n es, pers.

c o m m .).
a p a b iz o n , - a n ni: th e b irch bark tray in sid e o f th e w a a p ijip iz o n , o r m o ss b a g (R o se ,

p ers. c o m m .).
a p a k w e va i: to p u t a r o o f o n (s o m e th in g ) ( R o s e , p ers. c o m m .; N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm

1 9 9 5 , 1 2 ).
a s e m a a na: to b a c c o ((N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 3 ). G e n iu s z says th a t K eew ay-
d in o q u a y id e n tifie d asem aa as N ic o tin a ru stic a , w h ic h is th e sa m e g e n u s , b u t
n o t th e sa m e s p e c ie s, as th e p la n t u se d in th e p r o d u c tio n o f c o m m e r c ia l c ig a ­
rettes (M . G e n iu s z 2 0 0 5 , 1 5 ).
a t a a s o v a i + o: sto r e s o m e t h in g ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 4 ) .
a ta a s o o w ig a m ig , -o o n ni: a p e a k e d h o u se u se d t o sto re fo o d s ( N ic h o ls an d
N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 14). W h e e le r -V o c g e lin w rites th is w o r d in sin g u la r form o n ly :
“ a ta s o -g a m ik ” ( n o te b o o k 2 0 ) .
a w e s iin h , -y a g na: w ild a n im a l ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 15 ).
B a a m b iit a a - b in e s i na: “ R h y th m -b e a te r , p a c e -se tte r (P r o to -flic k e r ).” M e n tio n e d in
th e a a d iz o o k a a n a b o u t th e c r e a tio n o f g iiz h ik a a tig . E ty m o lo g y u n c e r ta in . K ee-
w a y d in o q u a y w r ite s th is w ord : “ B a h m b e ta h -B e n a y se e ” ( 1 9 7 7 , 1).
b ib ig w a n , -a n ni: flu te ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 31).
b i n e s h i i n h , -y a g na: bird ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 3 3 ; “A n ish in a a b e W o r d lis t”

2 0 0 3 ).
B in e s i, - w a g na: sp irit bird ( “A n is h in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .
B is k a a b iiy a n g vai: an ap p ro a ch to research th a t a ttem p ts to d e c o lo n iz e th e A n is h i-
n a a b e g an d a n is h in a a b e -g ik e n d a a so w in . T h e stem verb h ere is b isk a a b ii, a v a i
m e a n in g “ to retu rn to o n e s e lf ,” a lso u sed in referen ce to d e c o lo n iz a t io n ( “A n i ­
sh in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ; H o r to n , pers. c o m m .).
192 | GL OS S A R Y

b is k a a b ii vai: to retu rn t o o n e s e lf, a lso u se d in referen ce to d e c o lo n iz a t io n (“A n is h i-

n a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .
b is k it e n a a g a n , -a n ni: a c o n ta in e r m a d e o f fo ld e d , rath er th a n s e w n , b irch b a rk , o f t e n
m a d e in a h u rry w h e n o n e n e e d s to c o lle c t sap o r u se as an e m e r g e n c y c o o k in g

d ish . A ls o u se d for a c o o k in g d ish w h ile tr a v e lin g ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 ,

2 4 0 ; E W V , n o t e b o o k 2 0 ) . W h e e lc r -V o c g c lin w rites th is w ord : “s k ite n a g a n e n .”

b o o z h o o pc: h ello ! g r e e tin g s! ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 3 9 ).


C h i- a n is h in a a b e , - g na: se e G ic h i-a n ish in a a b c .

d e w e ’ig a n , - a g ; w : d r u m ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 4 4 ) .
d ib a a j im o w in , -a n ni: te a c h in g , o r d in a r y sto r y , p e r so n a l sto ry , h is to r y s to r y ( “A n i-

sh in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) . N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm have “sto r y , n a r r a tiv e ” ( 1 9 9 5 ,

4 5 ).
d ik in a a g a n , -a n ni: crad le b o ard ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 6 2 ).
d o o d o o s h a a b o o j iib ik , -a n ni: d a n d e lio n , T ara x a cu m officinale ( R o s e , pers. c o m m .),
e n a w e n d iw in ni: rela tio n sh ip , a lso o u r r e la tio n sh ip s w ith in all o f C r e a tio n ( “A n is h i-
n aab e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) . V erb ste m h ere is a y in a w e n d iw a g > a v a i m e a n in g “ t h e y

arc related to each o th e r .” A ls o , a y in a w e m is a v ta m e a n in g “ to b e rela ted t o


s o m e o n e ” ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 6 5 ) .
g a a g ii z o m vta : to feast s o m e o n e . U se d w h e n sp ec ific a lly s ta tin g w h ic h p la n t is b e in g
fea sted (D . J o n e s, pers. c o m m .); to ap p ea se s o m e o n e ; a p o lo g iz e t o s o m e o n e
(N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 5 0 ).
g a a - iz h i- z h a w e n d a a g o z iy a n g vai: th a t w h ic h w as g iv e n to u s in a lo v in g w a y [b y th e
spirits]; literally: “ th a t w h ic h w e are lo v e d by th e sp irits” ( “A n is h in a a b e W o rd -
lis t” 2 0 0 3 ) . S tem verb h ere is zh a w e n d a a g o zi, a v a i m e a n in g “ to b e b le s s e d ,
p itie d , or fo r tu n a te ” ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 2 4 ).
g a a w iin w i i s k i w i z i s i i w ii- m a a z h i s e d sentence: H e o r sh e is n o t liv in g in b a la n c e ;
h is or her b eh avior is n o t natu ral (i.e ., it c o u ld lead to a d e a th ). A ls o G a a w iin
w iis k iw is iz i iw a g : th e y are n o t liv in g n atu rally, in b a la n ce. E t y m o lo g y u n c e r ­
ta in ( “A n ish in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .
g e k e k , - w a g na: h aw k (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 5 2 ).
G e t e - a n i s h i n a a b e , - g na: o n e o f th e o ld o n e s , an o ld -tim e In d ia n (“A n is h in a a b e
W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) ; a lso G ichi-anishinaabe,
G i c h i- a n is h in a a b e , - g na: an o ld -tim e In d ia n (W h ip p le , p ers. c o m m .).
G i c h i- m a n id o o na: G o d , G reat S p irit ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 5 4 ).
g i i g o o n h , -y a g na: fish (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 5 8 ).
g ii- z h a a g a n a s h iiy a a d iz id vai: o n e w h o is c o lo n iz e d ; o n e w h o trie s t o liv e h is o r
h er life as a n o n -n a tiv e , at th e e x p e n s e o f b e in g an A n is h in a a b e . A l s o sa id
G lo ssa r y | 193

g ii- w e m itig o z b ii a z h id (uA n ish in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) . T h e verb ste m h ere is


z h a a g a n a s h iiy a a d iz i , a v a i m e a n in g “ to b e c o lo n iz e d .”
g i i z h i k , - a g na: w h ite ced a r ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 6 1 ).

g i i z h i k a a n d a g , - o o g na: ce d a r (W h ip p le , p ers. c o m m .); ce d a r b o u g h s ( N ic h o ls a n d


N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 6 1 ).

g i i z h i k a a t i g , - o o g na: n o r th e r n w h ite ced a r, T h u ja occidcn talis L . (M c G e s h ic k ,

p ers. c o m m .).

g i k e n d a a s o w i n ni: (a n ish in a a b e ) k n o w le d g e , n o t ju st in fo r m a tio n b u t a lso th e s y n ­

th e s is o f o u r p e r so n a l te a c h in g s (“A n is h in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .

G im a a m a a n a a n ni: O u r M o th e r , refe rrin g t o M o th e r E a rth ( R o s e , pers. c o m m .),


g i m i s h o o m i s i n a a n i g na: o u r g r a n d fa th e r s ( J o h n s o n 2 0 0 6 ) .

g o o k o o k o ’o o , - g na: o w l ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 6 2 ) .
in a a d i z i w i n ni: a n ish in a a b e w ay o f b e in g , b e h a v io r , p s y c h o lo g y (“A n ish in a a b e
W o rd lis t ” 2 0 0 3 ) .
i s h k a a t ig , - o o g na: a h a r d w o o d , su g a r m a p le (M c G e s h ic k , p ers. c o m m .),

i s h k o d e k a a n , -a n ni: s o m e t h in g u se d t o tr a n sp o r t fire fr o m o n e p lace to a n o th er, a


“ lig h te r ” ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 6 9 ). M a r ie D . L iv in g s to n , w h o w ork ed

o n th e W P A p r o je c t, refers to th is as a “ m e t h o d o f c a r r y in g fire,” a n d sh e w rites


th is w o r d “ ic -k o -d c -k a n ” (W P A 1 9 3 6 - 4 0 , e n v e lo p e 8 , 3 9 ).

i z h i t w a a w i n n i: (a n ish in a a b e) c u ltu r e , t e a c h in g s , c u s t o m s , h is to r y ( “A n ish in a a b e


W o rd lis t” 2 0 0 3 ) .
j ii s a k ii vai: to d o th e sh a k in g te n t c e r e m o n y ; N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm have “p ractice

d iv in a tio n in a sh a k in g t e n t ” ( 1 9 9 5 , 2 4 5 ) .
m a d o o d i s w a n , -a n ni: s w e a tlo d g e ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 7 4 ).
m a j i- a n ii b i is li , - a g na: p o is o n ivy, R h u s r a d ic a n s L . ( R o s e , p ers. c o m m .),
m a k a k , - o o n ni: b o x , birch bark b ask et (N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 7 5 ).
m a k o o n s , -a g na: b ear cu b . D im in u tiv e o f m a k w a (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 7 6 ).
m a k w a , - g na: b ear ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 7 6 ).
m a k w a - m i s k o m in , -a n ni: b earb erry (sp e cific a lly refe rrin g to th e b erries o f th is
p la n t), A rctostaph ylos u v a -n rsi L . K e e w a y d in o q u a y w r ite s it: M tik w a -M isk o m i-
n a n , an d tra n sla tes it as “ b ear, h is red b erries” ( 1 9 7 7 , 1 0 ).
m a n i d o o , - g na: sp irit ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 7 7 ) .
m a n o o m i n ni: w ild rice (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 7 7 ) . N o te : th e e n d in g “ m in ”
s u g g e s ts th a t th is n a m e d o e s n o t refer to th e e n tir e p la n t,
m a s h k i k i , -w a n ni: m e d ic in e (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 7 8 ).
m a s h k i k i i w i k w e , - w a g na: m e d ic in e w o m a n ,
m a s h k i k i i w i n i n i , - w a g na: m e d ic in e m an .
194 | GL OS S ARY

m a s h k o s iw , -a n ni: g ra ss, hay (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 7 9 ) .


M id e w a a j im o w in ni: M id e w iw in k n o w le d g e , w h a t th e “M id e w iw in te a c h ” ( “A n i-

sh in a a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .
M i d e w i w i n ni: M id c , M id e w iw in , G ran d M e d ic in e S o c ie ty , a r e lig io u s o r g a n iz a tio n

o f th e A n is h in a a b c g (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 8 4 ).

m i g i z i , -w a g na: e a g le ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 8 4 ).

m i i n , -a n ni: b lu eb erry b erry ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 8 9 ).


m iin a w a a pc: a n d , a lso , a g a in ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 8 9 ).
m ii n a g a a w a n z h , - ii g na: b lu eb erry p la n t ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 8 9 ).

m in a ’i g , - o o g na: “h ig h la n d sp ru ce” (J o h n so n 2 0 0 6 ) . W h ite sp r u c e , P ic e a jjla u c a

(R o s e , p ers. c o m m .).
M is h i- m a k w a na: T h e g rea t bear. M e n tio n e d in th e a a d iz o o k a a n a b o u t th e c r e a tio n

o f g iiz h ik a a tig .
m is h iik e n h , -y a g na: sn a p p in g tu r tle (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 2 7 5 ) .
m i t i g , - o o g na: tree (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 8 8 ).
m i t i g o m i n , -a n ni: acorn o f th e w h ite o a k tr e e , Q iiercu s alba ( R o s e , p ers. c o m m .) ,
m i t i g o m i z h , - i i g n a: w h ite o a k tr e e , Q iiercu s a lb a (R o s e , p ers. c o m m .),
m o o k ij iw a n in ib iis h ni: sp rin g w ater (M c G e s h ic k , pers. c o m m .),

m u k w a - m is k o m in : se e m a k w a -m isk o m in .
n a m e , - w a g na: s tu r g e o n (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 9 1 ) .
N e n a b o z h o na: a c u ltu r e h e r o o f th e A n ish in a a b e g ; m a n y a a d iz o o k a a n a n are to ld

a b o u t h im . H e is a lso ca lle d by o th e r n a m e s, in c lu d in g W e n a b o z h o in M i n n e ­
so ta . O fte n sp e lle d “ N a n a b o z h o ” in E n g lish . H e is h a lf-sp irit an d h a lf-h u m a n ,
b e in g th e so n o f a m a n id o o w h o c o n tr o ls th e W est W in d an d an A n is h in a a b c
w o m a n (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 8 ) .
n i g i g , -w a g na: o tte r (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 9 6 ) .
N iiy a w e n ’e n h , -y a g na: m y n a m esa k e (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 101).
N i m i s h o o m i s w iig w a a s na: G ran d fath er b irch, B etu la P apyrifera M arsh (K ec w a y -
d in o q u a y 1 9 9 0 a ). K eew ayd in oq u ay says th a t th is tree ca m e to th e A n is h in a a b e g
m u ch later th a n so m e o f th e o th e r trees, so i f o n e w as in te n d in g to u se a fa m ilia l
rela tio n sh ip n a m e in reference to th e b irch , it w o u ld m ak e se n se to u se “ u n c le ,”
b u t sh e a d d s, “ b ecau se o f h is tr e m e n d o u s im p o rta n ce an d th e term s g r a n d fa th e r
an d g r a n d m o th e r b e in g term s o f resp ect, h e ’s called g ra n d fa th er b irch ” ( 1 9 8 8 ) .
N o o k o m i s g i i z h i k na: G r a n d m o th e r ced ar, Thu ja o cciden talism . (K e e w a y d in o q u a y
1 9 8 8 ).
o g i i s h k i m a n i s i i , - g na: k in g fish er (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 0 5 ).
O j i b w e m o w in ni: th e O jib w e la n g u a g e ( N ic h o ls and N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 0 5 ).
G lo ssa r y | 195

o m a k a k i i , - g n a : fr o g ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 0 6 ).

o m a k a k iib a g : fr o g leaf. wM u k ik c c b u g (fr o g p e ta l)” id e n tifie d as “jc w e lw e e d ” (Z ic h -

m a n is a n d H o d g in s 1 9 8 2 , 2 6 3 ) , Im p a ticn s capensis M ce rb . a n d / o r Im p a tic n s


p a l li d a .3
o s h k a a b e w i s , - a g na: tr a d itio n a lly tr a in e d a p p ren tice (M . G e n iu s z , p ers. c o m m .);

c e r e m o n ia l a tte n d a n t, c e r e m o n ia l m e sse n g e r ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 0 ).

o z h a a b o o m i n , - a n ni: b erry o f g o o s e b e r r y p la n t. K ib es oxyacanth oidcs ( R o s e , p ers.


c o m m .).

o z h a a b o o m i n a g a n z h , - a g n a: g o o s e b e r r y p la n t, R ib e s oxyacanth oides ( R o s e , pers.

c o m m .).

w a a b o o z , - o o g na: rab b it ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 5 ).
w a a g i n i g a a n , -a n ni: d o m e d lo d g e , w ig w a m (M c G e s h ic k , pers. c o m m .),

w a a g i n o g a a n , - a n ni: d o m e d lo d g e , w ig w a m ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 6 ).
w a a p i j ip iz o n , - a n ni: m o s s b a g , w h a t b ab y is tie d in b e fo r e b e in g tie d in to th e d ik i-

n a a g a n (crad le b o a rd ) ( R o s e , p ers. c o m m .), R o n G e y sh ic k has: aw a p ig ijib iz u n *

( 1 9 8 9 , 2 2 ).
w a a s w a a g a n , -a n ni: h a n d h e ld to r c h (M c G e s h ic k , p ers. c o m m .; N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm

1 9 9 5 ,1 1 7 ).
W a a s w a a g a n in g ni: n a m e for L ac d u F la m b e a u R e se r v a tio n in W is c o n s in , w h ic h
c o m e s fro m th e n a m e fo r a h a n d h e ld torch : w a a sw a a g a n (M c G e s h ic k , p ers.

c o m m .).
w a a w a a b ig a n o o j i in h , -y a g na: m o u s e ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 7 ) .
w a d a b , - i i g na: sp ru ce r o o t u se d for s e w in g ( R o s e , p ers. c o m m .; N ic h o ls an d
N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 3 ).
w a w a a z is ii, - g na: b u llh e a d ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 5 1 ) .
w a z h a s h k , - w a g na: m u sk rat ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 4 ).
W e n a b o z h o na: a c u ltu r a l h ero o f th e A n ish in a a b c g ; m a n y a a d iz o o k a a n a n are to ld
a b o u t h im . H e is a lso c a lle d b y o th e r n a m e s , in c lu d in g N c n a b o z h o ( N ic h o ls a n d

N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 8 ).
w i i g i w a a m , -a n ni: w ig w a m ; lo d g e ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 8 ). A sh e lte r
p e o p le live in th a t is sh a p e d lik e a c o n e (R o s e , p ers. c o m m .),
w i i g o b , - ii n ni: b a s sw o o d fib er, th e in n e r bark o f th e b a s sw o o d tree u s e d fo r s e w in g
b irch bark (R o s e , p ers. c o m m .; N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 9 ).

3. Zichmanis and Hodgins also refer to this plant by a French name, Chou sauvage, which
they say they identified in Flore Lauren tine. In this text, aChou sauvage* is identified as Impa­
tient capensis Merrb (Maric-Victorin 1964, 399-400).
196 | GLOSSARY

w i i g o b a a t i g , - o o g n a: b a s sw o o d tr e e , T ilia a m c ric a n a (M c G c s h ic k , p ers. c o m m .;

N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 9 ).

w i i g w a a s , - a g na: b irch tree ( N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 9 ) .

w i i g w a a s , - a n ni: b irch bark ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 9 ; M c G e s h ic k , p ers.

c o m m .).
w iig w a a s a a t i g , - o o g na: b irch tr e e , B e tn la p a p y rife ra M a rsh . (R o s e , p ers. c o m m .),

w iig w a a s a b a k w a y , -a n ni: b irch bark co v e r in g ; roll o f b irch bark r o o fin g ( N ic h o ls

a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 9 ; W h ip p le 2 0 0 6 b ) .
w iig v v a a s ib a k , - o o n : ni: birch bark c o v e r in g s for lo d g e s (R o s e , p ers. c o m m .),

w iig w a a s i- j iim a a n , -a n ni: birch bark c a n o e (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 9 ) .


w iig w a a s i- m a k a k o o n , - o o n ni: birch bark b o x , b irch bark b a sk et ( N ic h o ls a n d

N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 9 ).
w iig w a a s i- m it i g , - o o g na: b irch tr e e , B e tn la p a p y rife ra M a rsh . (M c G e s h ic k , p ers.
c o m m .; N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 9 ) .
w iik o n g e vai: t o g iv e a feast ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 1 9 ). D e n n is J o n e s says
th is term is u se d g en era lly , w h e n o n e is g iv in g a fea st b u t n o t sp e c ific a lly s a y in g
w h o th a t fea st is for (p ers. c o m m .),
w i i n z o w i n , - a n ni: (A n ish in a a b c ) n a m e. N o u n form o f w i i n z o , a v a i m e a n in g

“h ave a n a m e ” (N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 2 0 ) .
w ii s k i w i z i vai: to liv e in b a la n ce, to b eh ave n a tu ra lly ( “A n is h in a a b e W o r d lis t”
2 0 0 3 ) . E ty m o lo g y u n c e r ta in ,
z a k a ’a a g a n , -a n ni: h e a d lig h t torch (M c G e s h ic k , p ers. c o m m .).
Z a k a ’a a g a n in g ni: n a m e for M o le L ak e R e se r v a tio n in W is c o n s in , w h ic h c o m e s
fro m th e n a m e for h e a d lig h t torch : z a k a ’a a g a n (M c G e s h ic k , p ers. c o m m .),
z h a a g a n a s h iiy a a d iz i vai: to b e c o lo n iz e d , t o try to live o n e ’s life as a n o n -n a tiv e , at
th e e x p e n se o f b e in g an A n ish in a a b e ; a lso said w e m ittg o z h iiy a a z h i ( “A n is h in a ­
a b e W o r d list” 2 0 0 3 ) .
z h a w e n d a a g o z i vai: to b e b le sse d , p itie d , o r fo r tu n a te ( N ic h o ls a n d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 ,
1 2 4 ).
z iin z ib a a k w a d ni: m ap le su g a r (N ic h o ls an d N y h o lm 1 9 9 5 , 1 2 9 ) .
References

INTERVIEWEES

R ic h a r d F o rd

M a r y G e n iu s z

L aura H o r to n
K en J o h n s o n , Sr.

D e n n is J o n es
P ete r K a u fm a n
G e o r g e M c G c s h ic k , Sr.

J o h n D . N ic h o ls
R o se

H e le n H o r n b e c k T a n n e r
D o r a D o r o t h y W h ip p le

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Index

Note: This is a decolonized index. It is hoped that it will serve as a model for future decolonized
texts. As described in this book, the mechanisms of colonization have often bestowed the title
o f “expert” on researchers of indigenous knowledge rather than on the indigenous peoples
themselves. One of the goals of decolonizing indigenous knowledge is to give proper credit to
the people from whom these teachings came. Thus, in this index the names of researchers are
listed but so arc the names of their native consultants. Information given by each native con­
sultant is listed under his or her name rather than under the name o f the researcher, although
cross-references are made. Another key aspect of decolonization is giving the proper respect
to indigenous knowledge and to the origins of that knowledge as given by indigenous people.
As explained in this book, Anishinaabe teachings tell us that many spirits, plants, and animals
have shared information with us. Therefore, all of these beings arc given separate entries in this
index, often widi subheadings describing the information they have given to us.

Italic page numbers denote illustrations,

aadizookaan, 10,121-22, 125, 126-27 BAE (Bureau of American Ethnology),


aasaakamig. See moss, swamp (aasaakamig) 20-23
(Sphagnum spp.) balsam fir (Abies balsamca)J 34-35,
anishinaabc-gikendaasowin. See 46-47, 147n. 11
gikendaasowin bear (makwa), 31, 58, 69-70
anishinaabe-inaadiziwin. See inaadiziwin bearberry (makwa mishkomin) (Arctos-
anishinaabc-izhitwaawin. See izhitwaawin taphylos ttva-ursi): cooking and eating
Anishinaabemowin, 10; and concepts of berry of, 31; illustration of, 124;
animate and inanimate, 56, 59; and importance o f “bear” in name of, 70;
plant lists, 113-16; as vehicle of izhit­ as ingredient essential in kinnikinnick,
waawin, 112 142-43; and treatment of diabetes mel
asemaa (tobacco): and essential ingredi­ litus, 4 3 -4 4
ents, 142; offering, 55, 131, 160, 165; Bcnton-Banai, Edward, 11, 98
origin story of, 68; use of, 55, 60. See birch, paper (wiigwaasi-mitig) (Betula
also kinnikinnick papyrifera): baby bathtub, 145;

207
208 I INDEX

birch, paper (wiigwaasi-mitig) (cotit.) disinfectant, 39-40,146; edible quali­


canoe skin, 154; and connection to ties, 147; and fire-starting bow drills,
Nenabozho, 136-40, 142; dishes, 150-51; as fire carrier, 150; gathering
143; fire starter, 149; “fortune tell­ inner bark of, 169-171; illustration
ing” medicine, 143; gathering of, of, 122; mats, 147,152-53,171-82;
183-84; “good luck” medicine, life brought to Anishinaabc by, 144;
143; illustration of, 123; liner for medicines, 146, 155-56,166-69; oil,
cedar food storage bags, 149; maple 144- 45; prevents spoilage and molding,
sugar cones, 148; Midewiwin scrolls, 149; song, 73-74, 121-25; tea, 145,
80, 81, 84, 143; roof covering for 145- 46n. 8, 165-66; and teachings for
dwellings, 149, 152-53, 185-86; youth, 125; as Vitamin C source, 145
sap boiled to syrup, 147; and storing “Cedar Song.” See “Nookomis Giizhik:
food, 149, 185; torches for hunting or The Cedar Song”
spear fishing, 152, 186-87; waapijipi- Chippewa Child Life. See Hilgcr, Sister
zon (moss bag) tray, 145, 184-85 Mary Inez
Biskaabiiyang, 12; and need for new “Chippewa Mat-weaving Techniques.” See
decolonized research, 51; and research­ Petersen, Karen Daniels
er’s self-reflection, 9-10, 51-52, colonization: and chronic ethnocentricity,
105-6, 120 97-98; controlling image of indigenous
Blackbird, Andrew, Jr., 18-19 people, 90; and denial of existence of
blueberry (Vaccinium anjjustifolium), 43, anishinaabc culture, 96; and deperson­
44, 84 alization of indigenous individual, 99;
Boisoncau, Alec, 36 description of in Ojibwc language, 159;
Boisoncau,Thcophile, 36 and fragmentation of knowledge, 101;
Brazil, rubber industry, 16-17 of human remains, 89-90; internalized/
Brockway, Lucilc, 3,16 of self, 2-3, 9 0 -9 2 ,1 5 9 -6 0 ; of land
butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberom), 116-17 and resources, 89; negating indigenous
histories, 95; as protection against evil,
90; seeing indigenous knowledge not
Casagrandc, Joseph B. See Mink, John worthy of retaining, 92; and titles of
catnip (Nepeta cataria) 38 “expert,” 97
cattail (Typba latifolin L.): denial of colonized text, 3,19; and dangerous
permission to harvest, 64; diapering abbreviations, 4, 23, 25, 102-4, 107,
material 30, 57-58; insulating material, 108; definition of, 4 -5 ; and degrading
79; mats, 32, 153; pollution in, 109 statements about indigenous people,
cedar, white (giishikaatig) (Thuja occiden- 3,109; and documentation of “dying”
talis): aid in maintaining balance in cultures, 24, 32; inaccurate informa­
inaaadiziwin, 160; and canoes, 154; tion in, 107; and need to decolonize,
connection to Nenabozho, 142; cord­ 6, 51; and past tense, 110; and tool for
age, 148,171; creation of, 126-36; as cultural revitalization, 5, 44
In d ex | 209

Colonizer and the Colonized, The. See Field Guide to the Ethnological Study o f
Mcmmi, Albert Child Life. See Hilgcr, Sister Mary Inez
Crandall, Sister Mary, 34 frog (omakakii), 69
cultural revitalization, 3, 8, 52 fungi, polyporus shelf, 151n. 15

decolonization o f self, 7, 8, 9, 51, 160-61 Geniusz, Mary Siisip, xii-xiii; pm aadizoo-


Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and kaan, 126; on birch sap boiled to syrup,
Indigenous Peoples, 1-2,10 147; on anishinaabc writing, 83; on
Dcloria, Vine, Jr., 158-59, 161 cooking of bearberry, 31; on coverings
Denomie, Fiorina, 149 for roofs and wall of dwellings, 153;
Densmore, Frances, 23-27, 30; and BAE, dangers of pollution teachings given
24; considered expert on anishina- by, 109; directions for making cordage
abe culture, 100; denial of existence from stinging nettles by, 148n. 12;
of Midcwiwin by, 96; description of interconnectedness teachings given
guarded plant knowledge, 66; descrip­ by, 57; modernization of traditional
tion of sacrcdncss of cedar and birch, medicines teachings given by, 119; on
141-42; difficulties in working with personal notebooks, 80, 81, 82, 83;
plant names collected by, 113; divi­ purchasing gikcndaasowin descriptions
sions of songs from plant knowledge, given by, 86, 87-89; root-gathering
101; fragmentation and abbreviation song description given by, 62; skunk
of knowledge, 103; manipulation of oil as mashkiki (medicine) descrip­
informants, 98-99; on purchasing of tion given by, 54; on sphagnum moss
knowledge, 86; pm songs used in heal­ (aasakamig) diapering material, 145;
ings, 74 on spring water as part of mashkiki
dibaajimowin, 10 (medicine), 53; on trading knowledge
Doctrine of Signatures, 71 between Midcwiwin peers, 87; on ways
Doyle, Judith, 46 to work with cedar, 74-75, 146-47,
dream catcher, 5, 5n. 2 148,150-51
dreams, 68-69, 71, 80 Gcyshick, Ron, 46-47; on cradlcboard
made of birch, 145; on healing powers
given by spirits, 66, 67; on purchasing
Erdrich, Louise, 76 knowledge, 86
cthnobotany, definition of, 37 giizhikaatig. See cedar, white (giishikaatig)
“Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians.” (Thuja occidcntalis)
See Smith, Huron H. gikendaasowin, 10,11-12, 64; acquisi­
tion of, 70-72; animals as source,
69-70; cross-checked with anishinaabe
Fanon, Frantz, 7,100 sourccs/clders/tcachings, 52; dreams
Farmer, George, 18, 27-28, 82, 98,102 as source of, 68; fragmentation of, 102;
210 | INDEX

gikcndaasowin (cont.) imperialism, 1, 3


maintained within izhitwaawin, 51; inaadiziwin, 10,11; animate and inanimate
not obtained by random experimenta­ within, 56; balance as major component
tion, 70-72; and poisonous plants 103; of, 159; and interconnectedness of
and purchasing, 86-88; reclaimed creation, 57; necessity of plant knowl­
from colonized texts, 51; retention edge to, 52
of, 72-75, 79-86; transmission of in izhitwaawin, 10,11, 58, 63
childhood, 125
gikcndaasowin, decolonization of:
acknowledgment of sources, 99,110; Jackson, Jim, 65-66
choosing sources, 116-20; and ciders, Jackson, Susan, 77-78
106, 111, 115-16,141; ideas on how James, Edwin, 17-18, 113-14. See also
much to use, revitalize, and teach, Harrativc of the Captivity and Adven­
117-19; taking into account pollution, tures o f John Tanner, A; Tanner, John
106; and use of colonized sources, 106, jcwelwccd (omakakiibag) (Impatient
107 capensis Mecrb.), 69
Gilmore, Melvin R, 39-40; abbreviations Johnson, Ken, Sr. (Waascbines), xiv, 11,
of plant knowledge made by, 103; cedar 55, 56,160
used as disinfectant description given Johnston, Basil: 11, 57, 67, 69
by, 146; difficulties in working with Jones, Dennis (Pebaamibincs), 63, 78
plant names collected by, 114; izhit­ Jones, Volney H urt, 4 0 -4 2 , 169, 170, 171
waawin as no longer existent explana­
tion given by, 96, 110
GLIFWC (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Kaupapa Maori, 7, 8,10
Wildlife Commission), 47. See also Keewaydinoquay, xi-xii, 42-45; on aadi-
Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa zookaan, 126; on animals as source
goldthread (Coptis trtfolia [L.] Salib.), of plant/mcdicinc knowledge, 69; on
117-18 anishinaabe writing, 83-86, 84; appren­
ticed to Nodjimahkwc, 80; on balance
as major component of inaadiziwin, 159;
harvesting plants, denial of permission to, on bear as chief medicine spirit teaching,
63 -6 4 70; on cooking of bearberry, 31; dangers
Hilger, Sister Mary Inez, 28-30, 145 of pollution teaching given by, 109;
History of the Ottawa. See Blackbird, defense of anishinaabe writing system
Andrew, Jr. given by, 94; on denial of permission
Hoffman, Walter James, 23,92-93; to harvest plants, 63-64; on difference
believed anishinaabc knowledge would between inaadiziwin and nonnativc
soon be lost, 104; birch bark scrolls philosophies, 59; on drum for healing,
description given by 84; informants 75; on familial term for Grandmother
and communities not cited by, 99 Cedar, 157; on guarded versus public
Index | 211

knowledge, 63-64,65; on importance Marksman, Peter. See Wilson, Joe


of knowing descent of knowledge, 78; mashkiki (medicine), non-plant, 53-55
importance of physical and spiritual McGeshick, George, Sr., xiii; on birch bark
healing, 61; on importance of teaching sugar cones, 148; and canoe building,
virtues of plants, 116-17; on indicator of 154; on drum for Chicaugon Chip­
cedar presence, 147; on keeping balance pewa Heritage Council, 75; dwellings
in izhitwaawin, 58-59; modernization described by, 152, 153; and gathering
of recipes by, 119; on need for proper o f birch bark, 183-84; on guarded
identification of plants, 107; on offerings plant knowledge, 66; on plant names,
to plants, 60-61; on personal knowl­ 115; on torches for spear fishing and
edge necessary to validate teaching, 78; hunting, 152, 152n. 18
on plants as aids to achieving balance, Memmi, Albert, 90, 99
159-160; on polyporus shelf fungi to MideOgema, 43, 75, 78, 85. See also
carry fire, 151,151n. 15; on purchasing Kecwaydinoquay
knowledge, 88; training of apprentices, Midewiwin, 11,23; and birch bark scrolls,
80; on virtues of cedar shared with 143; connection to Nenobozho, 67;
Anishinaabc, 121,141,142; on ways and drum for healing, 75; and guarded
to work with cedar, 142-43,144-45, plant knowledge, 65; and healing songs,
145-46n. 8,146,147,148,149,155-56 74
kinnikinnick, 55, 142, 143, 146 “Midewiwin, or ‘Grand Medicine Society’
knowledge, botanical, 14; colonized, 3, o f the Ojibwa, The.” See Hoffman,
33; divided into separate disciplines, Walter James
28; documentation of, 17; fueling Mi’jakiya’cig, 74,102
imperial efforts, 3, 16; indigenous, 3; milkweed, 36
integral part of decolonization proc­ Min: Anishinaabc Ogimaawi-minan:
ess, 52; preservation of indigenous Blueberry: First Fruit o f the People.
knowledge, 3, 32, 33; use in cultural See Kecwaydinoquay
revitalization, 3, 8; viewed as primitive/ Mink, John, 5 7 -5 8 ,6 1 ,8 7
inferior, 3, 52 Mitchell, Emma or Ethel, 65
moss, swamp (aasaakamig) (Sphagnum
spp.), 2 9 -3 0 ,6 0 , 145, 184
Living Our Language: Ojibwe Tales and motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), 79
Oral Histories, 77 MukivaMishkomin or Kinnickinnick: aGift
LoonHeart, Grandfather, 31 o f Bear* See Keewaydi noquay
Murphy, Sister Macaria, 34
Mustache, James “Pipe ” See Pipe Mustache,
Maingans, 25, 62n. 6; song, root gather­ James
ing, 62-63
makwa mishkomin. See bearberry (makwa
mishkomin) (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Nanabush. See Ncnabozho
212 | INDEX

Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures containers to boil liquids in, 148-49;
o f John Tanner, A, 17, 119. See also on birch bark liner for cedar storage
James, Edwin; Tanner, John baskets, 149; on birch bark roofing and
Ncnabozho, 11; connection to cedar and wall coverings, 153; on dreams at first
birch, 141-42; creating mandaamin menses as source of plant knowledge,
(corn), 95-96; as integral part of izhit- 68; on food storage, 149, 185; and
waawin, 95; kills thunderbird babies hunting deer in winter, 59; on method
and discovers birch bark qualities, of cooking fish wrapped in birch bark,
136-40; plant and healing knowledge 149; and not wasting a kill, 59; and
given by, 67, 71; root-gathering song purchasing knowledge, 87; on skunk
given by, 62; stuck in bear skull, 72-73 oil as non-plant mashkiki (medicine),
Ncncbuc. See Nenabozho 54. See also Wheeler-Vocgclin, Erminie
nettles, stinging (Urtica dioica sppg r a c i­
lis), 148n. 12
Nodjimahkwc, 43-44; and anishinaabe Peschcl, Margaret. See Kcewaydinoquay
writing system 81,84; on asemaa Petersen, Karen Daniels, 32-33, 170-74
(tobacco) offering in plant gathering, Pipe Mustache, James, 63, 80
61; diabetes mellitus treatment given by, “Plants Used by the Bois Fort Chippewa
43-44; and modernization of traditional (Ojibwa) Indians o f M innesota.”
medicine recipes, 119,155; and personal See Reagan, Albert B.
medicine books and scrolls, 81; and Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa, 6,
proper relationship to plants, 60; taking 4 7 -4 8 ,47n. 20,114-15
Keewaydinoquav as apprentice, xi-xii, puffball fungi, 79
79-80; teachings of importance of bear
in plant name given by, 70
non-plant mashkiki (medicine), 53-55 Radin, Paul, 6 8 ,7 1 ,1 1 2 ,1 5 0
Nookonns Giizhik, See cedar, white Razer, Mary, 142
(giishikaatig) (Thuja occidentalis) Reagan, Albert B,, 27-28, 81-82, 102.
“Nookomis Giizhik: The Cedar Song,” See also Farmer, George
121-25; translations of, 73-74, Rose (Anishinaabe elder), xiv; on animate
1 4 0-41,143-44,154-55, 157 and inanimate words for plants, 59; on
bare ground dwelling as spiritual aid,
153; and basswood fiber, 185; on birch
Oakgrovc, Collins, 77 bark roofing material, 153, 185-86;
offerings to plants and penalty for not explanation for why parts of plants
offering, 60-62 do not have to have names given by,
omakakiibag. Srr jewelwccd (omakakiibag) 118; on peaked lodge, 152-53; and
(Impatiens capcnsis Mcerb.) plant names, 115; on sphagnum moss
Osogwin, Katherine, 36; on alternative (aasaakamig) as diapering material, 145
lodge covering, 152; on birch bark Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, 3, 16
Index | 213

Science and Colonial Expansion: The Role “Some Chippewa Uses of Plants.” See
of the British Royal Botanical Gardens, 3 Gilmore, Melvin R.
Seven Generations Education Institute, Speck, Frank, 72-73
8-9, 29 spring water as mashkiki (medicine),
skunk oil as mashkiki (medicine), 54-55, 53-54
55n. 2 spruce (mina’ig) (Piccajlauca [Mocnch]
Smith, Huron H ., 37-38; and apprentice­ Voss), 160
ships under medicine person, 80; and Stories by an Ojibway Healer: Te Bwe Win:
cedar and birch “worship,” 142; on Truth. See Gcyshick, Ron
descent o f knowledge through genera­ Stowe, Gerald C., 30-32, 111
tions, 76; difficulties in working with sweetgrass, 3 2 -3 3 ,4 1 -4 2
plant names collected by, 114; and
dreams, 68-69, 80; on guarding plant
knowledge, 66; negates Anishinaabc Tanner, John, 13n. 1,17-18,113-14.
history, 95-96; negative remarks about See also James, Edwin; Narrative of
Anishinaabc people and culture given the Captivity and Adventures o f John
by, 95; and Nenabozho instructing Tanner; A
Anishinaabe, 62, 67; and non-plant Tobasonakwut, 76
mashkiki (medicine), 54; on offerings Treucr, Anton, 77
to spirit before plant gathering, 61; on
purchasing medicinal knowledge, 87,
87n. 21; root-gathering song presented Vennum, Thomas, Jr., 4 5 -4 6
by, 62; and testing dream given plant
knowlcdgc/medicinc, 71
Smith, Linda Tuhiwai, 1,2; and coloniza­ Wcnabozho. See Nenabozho
tion of self, 9-10; and continuation Wheeler-Vocgclin, Erminic, 35-37, 71.
of culture, 119; and descriptions of See also Osogwin, Katherine; Williams,
indigenous knowledge targeted by Angeline
colonizers, 92; and descriptions of Whipple, Dora Dorothy, xiii-xiv; on
indigenous peoples as non-human, 91; asemaa offerings, 55, 60, 76; on cedar,
and descriptions of negated indigenous 141,145; on dangers of pollution, 109;
histories, 95; and descriptions of and descent of knowledge, 76; dreams
negated indigenous intelligence, 91; imparting medicine power, 68; feasting
and different objectives for indigenous and ceremony for harvesting o f plants,
research, 7-8; and expertise on 63; guarded vs. public knowledge,
indigenous peoples, 97; and indigenous 6 5 -6 6 ; importance o f teaching people
informants, 97, 99-100 how to do something described by,
Smithsonian Institution, 20 140; skunk oil as non-plant mashkiki
“Some Chippewa and Ottawa Uses of (medicine) described by, 54-55; spring
Sweet Grass.” See Jones, Volncy H urt water as mashkiki described by, 5 3 -5 4
214 I NDEX

Whitcfeathcr, John, 67 asemaa, 68; on penalty for not giving


wiigwaas. See birch, paper (wiigwaasi-mitig) offering in plant gathering, 61-62;
(Betula papyrifera) and purchasing knowledge, 8 6 -87;
wiigwaasaatig. Sec birch, paper (wiigwaasi- on use o f fire to find lost person,
mitig) (Bctula papyrifera) 152
wiigwaasi-mitig. See birch, paper (wiigwaasi- Wilson, Joe, 152, 186
mitig) (Betula papyrifera) Winabojo. See Ncnabozho
Wild Rice and the Ojibway People3 4 5 -4 6 WPA (Work Projects Administration)
Williams, Angclinc, 36; and birch bark, Indian Research Project, 34
143; and dreams, 68; and origin of Wretched o f the Earth, 7

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