My giwaa directed me to read the Mishomis Book written about the history and teachings of our people, the Ojibwe.
This book is fantastic! Edward Benton-Banai wrote this book so that in sharing these teachings, together we can begin our journey to rediscover a way of life that is centered on the respect for all living things.
I love how he puts this journey as one to find the center of ourselves, so that we can know the peace that comes from living in harmony with the energy of the Universe.
“…with the teachings of yesterday we can better prepare ourselves for the uncertainties of tomorrow.”
The first chapter is about the Ojibwe Creation Story, how man was created on this earth. Ojibwe stories were usually handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation, and sometimes recorded on scrolls made from wee’gwas (birchbark).
“When Ah-ki’ (the earth) was young, it was said that the Earth had a family. Nee-ba-gee’-sis (the Moon) is called Grandmother, and Gee’-sis (the Sun) is called Grandfather. The Creator of this family is called Gi’-tchie Man-i-to’ (Great Mystery or Creator).”
As in many cultures, the Earth is said to be a woman because from her come all living things.
Water is her life blood, flowing through her, nourishing and purifying her, and with her all living things.
The Creator gave the Four Sacred Directions to the Earth, North, South, East and West, each with physical and spiritual powers. He then sent the birds to carry the seeds of life to all of the Four Directions to spread life across the Earth. On earth he placed the swimming creatures of the water, gave life to the plant and insect world, placed the crawling things and four-leggeds on the land. All of these parts of life lived in harmony with each other.
Gitchie Manito then took the four parts of Mother Earth and blew into them using a Sacred Shell…the Megis Shell. From the union of the Four Sacred Elements and his breath, man was created, and lowered to the Earth as the last form of life to be placed on Earth. From this Original Man came the A-nish-i-na’-be people.
In the Ojibwe language if you break down the work Anishinabe it translates to “people from whence lowered.” Another definition refers to “the good humans,” meaning those who are on the right road or path given to them by the Creator. The Ojibwe historian, linguist, and author Basil Johnston wrote that its literal translation is “Beings Made Out of Nothing” or “Spontaneous Beings,” since the Anishinabe were created by divine breath.
The Original man was created in the image of Gitchi Manito. He was a natural man, apart of Mother Earth, living in brotherhood with all that was around him.
All tribes came from this Original Man. The Ojibwe are a tribe because of the way we speak, believing that we are nee-kon’-nis-ug’ (brothers) with all tribes, separated only by our tongue or language. No one way is better than another.
There are many roads to the High Place. The teachings of one tribe will shed light on those of another.
This knowledge runs through my veins, and is one of the reasons why I am going to North Dakota. To know my native language, teachings and ceremonies so that I will be able to pass this sacred way of living on to my children and all that I encounter along my path.