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Hope for Life in the Great Lakes (guest post by Elizabeth LaPensée)

 
Picture of Marilena Peters
Hope for Life in the Great Lakes (guest post by Elizabeth LaPensée)
by Marilena Peters - 23 January 2018
 

Anishinaabeg (Anishinaabe people) understand that we are all connected. Impact on one eco-system echoes to another. As climate change creates shifts in our communities in Gichigamiin (the Great Lakes), we offer good thoughts for the healing of those most affected recently, including nibi (water), wiigwaas (birch bark), mooz (moose), namegos (trout), and manoomin (wild rice).

The ones who seek healing

Nenda-noojimojig - The Ones Who Seek Healing. Elizabeth LaPensée, Anishaabe & Métis. Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, 2016.

Wiigwaas (birch bark) is fused with water in the landscape. Wiigwaasaatigoog (birch trees) grow in many ways across many eco-systems. Birch is used for many things including makakoon (baskets), jiimaanan (canoes), and mashkiki (medicine). Wiigwaasaatigoog are disappearing so fast that some jiimaanan need to be made from wiigwaas (birch bark) from other territories (even as far as other countries). Properly gathering wiigwaas so as to not kill wiigwaasaatigoog and planting wiigwaasaatigoog in places that still have deep winters can help.

»Anishinaabeg (Anishinaabe people) understand that we are all connected. Impact on one eco-system echoes to another.«

Made of wiigwaas is a flower with five petals, the floral representing women, sitting within Nookomis Giizis (Grandmother Moon). We are grateful for our Anishinaabekweg (Anishinaabe women) who walk and sing for the water. Sharing water teachings and songs is vital for us all. Nookomis Giizis influences the movements of the waters, which rise each day from melting land ice and expanding sea water. In turn, all movements on and around Nookomis Giizis can change the direction and motion of the waters.

In the stars beside Nookomis Giizis is the Mooz (moose) constellation, who returns in the fall and watches over the ones who walk, swim, crawl, and fly below. Mooz represents ongoing survival. Yet, mooz on the land are disappearing rapidly due to climate change. We hope for mooz to continue on with endurance.

»Namegos has long provided nourishment to our people and for this we honor them today through restoration efforts and climate change research.«

Mooz looks down at namegos (trout), who swims and leaps. Namegos has long provided nourishment to our people and for this we honor them today through restoration efforts and climate change research. Namegos thrive best in cool/cold water.

Namegos swims towards shallower water where manoomin (wild rice) grows. Manoomin is essential as food and medicine for our people. We are here at these waters thanks to this sacred nourishment. We respect manoomin by caring for the waters, removing invasive plants to allow the stalks to grow, and being gentle when we knock the stalks for rice.

While there is change, there is also hope for healing.

Nenda-noojimojig. The ones who seek healing.


Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. (http://www.elizabethlapensee.com/) is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and studies Indigenous-led media such as games and comics. She is Anishinaabe from Baawaating with relations at Bay Mills Indian Community and Métis. She is an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University.