Posts Tagged ‘Ojibwe’

One question that we get from time to time is “Are you really Indian?”  Robert is a direct lineal descendent of Black Elk (Chippewa). He is of Chippewa/Ojibwe and Apache heritage.  His family traces back over eleven generations to the Swan Creek/Black River Bands of Michigan, known today as the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. The Chippewa/Ojibwe refer to themselves as “Anishinaabe” (The People).

Terri Lynn is French, Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh. She was recently told that her maternal grandmother said she was an American Indian, but because she was adopted from the orphan train and raised by another family, we know little about her. Terri wears the traditional buckskin dress during ceremonies and teachings, to honor her husband’s family. The dress belonged to her mother-in-law, Akwagiishnuquay (End Of Day Woman). When they married, she was given the command, “You are now one of us, go teach with your husband. This is the traditional way of our People.”

White Shield, An Arikara Chief said it better than we ever could:

The color of the skin makes no difference.  What is good and just for one is good and just for the other, and the Great Spirit made all men brothers. I have a red skin, but my grandfather was a white man. What does it matter?  It is not the color of the skin that makes me good or bad.

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Dennis Banks, a Native American leader is an Anishinaabe born on Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota. Banks is also known as Nowa Cumig; his name in the Ojibwe language means “In the Center of the Ground.”


In 1968 he co-founded the American Indian Movement (AIM), and established it to protect the traditional ways of Indian people and to engage in legal cases protecting treaty rights of Natives, such as hunting and fishing, trapping, and wild rice farming.


He participated in the 1969–1971 occupation of Alcatraz Island. In 1972 he assisted in the organization of AIM’s “Trail of Broken Treaties”, a caravan across the U.S. to Washington, D.C. to call attention to the plight of Native Americans.


He also spearheaded the movement on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1973 to oust the corrupt government-appointed chairman. These activities led to the occupation of Wounded Knee and a siege of 71 days, which received national attention. Banks was the principal negotiator and leader of the Wounded Knee forces.


Dennis is really a special person in our lives. Many years ago, the year we celebrated Grandpa Frank Fools Crow’s birthday with the Paha Sapa concert in Rapid City, my (Terri’s) car broke down on the way to Dennis’ house. He sent someone to pick me up, all the way across the state in Chamberlin. I was going through a hard time then, and he was always there for me. He loaned me his limosine for a couple months so I’d have a car to drive! Now that was funny, from a broken down pony to a limosine:-)


We love this quote from him:


“Since the beginning, Native Peoples lived a life of being in harmony with all that surrounds us. It is a belief that all humankind are related to each other. Each has a purpose, spirit and sacredness. It is an understanding with the Great Spirit or Creator that we will follow these ways. And in this understanding we believe we are related to all other living species: the Winged Ones, the Four Leggeds, the Plantlife, and all other elements of life, Air-Fire-Water, the Sun-Moon-Stars are there to guide us.


The Creator also gave us special instructions on how to live with one another, how the women are to care for the future generations, how the men are to provide for the generations today and tomorrow.


These instructions and understandings have been the base of our spiritual ways – we have come to practice them daily. This philosophy has endured and cared for us, and we shall never abandon it. Never!”



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Who are these people? That’s a question we saw floating around the ‘net about us today. Kind of made us smile…

That’s the best thing about being young. Not just young, even young at heart. There’s a natural sense of wonder…curiousity…that always pulls you forward. That’s a beautiful thing. It’s what we love most about being around children. They’re not afraid to just ask you straight up – there’s no pretense to it. Gotta love that!

It’s gotten really hard to trust that people are real today. There’s so many people pretending to be someone or something they’re not, just so they can feel like they “fit” somewhere. We knew a guy who created a whole “alter ego” on the internet. Like who he was just wasn’t good enough. That’s pretty sad. Mother Theresa once said, “The greatest disease on the planet is loneliness.”

And there have been many who have taken what doesn’t belong to them. There’s alot of unresolved grief from that. That kind of hurt takes a long time to heal. And it’s hard to heal a wound that keeps getting scratched open over and over again.

We are so blessed. We have the support of our family and in our culture, that’s so important. Wherever we go, before we speak we lay down a hand woven rug we were gifted from our clan matriarch, Akwagiishnaquay (Robert’s mother). She gave us permission to go out and speak about the things we share…and she told us to take that rug and stand on it, so that no matter where we are we will always know that we are not alone, that we are being held up by our family and our ancestors. Niishin…it is good!

So if you’re wondering about who we are and where we’re coming from (aniin di wayn jih bayan), we welcome you to come on in.  This internet “technology” is pretty new to us, so please be patient. We are doing the best that we can. From the generosity of others, we’ve had a site up for many years, but only recently started sending out messages and connecting with the world this way. But we’ve been walking this road for a long, long time – and we are grateful to our elders who have given us permission to share their wisdom with the world. Miigwech (Thank you)

Nin dinaway maganug (To All My Relations) Gigawaabamin miinawa (See you later)

PS (our friends call us “Trees”)


“Teach us love, compassion and honor…that we may heal the Earth and heal each other.” ` Ojibwe prayer

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