Ojibwe Stories: Gaganoonididaa - The Three Camps of Ojibwe Culture (Part 1 of 2)

Sep 19, 2017

Lake Mille Lacs Sand
Credit David Berger [via Flickr]

On this episode of Ojibwe Stories: Gaganoonididaa we listen to Obizaan  [Lee  Staples], a spiritual advisor for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and Chato Gonzalez, Obizaan's apprentice and translator.  In this two-episode series, Obizaan talks about what he calls the three different "camps" in Ojibwe culture: the "traditional" camp, the "lost spirit" camp, and the "hang around the fort" camp. 

In this first episode (of two), they describe the differences between the three camps and then discuss the "traditional" camp in greater detail.  In next episode, they will go into greater detail about the "lost spirit" camp, and the "hang around the fort" camp.  

Ojibwe Stories: Gaganoonididaa is produced by KUMD and the Department of American Indian Studies at UMD, with funding provided in part by the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and by The Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Ojibwe language-related content in this episode:

Mii dash a’aw Anishinaabe noongom imaa eyaajig gaawiin i'iw bezhigwaning  izhi-bimaadizisiiwag. Ishke aanind wenda-odaapinaanaawaan inow Waabishkiiwen gii-wenda-anoojii’igowaad sa da-bagijiwebinang odinwewin naago gaye izhitwaad naago gaye mii widi ingiw ayaawag ingiw Anishinaabeg ge-wenda-apiitenimaajig inow Waabishkiiwen. Naa gaawiin igo ganabaj omoonendaziinaawaa o'ow sa gaa-izhiwebiziwaad mii widi chi-ishpiming asaawaad inow Waabishkiiwen chi-apiitenimaawaad kina i’iw akeyaa gaa-izhi-miinigoowizid a’aw Waabishkiiwed mii i'iw wenjida beminizha’amowaad ingiw Anishinaabeg

 

Ishke dash gaye izhichigewaad i’iw imaa chi-apiitendamowaad i'iw inow Waabishkiiwen ezhi-bimaadizinid mii imaa ina’aanawenimaad inow owiiji-anishinaabemiwaan geyaabi bemiwidoojig i'iw gidinwewininaan naa ani-naazikang geyaabi a'aw Anishinaabe asemaaked eni-manidoowichiged ge ogoopadenimaawaan.  Ishke dash gaye aanind eyaad gaye a'aw Anishinaabe ayaawag nebowa gaawiin i'iw isa go onaazikaziinaawaa omamoosiinaawaa inow Waabishkiiwen ezhitwaanid mii dash gaye imaa gii-tebwetamowaad i'iw da-aanawendamowaad i’iw Anishinaabewiyang gaa-miinigoowiziyang. Ishke dash mii imaa dibishkoo gaa-gii-izhitood nebowa a'aw Anishinaabe. Gaawiin widi apenimosiin inow Waabishkiiwen gaa-miinigoojin naago gaye inow Anishinaaben now manidoon gaa-izhi-ina’oonigod mii i'iw nebowa ayaawag.

 

Ishke dash gaye mii dash imaa wii-ni-maajitaayaan dazhimagwaa akawe ingiw Anishinaabeg wenda-wawiinge-Anishinaabewijig. Mii ingiw gii-minjiminaanaawaa o'ow akeyaa gaa-izhi-oonwewiziyang Anishinaabewiyang. Mii ingiw nebowa ingiw nayaazikangig i'iw akeyaa gaa-izhi-miinigoowiziyang Anishinaabewiyang ishke ingiw Manidoo-dewe’iganag biinish o'ow Midewid o'ow Anishinaabe naago gaye owiiya’wenenikaaged wiindaawasod a'aw Anishinaabe, ishke nebowa gidayaamin geyaabi gaa-izhi-miinigoowiziyang mii i'iw eni-aaangwaamitoowaad eni-bimiwidoowaad mii dash i'iw gaye ingiw Anishinaabeg i'iw akeyaa gaa-izhi-bimaadizijig ingiw ishkweyaang gaa-wawiinge-anishinaabewijig mewinzha gaa-ayaajig geget gii-mashkawaadiziwag nebowa imaa maamawichigewag. Naago ge gii-wenda-apiitendaanaawaa i'iw akeyaa ezhi-inawendaasowaad naago waaj igo gaye inow odoodemiwaan ishke ayaamagad omaa geyaabi gii-kikinoo’amawind a’aw Anishinaabe gegoo da-wiijiiwaasig ando-wiidigemaasig inow ikwewan a'aw bezhigwan bezhigwaning odoodemid

gaawiin owiijiiwaasiin awiiya inow ininiwan mii ko gaa-kikinoo’amaagewaad ingiw Anishinaabeg.

 

Ishke a’aw bezhig a'aw mindimooyenyiban ingii-wiindamaag mii a’aw nebowa a'aw Anishinaabe wenji- weweni imaa wenji-ayaasig imaa oshtigwaaning a'aw aabitawaadizid go dibishkoo mii i'iw wenjikaamaag imaa o'ow isa Anishinaabe maajitaad eni-wiijiiwaad imaa wiidigemaad aaniin ko gaawiin ekinawaabandaziiin i’iw gaa-odoodeminid inow gaa-wiidigemaajin.

 

Nebowa i'iw ayaamagad geyaabi naago gaye ingiw Anishinaabeg i'iw wewiinge-Anishinaabewijig mii gaye imaa gii-aangwaamitoowaad gii-kikinoo’amawaawaad inow oniijaanisiwaan da-ni-manaajitoowaad kina gegoo imaa eyaamagak omaa akiing. Geget naniibikamawaad inow oniijaanisiwaan wenjida da-zhawenimaawaad owiijibimaadiziimiwaan inow awesiinyan akina gegoo imaa eyaamaag omaa akiing ishke mii i'iw gaa-izhichigewaad. Ishke dash gaawiin geyaabi izhichigesiin nebowa o'ow anishinaabe akeyaa da-ni-izhi-gikinoo’amawaad inow oniijaanisensan ishke niwaabandaan go maajaa’iweyaan imaa biindig gaa-inindwaa ingiw abinoojiinyag aabideg gaa-inwewetoowaad bebaamibatoowaad gaawiin inow obaamenimaasiwaawaan o’ow shigwa waa-ni-aanjikiinijin. Mii go gaye imaa ani-baakishimindwaa inaabajichigaazowaad ingiw gimishoomisinaanig ingiw Manidoo-dewe’iganag mii go gaye imaa baamibatoowaad mii imaa biminizha’igeyaan imaa ani-aangwaamagwaa bizaan da-wendabiwaad gegoo imaa da-babaamibatoosigwa ishke o'ow gaa-izhi-gikinoo’amaagoziyaan niin ingii-wiindamaagoog ingiw netaawigi’ijig imaa gii-naazikamaan niimiding o'ow niimi’idiid a’aw Anishinaabe. Mii eta go niizhing akeyaa ge-onji-bazigwiiyan ingii-igoog giishpin i'iw waakaa’igaansing wii-izhaayan maagizhaa ge imaa wii-niimiyan. Ishke mii i'iw gaa-izhiwaad skhe imaa baamibatooyin a'aw nimishoomisinaan baakishimind aabajichigaazod, bangishinan geget giwenda-wiisagishin mii i'iw gaa-igooyaan.

 

Ishke dash i’iw niwaabandaamin eni-izhiwebak noongom, ishke ingiw gaa-nitaawigi’ijig indaangwaami’igoog, “bizindan weweni akeyaa ezhi-gikinoo’amaagoyan, giishpin bizindanziwan i’iw giga-manaajitoon awiiya da-manaaji’ad a'aw giijibimaadiziim ishke imaa ani-gichi-aya’aawiyan, gaawiin o'ow isa da-zhawenimaasiin a’aw giwiiji-bimadiziim giniigi’igoog.” Ishke dash i'iw izhiwebak noongom o'ow endanakiid a’aw Anishinaabe mii nebowa nisaad inow owiijanishinaaben gaawiin akeyaa gii-gikinoo’amaagozisiiwag. Mii go imaa akawe da-aanikanootamaageng.

 

So, what Lee started covering was a presentation of his where he talks about three camps is what he calls it. Where Anishinaabe are today. You know there's a lot of Anishinaabe and we all don't live the same. He started off talking about there's those that are in the “Hang around the Fort Camp” he calls them. That's the Anishinaabe who just basically hang around the fort of the Chi-mooks.

 

They hang on everything they say, they hold him in high regards, you know. He talks about they just look up to him they think they're the world and as a result they abandon their own ways. Because if they think everything the white man does is better than theirs then why continue their old way of life if it's no good. So, they have started abandoning their ways, their ceremonies, their language, they start thinking of it as just kind of worthless.

 

Then there's also what he calls a Lost Spirit Camp. Those are the Anishinaabe that we have that aren't quite that bad but they really just don't believe in nothing. They don't follow the white man's ways they don't go to church and nothing like that but they also don't follow Anishinaabe way they just kind of in limbo. They don't know where they belong they’re just searching. Searching for an identity and they're just kind of in limbo.

 

But then there are those that he considers being in the Traditional Camp and those are the ones that held on to the ceremonies and the language. They attend their ceremonies. There are ceremonial dances at big drum ceremonies. They attend Midewiwin ceremonies. They get Anishinaabe names. There's a lot of ceremonies that we've been given as a people and when those things are going on those are those are the Anishinaabe that show up, come out to help, bring their cooking. And these Anishinaabe, they're strong in their thinking and especially a long time ago they were really strong and powerful they believed in our ways. They believed in everything that we were given, the way the Manidoo gave it to us and they relied on them. They had full belief in those ways. These are the people that are in the traditional camp.

 

They covered some stuff about clans, you know we have a clan system. Those traditional people they really believed in the clan system and one thing about the clan system it follows your dad's clan. One thing that we were taught was never to marry within our clans. He talked about this old lady that taught him. I talked about why we have a lot of mental illnesses in our communities you know people just aren't, there just not right you know. You see people and they're just kind of I don't know. Space Cadets, Space Cadets he calls them.

 

But he says a lot of this is a result of marrying within your clans. You know, it's what the white man calls incest. You know where we're marrying our relative and having babies with our relative and as a result we're breeding these children that have mental illnesses. The he went back talking about there are a lot of traditional Families though that have a lot of faith in these this belief system of ours. They teach their children this. They pass the same teachings down to their children and language and they teach their children how to have respect for everyone everything, you know, we have a we believe in everything that is on this earth that was put on this earth by the Manidoog and we have to respect it.

 

The plants and the animals, the lakes and the rivers and everything that's out there that the Manidoo put there. And you know we're just co-occupying it and we have to have respect for everything within our surroundings. Then he says he talked about, he does a lot of funerals and he watches a lot of those families that aren’t passing down this respect to their children and when he's up there talking, these kids are just running around, running wild, they don't pay no attention to the ceremony, what he's doing. You know don’t have any respect for the deceased.

 

You know he talked about it. Ceremonial dances, we’ll be having our ceremonial dances and they'll just be running circles around that drum. You know he always remembers what he was taught by those old people that raised him was there's only two reasons that you're to get up at a ceremonial dance - at the big drum is one, to use a restroom and two, to dance. That's the only reasons. He was taught that if you were to be out there messing around and you were to fall that you could get seriously hurt. You know that's the power of those ceremonial dances and I even remember times where we'd be out dancing at ceremonial dances and those old men would kind of push us back to dance further away as kids because they didn't want the kids dancing too close to the drum or the adult men because that's the power of our ceremonies.

 

And he was also told by them to just sit and listen pay attention you know these teachings that are going on and you'll learn how to respect others in that's what we instill in our children. Some of them teach their children just respect but then there's others that don't instill this within their children and those are the children that are running around being disrespectful to our ceremonies, and to the people, and to things in our environment.

 

Aano go nebowa a'aw Anishinaabe ayaad noongom bemiwidood geyaabi minjiminang i'iw akeyaa gaa-izhi-miinigoowiziyang eni-naazikaagewaad booch igo gii-ayaamagad i’iw gaa-wisadaawishkaagowaad inow Waabishkiiwen gaa-igoowaad gii-koopadenimigoowaad.  Mii i'iw nebowa mii imaa biinjina debweyendamowaad i’iw, ni-gaawendamowaad goopadendizowaad mii imaa gaa-onjikaamaag apane gii-noondamowaad a'aw gaa-izhi-aanawenimind a’aw Anishinaabe, ishke dash nebowa i’iw wenishkwe’igong geyaabi. Ishke gaye i’iw nebowa a’aw Anishinaabe ani-naazikaaged inow manidoochiged a'aw Anishinaabe mii imaa dibishkoo gaawiin sa bimiwidoosiin i'iw akeyaa a'aw Anishinaabe ishkweyaang gaa-izhi-ginawaabandang akeyaa gaa-izhi-miinigoowiziyaang asemaakeyaang ani-manidoowichigeyaang.

Ganabaj noongom nebowa a’aw Anishinaabe ani-naazikaaged ani-asemaaked asemaan imaa asaad maagizhaa ge a’aw Manidoo-dewe’igan achigaazod mii i’iw ganabaj enendamowaad mii imaa eni-izhichigeyaan gikinawaabiyaan akeyaa Anishinaabe miinigoowizid gaawiin omaa dibishkoo oganawaabandaziin i’iw ezhi-manidoowaadak naawakwekamig imaa eyaamaag ge-naandamaagod a’aw Anishinaabe. Mii eta go debinaak dibishkoo widi naazikaaged gaawiin a'aw ondinaziin gegoo naadamaagod mii i'iw enenimag nebowa a'aw Anishinaabe wii-kanawaabandaan maa. Ishke ingiw dewe’iganag azhigwa inaabajichigaazowaad ani-baakishimindwaa imaa aabita a'aw dewe’igan Manidoo-dewe’igan imaa naawayi’ii mii imaa ishpiming ayaawaad ingiw Manidoog mii imaa wenjitawaawaad ginawaabamaawaad inow Anishinaaben imaa endanakamigizinid mii go imaa besho imaa ishpiming ayaawaad naa gaye kina imaa debendaagozijig ingiw ge nooj enaginzoijig ge ingiw ogimaag genawendaagejig inow dewe’iganan ingiw ogichidaag ozhimaaganishag ingiw niimi’iwewininiwag ogichidaakweg kina ingiw imaa onaabibiitawaawaan inow Manidoon. Ishke mii imaa ko gaa-ikidong “gego maji-inaaken a’aw debendaagozid imaa dewe’iganan, gimaji-inaa

inow Manidoo bebiitawaajin.”

 

Ishke nebowa imaa ayaamagad i’iw gaa-izhi-gikinoo’amaagowizid Anishinaabe naago gaye imaa inow onaaganan asemaan biindiganaawaad a'aw Anishinaabe.  Mii imaa ando-bimaadiziiked izhi-wiinjigaadeg gaye aakozinid inow odinawemaaganiwaan mii imaa biindigadoowaad i’iw wiisiniwin asemaan asaawaad a’aw eni-gaagiigidod nandodamowaad inow manidoon da-zhawendaagozid sa wenji-biindigajigaadeg i’iw onaagan i’iw isa da-mamigaadenig mii i'iw eni-gagwaadagi’igod enaapined. Ishke mii i'iw pane gaa-ikidowaad akiiwenziiyag imaa aabajichigaazowaad ingiw gimishoomisinaan ingiw Manidoo-dewe’iganag mii imaa gii-inind nando-bimaadiziiked a'aw Anishinaabe biindigadood owiisiniwin mii imaa gaa-onji-bazigwadinind nebowa Anishinaabe gii-naadamaagowizid.

 

Mii omaa geget nebowa imaa mashkawaamagad omaa eni-naadamaagod a’aw anishinaabe da-wii-ayaangwaamitood da-wenda-apenimod i’iw isa imaa bi-asemaaked ashagin  waaboowayaanan biindigadood. Mashkawaadiziwag ingiw gimishoomisinaanig ishke ni-debwetamowaad mii imaa aazhita da-oonwewiziwaapan i’iw ge-naadamaagowaad naago gaye i'iw ko a'aw Anishinaabe ko eni-ganawaabandang akeyaa ezhi-miinigoowiziyang Anishinaabewiyang. Aaniin ge-ni-aabajitooyaan?  Mii imaa dibishkoo imaa inow Waabishkiiwen booch mii imaa ge-ni-izhaad i’iw da-ni-niigaan... da-ni-naadamaagoowizid weweni da-ni-bami’idizod. Ishke imaa eni-aangwaamitood akeyaa ezhi-miinigoowiziyaang Anishinaabewiyang mii i'iw ge-ni-apenimod ge-ni-naadamaagod eshkam da-ni-minwiid gashkiwizid weweni da-ni-bami’idizod da-ni-mikang anokiiwin ge-naadamaagod. Mii go gaye imaa nebowa a'aw Anishinaabe imaa mii imaa izhi-doodawaad mii i'iw nebowa eni-wiisagishkaagod gegwaadagi’igod a’aw Anishinaabe nebowa gaawiin ogikendaziinaawaa. Mii imaa i’iw maagizhaa mii i'iw wenji-mashkawaamagasinig i'iw akeyaa ezhi-debwetamowaad  ezhi-anishinaabewiyang mii imaa debwetawaawaad dibishkoo inow Waabishkiiwen.

 

Ishke, mewinzha a'aw Anishinaabe mii eta go gaa-ayaang gaa-apenimod gaa-miinigoowiziyaang.  Ishke inow Manidoo-dewe’iganan mii imaa kina gaa-izhaawaad gaawiin widi anooj wii-paa-izhaasiiwag dibishkoo inaawaad anishinaajii’igowaad anow Waabishkiiwen. Mii go gaye a'aw midewid a'aw Anishinaabe, mii eta go gaa-miinigoowizid Anishinaabe gaa-ayaamaag ishkweyaang.  Mii dash noongom nebowa ayaamagad i’iw wenishkwe’igod Waabishkiiwen inow Anishinaabe. Geget gii-mashkawaamagadini a’aw gidanishinaabeminaan gii-tebwetang a’aw isa gii-apenimaad i’iw gaa-izhi-oonwewiziyang da-apenimawang ingiw Manidoo-dewe’iganag naago gaye midewid Anishinaabe mii imaa gaa-onjikaamagad aazhitaa gii-miinigoowizid mino-ayaawin gii-miinigoowizid ge-wenda-mashkawaamagadinig o'ow gii-tebwetang ishke aanind ganabaj a’aw Anishinaabe a'aw mashkawaamagasini o'ow akeyaa eni-debwetang i'iw apenimopan gaa-izhi-miinigoowiziyang Anishinaabewiyang naago gaye ingiw ewawiinge-Anishinaabewijig naa booch da-zhawenimaawaad inow Waabishkiiwen gaa-toodaagowaad biinish gaye ingiw gidanishinaabeminaanig gaa-tebwetamojin i’iw isa gii-wiiwayezhimigoowaad Anishinaabe mii widi pay’iwewaad a’aw Anishinaabe a’aw Waabishkikii gaa-ina’oonwewizid booch imaa kina da-zhawenimaawaad.

 

Ishke gegoo imaa wii-maji-inendaziin o’ow Anishinaabe ge a'aw Waabishkiiwen gaa-izhi-inigaa’aad Anishinaabe ishkweyaang. Booch imaa da-zhawenimaad aaniish naa gii-gikinoo’amaagoowiziyang i'iw meno-Anishinaabewiyang misawaa go eni-doodaagoyaang awiiya nisaad inow besho enawemang ewenda-zaa`gi’iniwemang booch imaa gidaa-wii-zhawenimaanaanig asemaa daa-atamawang ishke i'iw giishpin i’iw mii i'iw i’iw nishkaadendamowin imaa eyaamaag ge gii-onjikaamaag mii i’iw wenji-nishwanaaji’igod Anishinaabe.  Mii i'iw gaa-ikidowaad. Mii go iw.

 

So, what Obizaan was talking about was he didn't talk about that traditional camp, you know, there's a lot of Anishinaabe that believe in our ways and full faith in our ceremonies, our language, our way of life. But there's a lot of those that attend our ceremonies that come only for ritual purposes. They don't have full belief. They haven't really internalized the power of our ceremonies and they carry a lot of anger with them. They carry a lot of the trauma with them. A lot of this was passed down by the white man. A lot of this historical trauma. But for whatever reason they still practice our ways they still go to our ceremonies, they go to our ceremonial dances, and they still come with their tobacco. But they haven't deep down internalized it so as a result, they're just numb while they're there.

 

You know you go to the ceremonial dances and you talk about, there's a lot of Manidoog there and they sit.  There's all the ones that they sit about the drum. There's a lot of people that are involved in the ceremonial dances, drum members. There's those that take care of that drum, drum keepers. There's Ogichidaa, the veterans, the singers, and drum warmers. There's the Ogichidaakwe, all the ladies. All these people, every one of them, they all represented the Manidoog, a different Manidoo and together, they work together at taking care of this drum and taking care of those that they represent.

 

One thing they were always told was not to talk about each other you know. Don't talk bad about your fellow drum member because you talk about them it's like you're talking about the Manidoo that they represent. There's also bowls that are brought in during those ceremonial dances you know nanda-bimaadiziike awiya. People are coming for help, there coming for life, you know we were given these drums to rely on for health and help and we have to be in a good place during those times.

 

And there's also a lot of offerings that are brought in. Blankets put down for those bundles and they go to those Manidoog. These drums, they're really powerful and they were given to us in a time of need for spiritual support and they've helped us. People bring in money and he talked about that in today's times as people bring in money as offerings and that's good because that money is eventually distributed between those who are given bundles.

 

And you know a lot of people are traveling and there's nothing that we can't do today that we don't need money for you know gas, tobacco, and food. You know people have families and that means a lot to them. So, you know there's a lot of Anishinaabe that talk about not to give money but you know he says it's one of the best offerings, because of that reason people work hard for money and there's a lot of uses for them.

 

I just realized that the power in these ceremonies, you know, all these offerings that we're putting up the bundles and blankets and food, those bowls, and there's a lot of power within these ceremonies. And it's hard when there's a lot of Anishinaabe that come in, that carry all that angry and pain, that oppression, that was passed down to them. As a result, their ceremonies are not as strong as before because of that. You know a long time ago Anishinaabe had total faith in our ceremonies, they didn't question it. These ceremonial drums are given to us for help and that's what they used them for, they had total faith in it.

 

Our Midewiwin ceremonies, total faith that's what we were given for help. They didn't go to the hospital. We didn't have hospitals that's what they believed in, that's what they went to when they were sick. Nowadays, you know, people just go because they feel they have to but they don't have total faith in them.

 

As a result, you know, our ceremonies aren't as strong in if people had total faith they would work. We can't always just sit there and blame at the same time you know as he talked about this is a lot of oppression you know a lot of this was passed down, historical trauma they call it.

It was passed down from the white man as we made contact with each other and in the Anishinaabe still carry that with them today, you know, but we have to forgive them. We have to put our tobacco and forgive the white man also. We can't sit here and blame them, that we have to take control of our lives.

 

You know same with those Indians that are the Anishinaabe that come in that are lost. You know maybe they are those that come to our ceremonies that are just mean and carry a lot of that anger with them. Or maybe it's just those that are just lost in general, they don't know where they belong or follow white man’s ways.

 

We have to still put our tobacco for them and forgive them, that all this was passed down, it's not their fault, you know. Possibly even their parents accepted it and passed that down to them. He ended it with the teaching of forgiveness. That he was always told, you know, one of our strongest teaching of forgiveness is that we have to forgive each and everybody. If not, we carry that with us. We were taught that even if someone wanted to kill our closest relative, we have to put our tobacco and to forgive those people. So, in the same sense we have to forgive the white man, we are to forgive those other Anishinaabe that come in and disturb our ceremonies.