On this episode of Ojibwe Stories: Gaganoonididaa we have conversation with Obizaan [Lee Staples], a spiritual advisor for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and Chato Gonzalez, Obizaan's apprentice and translator. They talk with us today about healthy tribal organizations & leadership.
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 text from the episode:
Mii imaa noongom waa-ni-dazhindamaan a’aw ingiw niwiij-anishinaabeminaanig enokiitawaajig inow odanishinaabemiwaan bemiwidoojig i’iw Anishinaabe-babaamiziwin. Shke gaawiin go wenipanisinoon ow isa awenen ko aw bemaadizid imaa ow isa wawiingezi dibishkoo mino-wiiji’anokiitaadiwaad imaa biminizha’amowaad gegoo. Shke booch maamawichigewin maa daa-ayaamaag mii ow ko enagwaa ingiw bemiwidoojig iw Anishinaabe-babaamiziwin. Shke maa giishpin maamawichigewin ayaamagasinog mii a’aw Anishinaabe enokiitawind enigaa’ind ge-manezid maa aw wawiingezisigwaa da-ni-bimiwidoowaad i’iw Anishinaabe-babaamiziwin.
Shke iw ko mii maa eni-dazhimagwaa mii inow manidoon inow Anishinaabeman odanishinaabemiwaan inow enokiitawaawaajin da-asemaakewag imaa da-naadamaagoziwiwaad da-wawiingeziwaad da-miinigoowiziwaad imaa iw akeyaa enaakonigewaad wenjida ge-naadamaagod a’aw Anishinaabe mii maa ge-apenimowaad imaa daa-ni-ayaamowaad. Shke mii ko gaa-izhichigeyaan niin mii dibishkoo gii-niigaaniziyaan gii-pimiwidooyaan i’iw anokiitawind a’aw Anishinaabe kina inow niwiiji-anokiimaaganag mii maa gii-okwiinidiyaang maa weweni gii-ni-gaagiigidowaad eni-dazhindamowaad i’iw maa eni-gagwaadagii’igowaad maagizhaa ge iw ow nishkaademowaad da-ni-zaaga’amomagak dash da-wanishkwe’igosigwaa. Mii maa gaa-onjikaamaag sa gii-wawiingeziyaang dibishkoo gii-maamawichigeyaang gii-pimiwidooyaang i’iw gii-anokiitawagwaa ingiw Anishinaabeg naago ge gewiinawaa ingiw niwiiji-anokiimaaganag.
Mii go maa minik kawe.
So, what Obizaan was talking about is that it's important when people are working in leadership positions that they take the time to work together, to work good as a group because it's the Anishinaabe who will suffer as a result if the people in leadership do not take that stance and make sure that people are happy, people are working together.
He talked about those people that are working in those leadership positions, you know if its government, or if it’s like a director of an organization, or a program within the government, that they’re working for the Manidoo’s people, the creators’s Anishinaabe. So, as Anishinaabe people to use that tobacco every day if its either an individual to go out and put your tobacco out every day or if it’s even as a group to get together and use your tobacco as a support system.
Since it is the Manidoo’s people that they are working for and you know hopefully that will help smooth things out. And, also, he talked about things that he did as a director of a program was he made sure they met together weekly. It was like an open space, an open time to talk, let things out if something came up during the week prior, to talk about that, get that out of their system so then the following week that they are starting with a new slate and don't have no grudges against each other because they already worked it out.
Shke dash gaawiin apane ayaamagasinoon o’ow maamawichigewin niwiijanishinaaben geget zanagadini i’iw maa enamogishkaamaag. Shke a’aw Anishinaabe geget gii-nigaachigaazo nebowa dash i’iw biinjina obimiwidoon a’aw Anishinaabe. Gaawiin gii-tazhindaziin da-zaaga’amomaag i’iw maji-inendamowin mii dash imaa wenda-zanagizid a’aw Anishinaabe aw maamawichigewin maa daa-ayaamaag mii iw enishkwe’igoowaad dibishkoo maji-inendamowaad biinisikaa go maa gegoo nishki’igoowaad. Shke ge o’ow aw gaa-izhiwebiziyaang Anishinaabewiyang mii go ow dibishkoo a’aw abinoojiinh aw sa nigaachigaazod mii ow gaa-toodaagoyang Anishinaabewiyang mii maa maagizhaa ge inow ogitiziiman maagizhaa ge obami’igoojin mii maa inigaa-igod. Shke dash a’aw abinoojiinh ezhiwebizid o’ow mii go maa biinjina eni-izhaamagadinig i’iw enind aanawenimind goopadenimind mii go dibishkoo ezhi- dayedebwetang “nigoopadiz”, “gaawiin niwawiingezisiin gegoo de-ni-izhichigeyaan.” Mii iw keyaa maa biinjina enendang a’aw abinoojiinh.
Shke dash imaa ow nishkaadendang ayaamagadinig imaa biinjina mii maa inigaa’aad inow waajiwaajin inow owiiji-ayaaganan enigaa’aad mii i’iw zaaga’amomaag maagizhaa ge widi gikinoo’amaagozid anooj gegoo izhichige maazhichige zhazhiibitam gaawiin obizindaziiin enind. Nooj igo maa mii iw bemiwidood nishkaadendang maa biinjina eni-ayaamagadinig naago gaye maa. Gaawiin. mii go ezhi-aanawendizid. Gaawiin indaa-gikendaaziin o’ow gekinoo’amaagoyaang. Mii iw wenjikaamagadinig maa gii-inigaa’igod inow gaa-nitaawigi’igoojin. Shke ow mii dash i’iw oniigaaniiming mii maa dibishkoo eni-ayaabaji-ayaamagadini go goopadenizod eni-gaawendang. Mii iw ezhiwebizid a’aw abinoojiinh.
Shke dash a’aw Anishinaabe mii go gaye wiin dibishkoo ezhiwebizid. Shke i’iw maa dibishkoo chi-waakaa’iganing omaa eyaaying maa akiing. Mii ganabaj i’iw United Stated ezhi-wiindang a’aw Anishinaabe Chi-mookomaan ingii-pi-nigaa’ichigaazomin ishkweyaang ingii-aanawenimigoomin gigoopadendaanaawaa gidiniwewininaan gizhitwaawininaan nooj ow asemaakeyan naago gaye ingii-aanawenimigoonaan a’aw Waabishkikiiwed geget a’aw aanawenimaan bakaan enaanzonid inow bemaadizinid bakaan ezhitwaad egoopadenimaan mii iw gaa-pi-noondamowaad ingiw gigitiziiminaanig gigookomisinaang gimishoomisinaanig ishkweyaang. Mii dash imaa geyaabi nebowa a’aw Anishinaabe bimiwidood maa biinjina nishkaadendang. Gaawiin zaaga’amoomagasini. Mii maa shke gaye maa mazinaatesigan geyaabi go maa giwiindamaagoowizimin gaawiin i’iw Anishinaabe okeyaa ezhi-bimaadizisig maa dazhinjigaadesinoon mii gaye maa wenjikaamaag goopadendiziyang. Shke dash mii maa biinjina kina nebowa a’aw Anishinaabe bemiwidood i’iw maji-inendamowin. Mii dash imaa gaawiin zakab omaa biinjina izhi-ayaasiin. Mii iw nebowa maa obimiwidoon manaadak mii dash maa wenjikaamaag a’aw Anishinaabe gagwaadagizid aanawi maamawichiged gegoo wii-ni-izhichiged mii maa da-misawaadimaan imaa miigaadiwaad maji-ikidowaad i’iw gaawiin maamawichigesiiwag. Mii go maa gaawiin gaye iw gashki’ewizisiiwag i’iw beminizha’amowaad shke bi-noondawaa a’aw Anishinaabe bi-wiindamawid gaawiin wii-wiiji-anokiimaasiin a’aw anishinaabe geyaabi onzaam maji-izhiwebizi zanagizi a’aw Anishinaabe.
Shke mii iw enagwaa dash imaa, aaniindi go da-baa-ayaayan maa Anishinaabewakiing mii go maa da-ni-bitaakoshkamang i’iw maji-ayi’ii maji-inendang a’aw Anishinaabe biinjina? Mii maa wenjikaamaak o’ow gaa-toodaagoyang gaa-toodawang a’aw Chi-mookomaan gidoodaagonaan gii-aanwenimigooyang. Shke nimikwendaan ko aanind gii-noodawagwaa ingiw. Ishkweyaang anishinaabe ekidowaad “gaawiin gidaa-zhaagoji’aaasiwaanaan aw Waabishkiiwe onzaam nibwaakaa.” Shke aaniin maa giinawind maa aanawendizoyang i’iw aanawenimaawaad inow anishinaaben ow keyaa ekidowaad, mii dash iw ishkweyaang iw Anishinaabewiyang. Shke mii maa ge-izhichigepan aw Anishinaabe noongom, booch da-zaaga’amomaag i’iw maji-inendamowin mii ko owisadaawendang Anishinaabe gaa-inind “mii widi bagwaj izhaan chi-biigaagin maagizhaa ge maa chi-mawadan da-zaaga’amoomaag i’iw sa
wisadaawendang. Mii dash maa gaawiin aapiji gidaa-wanishkwe’igosiin.” Shke dash noongom noongom nebowa a’aw Anishinaabe mii maa ge-izhaapan inow da-mikawaad awiya ge-bizindaagojin da-ganawaabandang da-ni-dazhindang maa biinjina enishkwe’igod
ani-aanawendizid. Booch maa da-zaaga’amoomaag naago gaye da-mikwendang a’aw Anishinaabeg gaa-izhi-gikinoo’amaagowiziyaang aano go aw Waabishkiiwen geget giwenda-gichi-maazhi-doodaagonaan. Shke dash o’ow gii-maazhi-gikinoo’amaagoziyaang Anishinaabewiyaang. Shke miisawaa go awiiya nisaad besho enawemang, zaagi-inawemang booch a’aw gidaa-zhawenimaanaan, asemaan gidaa-atamawaanaan mii iw gaa-izhi-gikinoo’amaagoziyaang. Mii gaye ge-doodawaawaad inow Waabishkiiwen gaye. Shke maa eni-aabaji-minjiminamowaad mii iw ge-onishkwe’igoowaad oniigaaniimiwaang mii go maa kawe minik inwewetooyaan.
I started to talk about you know this country we live in, it's almost like living in an abusive household. It's like a child being physically abused emotionally abused in the home. How they hear those negative messages all the time, and they internalize them and they begin to believe that about themselves. The very same thing is to happen to us as Anishinaabe. This big country it's like one big house and we have lived under been subject to that same type of abuse and a lot of us as a people over the years and generations have internalized those messages and we believed that about ourselves.
I can always remember growing up hearing Anishinaabe say you know you can't beat the white man he is too smart. What does this about us as Anishinaabe? So, we have a lot of these people that are like a kid with no arrow. They’ve got all of this internalized anger that's been carried down from generation and generation and their parents have passed on that same view of this world. So, when you bring all these people to work together, they have got all of this bottled up anger and sometimes they are not even aware of it and it comes out sideways. You look at some of our people you can see it in their faces. You know that wrinkled forehead full of lines
That’s what they call, I think the word is “lateral violence”. That's what makes it so hard for us as a people to work together. I mean I've worked in organizations, you just look at a fellow employee and you see that right in their face, that anger, mean and they are hard work to with.
They have to go to counseling therapy. Our teaching as a people when we are grieving it's important to vent whatever is bothering you. You always teach them to go out in the woods and just let it fly, let those emotions fly. Those Manidoog will help you. Same with this anger we need to get it out and vent it.
Go to counseling or therapy, or find people that you trust that you can really talk about what's bothering you. The more you talk about it the less control it has over you. And the other thing is to forgive. You’ll notice that in those different groups you have to have compassion for one another. Our teaching as a people is no matter if someone should kill our closest friend, someone we like the most, our relative the bottom line is we have to forgive that individual. Put tobacco for them otherwise that anger would destroy us.
Well you know the funny thing about something like that is you gave the extreme example of somebody that gets killed but you know what I see a lot in the community you'll be talking to someone “well I don't like them”, “well, why” and it's really something just really stupid. It's like the opposite of the spectrum. It's like some junior high kind of beef or something you know and it's just seems like people have these opinions about people that are kind of based on nothing really.
I was saying that we have to forgive the white man for what he did to us. I mean he almost killed the people really actually. Luckily some of our people hung on. But the other thing is I try to and Chato keeps reminding me those that tick me off I need to have compassion for them.
That’s the way they were brought up. Their childhood, a lot of this that's what's coming out and directed at me or whatever. I did a funeral once and he was really mean. I mean he was mean to me and he did some real awful stuff but I agreed to do the funeral. The way I worked through it is to remember his spirit is pure. He had a spirit within that's the one I related to and all this other stuff his anger was of this world. Our spirit is pure and that's the one I related to and sent down there.
Shke maa waa-ni-dazhindamaan i’iw bemiwidood i’iw Anishinaabe obabaamiziwin. Mii maa waa-ni-dazhindamaan i’iw nizhawendaagoz i’iw isa gii-inendaagoziyaan da-bimiwinag a’aw Manidoo-dewe’igan. Shke nebowa maa ayaawag egizojig ingiw gichidaag ogichidaakweg biigisigewininiwag negamojig niimi’iwewininiwag ininiwag anooj nebowa maa oshkaabewis shke mii maa gaa-ni-manidoowichiged Anishinaabe mii maa zanagak. Booch iw maamawochigewin daa-ayaamaag iw. Shke gaa-izhi-gikinoo’amaagoziyaan niin giishpin maa maamawochigewin eyaamagasinoog gashki’ewizisig a’aw Anishinaabe aw genawendamaaged aw Dewe’iganan weweni da-bimiwinaad. Mii go giishpin maa maji-ayi’ii eyaamaak mii go da-ni-naangitaawaapan ingiw Manidoog shke maa ishpiming ayaawag maa baakishing aw gimishoomisinaan mii ow maamawo-zanagak sa da-bimiwidood i’iw awiiya weweni mii iw da-niigaanizid dibishkoo mii go gaye maa da-zhawendaagoziyaang gaye da-midewi’iweyaan mii go gaye maa dibishkoo nebowa maa ayaawag ingiw naadamawijig oshkaabewisag ingiw ikwewag jaabaakwejig. Booch maa enaajiwang daa-ayaamaak maa shke mii maa wii-bay’iwed Anishinaabe apenimod ondiniged imaa ge-naadamaagod. Booch maa i’iw enaajiwang daa-ayaamaag weweni gegoo da-maji-inendanzig awiiya da-ni-maji-ikidosig awiiya mii iw maa gii-inendaagoziyaan da-bimiwidooyaan i’iw midewi’iweng mii maa geget i’iw isa zanagak mii maa aw.
Shke dash imbi-waabandaan ingiw zenagizid a’aw Anishinaabe naawaj igo maji-inendang mii go gegapii gaawiin maa bi-naadamaagesiiwag eni-maajaawaad dibishkoo. Shke dash maa noongom maa eyaajig nayaadamawijig geget ingiw mino-bimaadiziwag zhawenimaawaan inow anishinaaben wawiingeziwag gaye maa enokiitamawaad i’iw gaa-izhi-miinigoowiziyang Anishinaabewiyang. Shke dash mii iw eginawaabandang a’aw Anishinaabe bi-niigaanizid dibishkoo ani-bimiwidood gegoo maa iw wenjida maa gegoo daa-bimiwidoosiin maji-ayi’ii biinjina wenjida maa anokiitawaad Anishinaaben. Mii go maa kawe minik inwewetooyaan.
That is leadership to the max when you do those ceremonies and you got that leadership role.
That is the most difficult and that's where you got to practice. You have people coming like to these ceremonial dances. They come there for spiritual support and some of them come there asking for help and illness. All that spiritual related stuff. Same with the Mide Lodge those people come there with illnesses, major illnesses, cancer all that. And that is leadership to the max you have to be in a good spot to do that to not alienate people he can’t have all that anger.
Pretty much said, people on the need to take a look at how hard that internship role is. You know of the situation I've been put in and there are all kinds of ceremonies I do. And I can't go around being mean but if people would just kind of understand the difficult role that a lot of our Anishinaabe people have when they are in that spiritual role or leadership of a particular ceremony.
So, Obizaan was talking about leadership and he was given a couple examples of his own life his own leadership roles that he plays. He's a drum keeper over in Aazhoomoog, him and Larry Smallwood Amikogaabaw. And they would take care of a drum together and he talked about his leadership role there. There's a lot of drum members. You know you have all your veterans, your singers, your Ogichidaakweg. There has to be teamwork, they have to work together, it’s not just him carrying this drum. It's all of them together carrying this drum and they're asked to be team work together and his role as a drum keeper is to keep that together. And he was told that if they don't work together and they're always fighting and bickering and talking about each other that what will happen is there is Manidoog that sit around that ceremonial drum. He says they sit right above that drum when it's open and what'll happen is if all that's there, all that fighting bickering, and bad feelings is there that those Manidoog will up and leave. And then basically we're just going through the motions with an empty ceremony because we drove all those Manidoog away.
This is the same with Midewiwin. He takes care of a Midewiwin lodge over in Mille Lacs District One and there's a lot of people that it takes to do this and he has all of his helpers, oshkaabewisag. It takes a teamwork of people to help each one of those people go through the lodge. There's people cooking, it takes a lot to keep that together also there has to be teamwork there. And the same thing you know that can happen is those money Ojibwe could just up and leave if we are sitting there bickering. But it makes it hard, makes it hard on him makes it hard on other people that are there and trying to be in a good frame of mind to help people because there's a lot of people that come from all over the country to ask for help and if all that's going on then it's hard to focus and be in tune spiritually to help those people.
And, he has noticed over the years those people that are just difficult that are hard to work with, that just come in and just you know you almost see it with the attitude of almost like they want to break things up, that they end up almost like losing that battle in the end up being weeded out. They eventually leave and that's kind of what's been happening and we end up with a smaller group but a strong working group of people that are working together with the same goals in mind. So, that's a couple of major examples that he talks about his leadership roles that he plays in the community with carrying the ceremonial big drum and also the Ojibwe lodge in Mille Lacs.