Thirteen Moons

The Thirteen Moons

Peter Beaucage

Aaniin! Aanish e-zhibimaadziyeg? En- minwayaam! Ebiidaasmosed geniin ndizhnikaaz zhinkaangoo zhinkaaz mina mooz ga geniin gebi ndoodem. Hoof clan or moose clan. Aabchi minwendam waabmigooyek michi minwendam ge gii-bidigoshnaan jigoo maachtaayang wii binankiiyang e-bikwejmigooyaan semaa twena da-bi-nindamaagoo jibwaa maachtaayaan gekindaaswin bangii. En gii-miingoo. Semaa dash.

Miidash gii-bi-kwejmik Glenna ji-bi-yaayaan noongom jibik kinoomaageyaan bangii giizis gaa-bi-wiidookaawiyang megwaa gii-bimaadziyang anishnaabeng gaki anishnaabe go naa anishinaabekyaa gona gaako binimaadziwaad gii-bi-giichikendaaswag chi-gyat gichi nmishoomsinaanik mina ngookmisanaanik gii-bi-kendmook kina ebi mi ezhiwebak emi zhiwebak kinoomaa gitikaang megwaa gonaa gii-bi-maadziwaad nookming gii-bi-giichikendaaswak gii-bi-maadziwaad miidash e enji-madbiyaang maa noongom. Gichi nmishoomsinaanik gaa-bikendaaswaad. Ji-bi-maadziyang geyaaba maa.

I almost did forget that Glenna had offered me tobacco eh. Just when I was, when she said “Yeah I did” and then I remembered where she… she was… she found me… chased me all over the city. But I agreed that I would come here today and give a little teaching on abikigiizis giizoo and how it was one time with our people and we’re still hanging on to a little bit of that, a little bit of those teachings that our great grandpas and great grandmas used to live by. And it was a time our people “Anishinaabeg” people followed the cycle of the moon and that moon was so very important to our people, for our survival and that’s why we sit here today. Because of their knowledge of how they lived so that five, six, seven generations from their time would continue on to live and we are that generation and now today we’re entering probably around the 8th fire generation which is the young people. These young ones here, these young men, they’re now taking over that responsibility and that’s really touches me to see that, that they’re taken on that responsibility. And it is a big responsibility to do what they are doing. I was just… I was up at the college a while ago and I went and got something over at the college that I forgot yesterday and I saw Dan Commanda there and I said “holy cow, and all these things are happening, things are happening with our people. They’re wanting to learn. Learn about who they are.”

Chi minwendam e-bimizhiwebak e-mnik nankiiyang dook chi-nokiimin go wiya wii-goki wii-bi-mina wiya wii-dibikendaman ge anishinaabemwin anishinaabe bimaadziwin. Giishpin ba wii-maadziyang twenago kido gwekaabwi goki gwekaabmin.

We have to turn around and you know we have to look back and pickup what we left along the road. Along our journey, our journey as Anishinaabe people and we have to pickup those things that we left there and we have to learn them. So I think that’s happening and I see that happening here in our community. We’re slowly returning back and this is one program here, that’s really doing a lot of that and I hear a lot about it.

Chi-nendam chi-piitendang go ega-nankiiyek go nemga gegoo wasa anishinaabekwe chi nokiit. 13 moons. Midaaswi-shi-nswi giizsoon. I’m sorry to tell you but there’s no way of telling you, there’s no 13 moons. There’s only on eh (cue in laughter).

Marlene Barnes: How did they start that 13 moons then?

Because the moon goes on a 28 day cycle. Which is the cycle of all female life on earth. That’s how come we’re sitting here. And it’s something that’s a very sacred teaching by which our creator put in place for all life to be, so that life will evolve into human beings, animal beings, even the waters the nibii. Nibii is controlled by the grandmother. We call her the grandmother. So we have, I brought one of these that’s what we have at the college eh those whites, we don’t have anymore chalkboards. Dibik-giizis and then we have shkakmikwe. Mii wiintam gaabi gaa-bibiyaawaat. The first family. Aanii e-zhnikaazwaat? Anyways this is grandmother moon, then father sun, and shkakmikwe. Shkakmikwe is earth. This is grandfather sun and grandmother moon. So we always follow our even our ceremonies revolve around this first family and it takes a lot to understand how we’re related to this first family. Our teachings tell us that Dibikigiizis controls, that is a female and this is male and this is female. That is how come we call her Mother Earth and Grandfather Sun, Grandmother Moon. Our teachings, when we do ceremony, when we do pipe ceremony we keep all these in mind when we do pipe ceremony. It’s not a question of these being gods. Lots of people misunderstand that we are not praying to these as gods. But we acknowledge them as part of the creation of Gizhemanidoo, Our creator. Because our creator is the one who created all of life, life on the earth. So without these two here well we wouldn’t be able to survive either. So that’s why we have sunrise ceremonies and we have full moon ceremonies. Full moon ceremonies are done by the female of the human realm and the fire is done by the male, the men and that’s why the roles, the female roles and male roles so these are important when we are doing ceremonies now we don’t have women do fire, especially sacred fire. That’s done by these young men over there and men don’t do full moon ceremony. We can be involved, like we can be supportive, women can be supportive here too. The woman can come and do the water ceremony and the men look after the fire here for the women, when they are doing their ceremonies. So we always we acknowledge this first family and in my understanding of before shkakmikwe ever took place here, her first name was siniikwe or sinii and what this means is stone or rock. So for the longest time they say that this here broke off from Dibikigiizis and found it’s orbit around and it was sinii, gii-sinii wi for many millions and millions of years until something happened, a shkode. A shkode happened and then there was a fire that happened in her center and then she became Shkakmikwe. That’s when life sprang forth. But the fire is the same fire that comes from giizis. But I don’t know how I still don’t know how the fire got in the center of her. How that took place but something happened there, how that happened. And then when the fire was implanted in her and she became life-giving force. Where life sprang forth from her. And her lifeblood is just like our blood that flows through our body is water and that is why women all over the world they lift water. They lift water and give thanks for water because water without water she would die too and we would all die, everything would all die. So that’s our understanding of this and these here are I noticed your talking about animate and inanimate and these are all animate when we talk about them. They’re names are animate it’s not that they’re inanimate so when we look at them from that perspective we talk about them, we talk to them, we talk to them in ceremony and because they have that spirit, manidoo… Manidooyaawag ooyaawag… which is I want to go to now to the what you want to know about because before you talk about the calendars or the cycle of the… the cycle and the calendars, you have to understand why that’s so and that’s because of how these, how these are all related to this teaching that you want to learn. I’m going to use medicine wheel so we sing that the first, our… our ear or our cycle our people used to use used to look at it, started in the month of March. Which was the ninaatik, which is the ziisbaakwad-giizis, which is the maple sugar moon. I still practice that life. It’s getting harder but I still do that. Just as our people used to do it and so when we begin this we when I drill that first tree and when that water comes out of the tree I give thanks I give thanks and put that tobacco down for that life giving, that the tree gave us and is still giving us and ninaatik is maple tree eh. That’s what we call that. Why we call it ninaatik? Man-tree… nini… ninaatik…

Because it’s animate?

Ooh it’s animate! But the name, ninaatik it’s called man-tree, ninaatik.

The man has to use it for firewood?

The sugar

It’s sugar yeah its sugar!

But the man has to make the fire to make the sugar.

But you know they… I don’t know if anyone ever heard the prophecy of the maple tree eh? The prophecy is that when the last maple tree dies upon the earth it will be the end of mankind. That’s a prophecy. You heard that? Yeah… But there’s also like ninaatik is, there’s a big story about that. About the origin of that tree and how it came to our people and it was assigned, it was assigned by the creator to give life to the Anishinaabe and that’s that maple syrup that our people use to survive on as a substance of our everyday meals. They mixed sugar with everything, everything. So it was a big part of our life. So that first moon is ninaatik or ziisbaakwad giizis, is the March moon. And then the April moon is that name eh? Nme is that sucker, that sucker moon, is April. And then we have May, which is the Waabgwanii. So we have three moons here. And they all intertwine together as a time of… like the nmeg that fish, that fish they say that when they come up the rivers and the streams and the creeks and all that they come and they clean all the waters out of there. So that the people will have clean water. That’s their job. And name too was a big food source for us when times were hard. So we use that, we ate that fish and it fed us, it fed our ancestors. And there was a time when our people never through anything away. When they caught that fish they ate everything. I even heard that a long time ago they used to they used to even clean out all the guts, all the innards, they would clean them all out and wash them all up and take the stuff right out of it and then clean them all up and then they used to fry that up. It was a real delicacy. I’m telling yous the secret that maybe I shouldn’t be giving away. Make some money with that. So waabgowanii, when waabgowanii came up and then that’s the time that ceremonies begin. Waabgowanii as soon as the flowers start to come out of the ground it was time for these young men to go out and fast. And the young ladies would know all about the moon lodge. The young women that were preparing themselves for that time that celebration of becoming a young woman. And all the grandmothers and all the aunties would all gather and they would sit with those young women and they would teach them, they would give them teachings and they would actually show them how to sew, to do all that needed to be done and be a woman. Gave them all the teachings about all the, about how to take care for ourselves, how to care for her body, how to care for her whole being. And then she would go into a moon lodge and she would sit there for four days and four nights and all the grandmothers and the aunties would all gather and they would all take care of her, and watch her. Make sure she was safe. And then when she would come out of her moon lodge. There would be a big lodge prepared, a big celebration and all the people would come and they would bring their gifts and they would celebrate that this young woman was now ready to carry on with the nation to take on her responsibility. So she, when she entered that most beautiful lodge for celebration, as she walked down that lodge she would carry with her all the teachings of her nation, of how to be a beautiful woman. Same thing with the young men, when the young man went out and fasted, he would know all that there is about the earth and all that there is to be a provider and their responsibility to be a man. And the uncles and the grandparents would be responsible for that. They would teach the young men what it was all about to be a man. Not so much as Anishinaabe but to be a man and how to be a responsible man. We’ve lost that way and as a result we see what’s happening in our community now. And that’s why I say we got to, we got to go back and we got to turn and look back at where we came from and pickup all that we have left behind, along our trail to get where we are today.

So that’s what happens in May. So these three moons are very, very busy, here. And we go into June, and here is the demin. And demin is what?