Mother Earth

Larry Aitken on Spirit of Water at Leech Lake

The next video offers a unique perspective of how a traditional elder like Larry Aitken speaks to nibi manidoo ('spirit of the water') to help a younger man, Tim Powell, understand. The clip was filmed on Leech Lake at the place where Bugonaygeshig led a revolt against U. S. troops. [for a fuller version of visit the Digital Partnerships with Indian Communities website].

Tim Powell had asked Larry Aitken if the water possessed a memory of the Battle of Sugar Point, one of the last battles of the Indian Wars, which the Ojibwe won. On behalf of Tim Powell, Larry Aitken spoke directly to the water and was told of a much deeper sense of history that preceded the coming of the Anishinabeg and the white people, but which is still very much present and accessible today, if one knows how to ask properly.

Larry Aitken on Cosmology at White Earth

The video below was recorded on the White Earth reservation on a day when Larry Aitken, Andy Favorite, and Dan Jones gathered to reflect on the meaning of Anishinaabe culture, history, and language. They were speaking to the young Ojibwe people who participate in the Quiz Bowl, an extramural game to teach high school and tribal college students about their culture. The river, the wind, and the sunshine are all animate beings that participated in the storytelling. Here, Larry Aitken translates as mishoomis ('grandfather') speaks to his children about Anishinaabe cosmology.

nimaamaa-aki | mother earth

Nimaamaa-aki ('Mother Earth'), as Larry Aitken explains, is the manidoo ('spirit') in charge of the four orders of the earth—-1) soil / covering; 2) plants; 3) animals; 4) people. The spirit of Nimaamaa-aki is embodied by giigonhyag ('fish'), ginebigoog ('snakes'), and nibi ('water'). These are messengers of mikinaak ('snapping turtle').

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