Plants Gift

Traditional Anishinaabe knowledge also includes many teachings about how to heal with herbal medicine. In the video below, Larry Aitken, a traditional healer on the Leech Lake reservation, describes when, how, and if to procure mashkiki ('medicine') from Gichimanidoo gitigan ('Creator's garden). This kind of knowledge requires a deep understanding of traditional protocols to utilize the invisible connections between plants and Anishinaabeg ('human beings').

Dr. Meness on Health at Cass Lake Hospital

Here, Dr. Debra Meness explains the concept of bimaadiziwin (‘a healthy way of life’). Dr. Meness, who comes from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinaabeg First Nation, received training in both traditional Ojibwe and Western medicine. At the time this video was filmed, she was working at Cass Lake Hospital on the Leech Lake reservation as an osteopathic doctor, an alternative form of medicine that recognizes the body’s ability to heal itself. She explains how she is able to enter into the patient’s body through a doorway that transcends both space and time, leading her to the seam where the earth meets the sky and allowing her to call forth an energy that comes up through time.

When Dr. Meness refers to the megis shell, through which doctor's blow the breath of life, she is referring back to an ancient migration story of how the Anishinaabeg ('Ojibwe people') were led from the northeast coast to their present homeland in the Great Lakes region. It is said that the Anishinaabeg knew that it was time to move when a great megis shell rose up out of the water, leading them to the place where food grew in the water—a reference to manoomin ('wild rice'), which is still a staple of the Anishinaabe diet to this day.

zhaawanong | south

Zhaawanong (‘in the South’), as Larry Aitken explains, is associated with the spirit that bears the gifts of healing and warmth. The spirit may be embodied as small birds such as gijgijiggaaneshiinhyag(‘chickadees’), opichiwag (‘robins’), and sparrows.

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