Posts Tagged ‘Language’

Every once in a while an Indian (read American Indian) will give a friend or family member a nickname. Sometimes these names are given just for fun, other times they are given to help that person be humble. “Dances With Wolves” comes to mind.

I actually know some of my aunts and uncles by their nicknames: Ishky, Bunny, and Boogens are three.

I told my wife that I finally figured out what her Indian nickname was.

“Well, what is it?”, she asked.

“Too Many Pillows”, I said.

She laughed… because she knew it was true.

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In Anishinabe it would be…Mino Noos Giizhigad

Mē·nō Nūs Gē·zhē·gŭd: Happy (My) Father’s Day!


Dear Dad,

You would have been 90, and still going strong today, if you hadn’t smoked.


your son.


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March is a month of many transitions so it has a few Anishinabe names to describe these. There is:

Ăn·dĕ´gō·gē´zĭs, or Crow Moon. Not that Crows migrate, but they fly around the area more. Perhaps because the warmer weather during March days melts the snow and the crows search to eat the preserved bodies of various animals which the melting snow reveals. (Hence my Haiku yesterday 🙂 )

crow moon

Canadian Goose Moon

Nĭ·kĭ´gē´zĭs, or Canadian Goose Moon. This is the time of the year when the Canadian Geese start migrating back north if the weather is favorable.

There is also  Ō´nă·bă·nĭ·gē´zĭs or Hard Crusted Snow Moon. With warmer weather during the days, the snow melts and then freezes again at night, causing its surface to develop a hard crust. Sometimes, during the day, it is just warm enough for there to be sleet that freezes when it hits the frozen snow on the earth.


Bĕ·bū·kwĕ´daa·gĭ·mĕ-gē´zĭs, the Snowshoe Breaking Moon; Because of the hard crust, it is easier to break your snowshoes when walking on this type of snow.


Zēn·sĭ·baa·kwăd´ōkē´gē´zĭs, or, Maple Sugar Making Moon. Warm days and chilly nights are the best kind of weather for Maple Sugaring as the sap flows best in these circumstances.

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Wootihu didn’t know what to think about this style of delivery so he mostly kept quiet as he paid attention to the current of the river.

Soon they would see Muskrat dwellings and Nanabozhu would turn into a Muskrat and talk about the social habits of Muskrats. And then he would say out of the blue, “The Bagwajiwinini were a virtuous people, in all senses of the word.”

While Nanabozhu was talking and transforming back and forth; navigating Mud River was not so easy for Wootihu, as it was shallow in some places and deeper in others. So the water was sometimes up to his ankles, and sometimes up to his neck. While he was splashing through the river he had to listen carefully as Nanabozhu would get lost in thought and would speak only when he felt like it.

“The reason you don’t see many of them now is because they are so caught up in their own cares, they do not often go out of their way.”

Wootihu heard this all the while plagued by mosquitoes which whined irritatingly around any of his exposed skin, and deer and moose flies would painfully bite him whenever they could find a spot to land–usually tangling in the hair on his head.

The mud sucked at his feet, slowing him down and tiring him out.

That was how they traversed the whole length of Mud River as it meandered around and up through the reservation, until they arrived at the bridge by the Fishery. The place that Wootihu originally thought they were going!

The only beings Wootihu had seen were a few kids  swimming in the pond just before the bridge and some houses back of town. This had taken them eight more hours and the longest night of the summer was approaching.

“I was hoping we would have seen one by now.” said a dejected and worn out Wootihu.

Nanabozhu eyed Wootihu with a hint of sadness. “I’ll take you to a place where I know one will be at home, but I’ll have to blindfold you because it’s so close to downtown Redby.

So Nanabozhu blindfolded Wootihu and turned him around four times, and led him by the hand, taking him circuitous ways until they arrived inside of the home of the Bagwajiwinini. Night had descended.

Nanabozhu’s parting words were, “I will leave you here so you can ask him all the questions you want when you see him, but don’t take the blindfold off until you have counted to eight, as I make my exit.”

With that, Wootihu heard footsteps out of the house and a door closing softly as he slowly counted to eight by one thousands. And then took off his blindfold.

Wootihu found himself standing in front of his bathroom mirror.

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Just now,

he declared himself

shrill and raspy from the treetops.

Kăkĕgēzhĭk! Kăkĕgēzhĭk!

I didn’t know

birds spoke Anĭshĭnăbeimōwĭn

this far south.



*Kakegezhik means “Everlasting Sky” or “Everlasting Day”.

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