Treaty 2 Territory – Anishinaabemowin is the language of the Anishinaabe nation, and one of the oldest and most historically important First Nations languages in North America. Anishinaabemowin (also called Ojibwemowin, Saulteaux, the Ojibwe/Ojibwa language, or Chippewa) is a language, that spans from Manitoba to Québec, with a strong concentration around the Great Lakes and the lakes of Manitoba. Elders tell
Anishinaabemowin is the language of the Anishinaabe nation, and one of the oldest and most historically important First Nations languages in North America. Anishinaabemowin (also called Ojibwemowin, Saulteaux, the Ojibwe/Ojibwa language, or Chippewa) is a language, that spans from Manitoba to Québec, with a strong concentration around the Great Lakes and the lakes of Manitoba.
Elders tell us that the term Anishinaabemowin acknowledges the creation story of the Ojibwe people: “Anishinaabe” translates as, “the spirit that is lowered down from above.”
Message from Turtle Lodge
Language, given to us by the Creator brings sacred law and sacred teachings. Through our language is derived sacred understanding. We are an oral people, and our languages convey the spirit of teachings, heart to heart.
Everything we talk about in our original language is a reflection of life. For example, the word for water in many languages is connected to the meaning of life. Water means, “I am life,” and out of the water comes life. We are all born from the water.
Because our language is rooted in the land and is derived from the land itself, Mother Earth speaks to us with the language of life. She gives us the teachings we need to live in balance. Those of us who listen can hear her voice. The trees speak to us, the wind speaks to us, the rocks speak to us. Everything we know we learn from the land and what is on the land. We read from the land, the land teaches us, and that is where the voices come from.
Our Elders tell us that there are four levels of language:
1- The first level is the language we speak to each other in our daily conversations.
2- The second level is the language we speak to the Spirit, in prayer, such as in a pipe ceremony. This is a deeper, more profound way of speaking. Our languages are directly connected to our ceremonies and so the language of ceremonies is different from everyday conversational language.
3- The third level is the language used to interpret the language the Spirit speaks to us, such as in our most sacred ceremonies. The teachings provided through our ceremonies are in a spiritual language. They can be interpreted only by those who can understand the language. Sometimes the words that are used in ceremony are not used in everyday language and need to be interpreted even if you speak the language.
4- The fourth level of language is the language of dreams. For us as a people, dreams and visions have always provided guidance and direction directly from the spirit world, from the Creator. This language speaks directly to our spirit. It is different than the other levels of language.
The source of who we are as a people can be understood through our languages. When we speak, sing and pray in our original languages we connect to the spirit of the land that is the spirit of the Creator.
Our ancestors know how language was a part of all of creation. They understood the language of the land and water, the language of the plants and animals. They heard the voice of creation and knew of the interconnectedness among all living things. They worked with the natural cycles and rhythms of all that surrounded them and so the stories they told and the lives that they created were balanced, harmonious and connected to language.
My Anishinaabemowin Journey
I’ve been told that speaking the language feeds and nourishes the spirit, and this can bring healing. We all have our language within our spirit – from the moment we are brought down from the spirit world as a child. If you do not have your language, then the memory of the language simply needs to be awakened. I’ve decided, despite my age, to awaken my language.
What I have discovered in just three live lessons with Corey Whitford on MTNLive, is that Anishinaabemowin is a language that is so much more than words. The language is embedded with heart and spirit, the history and values of the people. It’s that holistic and balanced relationship to Mother Earth that I have begun to understand as I attempt to reclaim the language of my mother. It’s so unlike the English language which I have found to contain so many symbols, abstracts and nuances that are a part of its linear, and compartmentalized structure. Anishinaabemowin, on the other hand, is in tune with the harmony of nature, the cycles of the season, the phases of the moon, the interaction of other beings with whom we share Mother Earth. The language is reflected in everything around us. It’s a way of communicating and connecting with the world.
I’ve also discovered that there is an important connection between the language and traditional ways of being and knowing; and so when one speaks the language, one feeds and nourishes the spirit. Anishinaabemowin is fundamentally about reconnecting with the values of our way of life, through understanding and living the teachings that are embedded in the language. It’s all about returning to our identity, the basis of who we are as a people. I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest ways that ‘we as a people’ can exercise our ‘sovereignty’, is to reclaim our language. And so, my Anishinaabemowin journey begins….. Renée McGurry, Earth Lodge Development Helper