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Tuesday, 18 October 2016 19:05

Minaajim: Good Stories from Curve Lake First Nation - BINAAKWE GIIZIS

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As told by Doug Williams to Julie Kapyrka

            This is the time of year we know as BINAAKWE GIIZIS, which means “falling leaves moon.”

            We are very much in tune with the cycle of the moons. Each moon has a name, similar to how the Roman calendar is divided in months, and then divided into different seasons as well.

            But instead of four seasons, we have

six that I know of. These seasons are more in line with the activities and movements of animals and the cycles of the plants from blooming to resting.

            This is also a very spiritual time of year—when a certain star cluster known as the Pleiades comes closest to the earth. Therefore spirits are closer to us.

            Prayer is intensified at this time of year as the connection between the Sky World and Mother Earth is at its closest.

            The moon is also at her closest to earth at this time. BINAAKWE GIIZIS is a harvest moon, a time of activity when the animals and plants give of themselves more freely for food.

            WAABIMIIN (Apples), OKOSIMAAN (pumpkins), OKOSIMAANENS (squash), and MANDAAMIN (corn) are part of the Anishinaabe harvest. This is a beautiful time of year when Mother Earth is in her finest dress, showing off her spectacular true colours.

            This is also the time of hunting, although things are much different now. My people hunted for thousands of years without imposed, outside government regulations.

            Our system of governance was in line with supporting sustainable food sources for our people. Through relationships of deep respect and gratitude, we hunted various animals who continued to give our people clothes, shelter and food.

            I am reminded of one of the Elders telling me about a man who was known to have hunted deer without any weapons. He would go into the bush and hang his clothes up for a few days until they had no smell.

            He would also do a sweat lodge ceremony, not only to commune with the spirit of the deer, but also to rid his body of toxins and any smells.

            Masking his smell, three or four days later he would come out of the bush with a deer.

            What an amazing way to hunt. This man killed that deer through patience, meditation, and a thorough knowledge of the deer, who would then freely give itself up to him through a process of spiritual recognition and connection.

            We have a very close relationship with the deer. We depend on that animal. However, the deer can survive without the human.

            We have to be so careful. We are an entity that was introduced here on earth into a system that was already operating very well—where we have to take care. We have so much respect for the animals who sustain us.

            I see more and more that hunting is becoming “macho,” and trophy hunting seems to be a big thing.

            My people never hunted simply for sport. The taking of a life for food is a very sacred relationship. We have a deep gratitude for all the animals that sustain us.

            This time of year is also a time of ceremony as well. BINAAKWE GIIZIS is a time for us to give many thanks to the many things that give us a good life.

            It is also a time of fasting for a dream of insight to learn more about the culture in depth . . . but that is another story.

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