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Noozwinkeng (Naming) as Cultural transmission [archive]

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Noozwinkeng (Naming) as Cultural transmission

I grew up and was educated in M’Chigeeng. Throughout that time, many things were left unsaid and many Nishnaabe stories were not in the curriculum. As a result, I did not know or learn very much about Nishnaabe traditions or local history. Doing research as an adult has opened my eyes and challenged many assumptions I had about our community. Since Christianity was all I had known and seen in M’Chigeeng, I just assumed that we were all Christians. The following story (and others) have demonstrated that we, M’Chigeeng Nishnaabeg, are not that far displaced from practising these beautiful, ‘heathen, pagan’ rites.

Noozwinkeng - Naming
Debaajmod: Alvin ‘Ted’ Corbiere, July 4, 1998
E-nishnaabewisidood: Alan Corbiere

Wi gewe ni’ii gii-bmi-noozwinkeng, nishnaabe-noozwin ko gii-miinigaazwaad Nishnaabeg gonda go naa e-shkiniigjig, e-shki-maajiijijig gii-miingaazwaad noozwinan, nishnaabe-noozwinan.
When the naming took place, when the Nishnaabeg were give Nishnaabe names, those young people, adolescents, they were given names, Nishnaabe names.

Mii-sh oodi, zhaazhi go naa maanda, manj go naa pii gaa-nsa-bboongiziwaabaane, "Ooh, I was young, 7, 7 or 8."
That’s where, this was long time ago, I don’t know how old I must have been, "Ooh I was young, 7 or 8."

N-maamnendaan-sh wii go wi zhaazhi go naa maanda, oodi nongo endaad naa, Marilyn nongo endaad nsawyiing zhiwi, miinwaa Biimtaygan, nsawyiing ko gii-te zhiwi mtigo-gamig, skooni-gamig gewe ko zhiwi gii-zhichigaade.
But I remember this, over there, where Marilyn lives now, between her and Biimtaygan, there used to be a loghouse in between there, it was made into a school house.

Mii ko gaa-nji-skoonwiwaad binoojiinyag. Lakeview School jibwaa-zhichigaadeg nongo oodi eteg naa.
That’s where children used to go to school. Before Lakeview School was built, where it is now.

Mii ko zhiwi gaa-nji-skoonwiwaad binoojiinyag.
That’s where the children used to go to school.

Aanwi go gamiing zhiwi gii-te bezhig, waasa-sh go naa wii binjigaadesewag nookming ensa-giizhgak naa.
Although there was one in the village, but it was far for them to walk from Lakeview everyday.

Gaawii daabaanag nongo ezhiinwaad, gii-zhiinsiiwag.
There weren’t as many cars as there are today.

Bebezhig go naa eta gii-biwag wi pii daabaanag.
There was only an odd car in those days.

Mii-sh go oodi gaa-binjigaadesewaad, bindasewaad giwi naa gwetaani-waasa go wi naa binoojiinh go naa bboong.
That’s where they walked from, that’s quite a ways for child in winter.

Mii-sh oodi gaa-zhiw’nigoowaangoba ngoding;
That’s where they took us one time.

Wii-noozwinkaaza giiwenh maaba. Mii Ogaa-ba, mii-sh go naa gaa-noozwinkaanaad niwi, Jidmoonh-sh gii-zhinkaazo.
This one is going to be named. That Ogaa (deceased) was the one who named him, Red Squirrel was his name.

Mii wi gaa-miinind wi noozwin, Jidmoonh.
That is the name he was given, Red Squirrel.

Aah, giitaawgaawag kina ngii-zginjiindimi, giitaawgaawag.
Aah, they are dancing in a circle, we all held hands, they are dancing around in a circle.

Mii-sh wa Ogaa-ba, kiwenzii, "ooh...Wenjida, wenjida, wenjida" gii-nwewemaaza naa.
That is the one, Ogaa-ba, the old man, "ooh...because it is, it is so, for that purpose",1 he sang.

Ooh n-biimskogaami-sh go naa gaye binoojiinyag, mdimoowenhik, gekaanhik.
Ooh, we are dancing around in a circle, children, old ladies and old people.

Mii-sh maaba wi pii gwiizens gii-noozwinkaaza.
That’s the time when this boy was named.

Mii wi shkintam gii-waamdamaanh, wi pii maanda noozwinkaazod go waya.
That’s the first time I seen that, that time when someone was named.

Gchi-gbeyiing gaawii miinwaa ngii-waamdaziin wi.
I haven’t seen that again for a long time.

Mii go bijiinag nongo nanda miinwaa bgamshkaag, Pow Wows etegin.
Now they are again just starting to come up at the Pow Wows.

Gaa maa naa zhaagnaash gii-bgidnaziin wi, maanda go naa gaye Nishnaabe ezhtwaad wii-bmi-zhichiged, gii-zhiingenmigaaza.
The white man did not allow it, for the Nishnaabe to do as his traditions said, he (Nishnaabe) was disliked.

Kina gegoo gii-bmi’jigaazo mkobmasenh, kina gegoo zhiingenmaawaan.
He was called everything, bearwalker, they didn’t like him in every way.

Mii eta go wii-zhaagnaashiigaabwinind gaa-zhi-ndawenmaawaad.
They only wanted him to be like the white man. (To stand as a white man.)

Mii eta go gaa-nji-zhichgewaad wi.
That’s the only reason why they did that.

Mii-sh wi, mii go eta wi pii genii gii-waamdamaambaa wi.
That’s it, that’s the only time that I have seen that.

Manj go naa iidig pii "must have been in the late ‘40’s, yeah, in the ‘40’s" weweni go. "Yeah, mid 40’s maybe."
I don’t know when that was, "must have been in the late ‘40’s, yeah, in the ‘40’s" truly. "Yeah mid 40’s maybe."

Nminjmendaan go wi.
I remember that.

The story is about naming but it also attests to the Nishnaabeg’s resistance to assimilation through enduring cultural rites. Many Nishnaabeg are working towards cultural preservation, maintenance and transmission, of which the naming ceremony is integral. Nishnaabe parents want to have our story told and they also want to have our language revived. Both can be worked towards by using stories told in Nishnaabemwin. However, more Nishnaabemwin stories from different communities need to be told and read. My father and I offer this story as a lesson in M’Chigeeng local history and also a language lesson.

--written by Alan Corbiere, Anishinaabe

Additional Reading

 American Indian Tribes
 Ojibwa Language
  Ojibwe Culture
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 Ojibway Legends
 Ontario First Nations

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