"It said that in the beginning the spirits spoke in song. That is why we Anishinaabeg sing songs today. To honor the voices of the past, we sing to remember that creation began in song. A rumble across the universe, we call the spirit world."
As a jeweler working in the Aboriginal Canadian Art discipline generally called Native Woodland School of Art, Zhaawano draws on the oral and pictorial traditions of his Ojibwe Anishinaabe ancestors from the American Great Lakes area.
In order to be able to render these traditions into his jewelry creations, Zhaawano developed a distinct style and technique, which is a combination of the overlay method of the Hopi silversmiths and the graphic, hieroglyphic line drawings produced by his distant ancestors as well as by many contemporary Woodland painter artists.
The ancient MAZINAAJIMOWIN or 'pictorial spirit writings', rich with Anishinaabe symbolism and painted throughout history on rocks and etched on other sacred items such as birch bark, copper, slate, and animal hide, were a form of spiritual as well as educational communication that gave Zhaawano's ancestors structure and meaning in their lives and in their outlook on life.
Many of these sacred pictographs or petroforms – some of which are perhaps two millennia or at least many, many generations old - are still there, hiding in locations where the manidoog (spirits) reside, particularly in those mystic places near the coastline where the sky, the earth, the water, the underground, and the underwater meet.