Zhaawano Giizhik and the Story of the Fisher Star
"We do not know what may happen today, but let us act as though we were the Seven Stars (Big Dipper) in the sky that live forever. Go with me as far as you can, and I will go with you while there is breath in my body." - Alaxchiiaahush ("Plenty Coups"), chief and visionary of the Apsáalooke, 1848 – 1932
Boozhoo! I am Zhaawano Giizhik. As I grew up I heard many traditional stories about the stars and I learned that, since it is believed that stars move from east to west, new life and knowledge emerge from Waaban, the eastern sky and that the spirits of those who pass on travel to Ningaabii'an, the Western Sky. I also found out that the most well-known and beloved star constellation that plays a central role in Anishinaabe lore is the Big Dipper or Ursa Major. To the Anishinaabeg and the Cree, the Big Dipper is part of the constellation Ojiig-anang or Ochikatak (Fisher Marten Star).
It was in the course of 2012 that, under the sacred guidance of the Fisher Marten constellation, I chose to walk the creative path with my then artistic parter Simone McLeod - which eventually inspired me into creating this art project and website.
Now, 8 years later, the friendship and collaboration have come to an end, but the story of the Fisher Star continues ...
“We are artists born and raised under the Fisher Star. We've been sharing the creativity and the stories of our Ojibwe People since the beginning of times. We will do so as long as the Fisher Star shines above.”
Giving something back to my ancestors...
I consider myself a contemporary artist aware of my past. When I create, my thoughts are with my ancestors and with my People who, against all odds against all attempts to erase them from the face of our mother earth, are still alive and really have come a long way. Yes, I feel there is a strong vein of art in the culture of our Peoples.
Long before Western culture began to overshadow ours, our People developed a good feeling about themselves. They recognized beauty, mystery, harmony, and sacredness in the earth’s growing circle, the water, and the sky. We were harmonious with all that.
As a contemporary artist, I aspire to make that precious link with the world of my ancestors visible again through my jewelry, written stories, poetry, and pen-and-ink drawings. I feel it is time to return something to my heritage, to give something back to the ancestors for all the visions, values, and teaching stories they passed on. It is a good and rewarding journey. Feel free to join me in it!
Welcome to the world of the Fisher Star: Powerful, contemporary expressions of Ojibwe Anishinaabe spirit rendered into precious metals, gemstones, and stories
Boozhoo, biindigen, welcome to the world of Native Spirit of the Fisher Star...
Native Spirit Of The Fisher Star is a project by Native Woodland artist Zhaawano Giizhik, who chose to walk his spiritual/creative path under the sacred guidance of Ojiiganang (the Fisher constellation, called Ursa Major or the Great Bear, or Big Dipper by Euro-Americans). A jeweler, graphic designer, poet, and blog writer, Zhaawano decided in the course of 2012 to team up with Simone McLeod. Great dreams and inspirational stories were born since then and the countless one-of-a-kind works of art that sprang from their collaboration blended a proud Ojibwe Anishinaabe heritage with the long-practiced craftsmanship, original artistry, and flying imagination of the makers...
To Zhaawano, his Ojibwe-inspired wedding rings, jewelry designs , and graphic works of art are evocative visual descriptions of the experience of his ancestors from Baawitigong, Upper Michigan. His jewelry explores the powerful history and stories of the Gichi-gamiin Anishinaabeg, the Anishinaabe Peoples of the Great Lakes. His countless creations tell of sacred tales of wild rice and the white birch. They tell of the legendary prankster Wiinabozho (Nanabozho) and the powerful men and women of the Sacred Medicine Lodge. They tell of the Thunderbirds that vist the Earth in springtime to chase away giant Horned Underwater Creatures. They tell of the Sky Spirits and Star constellations and of great waters and land mysteries, of sandy shores and enchanted islands covered with mist and of the spirits, big and little, that dwell there - and of many, many other magical, spirit-infused beings and topics that are Anishinaabe at heart...
Every single design, each single detail, of Zhaawano's jewelry designs and writings reflects or revitalizes a story or teaching that is firmly embedded in the beautiful oral and pictorial traditions of his Anishinaabe People...
The heart and soul of my art project
"My Fisher Star Creations art project offers you a choice of original artwork, powerful as well as elegant expressions of Anishinaabe spirit, each work of art possessed with a heart and a soul.
The one-of-a-kind jewelry , stories , and poetry that you find on this website reflect dreams and visions that, although of a highly personal nature, are deeply rooted in the collective conscience of the Ojibwe Anishinaabe People.
My creations are teaching mirrors intended to offer a glimpse, not just into the ancient stories of the ancestors, but also into the contemporary life and the hearts of the Anishinaabeg of today.
My stories and works of art take you on a journey to the supernatural realms of the Fisher Marten who after the Sky Spirits shot an arrow in his tail became the everlasting signpost of the seasons; of the Evening Star of the West, representing old age and wisdom and whose authority was tested by his former student the Morning Star who symbolizes the East and youth; of Sky Woman Spirit who placed the Anishinaabeg on the new-born Earth the shape of a snapping turtle and then transformed into the moon; of the beloved trickster and creator Trembling Rabbit Tail (Wiinabozho) who was sent to Earth by GICHI-MANIDOO to teach the Anishinaabeg; of Black Bass who is the patron of the underworld and bringer of medicine, ritual and healing; and, of course, of the mighty Thunderbird Spirits appearing each spring, bringing fertility along with thunder and lightning while chasing giant underworld snakes and magic underwater lynxes.
Read their magic tales and explore with us the natural habitats of the crane, the eagle, the hawk, the bear, the fisher, the otter, the marten, the loon, the fish, the wolf, and the turtle.
Hear their voices.
Find their spirits in the artistry of my creations. Feel their ever-present legacy in my written stories.
Discover their reflection in the highly polished surfaces of my precious metal jewelry, defined by graceful outlines and highlighted by the magical colors of mounted gemstones.
Feel the heart and soul of my works of art, then choose a piece of jewelry that speaks to your soul, that you love and will treasure as long as you can see the trees and the flowers grow and the constellation of the Big Dipper shine above...
I would be honored and delighted if you would undertake this journey with me."
- Zhaawano Giizhik