This set, the sterling necklace an elegantly stylized variant on the classic Dine’ (Navajo) squash blossom necklace, tells the fascinating story of a more than thousand years old prophecy that lead to to the legendary odyssey of my Native ancestors, the Ojibwe Anishinaabeg of Baawiting in present-day Upper Michigan, as it was handed down orally from generation to generation.
When the great Nation of Waabanaki (People of the Dawn Land) was first created, GICHI-MANIDOO, the Great Mystery, placed them along the northern shores of the Great Salt Water (Atlantic Ocean). They lived a long time in prosperity when eight prophets came among them, bringing with them instructions of the Seven Fires, warning the People that they should move westward, and to follow seven signs. Not all Waabanaki believed in the prophecies, but those who did began – possibly around 1000 BCE - a 1500 to 200 years lasting migration marked by “fires”.
In the period of the third fire, about 1200 summers ago after reaching the Lower Peninsula of present-day Michigan, three groups began to emerge from the Waabanaki Nation or, as they had started to call themselves – ANISHINAABEG: the Ojibweg appointed as “Faith Keepers”, or keepers of the religion and caretakers of the Sacred Rattle and the water Drum of the Midewiwin; the Odaawaag or Trader People, responsible for sustenance; and the Bodwewaadamiig or People of the Fire Pit, who came in charge of the Sacred Ancestral Fire. These three groups formed a loose confederation called the Three Fires which provided protection.
Along the migration small family groups of clans stopped and set up permanent settlements while the larger body moved on. Between 500 and 1000 years ago a legendary, fifth major stopping place was chosen by Jijaak, a crane, sent from the skies, and it was called Baawitigong, or Place Of The Rapids (present-day Sault Ste. Marie). From the Upper Peninsula of what is now Michigan State the migration split, one group moving westward, the other moving north into present-day Canada, and still many generations passed as the prophecies of the Seven Fire were carried out.
The legendary migration of my distant ancestors and the age-old Midewiwin concept of the Seven Fires I depicted with the use of seven oval turquoise stones, each adorned with a crown of seven pear-shaped red corals (which substitute the blossoms of a traditional squash blossom
necklace); the silver eagle feathers mounted on the double row of silver beads, represent spirituality, courage, and vision.
The pendant that I fastened beneath the necklace – substituting the ‘naja’ of a traditional Dine’ squash blossom necklace – represents the Eigth Fire.
“As soon as the people of all colors and faith choose the right path, a path of respect, wisdom, and spirituality, will the Seventh fire light the Last Fire, an eternal fire of peace, which will unfold an era of spiritual illumination…”
The unity and survival strength of the Anishinaabeg as a People are represented by the turquoise stone in the center.
In the photo, the Eight fires appear to form a heart-shaped path.