Gi-ga waabandan zaaga’igan.
(The eagle, the eagle
Patient like him.
From the forks on high
You will perceive a lake.)
- Ojibwe Medicine song for good hunting¹
Today, I am pleased to present part 15 of a blog series connecting my jewelry and graphic art as well as artwork by kindred artists with the Seven Grandfather teachings of the Ojibwe Anishinaabe People.
These Grandfather Teachings, kept safe for thousands of years by countless generations of Medicine People of the Anishinaabe Peoples, are passed down orally and from the sacred birch bark scrolls that still exist today.
Today's story is about a phenomenon called "
Zhaawano Giizhik , an American currently living in the Netherlands, was born in 1959 in NC, USA. Zhaawano has Anishinaabe blood running through his veins; the doodem of his ancestors from Baawitigong (Sault Ste. Marie, MI) is Waabizheshi, Marten. As a second- generation Woodland artist who writes stories and creates graphic art and jewelry designs, Zhaawano draws on the oral and pictorial traditions of his ancestors. For this he calls on his manidoo-minjimandamowin, or "Spirit Memory"; which means he tries to remember the knowledge and the lessons of his ancestors. In doing so he sometimes works together with kindred artists.
To Zhaawano's ancestors the MAZINAAJIMOWINAN or "pictorial spirit writings" - which are rich with symbolism and have been painted throughout history on rocks and etched on other sacred items such as copper and slate, birch bark and animal hide - were a form of spiritual as well as educational communication that gave structure and meaning to the cosmos that they felt they were an integral part of. Many of these sacred pictographs or petroforms – some of which are many generations old - hide in sacred locations where the manidoog (spirits) reside, particularly in those mystic places near the lake's coastlines where the sky, the earth, the water, the underground and the underwater meet.
The way Zhaawano understands it, it is in these sacred places invisible to the ordinary, waking eye that his design and storyteller's inspiration originate from.
Photo courtesy Simone McLeod.