Mindimoyen & The Pipe Ceremony
by waaseyaa'sin christine sy
and then that mindimoyen, gichi piitzijid, that old one, that elder, that woman said her words:
Kwey Kwey (in the language of The People on whose land her feet stood)
Wachay (in the language of the One who was living there and giving up her life there, for The People)
Waynaboozhoo (in the language of her own People who acknowledge their greatest teacher in all things)
Se:ko, Taanshi, Tanisi, and Greetings in all the languages of all the Peoples of Our Lands. And, hello, bonjour for those who are still coming to learn their Mother’s tongue and their mothertongue, as well for those here in this circle who are not from this land but truly stand beside us, with full mind, heart, spirit, and body or are bound to us through your children.
and in this way she went on acknowledging the People who came to partake in spirit and ceremony with each Other through the power of paawagan–the pipe, on that island. in this way she went on to speak her loving, reverent words to the directions and all the spirit families that live in each of the directions, live there in a continuous cycle of giving life. in this way she acknowledged all of life: seen & unseen, forgotten & remembered; present, past, and future; human and non-human. in this way, she acknowledged and humbly asked their presence. in this way, she and the People sang songs of life, of gratitude, of the coming dawn, of prophecy, of hesitancy, of joy, of lament, of warriorship, of life in the morning, of offering medicine, of butterflies and bears and rain…
the island shivered.
mindimoyen then turned to those who stood beside her and spoke quiet words to them. her eyes watered; she looked down. she gave them each something and hugged them. she turned to the People and spoke her words:
The people here beside me have given up their life for the next few days to help me with this pipe ceremony and in that they have given up their life to help you. It matters not how they dress. If you see a man who is not in a ribbon shirt, ask yourself why you do not see the man who has placed himself here with Us. If you see a woman who is not in a skirt, ask yourself why you do not see the woman who has endured much to be here amongst Us. If you see a child running here and there, this is a good thing that your eyes still let you recognize a child’s play. If you see someone who looks like neither man nor woman or who looks like both man and woman, see Them. These people beside me are Our Helpers. It is all of our responsibility to ensure their needs and the needs of their family are taken care of well while we are here.
and then she said her words:
For the past few moons the People have been rising, moving, dancing, writing, singing, blocking, walking, standing firm, standing up, reading, talking, laughing, fighting, crying, thinking, blogging, tweeting, driving, flying, giving interviews, educating, holding town hall meetings, strategizing, judging, joining, being included, being excluded, beading, hunting, snaring, being secure, being confused, being sure, making art, watching, listening, dreaming, praying, smoking, fasting, and starving….
The People have been doing this because The People have been compelled to do this. We are doing this as One. We have Helpers, too.
Those who have made Treaty with us, or agreements with us, or say they will make agreements with us are continuing to kill our People and are making moves to kill our Mother. They tried to kill our People when we did not want to Treat; they try now that we are in Treaty. They would do this to their own People as well. To the same Mother that will feed their children’s children. There are those of Our People who are a part of this.
My words are plain. I don’t dabble in eloquence over such things so please understand. If you are uncomfortable with these words, please understand; swallow your discomfort, hold it close in a bundle lovingly and listen with an open mind and heart. These days will be your chance to listen to those around you. These days will be your chance to use your words, your heart words, your thinking words, the words of your spirit.
that old woman, she kneeled down on that old, worn out hudson bay blanket and she prepared Paawagan. she held him close to, lovingly. she rubbed the salt water from her eyes on his stem. she whispered into her bowl. she whispered into that asemaa (tobacoo) pressing her lips against her knarled hand. she held him & her and them up in all directions.
the island shivered.
mindimoyen spoke her words:
We are here on the matter of Windigo consuming us for hundreds of years. We are here in recognition that there are divisions amongst us, uncertainties. There is confusion. There is fear. We are hear because we want to be together. We want to be with each other in our closeness and in our distance. We are here to smoke this pipe and speak our words so that at the end of it, at the end of our dealing with Windigo and Windigo’s Helpers, we remain together as the Original Peoples of Turtle Island honouring first our Mother.
We remain together as the Original Peoples of Turtle Island honouring first our Mother.
Honouring first, Our Mother, for all time.
For those of us who believe that dealing with Windigo for the good of those of us living in sheds and with no water, please use your words and help us understand your heart and mind. Killing our Mother to feed our People makes no sense to this old woman. There are those here who also do not understand. My words are plain. Please hold your discomfort and hear me. Do not deceive yourself. Windigo is Windigo. There is no other way to say it or explain it. Windigo gets Power from our land in a different way than we get Power from our Mother. Windigo gets Power by taking us away from the land and animals and the lessons she has to teach us. Those who suffer in poverty amongst us do so because there is too much distributed to a few of us and we have forgotten the give away ceremony and we have forgotten to teach it. For those of us that think Windigo can be outsmarted, let it be so. Speak your words then here so that we can know your heart and mind and still stand on our Mother, with our Ogitchidaakwewag and her Helpers, and simultaneously beside you, in spirit, as you go on that path. If this is to be your way, let us, Your People, put you out on that Path in a good way, with all of us and your Protectors, your Power. If you intend on being a kind of Warrior that goes after Windigo, let your Self be known to us. Let your methods be known to us Your People, to this sacred shkode (fire) and mokijiwanibiish (spring water), these medicines, and all the manidooyag that are here with us at this very time. Let us know what you are doing so we can decide how to be with you. Your words often sound like those of Windigo and it is hard to tell what your meaning is. Your actions are not clear and create mistrust.
Tell us what Power you align yourself with? That of your Mother and Gizhewe Manidoo? Or, that of the institutions built by Windigo; the visions painted by Windigo?
For those of us who stand with our Mother and wish nothing to do with Windigo, speak your truth about that decision. Tell us why you stand where you do, how you do? Is it because you are not brave enough to face Windigo? Is it because you are brave enough to not face Windigo? Is it because you will not leave her side. Tell us your heart and mind and speak your words.
For those of us who are divided in our heart and mind. Talk about that. Give that to us to carry, give that to shkode, drink some mokijwaniibiish. Take your time, Be still. Tell us how you are able to be here and there at the same time. Tell us how you are unable to be here and there at the same time.
I am an old woman. I know where I stand. I am here with these Helpers and we are here for you. We are no better than you or no less. We will also share our words when the time comes.
Ahaaw. Let’s smoke.
*saasaakwe* (call out to the spirits)
paawaagwan went around. the spirit of voice and listening went around. it took a long, long time. much was learned about each other. much became clear. the differences between the People became understood.
the island shivered.
turtle island grew.
mindimoyen said her words:
Now we know where we stand. Now we understand each other. Paawagun has given herself, himself, themselves to us to know Peace. Even in our differences that manidoo (spirit) is between us. Let us be together for our Mother first on these next few days. Then, let us come together again to discover how we might stop the suffering of our People by our own two hands, and lands, and gifts given to us by Creation. This is the medicine that will kill Windigo. Ahaaw. Mii sa iw.
and she spoke those words of thanks for the Spirits who came, the Pipe, the Helpers, and the People. she said the word that acknowledges all of our relatives.
the next day, those Warriors and the People went over there to meet with Windigo. those other Warriors had a meeting of their own with The People in the land of the Buffalo. and those Warriors who were starving they stayed there, with The People on that Island, just across from where Windigo orchestrates. The People went the ways that were best for them. The People were still one in their own ways.
the Pipe was between them and so was the understanding that Mother is the priority, then the People.