April is NaPoWriMo (niizhwaaswi giizhigad)
by waaseyaa'sin christine sy
ishkigamizigan giizis is boiling sap moon
boiling sap moon is april
michi saagiig* sugar
michi saagiig sap
michi saagiig sugarbush
yea. it’s like that.
*michi saagiig are a group of Anishinaabeg whose name reflects their association with living at the mouth of rivers. In English, they are known as the Mississauga. While their land base covers a large area of south-central-to-eastern Ontario, their First Nation communities are Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, Alderville First Nation, Scugog First Nation, and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (who host an annual conference on Mississauga peoples/Nation). My knowledge of the Mississauga comes largely from Doug Williams of Curve Lake First Nation and other families and individuals I have had the honour of working with on the land, celebrating & grieving with, and ceremony-ing with in Michi Saagiig territory. As an Ojibway Anishinaabe woman of mixed ancestry and therefore insider-outsider to this area, working with fellow Anishinaabeg throughout our Nation is always a privilege; being a visitor to this area, I always stand to be corrected in my work/writing about life here. To learn more about Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg and/or their lands which so much of Ontario is built on, and because you see have already seen how the trees have influenced me, here are some names of people whose work has influenced my thinking while I reside in the Nogojiwanong area, and which may be found online: Dorothy Taylor, visionary for the Sacred Water Circle Conference (happening in May 2014; search online); Caleb Wazhushk (land-based practitioner, owner of Canadian Bushcraft, author); Jeff Beaver (restoration work in wild rice and land-based practitioner); James Whetung and daughter Odemin Whetung (working & teaching wild rice and the sugar); Sarah DeCarlo (musician); Rick Beaver (artist, environmentalist – see Black Oak Savannah in Alderville First Nation, also online); and, Jimson Bowler (artist). I name these people because I know their work can be found online albeit, for some it may be a bit more difficult. More accessible work includes contemporary Michi Saagiig writers Drew Hayden Taylor and Leanne Simpson; historical Michi Saagiig writer, George Coppaway; non-Indigenous writers on Michi Saagiig history such as Heidi Bohacker as well as Donald Smith; and of course, there’s a dictionary from the Southern Ontario area called The Eastern Chippewa-Ottawa-Ojibwa Dictionary (Richard A. Rhodes, 1993) which I’ve been told seems to hold words closest to the michi-saagiig dialect.
I include the lengthy note as a way to ethically, in my mind & heart anyways, share this NaPoWriMo submission, which is very much my work, but is also very much tied to the place it comes from and the gifts that allowed it to manifest. nahaaw, mii sa iw. that’s it.