all the elements that make up anishinaabe life through ojibway makwa ikawe embodiment + anishinaabe feminist lens

Month: December, 2014

“Um it, it isn’t really high on our radar, to be honest…”


Some honesty.

amiigawech. chi amiigawech.

I’ll take this over silence any day. Or being dismissed. Ignored. All ways Stephen Harper typically communicates with Indigenous peoples. Communication styles each and everyone of us has experienced at some point in our lives if not on the daily.

I’ll take honesty over being buttered up.

Or, bamboozled with political politically correct speak; b*llsh*t.

Honesty. Candidness. Forthrightness.


It’s mino mashkiki (good medicine) and a yes in my books because unless I’m writing a poem or story, I don’t have time for metaphor; I can’t do round the bush or back door communications on things that are real-and-in-the-present important. I got no time

for rhetoric or rhyme
hidden narratives
or reading between lines,
only got time
when it comes
to Indigenous lives.

So, amiigawech for your honesty, Mr. Stephen Harper, now we can keep gettin’ sharper at doing what we’re doing in our every day ways, relationships, and interactions. Getting more precise with our daily direct actions against violences against Indigenous women. There’s no shortage of fodder for the grist mill. I’m fairly busy dealing with violence in the multitude of ways it manifests. So busy in fact, I don’t have time to hammer away at a prime minister of canada or any other person in power asking them to inquire about the violences we experience whether they are saying “No” consistently and clearly or “Yes” for public persuasion (aka personal gain). My power is in my body, between my synaptic gaps and on my tongue flicking to the beat of my o.da.way.gun (drum, which has [my] heart in it). My power is my loyal friend standing beside me taking my lead and stepping up when they see I got no more juice; me taking their lead, too, in their time of need. In that young one–my own or someone elses–before and after me. In the acquaintance-friend-colleague-peer-frenemy who isn’t invested in me for how I can feed their ego or career needs but rather who steps up in the face of violence whether they like me or not, whether I can feed them or not, because it’s the right thing to do.


E v e r y s i n g l e t i m e.

My power is the stranger intervening. Making a sound. Raging in silences, downcast eyes, dead-on stares, articulate assertive words against those forces trying to diminish my life or my kids, my friends, my relatives, my neighbours, my colleagues, acquaintances, the fellow stranger.

It’s in jiibay miikaana.
It’s in ndinawemag amiinawaa ni’ododemn.
It’s in manidoyaag.
It’s in nipawaamanag.
It’s in gizhewe manidoo.

No, I don’t have time for anything else other than to respond to violence as it occurs on the daily or every other daily. I use my power to back: speak back, sound back, write back, stare back, have your back and back up, when necessary. I’ve been doing this since I first learned I can: teenager.

To keep hammering away at a colonizing government that is inherently violent, has been for a few hundred years, continues to be, and shows no signs of slowing up AND that is telling us clearly, over and over again, that we are not on the radar, is like…

it’s like….

it’s like trying to make someone love us.

I learned to stop doing that a long time ago.

It’s like trying to make windigo love us.

Why would we do that, especially when we can and do love ourselves? Especially when we are doing the work already of loving ourselves in relationship with others?

For the full text of Stephen Harpers interview with Peter Mansbridge:



NOTE: This blog post is not meant to efface any efforts at making anti-violence against Indigenous women, or people, a national priority. I think that putting pressure on the government in public ways is a part of the process and is an effective one because it plants seeds in the minds of Canadians and Indigenous peoples: it models and educates. It signals to society what is wrong and what is or is not being done about it. I think the fact the question was asked in such a powerful arena by such a powerful person was golden and perfect. I am neither for nor against a public inquiry or a commission or any other formal investigative process paid for with Indigenous resources and Canadian taxpayer money. I am for changing the ethos of the colonizing heteropatriarchal nation-state, resource exploitation for wealth generation, capitalism, and assimilation/integration.

So, what is my meaning here? Process. And, nuance. Illuminate the possibility through the contrary; highlight that while we may strategically rally away at the psychosis that is a colonizing government, let’s do just that: be strategic. Hammer at the wall with one hand and feast our bundles with the other, never losing sight of what the priority is or where our power dwells.

NASA, Mars, and Waynaboozhoo

I read this article and learned about one of NASA’s scientific signifiers of life. I thought, Hmmm, bogit, eh?  Then I thought NASA and big science, big tech, big money, big visions, big plans, big wigs, big words, big research, big news. Again I thought, bogit. I laughed out loud. Waynaboozhoo strikes again! I thought.


bogit = fart or er, methane burp

ADDENDUM: In conversation with a friend, Keith Montreuil (Alderville First Nation) who is a fellow sound-based method learner, and someone who is actually learning it well (see Helen Roy’s work at, I asked him to share his insights about the spelling for this word and the meaning of the sounds. This is what he shared:

aboo’awa’agi’adi / boogidi = s/he passes gas

broken down from the end- soundbased style:

i – a seen effort is apparent of the inner effort happening (last sound speaks of “wiin” (3rd person) being perfoming the action.

adi – an action is seen done with effort apparent

agi – a “cutting off” action is occuring [grouping + seperating (g) in seen effort (i)]

awa – of a body (w) [note from author: <<this is a ‘w’ coming up as wordpress icon.] seen visibly (a)

aboo – “a drastic change at a location” [seen at a location (b) the unseen process with tiny/small pieces/bits (oo)]

aboowagidi – s/he passes gas (heard as “boogidi” when spoken).


NASA has their science and Anishinaabeg have ours. For more on the Anishinaabe scientist, see:

Mino Nagamon Na?

Can You Hear That? Anishinaabe Sounds of Relationship


Vernon Ah Kee’s “the fox” (2009) replaces the blog post that was here before. I’ve temporarily removed it until the subject matter I address in it has been formally resolved with relevant parties.

In the meantime, be wary of “famous” Indians — women, men, or gender queer people — walking towards you, too. You are worth every ounce of positive attention you may receive from anybody. It’s not your fault if you are unable to discern that they may be windigo when you let them into your life; it’s not your fault if they start out normal and then turn into windigo when they are in your life or if  they abuse you when you address their behaviour or if they continue to abuse you after you’ve walked away. It’s not your fault if you have become their emotional punching bag, even if from afar. Put your asemaa down, say amiigwech to your pawaaman and the forces that allow you to keep on your path.

It is, however, your responsibility to know your clans.


(this is typically understood as a warrior call but I like to interpret it and use it as a shout out to the spirits)

Note: “the fox” was borrowed from here:

“Saranac Community Schools and their R$dskins Mascot”

I was asked to write about SCS R*dskins mascot with the objective of keeping SCS and their mascot in the public eye in a manner that reflects the perspectives of those that wish to see it removed. The request happened because this perspective was not included in the media coverage of this matter and the mascot continues to exist.


It was relatively easy for me to write from this perspective because it’s coherent with my own but it was also difficult because SRC was/is giving mixed messages about their stance on their mascot and their concern for making ethical choices.