mashkode bikizhe anangoohnsag
by waaseyaa'sin christine sy
for the past several days, the mainstream news has been publishing articles about the Perseid meteor showers which are supposed to be phenomenal this year. tonight is the night they dazzle. in Salish island country, specifically Victoria proper and the greater Victoria area, the meteor shower is anticipated to be in the northeast sky between 11 pm and 4 am. i’ll be somewhere in the foothills of ŁÁUWELNEW away from light pollution. hopefully, i’ll be where the magnificent spruces and cedars provide a visor from nokomis’ light because even at aabitaa giizis (half-moon) she shines fairly brilliantly. ŁÁUWELNEW, the name the WSÁNÉC have for the mountain they climbed during a historic flood, translates as “place of refuge” and sounds like Tlay will nooth.
ŁÁUWELNEW. Place of refuge. Tlay will nooth.
The Perseid meteor shower is said to emerge from the direction of the Perseus constellation. This anangoohnsag is in the north sky, low to the horizon this time of year (and night). for those of you who have a smart phone, you can download a free star tracker app and you will be able to find it. using only your eyes, Perseus is just below Casseopia – the very easy to find constellation that looks like a zig-zag. i personally am not yet able to make out the shape of the Perseus constellation but it is enough for now to know generally where it is.
if you get your star tracker or just feel like putting your body and spirit out there to experience some magic, bring your beloved(s) with you no matter how tired you all are.
just do it. go on.
make sure you don’t get all dizzy. you’ll just be staggering all over the place; falling down and hurting yourselves. be careful. star-gazing can be dangerous!
maybe each of you can be the look-out for a certain piece of anangwan—the sky world. then when one of youse find them, say, “holah. i see them, wodi, there.” then, all you guyses get together and watch those meteors. when you do, remember that those meteors come from Perseus but know this: before Perseus became Perseus in Turtle Island, it was and continues to be maashkode bikezhi, or maskote pisike in nêhiyawa-mowin – the buffalo constellation.
if you are like me and many other Indigenous peoples living in this colonial, capitalist world, you may be solo tonight; away from relatives or beloveds known or yet-to-be-known. that’s ok. go check out the meteor shower anyway. do that for yourself. or, at least try to.
one of the people who wrote some of the things about our buffalo constellation said this: “The buffalo is the guardian of the Shaking Tent ceremony. In the winter, the Buffalo Star can be easily seen, but in the summer, she is barely visible because she is on Earth, feeding and helping Indigenous peoples.” (Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003).
i don’t want to impose my own anishinaabe thought on any other Indigenous Nation, particularly those that are buffalo people. that said, in our words to creation and spirit, when we acknowledge epingishmok (the west), mashkode bikizhe is there for us. in this spirt then, tonight when i see that meteor shower, i’ll think of this one in their constellatory formation. i’ll think of their summer-time responsibilities and gifts, aligning this with thoughts of the nêhiyawak people who are dealing with Husky oil politically, through hunger striking, and in ceremony, on behalf of their fast flowing relative, kisiskāciwani-sipiy (the Saskatchewan River) and those that depend on it. i’ll think of the people and members of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline as a matter of land and water protection and who are being arrested. And, with an equally heavy heart, I’ll be thinking of Colten Boushie, the young man who was recently murdered; I’ll have his loved ones in those thoughts, too.
i will quietly ask that mashkode bikizhe help nourish and protect the people this summer as they do their work and keep doing its thing with the environment and ecologies it has relationship with. i will think of mashkode bikizhe up there in the star world welcoming that young man home righteously and i will affirm that everyday our Nations persist in a good way and continue to be brilliant and majestic like the mashkode bikizhe meteor shower tonight. i’ll call a mashkode bikizhe song down and maybe it will come to in a dream.
some days, the weight is too much. it’s important to know who our relatives are and how they may support us. the star world is one place we can look to. in a way, i’m grateful for the western-centric-ness of the news about the Perseid meteors. if it wasn’t for such saturation, i wouldn’t have been compelled to go find out how we know this phenomenon and blog about it. we need to persist ourselves if not for our own self-preservation, wholeness and well-being then for our ancestors, deceased, and yet-to-be-born.
hiy hiy! off to hunt buffalo in my contemporary ikawe way and offer my thoughts out to our ever expanding universe.