Waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy n’dizhnikaaz. I’m Ojibway Anishinaabe and Canadian from Bawating (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada), Robinson Superior Treaty area. My maternal ancestral ties (kinship & Indian Act band membership) are with Obishkikaang (Lac Seul First Nation, Northwestern Ontario), Treaty 3 area. My paternal ancestral ties are from Belle Island, Newfoundland and Sault Ste. Marie, ON as well. I reside in Michi Saagiig Anishinaabegogamig (Mississauga Anishinaabeg lands), 1923 Williams Treaty area, with my family.
Creation and Re-creation Stories (3rd edit, aanshin giizis [February] 2014)
I created this blog in August 2012 as a place to grow in three areas of writing: discipline, skill, and confidence. Back then, I felt the need to be more productive in writing. More specifically, I felt the need to clear away a lot of brush on the path of writing my PhD dissertation: lack of focus; ineptness; and, general fear of not being good enough.
In thinking what I would write about, I thought my heart has not yet done me wrong and so, in this vein I decided to write those things that resonate with my heart. It was also important for me to write about matters that may be meaningful, helpful, and/or interesting to readers. After all, a blog is part me, part influences, and part you. I also wanted to reflect and impinge upon Indigenous life and living. In this spirit then I decided to write about, from, and for anishinaabewiziwin—all the the elements that make up Anishinaabe life (Helen Agger, Following Nimishoomis: The Trout Lake History of Dedibaayaanimanook Sarah Keesick Olsen, Penticton: Theytus Book, 2008: 286).
For those not familiar with Anishinaabe peoples, a brief geographic and relational marking: we are an Indigenous Nation whose ancestors migrated from the mouth of Chi-Ziibi (popularly known in English as the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, Canada) thousands of years ago and made our Nations’ home around Gichi Gaming Za’igaanan (the Great Lakes, which is now divided by the imposed international Canada-United States border). We are comprised of similar yet distinct groups of Anishinaabeg including Ojibway, Odawa, Pottawatomi, Mississauga, Chippewa and ?Algonquin?. We share borders with several Indigenous Nations including the Haudenausonee, Mushkegowok, Nehiyaw, Dakota, and Menominee, to name a few. The (accent missing) Metis Nation includes, but is not limited to, Anishinaabe lineage; as well, the Anishinaabe Nation includes Metis peoples (as an example see negotiations for Treaty 3 which ensured inclusion of Metis relations). Further west, in Nehiyaw (Plains Cree) and Metis country, Anishinaabeg are also known as Saulteaux. I think I’m safe in saying, without providing any source, that we’ve been forging ties–socially, intimately, and economically–with peoples outside of our borders, and with peoples non-Indigenous to Turtle Island, for as long as we’ve all been intermingling.
“Anishinaabewiziwin” was created to promote life within a contemporary world that is i) Anishinaabe-non-Anishinaabe and is informed by the thousands of years old knowledges and practices of peoples that make up the Anishinaabeg Nation; ii) informed by Anishinaabe negotiations with and resistances to more than 400 years of colonial-nation-state/neo-colonial mentality, policies, and practices; and, iii) heavily influenced by the dominating knowledges that have been and continue to be generated by culture that colonizes land and life. Promoting Anishinaabe life specifically through Anishinaabewiziwin and promoting life generally through Anishinaabewiziwin, within the present context, as a life-line for future generations, is my primary thematic concern with this blog.
Early into blogging I admitted that my heart didn’t just want to be translated into words, structured sentences, essays, or traditional formality alone. As it turns out, n’ode (my heart) speaks in photography, poetry, spoken word, prose, short story, sketch, diagrams, dibaadjimowinan (personal stories), interviews, hyperlinks to other publications, news commentary, and guest submissions (one to date) and this is what you’ll find here.
At this time, I’m not concerned with clearly organized, easy access to subject matter. I experience a great deal of satisfaction following the meanderings of my heart, tempering any lackadaisy-ness with an anchor here and there (e.g. moderate editing, sourcing, attention to presentation, or wanting it to be helpful). In turn, I hope readers of “Anishinaabewiziwin” might find some joy in moving through it with only the Homepage or the links to monthly entries to facilitate the way.
Sharing Knowledge and Acknowledging Knowledge Sources
I like to think that it’s my fathers’ generosity without expecting anything in return, the working-class ethos of my family and friends, and my mothers’ Anishinaabe dna paired with Anishinaabe cultural teachings that cause me to feel really good about sharing knowledge relevant to Anishinaabe life, whether it be resources, how-to’s, information, or my interpretation or analysis. Much of what I’ve learned and continue to learn has come from the no-money-attached generosity of fellow Anishinaabeg from all walks of life. It’s also true that much of what I’ve learned has come through years and years of schooling in the university system, which we know in Canada, is expensive. This education, in turn, has opened up pathways to people and cultural knowledge that I would otherwise not have access to given my upbringing in a non-Anishinaabe, Canadian social world. Western legal concepts and processes like intellectual property and copyright are often talked about in this academic world. In fact, in any world that publishes.
My experience with intellectual property and copy right have been limited yet interesting in that I’ve experienced a range of situations. For example, quite haphazardly in community settings some years ago I learned of how my research ideas were used by others in their own work (they were advised to make changes); there was a story floating around for a very brief time that I utilized a peers intellectual property in a presentation without permission or acknowledgement (upon following up with this story with the person, I was told, that there were no issues re: misuse of intellectual property); I’ve seen my cultural material, cultural analysis (oral and written), and parts of my research framework reflected in three non-academic publications without reference (this story was given back to the person who created it because after all, it’s their story, not mine); and, I’ve also had my work, ideas, or influence properly acknowledged in publications.
As much as I’d like to live isolated in the Anishinaabe theoretical world of sharing and exchange of ideas etc., I also get that we are collectively living in a world where western legal concepts such as intellectual property and copyright are important aspects in publishing in a neo-colonial word. I also get that claiming intellectual property and copyright are connected to social-economic growth and maintenance, as well as professional accruements in a nation-state economy that is ruthless, particularly to Indigenous peoples and lands, even more particularly to Indigenous women. I get that this economy fuels notions of superiority, competition, and fear and that this can lead to the use of material and/or ideas that may not be those of the writer or publisher.
I get all this.
My intuition tells me that going the way of intellectual property or copy-right somehow feeds the neo-colonial beast I am hoping to undermine, if only a little bit, during my momentary time as star-dust in this world. However, I also do not wish to be exploited; having been so, feels yucky. I also do not wish to see people using my ideas or work to further themselves without acknowledgment. At the end of the day, I’m an Indigenous woman with a family living in this capitalist, patriarchal, misogynist neo-colonial world whose default tends to be the erasure or marginalization of all things Indigenous woman. It isn’t easy. So, taking the cue from some Anishinaabe women whose blogs and/or websites I’ve visited over the past several months, women whom I really respect for their pride in working-class or community oriented ethic, who do the work they do from the heart and love with seemingly no interest in the fame game, I would like to state this:
If there is anything you engage here in “Anishinaabewiziwin” that you would like to quote or that informs your thinking, please use it, use it, use it! This is about promoting life after all and if anything can be put to use that that is honouring the spirit that lives here then the purpose has been met. In this vein though, if utilizing something from here in publication, please acknowledge that you obtained it from “Anishinaabewiziwin”, with my full name (as stated above), and a link to the source. Further to this, I try my best to acknowledge sources in what I publish here (in one blog entry, I invite you to contact me if you would like to know about the sources that influenced the piece). In the case that you see yourself here and think, “Hey, we talked about that idea and you don’t cite me” or “Hey, I talk about this in my article/book/social media etc. etc. and I’m pretty sure got it from me but you don’t cite me” please let me know and we’ll definately talk about it. I believe that knowledge generation and sharing is built by many and this ought to be reflected as best as it can in publications; I may need your assistance in making sure I get it right here in “Anishinaabewiziwin”.
For now, a few final thoughts about “Anishinaabewiziwin” that are best expressed through words articulated by other Indigenous artists and scholars. First,
I walk out of genocide to touch you
~Qwo-Li Driskell, “Map of the Americas”, Walking with Ghosts
“Knowledge is made up of networks of shared cultural metaphors stored in the memories and thoughts of interconnected individuals. No one person knows the whole story. Unlike the western scientist, we never expect to know all that there is. Nevertheless, totality exists.” ~ Deborah Doxtator, “Godi’Nigohi’: The Woman’s Mind and Seeing Through to the Land,” (n/a).