Tag Archives: Anishinaabe

“For generations to come”: Josephine Mandamin and the Great Lakes

Josephine Dazhkanziibi

Josephine Mandamin, Walter-walker. Dazh-kan-zii-bi (Thames River), London, Ontario. April 6th, 2014


Today, we would like to pay homage to Josephine Mandamin, Anishinaabe grandmother and water-walker, who has been our inspiration for this blog and the Indigenous Message on Water community. In remembering her teachings, we would like to recommend the documentary Waterlife by Kevin McMahon (2009), and the video interview Sacred Water Walks by The Great Lakes Commons (2015).

Watch here the trailer of Waterlife in where Kevin McMahon features Josephine’s story as an inspirational example for action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWTu_fXgaqM

On April 4th, 2014, we picked Josephine up from Billy Bishop Airport, Toronto’s island airport in Lake Ontario. She was flying in from Thunder Bay. We went with Paula Marcotte, one of the members of the coalition who organized the Water Film Festival: Right or Privilege?. We took the ferry to the Island. It was raining. The seagulls were bobbing on the water.

After months of trying to contact Josephine, we finally got her email and, in less than a week, everything was set for her visit. “Manda” in Anishinaabemovin means wonder, and “min” means seed. Grandmother Josephine carries in her last name one of the Anishinaabe expressions to name corn, the wonder seed. Josephine is from the fish clan and, as a woman, she feels the responsibility to take care and protect Water.

Thus, in 2003, she had the idea to start walking, with her sister, around the Great Lakes. Her intention was to create awareness among the indigenous and non-indigenous communities who surround the Great Lakes, which are at risk because of the chemicals dumped by farms, sewage systems, and the mining industry. Josephine truly believes that Water is our Mother, and that’s the reason why, in the last 13 years, she has walked more than 17.000 kilometers, sharing the message of her ancestors with people of different ages and origins (follow her journeys since 2003 to the present here).

As she says in the video interview Ojibwa Grandmother Recounts Walk Around the Great Lakes (2008), as a result of her walks, new generations will know that there are grandmothers out there who are protecting Water. Josephine has understood that each lake has its own teaching. Lake Superior, for example, is the Mother of the lakes. Lake Michigan keeps the remains of the ancestors, such as rocks/grandfathers, that stand in a circle, and trees that stand in specific ways. Lake Huron is a unifier: it taught Josephine that there should be a man beside a woman during the walk. Lake Ontario is heavier than the rest of the lakes because of its pollution. “And we have to start doing our work!” Josephine repeats.

Watch Ojibwa Grandmother Recounts Walk Around the Great Lakes => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPega7E8Lhg&index=1&list=PL__TzU4_15OF9Nck8UrVhLyZYw711cbJo

On April 4th, 5th and 6th 2014, Grandmother Josephine Mandamin was our guest-speaker at the Water Film Festival: Right or Privilege? “If it’s for the Water, we have to do it!” she told us. During those three days, before and after the films and talks, she carefully read our anthology. We were really excited by how happy our compilation made her. One afternoon she shared with us the following words, to be included here in our blog:

… to protect Water, we have to connect with Her physically, mentally, and spiritually. In the mornings, before anything else, before even going to the washroom, we have to offer a pinch of Water to Mother, the Earth, pray for it, and then drink a sip. This is my uncle’s teaching: you have to give before you take (…) Many times I have had to cry for the Water. She is a Mother, but she can’t feed her children if she is polluted. You have to be a women to understand what to feed a child means.

Her teachings reminded us immediately of some texts from Indigenous Message on Water such as Mona Polacca’s, Sandy Beardy’s, Vito Apüshana’s, and the paintings by Achu Kantule. Josephine’s insistence of women’s role at this time is also present in the recent video interview by The Great Lake Commons, in which Josephine urges women to lead their communities in the protection of Water:

We have to take care of Mother, the Earth, and that’s what we are doing now, taking care of our Mother, the Earth, especially now in this age when she is really suffering, she is being polluted, she is being prosecuted, she is being sold, you know, all these things are happening to Her, it’s happening to us, women. So, I think about how these days women have to start thinking about bundles. We have to rethink about how important it is. So, we have to really know who we are as women, that we are very powerful women. We can be very instrumental in how things are changing… (video interview Every Step is a Prayer. Sacred Water Walks)

Watch video interview here, Every Step is a Prayer. Sacred Water Walks => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vV5zD2GrAAg&list=PL__TzU4_15OF9Nck8UrVhLyZYw711cbJo&index=76

We built together the Water Film Festival: Right or Privilege?, thanks to the Indigenous Message on Water and The Council of Canadians, The Latin-American Canadian Solidarity Association, Western University Indigenous Services, and London Museum. Around 300 people participated in the weekend’s events and local organizations such as Wellington Water Watchers shared their own fight to defend the Guelph’s aquifer from the transnational company Nestlé.

Watch here the clasic Bottled life by Ursula Schenell => http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czfSwjx4yYA

Josephine was direct with the audience: “And, after these reflections, what are you going to do?” Following Josephine’s question, there was an important moment of reflection on our own responsibility with Water in our daily lives. As Mike Nagy, director of Wellington Water Watchers, reminded us: it is not enough to reuse, reduce, and recycle. We also need to refuse!

Thank you, Josephine, for your teachings!

Until next week.


“Para las generaciones por venir”: Josephin Mandamin y sus caminatas por los Grandes Lagos

Josephine y Juan

Josephine Mandamin, caminante de los Grandes Lagos, y Juan Guillermo Sánchez, co-editor del Mensaje Indígena de Agua, en London, Ontario. Abril 6 de 2014.

Hoy queremos ofrecer un homenaje a Josephine Mandamin, abuela Anishinaabe, caminante del agua, inspiración para mantener nuestro blog y la comunidad del Mensaje Indígena de Agua. Recordando sus enseñanzas, también queremos recomendar el documental Waterlife de Kevin McMahon (2009), y el video de la entrevista Sacred Water Walks realizada por The Great Lakes Commons (2015).

Aquí el corto de Waterlife, en donde Kevin McMahon presenta la historia de Josephine como un ejemplo para la acción => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWTu_fXgaqM

El 4 de abril de 2014 fuimos a recoger a la abuela Josephine Mandamin al aeropuerto de Toronto, ubicado sobre una de las islas del lago Ontario. Viajaba desde Thunder Bay. Fuimos a recibirla con Paula Marcotte, uno de los miembros de la coalición organizadora del Festival de Cine por el Agua ¿Derecho o privilegio? Tomamos el ferry. La lluvia no cesaba. Las gaviotas estaban bailando sobre el agua.

Después de meses buscando cómo contactar a la abuela Josephine, unos días atrás habíamos conseguido su correo y en menos de una semana todo estaba arreglado para su visita. “Manda”, en lengua Anishinaabemovin significa sorpresa, asombro, maravilla; “min”, semilla. La abuela Josephine lleva en su apellido una de las expresiones Anishinaabe con las que se nombra el maíz, la semilla sagrada. Josephine es del clan del pescado y, como muchas mujeres Anishinaabe, siente que su responsabilidad es cuidar y proteger el agua.

En 2003, tuvo la idea de caminar junto con su hermana alrededor de los Grandes Lagos y ríos del este de Canadá y los Estados Unidos buscando crear conciencia entre las comunidades (indígenas y no indígenas) que circundan estos cuerpos de agua, amenazados hoy por las sustancias químicas de la industria agrícola y la minería irresponsables (ver la memoria de sus caminatas desde el 2003 hasta hoy). Con la convicción de que el Agua es nuestra madre, en los últimos trece años Josephine ha caminado más de 17.000 kilómetros llevando el mensaje de sus ancestros, los primeros días solo con su familia y en los últimos años con cientos de personas de todas las edades y orígenes.

Ver Ojibwa Grandmother Recounts Walk Around the Great Lakes => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPega7E8Lhg&index=1&list=PL__TzU4_15OF9Nck8UrVhLyZYw711cbJo

¡Gracias, Josephine, por las enseñanzas y las caminatas!

Hasta la próxima semana.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“The future is a realm we have inhabited for thousands of years”: Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Little BearDr. Leroy Little Bear


For the last three weeks we have been sharing videos and teachings related to water issues in Indigenous territories. The message of the Elders from Nunjwákala/Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the resistance of the Mikmak community in Elsipogtog against transnational mining, and the victory of the Sarayaku nation in the Amazon over the Ecuadorian state are all examples of when two mind-sets clash. They all show the need of an intercultural dialogue, a point of convergence between Indigenous knowledge and Western science.

Today, celebrating the equinox, we would like to invite you to think about this convergence, based on the talk by Dr. Leroy Little Bear, a Blackfoot Elder and scholar who, in January 2015, with the support of The Banff Centre, proposed some contrasts and similarities between quantum physics and Indigenous knowledge:

Watch => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJSJ28eEUjI

With humor and humility, Dr. Little Bear reminds us that science is all about the unknown, and not about formulas, math or the application of the known (technology). For him, the “constant flux” of quantum physics is currently dialoguing with the ancestral thought about the constant flow among all beings. In addition to matter and particles, the Blackfoot epistemology also talks about energy waves, which, in other words, could be called spirit. From this point of view, everything is alive/animated/related; therefore, it is not possible to study it in isolation as Western science sometimes does. In Dr. Little Bear’s words, quantum physics have started to realize the need for a holistic approach in which matter, motion and constant transformation are the foundation of renewal.

In tune with Elder Little Bear’s talk, Tsalagi/Ojibwe scholar Valerie Goodness has proposed Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to refer to the first nations’ techniques and ancestral knowledge. TEK offers, for example, alternative methods for irrigation, soil conservation, ecosystems and natural water reservoirs, astronomy, and use of medicinal plants. For Goodness, Western scientists are now accepting the fact that Indigenous peoples have an understanding of uncertainty and intuition that allows them to detect changes in ecosystems quicker. (READ: “Idle No More: Decolonizing Water, Food and Natural Resources With TEK”) As in the Blackfoot epistemology, Goodness recalls that in Haudenosaunee thinking all species and beings are interconnected, and it is from this “way of being in the world” (ethos) that it is possible to achieve sustainability:

All things are connected. Mother Earth, the Waters, Fish, Grasses, Medicine Plants, Food Plants, Animals, Trees, Birds, Four Winds, Grandfather Thunder, Elder Brother the Sun, Grandmother Moon, Stars, the protectors, Handsome Lake and the Creator are all connected and thanked. (Goodness, Web)

Based on these reflections, to look ahead, therefore, we must recover the past; perhaps reimagine the time beyond a straight line. The clarity of this certainty vibrates in the words of thinkers such as Little Bear and Goodness. These are voices that connect ancient cosmologies with a future of welfare for the generations to come. In the words of Hawaiian writer Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada:

Yet remembering the past does not mean that we are wallowing in it. Paying attention to our history does not mean we are ostriching our heads in the sand, refusing to believe that the modern world is all around us. We native peoples carry our histories, memories, and stories in our skin, in our bones, in our health, in our children, in the movement of our hands, in our interactions with modernity, in the way we hold ourselves on the land and sea (…) Standing on our mountain of connections, our foundation of history and stories and love, we can see both where the path behind us has come from and where the path ahead leads. This connection assures us that when we move forward, we can never be lost because we always know how to get back home. The future is a realm we have inhabited for thousands of years. (“We live in the future. Come join us.”. READ: Kekaupu Hehiale. Abril 3 de 2014).

There is, therefore, an arduous way to go if we want to establish a dialogue between mindsets. It is not a one way journey, but a number of trails which we could take simultaneously to find convergences.


Anishinabeg Wheel

Anishinabee/Ojibwe Medicine Wheel


En las últimas tres semanas hemos estado compartiendo enseñanzas y videos relacionados con el agua en territorios indígenas. El mensaje de los hermanos mayores desde Nunjwákala/Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, la resistencia de la comunidad Mikmak en Elsipogtog contra la minería transnacional, y la victoria de la nación Sarayaku en la Amazonía sobre el estado ecuatoriano, son todos ejemplos en donde dos modos de pensar chocan. Todos ellos muestran la necesidad de un diálogo intercultural, un punto de convergencia entre el conocimiento indígena y la ciencia occidental.

Hoy, celebrando el equinoccio, queremos invitarlos a pensar en este puente a partir de la charla del Dr. Leroy Little Bear, sabedor Blackfoot y académico, quien en enero de 2015, con el apoyo de The Banff Centre, propuso algunas diferencias y similitudes entre la física cuántica y el conocimiento indígena.

VER AQUÍ => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJSJ28eEUjI

Con humor y humildad, el mayor Little Bear nos recuerda cómo el objetivo de la ciencia es ahondar en lo desconocido y no quedarse en fórmulas o aplicaciones de lo conocido (tecnología). Para él, la idea de “flujo constante” de la física cuántica está dialogando hoy con el pensamiento ancestral y su idea del flujo constante entre todos los seres de la existencia. Además de materia y de partículas, la epistemología Blackfoot habla también de ondas de energía, que en otras palabras podrían llamarse espíritu. Desde esta perspectiva, todo está vivo y todo se relaciona, razón por la cual no es posible estudiar de forma aislada “la naturaleza” como a veces pretende la ciencia occidental. En palabras de Dr. Little Bear, afortunadamente la física cuántica ha comenzado a darse cuenta de la necesidad de un enfoque holístico en donde la materia, el movimiento y la constante transformación sean la base de la renovación de la naturaleza.

Hay, pues, un arduo camino por recorrer si queremos establecer un diálogo entre epistemologìas por el bien de las futuras generaciones. No es un camino unívoco, sino una serie de senderos que debemos andar simultáneamente para encontrar las convergencias.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Chaski Book / Libro Chaski

El estrecho(Lee la versión en español abajo)

The Yanakuna Mikmak territory is situated in the Colombian Macizo (Huila Province), where 5 of the strongest rivers of Colombia are born (Magdalena, Cauca, Putumayo, Caqueta y Patía). The sacred Wasi (ceremonial house) was built recently by the community, who has been restoring its language and culture for decades. On December 19th, 2013, two days before the Kapak Raimy (Solstice celebration), Andrew Judge, Anishinaabe author of our anthology, and myself met with Fredy Chikanga, also author of the anthology, renown poet, and leader of Yanakuna nation, and we visited “El estrecho”, the thinest part of the Yuma river (Magdalena) in the Macizo, to make an offering of coca leafs, tobacco and poetry.

Fredy-AndrewAfter the short visit, we went to Wasi Yanakuna to exchange words and thoughts. It was raining. The taitas (elders) came to listen and share. Andrew told a circular story where two friends realized after long time of friendship that the first day when they met everything was written in the wind. Fredy talked about the Yanakuna origin, the people that help each other during the darkness:

We are people that come from the Tapukus,

the small water particles of the Purun Pacha (the Underworld).

Every single conversation that day, every spot in the horizon, was inhabited by water. I had brought a sample of our anthology with me, so I read few a verses by Evdokiya Ksenofontova (Even elder from Russia):

Each person has to understand,

that Water can obtain information.

The water can perceive various variations in the world,

can very quickly react on them!

Though we did not have enough time to stay for the Kapak Raimy, that afternoon the Yanakuna elders did show us the deepest meaning of the Indigenous Message on Water: to be a Chaski (messanger of the Tawantinsuyu), to break distances, put together knowledges, and see towards the four directions.

Libro PiedraAfter many weeks of hard work and patience, it is a pleasure to tell you that our anthology has been published and that in the following weeks we will be sending out yours perks. We use the address that you have specified via your pledge of suppor IndieGogo (if you have a new address, please let us know). We hope that you enjoy the book, and share it with your family and -if it is possible- with the bodies of water that surround you. Without you, this Anthology would have not been possible. Now, the book will start its own journey, and its words will be offered in the four directions.

Thank you so much!

If you would like to have the Indigenous Message on Water, you can get the e-book here => https://payhip.com/b/5H0g Also, if you want to help us with respect to the organization of the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace 2014, please share this link with all your contacts.

In peace and friendship.

Juan Guillermo Sánchez M (Editor)


El estrecho IIEl territorio Yanakuna Mikmak está situado en el Macizo colombiano (Departamento del Huila), lugar de nacimiento de 5 de los ríos más imponentes de Colombia (Magdalena, Cauca, Putumayo, Caquetá y Patía). La sagrada Wasi (casa ceremonial) Yanakuna fue construída recientemente por la comunidad, la que ha estado restaurando su lengua y su cultura durante décadas. El 19 de diciembre de 2013, dos días antes del Kapak Raimy (celebración del solsticio), Andrew Judge, autor Anishinaabe de nuestra antología, y yo mismo nos reunimos con Fredy Chikanga, también autor de la antología, poeta conocido, y líder de la nación Yanakuna, y juntos visitamos “el Estrecho” ,la parte más angosta del río Yuma (Magdalena) en el Macizo, y así ofrecerle coca, tabaco y poesía al agua.

Después de la breve visita, nos dirigimos a la Wasi Yanakuna para intercambiar palabras y pensamientos. Estaba lloviendo. Los taitas (ancianos) vinieron a escuchar y compartir. Andrew contó una historia circular, donde dos amigos se dieron cuenta después de mucho tiempo de amistad que el primer día en que se conocieron todo estaba escrito en el viento. Fredy habló sobre el origen Yakuna, la gente que se ayuda entre sí durante la oscuridad:

Somos personas que vienen de los Tapukus,
las pequeñas partículas de agua del Purun Pacha (el inframundo).

Ese día, cada conversación, cada punto en el horizonte, estaba habitado por el agua. Yo había traído una muestra del Mensaje Indígena de Agua conmigo, así que leí unos versos de Evdokiya Ksenofontova (líder Even de Rusia):

Cada persona debe entender ,
que el Agua puede guardar información.
El Agua puede percibir las vibraciones del mundo ,
y rápidamente reaccionar!

No tuvimos tiempo suficiente para pasar la Kapak Raimy, pero esa tarde con los ancianos Yanakuna nos regaló el significado más profundo de nuestra antología: ser Chaski (mensajero del Tawantinsuyu), para saltar distancias, juntar conocimientos, y mirar fuerte hacia las cuatro direcciones.

Después de muchos meses de trabajo y paciencia, es una alegría para mí compartirles que hemos imprimido nuestra antología y que en las próximas semanas estaremos enviando sus recompensas. Lo haremos a las direcciones que Ustedes nos brindaron cuando invirtieron en el proyecto (si han cambiado de dirección, por favor envíenme la nueva cuanto antes…). Esperamos que disfruten los textos y que los compartan con su familia, sus amigos y, si es posible, con los cuerpos de agua que rodean su vida. Sin ustedes, este proyecto no hubiera sido posible. Ahora el libro comenzará su travesía y estas palabras habrán de ser ofrenda en las cuatro direcciones. ¡Gracias siempre!

Si quieren conseguir un ejemplar de esta compilación, pueden ir al sitio en Payhip y adquirir el e-book => https://payhip.com/b/5H0g También, si quieren colaborar en la organización del Foro Indígena Mundial Sobre el Agua y la Paz 2014, por favor comparte este mismo link con todos sus conocid@s.

Paz y amistad.

Juan Guillermo Sánchez M (Editor)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

And the anthology keeps flowing…

Yes, words can cure ill-fallen water, and likewise serve as an offering to healthy water. With this conviction, in the past two months, activist and writers, friends from far and wide this blue globe on which we live, have gifted us with beautiful droplets from their own harvest: Chamoru, Pinay and Maori friends from the Pacific; Cree, Tsalagi, Cherokee, Yoeme, Anishinaabe, Lakota and Gitxan friends from North America; K’iche’, Kaqchikel, and Q’anjob’al friends from Guatemala; Maya and Nahuatl friends from Mexico; Wayuu and Kuna friends from the Caribbean; and Kichua, Yanakuna and Mapuche-Huilliche friends from the Andes and the farthest lands of the Deep South.

Thank you all!

"Turtles Becoming History/ Tortugas volviéndose historia"

Of course, the wonderful response to our call would not have materialized without the generousness of each and every author, as well as without the especial aid of Allison Hedge Coke, Alejandra García Quintanilla, Miguel Rocha Vivas and Emilio del Valle Escalante, in attaining these invaluable contacts.

Thank you each and every one of you!

We also take the opportunity to confirm that along with the collaboration of Lee Claremont (http://www.leeclaremont.com/), we now also have the participation of artist Kuna Oswaldo DeLeón Kantule (whose image Turtles Becoming History illustrates this post http://deleonkantule.tripod.com/), and Colombian artist Daniel Molina Sierra (http://damsartprocess.blogspot.ca/), whose work continues to inspire this dialogue between the eagle, the tiger and the condor.

There are many details still coming together and there is still much work ahead of us; thus begin the editing, translation, layout, publishing and interchange processes.

Please continue to share our project with your contacts; be that channel whereby the message will continue to flow!

We will keep you updated through this medium.

Darlene Sanderson

Juan Guillermo Sánchez M.

Felipe Quetzalcoatl Quintanilla


Y la antología indígena sigue fluyendo…

Sí, definitivamente las palabras sí pueden curar el agua enferma y ser ofrenda para el agua sana. Y por eso en los últimos dos meses, amigos activistas y escritores a lo largo y ancho de este globo azul en el que vivimos nos han regalado una gota de su propia cosecha: amigos Chamoru, Pinay y Maori del Pacífico; amigos Cree, Tsalagi, Cherokee, Yoeme, Anishinaabe, Lakota y Gitxan de Norteamérica; amigos K’iche’, Kaqchikel, Q’anjob’al de Guatemala; amigos Maya y Nahuatl de México; amigos Wayuu y Kuna del Caribe; y amigos Kichua, Yanakuna y Mapuche-Huilliche de los Andes y las tierras últimas del Sur Profundo.

¡Gracias a cada uno de ellos!

Claro, este fabuloso resultado no hubiera sido posible sin la generosa respuesta de cada uno de ellos, a quien pudimos contactar gracias a la ayuda especial de Allison Hedge Coke, Alejandra García Quintanilla, Miguel Rocha Vivas y Emilio del Valle Escalante.

¡Muchas gracias a cada uno de ellos también!

También queremos contarles que además de la colaboración de Lee Claremont (http://www.leeclaremont.com/), ahora contamos con la participación del artista Kuna Oswaldo DeLeón Kantule (de quien incluimos en este post una de sus obras: Tortugas volviéndose historia. http://deleonkantule.tripod.com/) y del artista colombiano Daniel Molina Sierra (http://damsartprocess.blogspot.ca/),  cuyas obras nos han dado la inspiración para continuar este diálogo entre el águila, el tigre y el cóndor.

Hay muchos detalles todavía en construcción. Ahora seguimos con el proceso de edición, traducción, diagramación, impresión e intercambio final.

¡Necesitamos que nos ayuden a compartir el proyecto con sus contactos para que el mensaje siga su curso!

Estaremos informándolos por este medio.

Darlene Sanderson

Juan Guillermo Sánchez M.

Felipe Quetzalcoatl Quintanilla

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,