Band Member Voices — Ziigwan Energy


By Nazhike Mille Lacs Band Member

As spring approaches, the Anishinaabe prepare for the beginning of new life. Spring is the time of the East and signifies the awakening of the world. The snow blanket will fade away, the grass will grow, and trees will create the breath needed for the beings to live. The Anishinaabe prepare to gather the first gift, maple sap. The Manidoog wanted to give a boost to the Anishinaabe as they come out of the winter. Nothing like a good dose of spiritual sugar to get the Anishinaabe into a busy time of year. There is the Aadizookaan that talks about why the sap is so watery. Please seek out an Elder while the snow is still here or next winter when it comes back.

The maple sap camp is a form of gratitude to honor the maple trees and accept the gifts they have brought to our ancestors and continue to give today. The spiritual energy transferred as the Anishinaabe collect and boil the sap is ancient energy. The actions will build your physical being to be strong due to the amount of work involved. Your muscles will be toned, and breath will get stronger as you put in the ”labor of love” (Brenda Child). Your mind will be tuned into being aware of what the environment is doing. What is the pattern of the temperature? What is the snow doing? Watching the sap boil brings time to reflect. What can I do as an Anishinaabe for my people? If you concentrate, you will be able to sense your ancestors as they have done the same for thousands of years. You will feel the energy of the past and future.

Spiritually, spending time with the trees, you will feel good. The trees agreed to give life to the Anishinaabe and take away your grief. The Chimookomaan call it ”phytoncides.” Shinaabe call it ”bimaadiziwin.” Our people knew that giving gratitude for the trees will continue the cycle of spiritual energy. We are still receiving the gifts from gratitude expressed generations ago. We need to add to that cycle in order for our relatives yet to live to receive life.

This is an “Us” lifestyle. What one does affects us all. Deep down we feel the pain when we come across ailing Anishinaabe. Over the years we got used to it and it feels normal. Pain is our normal. In order to relinquish the current way of living as a group, we need to give the gratitude to the spirits. Every day, the gratitude will pile up amongst the Manidoog, and they will see that the gifts they are giving are being well received. It's like if you always give someone $5. If they are grateful and do well by your gift, you will be more willing to gift. If the person doesn't accept or does bad by your gift, will you gift them again?

Be like the Manidoog; it is a gift to the future, and they will be grateful. Miigwech.

Do you have thoughts or a story to share? Band members can be paid for their submissions. For more information, write to or call 320-237-6851.