Roderick "Awangiizhik" Bruce - Ojibwe/Metis Artist
Roderick "Awangiizhik" Bruce is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota and a very talented young artist who tries to channel his culture and heritage into his creations. Working in a variety of media, Roderick has been experimenting with birch bark, quillwork, and basketry, in addition to his efforts in fine arts and crafts.
He received his education at the Turtle Mountain Community College and at the IAIA in Santa Fe.
For more information, or to contact Roderick, visit his Facebook at www.facebook.com/Prometheus70
Wild Rice Season is almost upon the Anishinaabe
The time of the Wild Rice harvest is almost upon us…
The time of Wild Rice harvesting created reciprocal relationships between the Anishinaabe and the landscape, and strengthened the bonds between people. When they were not in the rice beds, the families who participated would dance, play games, tell stories, exchange gossip, share jokes, and educate young people about life. These social activities deepened the sense of community and reinforced what it meant to be Anishinaabe.
During Manoominike Giizis, or the Wild Rice Moon, Anishinaabe villages would disband and the families would migrate to their traditional rice beds where they would establish smaller camps that were family (or extended family) oriented. A single rice camp usually consisted of two to five extended families working cooperatively to make their annual harvest. Large lakes with an abundance of rice beds could accommodate several camps comprised of fifteen to twenty families each. Because the process of gathering, processing, and preserving the rice required lots of labor, it required cooperation from all individuals, young and old alike. The communal spirit associated with manoominikewin, or ‘‘making rice,’’ extended into all of the activities the people engaged in at the rice camps.
The wild rice harvest was traditionally led by women. In late August or early September, the women went out to the rice beds to tie the plant stalks into bundles. The stalks were generally twisted, bent over to form a u-shape, and tied with strips of bark or basswood fiber. This helped both to prevent shattering and to protect the grains from being eaten by birds. Binding the rice also served to identify which area of the rice bed each family would harvest and served as a way to “claim” certain areas, as each woman knew her own stalks by the peculiarity of the twist. The rights of this ownership were respected by all other Anishinaabe. Even so, families with more plentiful Wild Rice stands often invited less fortunate families to share their harvest because greed was not a virtue for the Anishinaabe.
Each band traditionally elected rice chiefs to oversee the annual harvest and to supervise the social and ecological concerns related the harvest. Rice chiefs and their committees would monitor the ecological conditions of the rice beds, determined the locations from which families could harvest, and would watch for signs of poaching. Harvesters had to wait until the rice chiefs decided the time was right to collect wild rice and the best manner to do so to prevent waste.
Wild rice was harvested using a technique called “knocking.” When the rice was ready, the women returned to the stands in pairs, with one woman steering the canoe using a long, forked pole that provided traction in the muddy lake bottom, while the second woman (the ricer) would bend the tied rice bunches over the side of the canoe, loosen the bark or twine, and tap the stalk lightly with a bawa, or ‘‘knocker,’’ until the grain dislodged and fell into the canoe. To collect rice that had not been bundled, the ricer used one knocker to draw the stalks toward her and another knocker to tap the ripe rice kernels into the boat. This process was repeated until the boat was full. Harvesting wild rice in this manner supported the wild rice ecosystem because it left most of the grain for resident waterfowl to feed on and ensured enough seed would remain to foster the growth of new plants in subsequent seasons.
Newly harvested wild rice was brought back to the camp for drying, either by the sun or over a smoldering fire. Sun-dried grains were parched in a hot kettle to destroy the germ, loosen the husk, and impart flavor. After drying, the rice was hulled to separate the chaff from the kernel. The hulled rice was then winnowed using either a birch bark fan, or a nooshkaachinaagan – a birch-bark tray that was used to toss the kernels into the air and allow the wind to separate the chaff from the grain. After winnowing, the rice was ready for eating or for storage. Uneaten grains were traditionally stored underground in animal skin or bark containers or in woven cedar bags. Properly cured and stored rice could last for several years and kept people from starving when times were lean.
The Anishinaabe regarded wild rice as a sacred plant. This was (and continues to be) reflected in almost all aspects of life. Ceremonies, feasts, and other important events always incorporate wild rice in some way. It is often the first solid food that babies receive, while it is one of the last solid foods that elders eat before they move on to the Spirit world.
Densmore, F. 2012. How Indians use wild plants for food, medicine & crafts. Mineaola, NY: Courier Corporation.
LaDuke, W. 2007. Ricekeepers: A struggle to protect biodiversity and a Native American way of life. The world as we know it.
Vennum, T. 1988. Wild rice and the Ojibway people. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press.
Six different ways a person could be named
The traditional practice of ‘naming’ was not always done in the same way. In general, there were six different ways in which a person could receive a name in Ojibwe society. These included the following:
The first type of name was given ceremonially to either an infant or adult by someone who had received the name in a dream or vision. The child or person receiving a name from a person who dreamed the name was supposed to receive a spiritual benefit from it that would protect and guide them throughout their life.
The second type of name was a dream name acquired by an individual during their own dream or vision. This was usually received in during a fast and isolation. Such a name was associated with a spirit who gave them the name. This name was seldom mentioned and the person might use a different name most of the time instead due to the sacred nature of such a name. The experience of this dream name would give its possessor a ‘spirit power’ or protection. A person who received their name this way had the right and power to name others.
The third type of name was a “namesake name” given by parents, but not bestowed in a ceremonial manner. In most cases a namesake name was not in any way associated with a dream or spirit, but was just a common name.
The fourth type of name was the most ‘common’ type given to Ojibwe children. The common name or nickname was a name by which an Ojibwe was known throughout their life. This type of name was usually short and might contain an element of humor. A child might be given a name derived from some circumstance at the time of its birth, or from some event or animal that was nearby, or even because they bore a resemblance to something or acted a certain way. Humor was usually involved, such as one person who was named “without teeth” because it took a really long time for their teeth to come in as a baby, or another person who was named “stump” because they were very short. In both instances, the people who bore these names carried the names their entire lives.
In the fifth way, a person – usually a hereditary chief or clan leader – was sometimes known by the name of their family or clan group.
Lastly, a person might be given an English names and later have that name adopted or translated into Ojibwemowin. In some instances such names might just be done by (mis)pronouncing the English name to sound or be more Ojibwe. For instance, a girl named Josephette or Josephine might be called ‘Zozed’, a person named Margaret might be called ‘Magid’ or ‘Magidins’, meaning “Little Margaret.” Sophia might be rendered as ‘Sope’, and the name Minnie could become ‘Minin’. In other cases this is reversed and a person will be known by their Ojibwe name translated into English.
So what’s your name?
Learn more at Densmore, Frances. 1929. “Chippewa Customs.” Bulletin. Washington: U.S. Govt. print. off.
Native Americans have always been industrious and creative. Few people, however, are aware of the full impact Native American inventions have had on our day-to-day lives. Maple syrup, kayaks, the game and sticks of lacrosse, and hammocks-these are some ready examples of everyday inventions mainstream society has adopted from Native American tribes. But the story does not end there. Native Americans are still inventing useful items today that we will no doubt depend upon tomorrow.
Brad Rousseau is a celebrated independent inventor, small business owner, and enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe in North Dakota. He grew up on the Walhalla reservation in North Dakota, and he attributes his business success to the cultural values instilled in him as a young boy. Native Americans are convinced that everyone is a potential inventor if given the opportunity to analyze and solve a problem, and that was certainly true in Brad's case. Brad was taught to always look for ways to make things better and to find solutions to complicated problems. He had the opportunity to put such lessons to work when his mother, diagnosed with diabetes, was confined to a wheelchair and her doctor recommended she be transferred to a nursing home.
Brad had a strong desire to help his mother remain close to the family, but he knew in order to do that, her mobility would need to be improved. Faced with such a challenge, Brad relied on the values he learned as a child and pushed himself to find a solution that would help his mother navigate the multiple-level house more easily. As a result, Brad came up with a device that could attach to his mother's wheelchair and allow her to be carried up and down the stairs with ease. The invention allowed Brad to better care for his mom in the comfort of their home. Most importantly, it allowed her to stay close to her family.
In 2011, Brad received U.S. patent number 8,240,691 for his invention and named it the Easy Lifter. This device allows people with mobility impairments and their caregivers greater safety and freedom of movement in any location, and it provides them a handy tool in case of emergency or an unexpected evacuation.
From this invention, Brad's company, Safe and Secure Products Inc., was born. Today, Brad's goal is to inspire other Native Americans to follow his lead-to develop their ideas, patent them, and allow everyone to benefit from their inventions.
In addition to growing up on the Walhalla reservation, Brad worked for the Tribal Council as the Director of Utilities and has traveled extensively to other reservations in the United States and Canada. His experiences give him first-hand knowledge of the disadvantages many Native Americans encounter every day. In particular, he found there was little access to resources and knowledge in the area of intellectual property.
Brad is now working to help the Native American community embrace the concept of intellectual property by mentoring other Native American business owners and inventors and sharing his acquired knowledge and experiences in the field. Recently, he joined the advisory board of the Native American Intellectual Property Enterprise Council (NAIPEC), an organization that supports the Native American community by providing assistance in patenting, trademarking, and copyrighting. According to Brad, the resources NAIPEC provides are much needed in the Indian reservations today.
"Native American businesses and individuals would benefit from knowing how to commercialize their ideas through corporations and create full employment in the reservations," said Brad. "This would allow reservations to create economic security and create jobs with content, meaning, and empowerment."
Brad Rousseau understands that a true innovator doesn't draw the line at inventing; he looks for new ways to help his community and society in general by creating opportunities and spreading the dream of invention to others.
Read more: https://www.uspto.gov/custom-page/inventors-eye-spark-genius
There is no general consensus on the exact capacity of the term “non-status Indian” in Canada or the United States.
In Canada, the term often was used to describe persons of native descent who no longer had Indian Act status, such as people who once had status under the Indian Act and who subsequently lost it due to a variety of means.
Unfortunately, the imposition of the Indian Act has a very narrow scope of its definition which has led to a good many persons of aboriginal descent to be erased from their heritage in legal terms. This narrow view has created inequalities between Aboriginal people and left many non-status people figuratively hung out to dry socially and economically. Because of the strict and unfair system imposed by the Canadian government, many persons of varying degrees of Indian blood and culture were legally shut outside of the statutory definition even though the majority of non-status people share similar lifestyles with their status brothers and sisters.
Further confusing the issue in the here and now is the fact that in the past, the term “non-status” was used much more broadly as a catch-all term that often included people who qualify nowadays as Métis people. This confusion is sometimes problematic as the Métis Nation has arisen as a distinct political entity with well-defined rights under the Canadian Constitution that are apart from the non-status Indians who are not eligible to define as Métis under the current criterion.
The Métis are descendants of mixed marriages which mainly occurred in the Prairie Provinces and in northwestern Ontario. Although of Indian ancestry, the Métis are dissimilar to the non-status Indians as they have their own distinctive history, language, and culture. Like non-status Indians, the Métis were excluded from being classified as Indians under the Indian Act. In addition, the Métis generally have different historical and contemporary experiences than non-status Indians, creating an aboriginal group that feels strongly about their unique cultural identity as separate from their “Indian” and European roots and from persons who identify as either status or non-status Indians.
Unlike Canada who has defined “Indian” as a legal term, there is no generally accepted legal definition of an Indian in the United States. While the US census relies on individual self-definition, Federal agencies charged with administering programs for Natives are generally made with eligibility dependent on being half Indian, or a quarter Indian, or being listed as a member of a Federally-recognized Tribe. Some agencies, like the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, and others sometimes consider persons to be Native based on descent from an enrolled member, or if they are regarded as Indian by the community in which they live.
The term “non-status” doesn’t really have a meaning in the United States. Because of this many people of Native descent are unable to legally claim aboriginal status beyond self-identification. Persons who claim to be tribal descendants must legally have an ancestor on a base-tribal ‘roll’ in order to qualify for such services, so persons of Indian blood who do not have an ancestor on such a roll cannot access such services – leading to a similar situation to the non-status Indians in Canada.
There is no definition for Métis in the United States, although there are many persons living in the United States who qualify as Métis under the definition of the Métis National Council. These people were separated from their Métis communities in Canada by the establishment of the international boundary, or were part of roaming bands of Métis who resided on the United States side of the border in places like Pembina, Walhalla, or Turtle Mountain, North Dakota, Lewistown, Milk River, or the Judith Basin in Montana, or in scattered areas along the border itself. Many of these people are able to qualify as Indian in the United States based on association with tribes there, or by being counted on early tribal rolls, while others do not qualify and are not counted as members even though they possess native ancestry.
The situation for non-status and Métis people is constantly evolving in both Canada and the United States. Hopefully, justice can be served for these people as they have strong claims to their indigenous status and deserve favorable treatment after decades and centuries of unfair dealings by the governments of both countries.
An important part of connecting with Ojibwe heritage
Between the age of a few months and a year, a child is traditionally given their traditional “Ojibwe name”.
In finding an Ojibwe name, a respected elder is chosen to do the naming. The elder will sing and sometimes drum or shake a rattle while seeking a suitable name for the child. When successful the elder states the name, picks up the child, and passes him/her around to all adults present. Each person pronounces the new name while holding the child and wishing them good luck and a happy life.
The new name carries no special significance beyond that of being another name that dedicates them as part of the Anishinaabe nation, and they can use their name whenever they want.
In the past the naming ceremony was an opportunity for a feast, usually after a successful fall or spring hunt. Now, it is a way to reconnect to your indigenous roots and to pass on the traditions of our people.
New park commemorates St. Norbert’s Métis history
The legacy of one of Manitoba’s early Métis families has been recognized with a new park in St. Norbert.
On June 16, a newly minted greenspace on the east side of Pembina Highway at Grandmont Boulevard was named Parc Charette Park after the Charette family. The new park commemorates the homestead the Charette family established at that site in the early 1800s that served as a halfway point between the Red River Settlement and the Morris River (formerly Scratching River) and a resting place for travelers making their way to the settlement.
The original half-log home was built by Baptiste Charette, the family’s patriarch and a carpenter with the North West Company, using glass imported from England and metal hardware brought by ox cart from St. Paul, Minn.
The house was considered to be the earliest home built in the Red River Settlement area. The home was condemned following the flood in 1952.
The home was also used as a small store carrying goods from the Hudson Bay Company and at one point was a meeting place for Joseph Charette and a group of Métis who were opposed to Louis Riel’s agenda.
Local historian Philippe Mailhot said the Charette family predated the arrival of the Selkirk Settlers and the naming of the park recognizes St. Norbert’s rich Métis history. "A lot of people don’t realize that there was a significant Métis population in the area before 1812," Mailhot said. "It’s a recognition of the Métis history of the Red River Settlement and St. Norbert in particular and one of the old time Métis families."
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Albert Lee Ferris was born in 1939 on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in north-central North Dakota. The oldest of 4 sons born to Samuel Ferris and Dora Charette, he spent his formative years living in a multi-cultural family environment, with strong American Indian and Lebanese cultural influences from his family.
An enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Albert enjoyed hunting and fishing in the woods and lakes of the Reservation. Albert Lee died suddenly of illness in 1986 - cutting short what was a rapidly rising artistic star. His works are highly prized among members of the Little Shell Tribe and among others who experienced his realistic quality and style of his work. One of his many benefactors was former U.S. Senator Quentin Burdick.
American Indian Arts and Crafts Bureau brochure for his showing at Anadarko in 1983
Links to Metis, Ojibwe, and Cree Genealogy (Canada & N. Dakota)
Below are ten useful Genealogy Links for people researching their Ojibwe, Cree, and Metis ancestry.
Recollections of life on THE RIVERS AND Prairies
In the summer of 1843, and again in 1844, Mr. Desjarlais made a trip to Hudson Bay. He went as a boat hand in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company. The trip was made by way of the Steel River, a stream flowing into Hudson Bay. Great skill was required in rowing down this river as the current was very swift and the banks strewn with great boulders. It took a day to descend Steel River, but three days to ascend upstream, as boatmen had to pull the boats upstream with ropes from the shore. Each boat had six oarsmen, and about ten such boats were sent down to Hudson Bay at a time. Their cargo consisted of furs and dried meat, and they returned to Winnipeg with supplies of all kinds for the Hudson's Bay Company. Mr. Desjarlais stated that the boats which brought these supplies to Hudson Bay had great masts which looked like groves of dead timber. They anchored a long way out from the shore while smaller boats, which came in with the tide and went out with the tide, brought their cargo to land. The boatmen from Winnipeg spent several days resting on the short of Hudson Bay before beginning their return trip, which required about twelve days if the weather was favorable.
Desjarlais later went to St. Joseph (present-day Walhalla, ND) where Kittson had established a trading post. Here Desjarlais engaged in hunting and trapping with many other Indians and half-breeds. Two hunting trips were made each year by the half-breeds, one beginning early in June and lasting until about the middle of August, for the purpose of obtaining supplies of pemmican, and the other in late fall for securing quality furs. During the first trip the women accompanied the hunters and prepared the pemmican, but the hunters went alone on the fall trip. The general route of the hunting expeditions led out from St. Joseph and went to the east end of Devils Lake and the Sheyenne River, although sometimes they went to the Turtle Mountains. These hunting expeditions that went out from St. Joseph were of considerable size. Some of these half-breed hunters had as many as twenty or twenty-five carts, and most of them had at least three or four. There were often several hundred carts in an expedition. When the buffalo were numerous, the carts would be brought back heavy laden with pemmican.
adapted from Collections of the SHSND, Vol. 3. (1910)