Note: The Hownikan will share a series of columns this year by Minisa Crumbo Halsey. This is the second in a series that focuses on traditional Anishnabé star knowledge. Crumbo Halsey recommends viewing the Star Chart created by Kyle Malott, Pokagon Band Language Department, and downloading the Sky Guide smartphone app to locate the constellations in the series.

By Minisa Crumbo Halsey

Bozho Nikan,
Ni je na jayek..

As we Bodéwadmin relatives travel and gather, in Shawnee or by word of our “talking paper” the Hownikan, our personal medicine wheels are broadened and gladdened. Our minds, hearts, bodies and spirits come forward to sit in a circle to learn, have some fun and dance.

We look up into the summer night sky and remember our Anishnabé Creation Story which tells us many stories of our relations, the Star Beings. Our Creation Story tells us of how our ancestors, the first people, were “lowered down” as the star people or hot rocks. That is why some of us learn this story by the ceremony of the sweat lodge. This is also a place where we can go into the lodge, sit with the Creator, pray, be purified and renewed as we sit and remember who we are and from whence we came. AHO!

Mno Mko, or Big Bear, also called the Big Dipper, can be seen in the summer night sky. (Painting by Minisa Crumbo Halsey)

The Star Being Constellation we would speak of is the big bear or Mno Mko, sometimes also called the Big Dipper. This one can easily be seen in the summer northern sky. Sometimes other bands call it the Fisher Star, and this being is honored for helping us to enjoy the summer bird song, different plants and animals that fruit and flower at this time, like the “four sacred berries,” corn and tobacco (sema) planting time, the young women’s ceremonies of the “strawberry fast” and the many medicines which help to keep us healthy.

Mno Mko is also in the night sky as relative to the Great Crane, or Jayek. Now, Jayek was one of the first emissaries that the Creator sent to look and find a home for us two-legged persons in star spirit who were seeking a home. Jayek and his friend the loon found us this place. They had their “talks” with all of the beings that lived here. These beings agreed to receive the seekers and to “help us out.” The crane constellation can be seen to fly overhead in the late-night sky of summer. And it is from these ones that we learned how to live in harmony and balance with ourselves and all living things in the name of Mamogosnan, the Creator. AHO!

Now, it is told that Mno Mko was first to come forward with a medicine teaching lodge in order for the newcomers to gather and learn. Among the first things to learn was always to remember and honor where we came from, who we are and what we have. For then we became “breathed alive” by the breath wind of the Creator. AHO!

Mno mko, also called Ursa Major, points to the smaller relative of Ursa Minor. Two of the stars in the “cup” of the big dipper point to Ursa Minor which holds the very important North Star or Polaris. This star is not so easily seen but it is always there. It has and continues to guide those lost or seeking direction to the north. By finding true north one can orient the other directions. The north star has guided many home when they knew not where they were. All other star constellations turn with the seasons but the north star is constantly in the north.

Our Anishnabé Creation Story contains information that Sekmekwe Gizes, the grandmother Moon, the plants, animals, the powers of the directions seasons and weather are always available to us. It is good to keep an open mind and heart that we might be able to hear and know some of these things. Different people have personal medicine gifts and by sharing these things we can come to grow in wisdom and knowledge, in balance and harmony, all ways, all days — now and forever more. AHO!

In beauty it is begun. In beauty it is finished. There is beauty all around.

Chi migwech, Creator for all of the gifts. Wewene chi migwech.

We the people of the Milky Way, the trail of spirits which can be seen in the early southeastern night sky as it makes its southwestern passage in the night. We raise our beings in awareness and gratitude for these things. AHO!

Note: Minisa wishes to thank Justin Neely, CPN Language Department and staff for all ongoing and outreach programs; Dolores and Don Neaseno Perrot; and Kyle Malott, Pokagon Band Language Department, for his Bode’wadmi Nengo^sek Star Chart and gracious support.