While the snowflakes begin to paint the fall leaf-filled woodlands and the lakes begin to freeze it is beneficial for the Ojibwe people to embrace cultural preservation. Frozen winters have arrived for the Ojibwe. Biboon (Bi-boon) (winter) could is all too often a harsh season for us Ojibwe (O-ji-bwe) but it is made survivable by the necessity of engaging in a variety of indoor and outdoor tasks. Like many events in Native American culture, there is a proper time and place for all activities.
Winter (biboon) is a time for crafts that can be done sitting down together, storytelling, hunting, fishing through the ice, and trapping. This winter begins the winter of many I (Ayasha) have missed. As I have moved back from California home to Michigan it is crucial for me to embrace my tribal roots in order to survive. My spirit will be fed with an abundance of learning more of trapping skills in which my uncles will teach me, crafting and beading, fishing through the ice with family, teaching younger generations Native American cultures and customs, storytelling to the youth, and preparing to begin hunting next winter. May the snowfall upon me as I allow these winter months to teach me the blessed lessons of how to be a strong Ojibwe woman.
With the long dark evenings, the snow and wind blowing outside, our family will be telling stories around a blazing fire as a way to entertain and teach the children. Storytelling is reserved for the winter months for the Ojibwe tribe. Traditional stories told by the Anishinaabeg are the basis for the oral legends and Anishinaabe language learning.
Cultural preservation for the Ojibwe is identified within our tribe as a living testament to the perseverance of culture, of the will to weather, even to bloom. Although our ancestors' spiritual practices were banned by Indian agents, priests, and missionaries, and Christianity was forced upon the people, our spiritual beliefs are thriving today because their spirit still remains within us. Something that can never be taken away from us is the gift of carrying an ancestors' sufferings, hardships, and will power to survive. It is crucial for Ojibwe to stay committed to preserving the culture.
We are a tribe scattered throughout the woodlands of the lake country in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, as well as Canada. Anishinaabe people take pride in their culture, pride in their personal expansion and success, and pride in knowing that we have important contributions to make to our people and the rest of the world.
Our spiritual life is centered around the midêwiwin. The Midewiwin is a resilient spiritual institution that has survived religious and cultural oppression. I (Ayasha) believe faith and tradition can help modern youth, as well as Indigenous peoples in general, to live a healthy life. Cultural and spiritual ceremonies help to focus our thoughts and cleanse our bodies, minds, and souls. We are expected to learn and practice the language of the Midewiwin — Ojibwa. Learning the language gives us a strong sense of our ancestors' tongue and form of communication. The Midewiwin bag remains an important part of our service, as it contains certain sacred objects that allow them to heal.
Beneath the thick blankets of biboon (winter) lies a richness of cultural information. Preserving the Ojibwe culture is essential to teaching the youth of the tribe to carry on the traditions and cultures of our ancestors in a respected manner. Preservation starts at home and enables the ability to learn how to think like an Ojibwe by learning the language, getting involved with tribal traditions and learning them, following the Ojibwe beliefs, and reinforces cultural identity in one's self.
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