A lifestyle of flowers goes hand in hand when it comes to an Ojibwe Native American like myself. In our language, we call flowers waabigwan. There is a great pride I take when incorporating my lifestyle and teachings into fashion designing. Flowers are a part of us, a way of life for us, food supply, and sacred medicine for my tribe. It is important to not only embrace this traditional element, but it is also essential I share my love for these delicate petaled treasures with all of the world. You will find flowers throughout anything I do; fashion, lifestyle, beauty and much more. I believe to understand my brand you must understand what elements I am passionate about throughout my lifestyle. Flowers are a way of life for me.
Throughout my beadworks, floral designs are connected with stems. Influenced by the Ojibway traditional principle of always representing the four different parts of the plant or four stages of vegetation. It is important for my beadwork to often include seed, leaves, buds and fruits or flowers. Or stems, leaves, buds, and flowers. I also enjoy putting animals like birds, bears, and others throughout my beadwork. Anything to do with what exists deep within the woodlands is sacred. Therefore, it is crucial to create from my love for the woodlands and my culture.
Flowers lead you to the roots which represent the foundation of blooming life. It is obvious that vital, strong roots are necessary for a healthy plant. If the roots aren’t working right, the plant isn’t eating right. You can’t build a sturdy flower or plant without an adequate foundation, and you can’t have a healthy plant without strong roots. The same concept applies to life. Without a strong root foundation, we are not able to have a stable and healthy life. Flowers are medicine to use.
Flowers form an inherent part of the woodlands environment. Walking into a field of wildflowers is one of the most beautiful experiences we can connect within nature. Wildflowers serve as part of the ecosystem. There are other forms of life such as bees, birds, and other small animals that depend on floral blessings to survive. Wildflowers, leaves, fruits were the themes of Woodland Native American tribes, (especially Ojibwe). It is shown throughout floral beadwork in all we do.
Forging edible wildflowers is one of the most educational ways of learning to eat wild food and it's a great introduction to respecting cultures (like mine). Wildflowers that are edible are perfect for adding color to salads and other foods. Edible flowers add a life of vibrant color and brilliant flavors to otherwise ordinary recipes. Nature supplies us with a vast supply of natural foods to survive. Learning what plants and flowers from nature are edible and which ones are poisonous is highly recommended before trying to consume or make your own medicine. With some basic knowledge of what plants and flowers you can and can or cannot eat, your life will take on a whole new flavor. If you aren’t 100% sure you’ve picked an edible plant to ask someone who knows. Never eat something if you aren’t sure it’s edible.
My love for poppies grew as I grew from child to adult. Influenced to enjoy the beauty of these delicate treasures by my grandmother when I was growing up. I looked forward to going to her house in the summers to see the large full bloomed poppies lined in front of the porch with the sun rays glaring of the edges of the petals at her home in the woodlands of Michigan. My gram (as I would call her), gathered seeds preserving them for me. When returning to her home to visit my uncle that now lives there after she passed, he brought me out these tiny little delicate seeds from my grandmother.
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I have been living in California now for 5 years with my husband. It is here now I get to enjoy the state of the poppies. In my back yard, covering the rolling hills and mountains throughout the state, and along the paths of exploring California, there are poppies popping up everywhere in California. It is a blessing to wake up in the morning, step out the door to the back yard, and watch the sunrise to open up the poppy blossoms.
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Thousands of tiny glass beads skillfully sewn onto an array of items make a statement not only of beauty, but of the history and culture of my people. In my tribe using floral motifs in our beadwork is a way for us to connect to our ancestral history. Beading has been a form of artwork for the people of my tribe (Ojibwe) for many years, nothing has really changed about it, besides introducing gems and such into it, yet the world around us is ever changing. I enjoy the spiritual connection when I am beading. We are also taught to bead a mistake in their work to protect us from vanity. We learn that only the Creator can make something perfect, not us. There is a peace that comes to my spirit when I am beading. I enjoy beading very much. Above is a handbag with a poppy bead design I created from the actual beadwork I did of a poppy flower. It's a great pleasure telling stories of our culture along with physical and spiritual provocation. Through my beadworks, artworks, and other things I design and create I am able to accomplish this.
Poppies are not the only flower I adore. All flowers are favorites to me. I love woodlands flowers. Seeing the morning sun in a meadow with the dew setting on top of the flowers from the misty morning fog as the blooms open up to the sunrise. With the Sequoia National Forest only 30 minutes from where I live, I am able to enjoy places like Cresent Meadow, Huckleberry Meadow, and much deeper within the great Seqioua woodlands. These wonderous meadows have rolling fields of flowers full of vivid colors to fabricate dreams from. The morning breeze blowing the sweet fragrance of the flowers as I round the meadow edge. I can never get enough of flowers. Seeing flowers, smelling them, being educated about them, and incorporating them into my life and fashion designs are the base foundation of my identity as an Ojibwe.
Flowers are delicate timeless pieces of art that the Creator has mastered making. Some may stay with us throughout the year where others, they come and go changing all color patterns throughout the year. There is an inner connection to the flowers I grow. Creating these delicate treasures from a tiny seed is an extraordinary pleasure. Flowers are the Creator's way of painting the earth.
All plants, trees, and flowers are sacred to Ojibwe. For Ojibwe people of the Great Lakes areas (The states of the great lakes region), plants and medicine are fundamental to achieving mino bimaadizi. Mino bimaadizi is an Ojibwe phrase used by my tribe (Ojibwe) to describe having achieved a good life. Leading a good life while having sound health is, in my culture the direction and influence to a positive life.
The base of the Ojibwe culture is nature. The forest, lakes, rivers all elements of all are respected in our culture. Plants, flowers, and trees are sacred because of their extraordinary ability to nourish; feed; and heal the body, mind, and spirit. Flowers and plants are a staple part of an Ojibwes' diet. Plants, flowers, and trees are medicine for us. In our language Ojibwemowin, we call medicine mashkiki also known as strength of the earth. Medicines are made from roots, plants, and flowers by people of our tribe.
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When I create from flowers I am honoring the Great Spirit for sharing them with me. When I create and design I connect elements from nature to floral motifs.
Beading and painting the floral motifs for me brings to me a peaceful feeling. It's a feeling of knowing I am pleasing the Creator while honoring my ancestors. Beading is a visual language that tells legends about the history and culture of our tribes. Throughout my designs, you will find legends and stories of different flowers. I will be blogging about them to educate others on the legends behind my designs. This, in turn, will empower the cultural connection between others and my tribe. It is crucial to share with others our ways of connecting with nature, even if it means letting others know how an Ojibwe lives a lifestyle of flowers. A connection is where it all begins just as a connection is where it all ends. We all come from nature and must stay connected to nature, so that we stay in balance with our mind, body, and spirit.
A lifestyle of flowers is what an Ojibwe means embracing the traditions of flower teachings from our ancestors. By using flowers in our foods, as medicine, and throughout what we create we are observing and connecting with nature. We must nurture, love, and care for all things within nature that the Creator has blessed us with. We must help one another understand each other's lifestyle's if we expect them to respect and understand us. If a lifestyle of flowers means strengthening my spirit and paying respects I will continue to enjoy these delicate treasures while sharing my journey with the world.