An open fire to keep warm is a tradition many Ojibwe Indigenous enjoys to this day. Our ancestors were forced to keep an open fire throughout the late fall and the bitterly cold winter just to keep warm. They lived in homes built of bark, saplings, and other natural materials such as furs. The ancestors would sit around the warm, crackling fires and tell stories among all the tribe. These could include stories of fairies, animals, manitou spirits, great deeds, jokes, poetry and more. One of my favorites of all time is "The Legends of the Sleeping Bear". We also enjoy pipe ceremonies throughout the winter, drumming and singing, and many other activities. The hardships Ojibwe Native Americans faced in the past compared to the present are what makes the woodlands Ojibwe strong. Even to this day, some winter traditions can be found in the present within the tribe.
Even in the present day Ojibwe and other tribes within the cold regions are faced with many hardships. Tormented by winter illnesses and ailments, the Ojibwe use natural medicines and teas in an effort to better the health of one another. The woodlands have provided natural medicines for the tribe for many years. It is important that these woodlands medicines are prepared and preserved prior to the hard winter months.
Although, winter can be tough on the tribes in the colder regions; the people of the tribe embrace the winter traditions even it today's modern world. Winter is a time for storytelling for the Ojibwe. It is a peaceful time for dreaming and reflecting on one's inner spirit. It is the best time to allow our imagination and creativity to build a foundation for the new year. Winter is known in Ojibwe language as Biboon. I think of the winter as a fresh, white canvas. Pure white until spring when Creator adds the most extraordinary colors and textures.
Hardships Ojibwe Native Americans face in bitterly cold winters can impact the tribe in positive and negative ways. I (Ayasha), previously lived in California. Therefore, I was fortunate, when I lived there to not have endured the winter back in Michigan where I originated from. Even though I do not have to deal with the severe cold weather, I remember the hardships all too well. Speaking to my elders recently they expressed to me the ability to keep the homes warm in the negative degree temperatures was a challenge, the water lines freezing and breaking, homeless Native American Veterans dying because of the cold weather, and much more. Many years ago the extremely cold temperatures would bring many hardships as well. This is why the ancestors preferred to stay put at home more in the winter months. In today's modern world this is not a common option. The cost of living usually requires both parents to work from outside of the home. The cost of heating a home in the winter months is outrageous in states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota; as well as in countries like Canada.
Hardships Native Americans are forced to face in bitterly cold winters in today's modern world, as well as the willingness to embrace a peaceful cold season, are what makes the Ojibwe crave practicing the ways of their ancestors.