The Ojibwe are ancestors of the Anishinaabe (the original people). I (Ayasha) honor my ancestors of the past and people of the present. Respecting all people is what keeps us strong and devoted to our culture. I have great respect for my ancestors and people of today. My great great grandmother came from Ontario Canada. Scooped up by the government from her mother and father, she was brought into the United States as a child to be introduced to a world of the unknown to her. We do not know of her real parents or exact location of birth, only that it was in Ontario. As a child, she was brought to the United States and given new parents with a new name. Fortunately, she was adopted by a full blood Ojibwe family from the Upper Peninsula.
As time passed her, unfortunately, she fell ill from pulmonary tuberculosis. She was sent to Grand Traverse Hospital (a state ran asylum) in Traverse City, Michigan where she passed at the age of 34 on November 25, 1923. Her death certificate list no name parents except the new last name of her adopted father (full blood Ojibwe), no date of birth, no place of birth, and no place of birth for parents either. As if she never existed. I had visited Ontario, Canada last year. While there I spoke with an elder who informed me this had happened to many of our people, not just my grandmother.
Grand Traverse Hospital asylum was constructed in 1885 and held around fifty-thousand patients of all ages throughout its operation. The hospital was also utilized during outbreaks of tuberculosis, typhoid, polio, and other diseases. While sick there my grandmother was isolated from her family. In this asylum located in Grand Traverse Michigan, people were beaten, tortured, and locked alone in empty rooms. There are even stories of murder and rape. After some time, the mental health rules and regulations changed which resulted in the closing of the hospital in 1989. The Traverse City State Hospital is now overcast in darkness. In the early 2000s this haunted asylum sadly began construction for a new tourist attraction. It is a shame they find the place to be such a beautiful tourist attraction.
The fire is our grandfather. It is our sacred light that passes on the teachings of our ancestors. Whenever I feel confused, longing for answers, and seeking knowledge I turn to the fire. It is through the fire she guides my spirit to do the right thing. The Anishinaabe Ancestors Spirit Lives, We Still Exist. My existence today is because of my grandmother. Many modernized Native Americans of today I come across question why it is I still hold on to old traditional Anishinaabe teachings. I do this to honor my great great grandmother. When I am in the circle at the powwows I pray for the people of our nations to embrace their ancestor's spirit and keep traditional ways. Without the ancestors who suffered through hardships and sickness, we are nothing. They are the backbone of who we as Native Americans are.
Nowadays you will find many Native Americans in the circle at the powwows with a number on their regalia while they are dancing. This number often indicates they are dancing for money. Resistant to obtaining a number, I have been denied food, respect, and questioned for not conforming to modern Native American ways. Although, I carry some of her suffering spirit I believe it is a great honor to carry the spirit of such a great warrior such as my Anishinaabe grandmother. I feel if we are grateful to the Creator for carrying traditions from the past of our ancestors into the present time we are blessed because we appreciate more. I encourage all people of the Native American relations to embrace their culture and honor it in traditional ways. For it is not the money that makes us who we are, it is the Creator that determines our bloodline. Honoring the Creator for what he created you out to be is priceless because "We Still Exist" and we need to send that message to the world.
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