Name: Ronnie Beaver
Spirit Name: ManyEagles Man
Ojibway Name: Pah Teen O-Wug Migisi Innini
Occupation: Social Worker
Nation: Eabametoong Ojibway Nation
Country: Canada



"Mishoomis OkaKeQwayWin" are the Seven Natural Laws of LIFE of; LOVE-RESPECT-HONESTY-TRUTH-HUMILITY-WISDOM-COURAGE, when we break one natural law we're breaking all of them because they all work together in balance. When we break Creator's natural laws we don't just break the law with Creator. We break them against ourselves and our family we'll suffer and pay for it rest of our life...This is why we are suffering today, we were forced to abandon our culture and the 7 Natural Laws of Life.





We have to take care of the earth or we will not have a home. We all share in this responsibility. We need to make sure that the earth and everything the Creator put on this earth will always be here for future generation. Each morning let us remember to greet our grandmothers and grandfathers, whose spirits are in; the many glories that surround us. They taught us as they had been taught by the elders, how to take care of the earth. We are straying away from the teachings given to us. Our young people do not pray and give thanksgiving. Our priorities are all messed up. We need to know the teachings of our grandmothers and grandfathers to give us direction and balance. Our leaders are young; they also need to listen and learn. We need their participation...TO TAKE CARE OF THE EARTH AND LIFE. WE NEED TO REMEMBER THE TEACHINGS OF THE FIRST ELDER, WHO HAS HANDED ON THE GIFTS OF KNOWLEDGE THAT HE RECEIVED FROM: THE SEVEN NATURAL LAWS TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE 

Anishinabe Culture and Spirituality


Anishinabe people had their own way of communicating with the Creator, long before any other human being was in this continent. The sacred spirituality teachings were passed on generation to generation based on Gizhemanidoo's Creation. When missionaries and settlers came into our traditional territory with their Christianity and introduced alcohol to Anishinabe, that’s when problems started. Many gifted traditional healers started to use alcohol and misused their sacred medicine to hurt others. Missionaries condemned our spiritual ceremonies practices because they didn't understand our Anishinabek culture and spirituality. Even the Government of Canada used prejudice Assimilation and Colonization Policies to destroy Anishinabek culture and spirituality but failed.


When Creator gave Anishinabe the inherent right to the land and all Creation, we are obligated to conduct spiritual ceremonies to all living things that are on this earth. The trees, plants, water, wind, all animals, the winged, the four legged, all creatures and insects. Our Ancestors learnt to honour and feast all natural resources that’s on the earth, at every changed season. We need to learn the teachings ourselves first and teach our children and grandchildren to say “thank you” to the Creator for caring for us and being part of the land and the Creation. Anishinabe teaching is never to take anything for granted especially when it’s a Creation of the Creator. We need to do special ceremony to show respect to the Creator's Creation for taking the life of an animal or using the herbal medicines.  


For generations the sacred legends were passed on from elders to children, the teachings about the spirit of animals and plants. Our Ancestors learnt the teachings from their fasting vision quests that the fish, moose, deer, geese and other edible animals and the medicines in animal oils, in plants, roots and barks all have spirits with spiritual powers to heal. This is the reason why Anishinabe traditional medicine works on Anishinabe people. And also this is why there are many sightings of Sabay(big foot)in NAN communities because people are using traditional herbal medicines. Sabay works for the spirits and he looks for the medicines for the spirits and takes care of the land.  Also non-Anishinabe people are starting to use herbal medicines and they are interested to learn about Anishinabe culture.


In the sacred legend teachings the animals gave up their lives for Anishinabe people so we can sustain and live. Through a vision quest the animals requested a special spiritual ceremony for their spirit when killed. Anishinabe people are obligated to show respect for taking the life of an animal and the spirit. The old traditional teaching is when taking the life of an animal or when using traditional medicines Anishinabe is responsible to return the spirit back to the earth. The sacred spiritual teachings were very powerful and it really affected the well being of the individual and that was the spirituality way of life for Anishinabe people. The elders had many sacred legends they used as a spiritual teachings to all ages especially to children. Today I still see the spiritual teachings practiced while hunting and trapping with a traditional or Christian person. Spirituality is important to Anishinabek culture and traditions because we are connected and part of the sacred land and Creation. Many people still question who we are, what is Anishinabek?


  • MANY MORE…………

It is time for our Chief and Council to focus on our “ANISHINABE CULTURE AND TRADITIONAL SPIRITUALITY” because we are Anishinabe with inherent right to land and we are recognized as “Earth Keepers”in a spirit world. The spirituality inherent right of land responsibility given to Anishinabek is forgotten in every community, we need to integrate   “ANISHINABE CULTURE AND TRADITIONAL SPIRITUALITY”in all of our community services for future generation to come and prepare our grandchildren and great grandchildren for better future.


The healing in the communities will not start until Anishinabe spirituality issue is address and traditional healing process is initiated. The youth are crying for help by committing suicide and nobody seems to hear them. The youth and children are the ones that are suffering because we are too ignorant to learn about our own culture and identity. The Chiefs and Band Councils of all First Nations communities are responsible to bring this matter to Nishnawbe Aski Nations leadership agenda. I challenge every Chief in Nishnawbe Aski Nation to start practicing their Anishinabe spiritual belief to secure and protect the land for their people in the traditional territory of Nishnawbe Aski. Every Chief says we have the inherent right of land in Nishnawbe Aski Nation  territory. Do they really know what they mean?….meeqwetch







In our culture the oral tradition was very important. We learned through stories shared by our grandparents. They were called legends “Achi-Soo-Kan in our language” but they were the real history lessons about culture and traditions. Anishinabe teaching on the clan system is an example of this, long before humans inhabited this world the clans already exist. Before the humans arrived, the animals, fish and birds were told by the Creator that humans were coming and that these humans wouldn’t have anything and would be pitiful. So all the animals the four legged, winged and fish said, “We will take care of them and show them how to live in harmony with all of Creation. We will sacrifice ourselves as food so they won’t starve and we will supply them with our skins so they will be warm. We will teach them what medicines and ceremonies to use to heal themselves.”


These clans are still with Anishinabe people today and they will never go away because they are part of the Creation. Your clan is with you from the day you are born. It is said that your clan walks and looks after you. Sometimes you may dream about your clan and not realize what the dream meant. Your clan takes care of you so that you don’t have to go through life without help and protection. The spirit of your clan is for you to use because you are a member of that clan; you always offer tobacco when you ask your clan for help. The clan is passed down through the parents the mother passes her clan to the daughters and father will pass his clan to the sons. 


The clans of Anishinabek are often the animals and other creatures that inhabit the region. In the Northern Ontario region the caribou, moose, sturgeon, sucker, crane, wolf, bear, fish, turtle and deer are common clans. Within a clan there may be many different types of an animal, bird or fish. For example, the turtle clan includes different types of turtles within the region. Every clan has its own duties and responsibilities. You can consult the elder clan members for the teachings of your clans.


Among the Anishinabe, the Crane clan “Oji-jac-koos-Crane People”, for example, is involved in leadership and the sharing of knowledge about the sacred teachings. Their role is leadership because the cranes were instrumental in establishing the clan system for the Anishinabe. When I was young I was fearful of Oji-jac-koos because of the stories that were shared by my grandmother, I guess that was one way to control child’s behaviour. The Eagle clan represents the family both parents protect and bring food to the eaglets. The eagle also teaches about love, hunting, being a warrior and being in balance with the environment. The Bear clan are like the guardians of the communities. They are also the protectors and carriers of the medicines. My clan is the Caribou, member of the Hoof Clans. The Hoof Clans responsibility is community and social development. The Hoof Clans have good communication skills and pursuers of well being of good life.



If knowledge of your clan is lost to your family and if your search through family, church, treaty or the band or school records does not reveal this information, you can offer tobacco to a Traditional Healer to request to find which clan you belong to.



To honour your clan is to be a brother, uncle, sister or aunt to all the people who are of your clan. When you meet someone of your clan who is younger than you, they are considered to be your nephew or niece. When you meet someone of your clan who is the same age, they are considered to be your brother or sister. It is your responsibility to take care of the relatives of your clan. When a clan member visits your community, you ensure that this person is taken care of. When you do this, you bring honour to your clan and yourself. Depending on which clan you belong to, you may feast your clan monthly; once or twice a year; or four times a year at the change of the seasons. Many people will make their food and tobacco offering to their clan by leaving the offering outside on the ground or in the water.


Some communities all members of a clan may gather to feast their clan and to hold clan ceremonies. Many people put out a food offering for their clan in the fall, to give their clan strength and energy to survive the winter and in the spring to revitalize their clan’s spirit after a hard winter. Some Bear clan people feed their clan when the bear is going into hibernation and again in the spring when the cubs are born. They might leave a food offering of strawberries, raspberries, fish and other types of meats and berries a bear would like. Generally, a food offering will consist of any food your clan would eat. 





Tobacco is the first plant that the Creator gave to Anishinabe people. It is use to activate the plant spirits, there are other three other plants, sage, cedar and sweetgrass together they are referred to as the four sacred medicines. The four sacred medicines are used in everyday life and in all of our ceremonies. All of them can be used to smudge with, though sage, cedar and sweetgrass also have many other uses.  It is said that tobacco sits in the eastern door, sweetgrass in the southern door, sage in the west and cedar in the north. Elders say that the spirits like the aroma produced when we burn tobacco and the other sacred medicines.



Tobacco is always used first as an offering for everything and in every ceremony.  Traditional tobacco was given to us so that we can communicate with the spirit world. It opens up the door to allow that communication to take place. When we make an offering of tobacco, we communicate our thoughts and feelings through the tobacco as we pray for ourselves, our family, relatives and others. Tobacco has a special relationship to other plants. Tobacco is always offered before picking medicines. When you offer tobacco to a plant and explain why you are there, that plant will let all the plants in the area know why you are coming to pick them. When you seek the help and advice of an Elder, Traditional Healer or Medicine Person, and give your offering of tobacco, they know that a request may be made as tobacco is so sacred. Traditional people make an offering of tobacco each day when the sun comes up.


Sage is used to prepare people for ceremonies and teachings. Because it is more medicinal and stronger than sweetgrass, sage is used more often in ceremonies. Sage is used for releasing what is troubling the mind and for removing negative energy. It is also used for cleansing homes and sacred bundles carried by people. It also has other medicinal uses.



Cedar was the first evergreen tree in Creation it is one of the most powerful medicine. Like sage and sweetgrass, cedar is used to purify the home. It also has many restorative medicinal uses. Cedar baths are healing. Cedar is also used for colds and other illnesses. When cedar is put in the fire with tobacco, it crackles. When it does this, it is calling the attention of the spirits to the offering that is being made. Cedar is used in fasting and sweat lodge ceremonies as a form of protection: cedar branches cover the floor of the sweatlodge and a circle of cedar surrounds the faster’s lodge.



Sweetgrass is the sacred hair of Mother Earth. Its sweet aroma reminds people of the gentleness, love and kindness she has for the people. When sweetgrass is used in a healing circle it has a calming effect. Like sage and cedar, sweetgrass is used for smudging and purification.



You take care of these sacred medicines by keeping them in a dry place. They can be stored in paper bags or wooden boxes. If you are using alcohol or drugs, you shouldn’t touch any kind of traditional medicine. Healers say you should wait four to seven days before touching the medicines.




Anishinabe people knew that everything in Creation has spirit even the moon. Anishinabek called the Grandmother Moon-“Nokomis” and we have great respect for her for the teachings and healing.



The cycles of the moon determine our yearly calendar. The changes that come with each passing moon indicate the times for harvesting, hunting and gathering. In the Anishinabe calendar monthly names of each month include the word moon and reflect the close connection between the cycles of the moon and the plant and animal life on Turtle Island. The monthly names of each month vary from different region to region depending on the location of First Nation and climate changes. The Northern Ontario region Ojibway names of each month are different than the southern First Nation names for each month. Check with your Elders from your own area for proper names of each month. This is in Ojibway names only.




Start of the Winter Moon
New Winter Moon
Big Moon


Makoossag gaa-nitaawigetti Giizis

Raven Moon
When the Bear Cubs are Born Moon



Waakiita-tay-wayah Giizis

Eagle Moon

Hard Crust on the Snow Moon



Goose Moon
Frog Moon




Flowering Moon
Budding Moon

 Loon Moon



Strawberry Moon


Oshawl-gomin-none Giizis

Mid-Summer Moon
Blueberry Moon
Raspberry Moon



Nickkimin-none Giizis

Ricing Moon
Flying Moon

Goose Berry Moon



Leaves Changing Color Moon
Moose Moon



Falling Leaves Moon



Freezing Moon
Whitefish Moon



Maggo-sha-geesic-gun Giizis

Big Winter Moon

Feasting Moon

It is said that Grandmother Moon watches over the waters of the Earth. We see this in her regulating of the tides. Grandmother Moon controls all female life, much of the water life spawn according to the cycles of the moon. It is said that Grandmother Moon is especially close to women because she governs the woman’s cleansing cycle, the natural cycle of menstruation known as the moon time. Just as Grandmother Moon watches over the waters of the Earth, it is said that women watch over the waters of the people. Water always comes before new life.



It is said that the moon cycle is a gift to women. It is a time to cleanse mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The moon time is considered a time of power, second only to the ability of the Great Spirit to give life. That is how strong that power is. Women can ask Grandmother Moon for direction in life, for wisdom, and for help for her children and others. Grandmother Moon can give her healing and balancing energy to women. Some teachings say that when women are on their moon time, the Creator comes closer to them. When women are on their moon time, their power is at its strongest and this is acknowledged in that they do not prepare foods or medicines, take part in ceremonies or use the pipes and other sacred items. The moon time is a ceremony of life for women and a time for renewal. The moon time is the time for women to relax and take it easy. All the chores are done by other family members. It is a time for women to think about themselves, their families, their relatives or anyone they think needs help. It is a time of reflection.



In the past, when a young woman had her first moon time her aunts or grandmothers would take her to a small lodge where she would be close to the natural world. The young woman is sacred at that time. She is now able to give life. She would be given the teachings about her new life from her mother, grandmothers or aunts. She would be taught about her role as a woman in the community.



Some teachings say that when the moon is full, women can ask Grandmother Moon to give them new energy. It is an opportunity for women to take time for themselves to have strong dreams. When the moon is full, a woman can do a ceremony to honour and seek guidance from Grandmother Moon. The ceremony can be simple. A woman can sit on the ground and ask Grandmother Moon to replenish her body with new energy. She takes water with her which she asks the Moon to bless. That water then becomes her medicine. Full moon ceremonies were held in many communities many years ago. The ceremony may be different from place to place. It is held either on the Full Moon or two days before or after the Full Moon, depending on the teachings given to the women in a particular community. Women gather in a circle around the sacred fire, from the youngest to the oldest, representing the life journey from infancy to old age. They drum and sing. Tobacco is placed in the fire and the women ask for the cleansing of the earth, as the water, the lakes, rivers and oceans, constitute women’s responsibility. In some communities, at the Full Moon ceremony, each woman brings a container of water. They pour this water into one bowl and this water is offered to Grandmother Moon and to the Earth. At the end of the ceremony, the water is now called moon water, it can be used as a medicine during the month.





To have a spirit name is important everything in Creation has a name. The trees, animals, plants, fish, water and air all have names. When we receive our spirit name, we know who we are in Creation. We are able to identify ourselves when we communicate with the spirit of each thing in Creation. A spirit name is important for a good beginning, strong prayers and the good life. A spirit name is important for personal protection against sickness and disease. When you have your spirit name, which may be referred to as your Anishinabe name or simply as your name, your communication with the spirit world is strengthened. When the spirits that we talk to and have been given to us hear our name, they see everything about us. They see our life, our future and who we are, and when we offer tobacco to them, they can guide us. Elders and Healers say that when your spirit comes to this world, your name and your colours follow you to the spirit door. It is said that our spirit name is the name we had before we came to this world. Spirit names are said to be ancient and some of these names are the names of our ancestors. Your spirit name is said to be fifty percent of your healing and balance because with it, you know who you are, you know where you belong, you know where you are going and you know where you came from.



Anishinabe people had a way of getting their name. Today, there isn’t any community in our region where the traditional ceremonies is held in naming a baby.  As they were for thousands of years this ceremony was very important in Creation of child development. Long time ago our Ancestors gave babies their spirit names when they are two, three or four weeks old. An Elder who has the ability and honour to give spirit names talks to the baby in their Anishinabe language and the baby’s spirit listens. The Elder explains to the baby what his or her name is and what it means to have that name. The baby hears and understands. It is never too late to get your spirit name and colours. The spirits wait for you to come to them for a name. The Traditional people recognize that because of what has happened in our communities historically, many of us don’t know the teachings and they will wait for us to come to them. Today, we can offer tobacco to a Traditional Healer, Elder or Medicine Person who has the ability to call names and colours through the spirit door. We can also seek our name through the shaking tent ceremony. The person we ask to give us our name may use special songs to call on our name and colours.



Many Traditional people say that when you receive your name, you should announce it to Four Directions of the universe. Those attending the ceremony come up to you, shake your hand and call you by your name. Your family gives out gifts to the people and everyone enjoys the feast you have prepared. Often you will have three or four sponsors. Sponsors are like grandparents to you. When they accept responsibility for being your sponsor, they know it is for life, both yours and theirs. Your sponsors can be your relatives or others whom you respect.



A person who gives names has earned that right. He or she should know the spirit, ceremonies and the power that your name carries. This person will be able to give you instructions on how to take care of your name and what your name means. People who give names say that the spirits give the name through them. We can express our gratitude to the person who gives us our name by our offering of

tobacco and gifts.



Everything in Creation has a colour that represents a certain type of power. For example, my Spirit Name; “Pah Teen Owug Migisi Inini” it means Many Eagles Man. The colour I received came from the Sundance Ceremony. It was explained to me that the Great Spirit Eagle gave me my name and I should honour and respect the eagle at all times. The colours came with my name; when you see eagles flying high in the sky. What do you see? The sky is blue, the eagle is brown, yellow and white. Those are my four colours.  When you wear your colours, (i.e. ribbons) it is considered the Good Life which keeps you straight and walking in a good way. Colours are as important as your name. It is said that your colours should come with your name. They represent your powers, you receive guidance from them and they help you focus. You can hang your colours in your room if you are on a healing journey. You can make your dancing regalia with your colours in beads and material.



You need to find a path to honour your spirit name. You can honour it through different ceremonies. You can make food offerings during the year for your name. These can be monthly with the moon cycle or four times a year, at the changing of the seasons, or once a year. Your colours are associated with your name and when you feast your name you are also including your colours.




Fasting is one of the ceremonies that were practiced in every First Nations communities for many years. In the past, the Elders of a community would take the young people out to fast in order to help them find their direction in life. Today, as our cultural traditions and ways of healing are being revived in our communities, you will find more Anishinabek to seek answers through the fasting ceremony.



When you choose to go on a fast, it is with a purpose in mind. You may go out to seek direction in your life or you may go out to learn more about our ways and about Creation. You may fast for your spirit name and colours. Healers may fast in order to find and gain permission to use a certain plant medicine. You may fast for many other reasons. Whatever the reason for your fast, you prepare yourself beforehand through prayer and tobacco. It is said that when you fast you are sacrificing yourself for all, for your family and for your community, by denying yourself the basic comforts of shelter, water, nourishment and companionship.



Fasts are conducted in many different ways and in different places. You may be put out to fast deep in the woods, in a field, on an island or on a mountain. Fasters may stay in a fasting lodge that they themselves have constructed of saplings and tarps, they may sit on a platform in a tree with a tarpaulin to keep them dry if it rains, or they may stay in a fasting hut. Wherever they spend their one, two, three or more days of fasting, they will bring with them the medicines -tobacco, cedar, sage, sweetgrass or other plant medicines that may be used in their region and their sacred items such as a drum, pipe, smudge bowl, feathers and ribbons of their colours. Spring and fall are generally the times for fasting. Some teachings say that you fast in the fall to take away negative energy and you fast in the spring to replenish yourself with new energy. Healers and Elders say that fasting has a cleansing and healing effect. Fasting has also been described as a healing way where the first person we face when we fast is ourselves. People may fast either in the spring or fall each year. Offerings are made before the fast. This may be food offerings as well as tobacco. Very often, fasters will go into the sweat lodge before they are taken out to their fasting spot and later, when they are brought in from their fast. The fasting conductor lets the fasters know the duration of their fast through the connection he or she has with the spirit world. Firekeepers tend the sacred fire at the base camp for the duration of your fast. The person who has put you out on your fast looks after you while you are out. Your fasting site might be encircled with cedar and with tobacco ties. You might build a sacred fire at your site where you offer your tobacco. However your fasting site is set up, you are in the care of Mother Earth and our First Family.



Everything you see on a fast is important, even the littlr bugs around your fasting area. you may find yourself feeling closer to the sky world than ever felt before when the sacred light from the moon and stars brightens the night sky. You may gain an increased awareness of the beauty of the natural world, our First Family. Your dreams and visions are all part of the journey. It is said that fasting brings you closer to the spirit world and that your spirit wakes up when you are on a fast. You may feel that the questions you were asking have been answered. When you are on your fast, you have your sacred items with you, your drum so that you can sing the traditional songs you have learned and the sacred medicines to help you in your prayers. It is said that when you call on the spirits with a song, they will hear it and come to help you.



At the end of a fast, when the person who has taken you out to fast comes to get you, you may be taken into a sweat lodge where you have the opportunity to talk about your fasting experience. Your fast may be ended by drinking spring water or cedar water and berries. A Traditional Feast is prepared for the fasters in celebration of the spiritual journey the fasters have experienced.



The conductor of fasts has been trained and has earned the right to take people out on a fast. The conductor does this in a certain way, in the way that he or she has been taught. The conductor of a fast is able to tell you the traditional teachings of the fast they are taking people out on. The fasting conductor should be informed of any health condition you have before you go out on a fast. The conductor of a fast watches over the physical and spiritual well-being of the fasters whom he or she takes out to fast. The conductor of a fast should be able to interpret the dreams, visions and gifts that have come to you and to offer guidance about your fasting experience.




Feasts and giveaways are an important part of Anishinabe life. They are held throughout the year to acknowledge the help received from the spirit world, our relatives and ancestors, and other members of the community. Feasting gives us the opportunity to honour all those who have helped us, to feed them and express our respect for what they have done for us. Feasting is also spoken of as the way we strengthen the life and spirit of our bodies.



Feasting may be an individual or group event. At larger gatherings, drumming, singing and traditional dancing may be a part of the ceremony and feast. Tobacco is always offered and the foods is served acoording to the customs of the community and the reasons for the feast. Feasting is done for many reasons. Feasting is part of our tradition to honour life that was given to us.



There are spirit feasts with the four seasons, the spring, summer, fall and winter. The feast for honouring and feeding the dead is held in the fall and, in some communities, also in the winter. Some people hold a feast before the seeds are put in the ground and again after harvest time. Feasting the harvest may consist of taking a plate of food back to the garden and leaving it there as a way of giving it back to the earth.



Feasts are held at naming ceremonies. When clans gather they will feast their clan, usually every spring and fall.



Fasters are given a drink of water and berries after their fast and the sacrifice they have made for everyone is honoured at a feast. Feasts are often held after the sweat lodge ceremony as well.



We feast the gifts that we carry. We acknowledge the spirit of our pipes and feathers for their power to help us. We have drum feasts for the drums we carry. We feast all the items that we took with us

on our fasts, such as our colours, feathers and shakers.



We feast the helpers that are given to us and all the others who so eagerly give us help when we ask for it. People will feast the eagle, the bear, the wolf, the mountain, the fire, the plant medicines, and all the other spirit helpers who come to them.


In the spring time, there are feasts for the winged animals that returned from south because they have come back. There is usually a feast to celebrate the returning to life, the grass turns green, plants are growing and tree are leafing.



Many times I hear stories from people about their experience about dreaming of dead people. Sometimes they hear strange sounds and noises while fully awake at their camp site or they just moved to a new house. Sure, it scares anybody, this is normal reaction. There is a ceremony when you experience this kind of mysterious connection with the dead. A feasting is way to maintain a relationship with the ones who have gone to the spirit world. Death is part of Creation and we have to show respect to the dead people that moved on to spirit world. At a Feast for the Dead, the teachings say that we can call the spirits back. This is also the time when we can ask them for help in addition to showing our gratitude to them for the help that they have given us. In some communities this ceremony is held in the fall between the time that the leaves fall off the trees and the first snowfall. The feast begins with prayers and an offering of tobacco. The people and directions are acknowledged and the spirits are told what is being done. The food is set out on the table. The foods prepared include those that the relatives and ancestors liked when they lived here. This might be wild meat, fish, ducks and berries. Other foods and teas, such as cedar tea, raspberry tea, and red willow tea, are added to these four basic foods. Fish, bannock and wild rice are other foods included in feasts. The smudge bowl is taken around and the food and people are smudged. Gifts of cloth are also given with the food and tobacco offering for the spirits. Out of respect, the younger ones make up a plate of food for the Elders. By doing this, the younger ones learn about taking care of another human being. The Elders are the first to be served and then the other participants follow in a specified order.

As the feasters make up their plate of food from the dishes laid out on the table, they put a spoonful of food for their relatives and ancestors into a pot set out for this purpose. At the end of the feast this pot of food is taken outside and the food is set on the ground for the spirits. Any food remaining on the table at the end of the feast is taken out and put on the ground or burned in a sacred fire. It is said that during the night, many spirits come from every direction to share in the feast. The spirits of the relatives and ancestors bring other spirits who haven’t been remembered and they share the food with them. A feast will be given when a family member has died. A sacred fire burns for four days and a food offering is made for the person each day before sundown. A ceremony is held before the feast where it is said you eat with your relative for the last time.



Very often a feast is followed with a giveaway. We have given tobacco and food to the spirits to express our gratitude for what we have received, such as a return to good health, a name for our child or a plentiful harvest. With the giveaway we thank the people who have come to be our supporters. Some people say that the things that we give away are things that we are giving to the other side, the spirits, even though a person here is receiving the gift. The person who is holding the feast and giveaway may make ribbon shirts, moccasins, dresses and small tobacco pouches for the people, or they may give blankets and other useful items for the home. They feel good after giving away the gifts that have been made and that they value. A good example of feasts and giveaways is when a young warrior has his first kill. The new hunter holds a feast and gives all of the animals’ meat to the community in respect for becoming a hunter.






If you are on a healing journey the Sweat Lodge is a good place to begin because when you are sitting in a sweat lodge, you are at the centre of the Four Directions. The sweat lodge ceremony forms part of the ceremonial life of many First Nations. Even within one territory, there may be differences in the way the ceremony is conducted.



The Sweat Lodge has been called “the most powerful structure in the world.” It is a place specially constructed to conduct ceremony. Sweats vary from purification and cleansing to healing sweats. It is said that the Sweat Lodge during ceremony “responds” to what the participants need. Other types of sweats include clan sweats, such as Turtle or Bear clan sweats most common in our territory, sweats for fasters both before and after they fast, sweats for sundancers and sweats when you seek your spirit name. In some traditions, the women sweat together to share about women teachings. In our area Northern Ontario I encourage we sweat together men, women and children so we can support and learn from each other about the traditional teachings of Creation.



As you approach the sweat lodge you come first to the altar and the sacred fire where the rocks are heated for the sweat. One of the teachings of the fire is that when we leave this earth, we have to go through fire to get to the spirit world. It takes only a second and all the impurities that we have gathered while on this earth are removed. Both the fire and the altar are in line with the door of the lodge. Before you enter the lodge, offerings are made at the altar or the sacred fire. Tobacco is always one of the offerings.



A sweatlodge is a dome shaped structure and there are many different ways to setup the frame. Turtle lodge is shaped like a turtle shell. When people talk bout the lodge they are talking about entering the womb of Mother Earth. It is a sacred place.



The direction of the doorway entrance is different in some lodges it will be according to the teachings of the conductor. One conductor’s teachings may specify that the doorway face east. Another conductor’s teaching will require that the doorway face south because his or her medicine and what they learned came from the south. The teachings of another lodge specify that the direction of the doorway change throughout the year. This four direction lodge would face each direction for three months of the year.



The frame of the sweat lodge or sweat house is made of a specific number of red willow, ash, birch, maple or jack pine saplings. Some teachings refer to the frame as the ribs of Mother Earth. Tobacco is placed at the base of the hole that each pole is set into. In the past, the frame would be covered with moose or deer hides. Today, canvas tarps and blankets are used. The coverings keep the light out and the heat in. Once the lodge is constructed, a ceremony is held before the first sweat takes place.



Inside the sweat lodge, the participants sit in a circle around the central fire pit. The sweat lodge conductor usually sits at one side of the door and may have other participants sit in the four directions of the lodge. The number of people attending the ceremony varies depending on the reason for the sweat.



A firekeeper tends the sacred fire outside the lodge. At the request of the conductor, the firekeeper brings the Grandmothers and Grandfathers to the lodge door and greeted as they come in “Booshoo Mishoomis”. They are then placed in the pit at the centre of the lodge by the conductor’s helper. Even though the firekeeper is not inside the sweat lodge, he is very much a part of this ceremony and may receive teachings, cleansing and healing. The Conductor determines the number of rocks use as specify of each type of sweat.



The pipe is used in most sweat ceremonies. The sweatlodge conductor is usually a pipe carrier. When you request for a sweat ceremony you must pass a tobacco offering to the sweatlodge keeper or the conductor. Everyone that will participate also bring tobacco offering as well. The tobacco that was brought by people will be used in pipe ceremony prior starting the sweat ceremony. The pipe ceremony will take place either inside or outside the sweatlodge, just defends on the conductor how he received his directions from the pipe teachings. Some pipes you can’t share with others.



When you enter the sweat lodge you are seeking the help of the Creator and the spirits. The helping spirits are called into the sweat lodge by means of the prayers, songs, drums or shakers. A drum, either a little hand drum or the water drum, is an important item in the ceremony because the drum is made from all of Creation. The sound of the drum is like the heartbeat of Mother Earth and Rattlers are the sound of seeds popping of new plants. Songs and prayers are offered during the ceremony. Each person has a chance to speak or pray within the lodge. Cedar or other medicine water is poured on the Grandmothers and Grandfathers, creating a cleansing steam in the lodge. Pure water is also a medicine. At the end of the ceremony, the spirits are thanked and sent home. When you come out of the sweat lodge your spirit feels new and alive. You can feel the healing energies and you are more aware of all Creation and the beauty that is there.



Sweat lodge conductors are men or women who have trained for many years to earn the right to conduct sweats. They have received the teachings and have gone through ceremonies to develop the gift that is given to them. The sweat lodge conductor knows the protocol and history of his or her lodge. They are able to explain it clearly and concisely when asked. It is important that the sweat lodge conductor is aware of health issues you may have before you enter the lodge. He or she is also able to assist you with your experiences in the sweat lodge.



When you request a sweat, an offering of tobacco is made to the sweat conductor. Some sweat lodge conductors say you should abstain from alcohol or drugs for at least four days or longer.







In a Healing Sweatlodge we are equal, we are together, and we are balanced.






In our culture crying is healing, it’s natural, we also need to cry.






In our culture we heal by laughing, yelling, crying, sweating, talking, yawning, shaking, and praying.















In Treatment Institutions they are not equal. The psychiatrist is the authority while the clients remain at the bottom and it is not balanced.




In this culture, we are told that when you cry, it means that you are weak, you’re unstable, and is wrong to cry.




In this culture, there is a belief that a person can be healed through medication and isolation. They only try and cure the symptoms and not the inner self.






















Traditional Healers say that the Great Spirit works through everyone, so that everyone has the ability to heal, whether it’s the mother or the father who tends to their child’s injury, a friend who eases your pain by kind words or the Traditional Healer who heals your sickness. Everything that was put on this Earth gives healing – the trees, the animals, the water and plants, we need to learn and know the special ceremonies our ancestors once practiced.


In the past, knowledge of the medicines was very important to learn because we had no hospitals or a clinic to run to. The Anishinabe people knew what plant medicines were for and how to prepare for them when used. When we needed special help beyond the traditional medicine knowledge, we looked to our Medicine People, the Traditional Healers we call them. The healing in the plants that grew around us was empowering and had mysterious powers to heal. It was something that belonged to the communities. Many of the illnesses that our communities are faced with today were not seen in the past. Today many Anishinabek are seeking emotional, mental and spiritual healing for past abuses and traumas from being a victim. The pain and suffering they are carrying are the results of what generations of their families went through and for a loss of identity due to separation from family and culture. Others are seeking help for physical illnesses such as diabetes and arthritis that’s affecting Anishinabe people today. Anishinabek knew that everything created by the Creator, the plants, trees, the water, wind, rocks have spirits. As part of Creation, we also are sacred and have spirits and connected to all Gizhimanidoo’s (Creator) Creation.


Our approach to healing is through ceremony. When we put our tobacco down as an offering to these things we call Creation, our spirit is making that connection so that we will be able to get that life source from them. Our healing ways are referred to as Traditional Healing. This way of healing is holistic, based on an understanding of the interconnectedness of all spirit life and the importance of balance and harmony in Creation.



In all of Creation, there are four parts to everything that is natural. The season has four Seasons spring, summer, fall and winter. The wind has four directions east, south, west and north. The human body has four parts the arms, legs, body and head so the human elements are mental, physical, spiritual and emotional are part of the sacred circle of life and are interconnected. Just as in Creation all things are connected but have different functions. When one of your human being elements is out of balance, you will not function properly. For example if you have a physical problem, it is connected to your spirit. If your mental state is out of balance, it will cause emotional turmoil. Traditional Healing is the restoring of balance to the mind, body, spirit and emotions. There needs to be harmony and balance in us just as there is in all of Creation. When that harmony and balance is lacking, sickness ensues. It is said that a great deal of healing comes from ourselves because we want to be healed. In taking responsibility for our own healing, we may participate in ceremonies. This can include our daily ceremony of offering tobacco. It can also include other healing ceremonies that we participate in under the guidance of Healers and conductors, such as the sweat lodge, the shaking tent, the sundance, the fast and the vision quest.


When you start on a healing journey, you are making a commitment to help yourself, your family and your community. Although ceremonies are different from First Nation to First Nation but basic beliefs are similar. We all want to take care of the spirits. Using sacred items such as the pipe, the drum and the eagle feather can help us make the connection with Creation. It is said that all of Creation can give us teachings, that our way is a loving way that teaches us about kindness, caring, sharing, honesty and respect. When we pray, the spirits that travel with us hear our prayers. They recognize us clearly when we let them know our spirit name. In this way our spirit name is said to be fifty percent of our healing and balance and also, because, with it, we know who we are, we know where we belong, we know where we are going and we know where we came from.


We can approach a Traditional Healer for healing. We can also approach our Elders who heal through the sharing of their wisdom and the teachings. When we go to a Healer or Elder, they ask the Creator for help on our behalf. They have a gift to heal through spiritual powers which comes from the Creator and their spirit helpers and also from within themselves. Healers and Medicine People work in a variety of ways. Each Traditional Healer has their special gift of healing power from the spirit helpers and Creator.


When a person come searching for doctoring, there is a certain kind of ceremony performed by the Healer to call in the spirit of the medicines to help. Some Healers know and work with the plants through their connection with the spirits of those plants. Healers and Medicine People prescribe medicines specifically for an individual. The way in which the medicine works is not exactly known and is sometimes referred to as “The Great Mystery” in our language we say” Mama Tah Wiss” We are taught to show great respect to the plants that are used in healing. Healers say that the spirit force of a plant directs them to the plant to use for an individual.


Before the plant is picked, the Healer puts down a tobacco offering to acknowledge the spirit of the plant. The plant is addressed by its Anishinabe name and also you need thank the Creator for the Creation and the spirit of the plants. The healing is done by the spirit of the plant. Some Healers do doctoring which may involve the extraction of illness. Some Healers describe their way of working as working with energy, the mind and the spirit. Some are seers, some are counsellors, and some heal with their hands. All Traditional healing is holistic. If a person seeks help for an ulcer, it is not only the ulcer that is treated. The root cause of the condition is addressed. The whole person is worked on. Maybe the whole family will be involved in the healing process. Or maybe the person will need to do something for the community.



When you are on a healing journey, it is a natural step to seek help and guidance from a Traditional Healer, an Elder or a Medicine Person.



When Healers talk about healing, they say that the Creator and the spirits work through them to help the people. If they are asked in what way they are different, they say that the gifts they have and that they are allowed to use is what makes them different. They always express their deep gratitude for the healing powers of everything that the Creator has put here and for the spirits that do the healing. Each Healer has a purpose and that purpose is to help the people. They tend not to call themselves Healers but might refer to themselves as Helpers in Traditional Healing or Helpers to the spirits. The help that they give is credited to the spirit that they have, the Creator, and the spirit helpers who come in many forms to assist them. Helpers can manifest in any form. They can be animals, trees, sticks, rocks, fire, water, plants and earth. The abilities of becoming a Healers are said to be their birth right and generally these individuals start training and working at an early age. The abilities of others may be revealed later in life as a result of a severe illness or a near-death experience. Some may go on fasts or on a vision quest where their gifts and their responsibilities are revealed and explained to them by the spirits. A Healer can be given his or her direction of how to take care of the people through dreams and visions. There are similarities to all healing practices but each Healer has their own way and medicines that they work with. Each Healer is an individual and they live their lives according to the teachings they have received. Some may work with plants, some may counsel, some may use other forms of doctoring and some may heal with their hands. They may work through ceremonies such as the sweat lodge or the shaking tent. There may be one or many forms of healing that they have received training in. Depending on the form that their healing work takes, Healers may use drums and shakers as they sing and pray. They will use one or more of the four sacred medicines tobacco,  cedar, sage and sweetgrass for smudging.



Some Healers are called Medicine People because they work with the plant medicines. They know about plants and they prepare medicines. There are special procedures for everything. If a Healer needs a powerful medicine for someone, the Healer has to find out how to get it, how to keep and store it, and how it should be used and given. One plant may have five or six different uses. The Healer may need to fast in order to learn about a particular medicine. Healers say they are learning continually.



Doctoring takes many forms. The use of the medicines is one of them. Removing sickness by extraction is another. Some Healers are specialists in treating certain illnesses. For example, a Healer may have special abilities to help with heart disease or with diabetes. If a person seeks help for an ulcer, it is not only the ulcer that is treated. The root cause of the condition is addressed.



All Healers look at all aspects of the individual - the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical as they are interrelated. There are some who describe the work they do in terms of working with energy, the mind and the spirit. They might work with eagle feathers to get to the core of the problem.



Counselling is an essential part of all healing but there are Healers whose particular gift is to use words to heal. Some communities have have Seers who it is said they can see backwards and forwards.



Ceremony Healers have the ability to perform doctoring during a sweatlodge ceremony or they may care of you when you go on your fast for healing. They may work through a shaking tent to advise and prescribe and they support you when you participate in sundance.



A Traditional Elder is someone who follows the teachings of our ancestors. It is said Traditional Elders walk and talk the good way of life “mino pimadiziwin”. Traditional Elders teach and share wisdom they have gained of the culture, history and the language. The sharing of their wisdom is healing. An Elder does not have to be a senior but could be someone younger who has many teachings and who has earned the respect by contributing to the development of spirituality in the community.



When you go to a Healer, Elder or Medicine Person, be yourself, be respectful to them and to yourself. Take tobacco to give as an offering. Tobacco is meant for that communication between you, the Healer and the Creator. The tobacco can be in any form. For example, it can be one cigarette from a pack, it can be a pack of cigarettes, it can be a pouch of tobacco or it can be loose tobacco wrapped in a small square of cloth (called a tobacco tie). Talk to the Healer or Elder explaining why you have come to them. Refrain from taking alcohol or drugs for four days before going to a Healer. Women schedule their appointments with Healers for times when they are not on their moontime. Other gifts can be given to express your gratitude for the help you have received. This may be in the form of an item such as a basket or blanket or it could be money. There are certain protocols specific to each Healer, Elder or Medicine Person. Many Healers will have helpers who will convey these protocols to you.


Anishinabe Prayer


Oh! Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds

And whose breath gives life to everyone,

Hear me.


I come to you as one of your children,

I am weak… I am small… I need your wisdom

and your strength.


Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever

behold the red and purple sunsets.


Make my hands respect the things you have made

  and make my ears sharp so that I may hear your voices.


Make me wise, so that I may understand what you

have taught my people and

The lessons you have hidden in each leaf

and each rock.


I ask for wisdom and strength,

Not to be superior to my brothers, but to be able

to fight my greatest enemy, myself.


Make me ever ready to come before you with

clean hands and straight eye.

So as life fads away as a fading sunset,

My spirit may come to you without shame.




This website is not intended to discriminate any particular Traditional Healers or Elders and Medicine People that practice these sacred teachings or those that provide traditional healing to our people. Every Healer is unique to have that responsibility to carry the healing medicine for Anishinabek.The purpose of this website is to teach Youth how they can receive help through our own people. Every community has their own Traditional Healers, this is what I was told when I was searching for healing for myself when I was struggling with alcoholism.I pray this website will help Youth to choose a "Good Way Of Life" and to find a right path to walk on a healing journey.

My Favourite Websites


Weiben's Whitefish Bay Music Codes

hit counter

This page has had visits