The power of traditional ways

“Native Teachings are about
a Way of Life”

The information stated is only a small portion of the many and extensive Native Teachings that exist.
Teachings vary from First Nation to First Nation and even from one geographic region to another. For more information, please consult with a Traditional Elder, Healer or Medicine Person.

Native American tribes are very diverse. Cultural teachings, philosophies, and social dynamics differ greatly from one tribe to another. Even within one tribe, stories and teachings may vary from region to region. The teachings shared in the Kinoomaagewin Mzinigas (Little Teaching Books) may be presented differently in other areas.


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Ojibwe Medicine Wheel

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Our belief is that healing and teaching are parallel

Seven Grandfather Teachings

We have to take care of Aki (Mother Earth) or we will not have a home. We must all share in this responsibility. We need to make sure that Mother Earth and everything the Creator gave her will always be here for future generations. 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 their elders, how to take care of Mother Earth and each other. 

We are straying away from the Teachings given to us. Our young people do not pray and give thanksgiving. We need to know the Teachings of our Grandmothers and Grandfathers to give us direction and balance. Especially our leaders who are young; they need to listen and learn. We need their participation.

To take care of Mother Earth and the community of life, we need to remember the Teachings of the First Elder. The First Elder gave us the gifts of knowledge that he received from the Seven Grandfathers when he was a little boy. Each Grandfather gave him a great gift. One gave him the gift of NIBWAAKAAWIN (Wisdom), and he learned to use that wisdom for his people.

Another gave the gift of ZAAGIDWIN (Love) so that he would love his brother and sister and share with them.

The third Grandfather offered the gift of
MANAADJITOWAAWIN (Respect) so that he would give respect to everyone, all human beings and
all things created.

AAKODEWIN (Bravery) was the next gift, the courage to do things even in the most difficult of times. 

A fifth Grandfather gave the boy GWEKOWAADIZIWIN (Honesty) so that he would be honest in every action and provide good feelings in his heart.

Another Grandfather offered DIBAADENDIZOWIN (Humility) to teach the boy to know that he was equal to everyone else, no better or no less.

The last gift that was given to the boy was DEBWEWIN (Truth). The Grandfather said, “Be true in everything that you do. Be true to yourself and true to your people. Always speak the truth.”

The Grandfathers told him, “Each of these Teachings must be used with the rest. You can not have WISDOM without LOVE, RESPECT, BRAVERY, HONESTY, HUMILITY, and TRUTH. You can not be honest if you use only one or two of the Teachings, and to leave out one is to embrace the opposite of what the Teaching is.” 

We should all try to live by the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Sometimes it may be hard to apply all of them daily, but we must try. If we don’t practice honesty, we cheat. If we don’t practice truth, we will lie. We must go back to the knowledge that the
Seven Grandfathers taught the First Elder, who then passed the Teachings on to the next generation, and so on.

The Seven Grandfather Teachings will remind us how to treat one another and our children. Each of us is responsible for taking care of the children and of Mother Earth. The children are the ones who must care for Mother Earth tomorrow, and for the generations to come.

- Author Unknown

More on the 7 Grandfathers:

Seven Sacred Teachings: Nizhwaaswi Gagiikwewin by David Bouchard and Dr. Joseph Martin (pdf File)
Niizhwaaswi Mishomis Kinoomaagewinawaan by Ziibiwin Centre of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways 
The Gifts of the Seven Grandfathers @ Ojibwe.net
7 Grandfather Teachings by The Natural Laws
Seven Grandfather Teachings by Mike Greenfield @ Camp Widjiitiwin
Native Teachings and Spiritual Gatherings by The Longhouse Quiet Land Healing Lodge

Origin of clans

Long ago, before the Anishinabek were placed on Mother Earth, the Creator told all of the animals that humans were coming and they would not be able to provide for themselves. The animals agreed that they would take care of the people and show them how to live in harmony with all Creation. The animals said, “We will sacrifice ourselves as food, so they won’t starve. We will offer our skins to them so that they will be warm. We will teach them what medicines and ceremonies to use to heal themselves.”

It was just as the animals had said when the Anishinabek arrived. The animals kept their word and provided the people with all they needed to survive. The Anishinabek were very thankful for the animals and their generosity. The animals were teachers, and the Anishinabek watched carefully. Our ancestors saw that each animal species had a significant role to play and that together the animals achieved an incredible balance between each other. Through these observations, the Anishinabek organized their communities based on the relationships they saw the animals around them. This social structure is our clan system.
Anishinabek family groups were assigned the roles and responsibilities of a particular animal that lived in their region. This then became their clan. Before European contact, Anishinabek did not use family names — their clan identity served this purpose. Anishinabek children are born into the clan of their father. With the clan system, Anishinabek communities established a balance of power and specialization of skills and responsibilities.

The following are some of the common Anishinabek clans, though it is said that clans may be almost any animal, fish, or bird. Clan animals vary by region because they were based on the animals that inhabited a particular area.

Learning Your Clan
Colonization brought about severe disruptions to our clan systems. Today there are many Anishinabek who do not know their clan. By researching family, church, treaty, band or school records sometimes this information can be revealed. Also, one can offer tobacco to a spiritual person, who can seek the information needed to find out what clan one belongs to.

Clan Customs
Each clan has their teachings, but some customs are universal. People of your clan are considered to be your brother, sister, uncle, or aunt. When you meet someone of your clan who is younger than you, they are to be considered one of your nieces or nephews. It is one’s responsibility to look after the relatives of your clan. When someone visits your community, who is a member of your clan, you are to make sure they are taken care of. When you do these things, you bring honor to your clan and yourself.

Today more people are learning about their clans and their ascribed responsibilities in ceremonies and within the community. Clan membership is an important part of our Anishinabek identity along with our spirit name. To learn the teachings, colors, songs, and dances about your particular clan, we suggest that you consult with an elder from your community.

The Clan System for most Indigenous cultures was traditionally a form of governance for the people.  Every clan had their roles and purpose that pertained to the greater good of the entire community.  Within the Ojibwe Clan System, each clan had not only their purpose, but the members of that clan were said to have certain personality traits to assist with upholding the clan structure.  You may ask, "What if a person within a particular clan portrayed personality traits of another clan?"  There was also a place within each clan for members to be representatives of other clans.  In this way, every person, role, and personality were honored, respected and had a place that was fitting for the individual.  For the Ojibwe people, every clan had representation at community gatherings and within vital decision making.

The Seven Clans

Depending on the geography of nations, each nation would have had differences in their clans.  For example, the Crane Clan may have been the Heron Clan.  Also, when looking deeper into the oral history of our Elders, many clans had sub-clans as communities became larger and dispersed.  The Marten Clan spawned the Otter Clan and the Beaver Clan.  The Fish clan spawned the Sucker clan and the Turtle Clan.  If a clan is not specifically listed in this teaching, there is a possibility that is part of or descended from one of the seven original clans.  

Crane Clan:
The crane stands in the water observing the world above the water line.  Because the crane observes the outside world the Crane clan is known as the Outside Chief.  The outside chief is responsible for negotiating with people from other communities.

Loon Clan:
The loon dives and sees the happenings inside the water.  In this way, the Loon Clan is known as the Inside Chief as they are responsible for settling disputes and issues within their home community.

Bear Clan:
The mother bear protects her cubs with ferocity.  She is also cunning and knowledgeable about the plants of the forest.  Like the mother bear, the Bear Clan is responsible for protecting their people.  It is said that people of the Bear Clan are short tempered and live on the outside of the village to ensure the safety of the gentler clans inside the village.  The bear clan is also the medicine people for they know the healing ways of the plants available to them.

Deer/Hoof Clan:
The Deer or Hoof Clan were known for their kindness, gentle and soft spoken nature like the animals they represent.  The Hoof Clan were responsible for looking after the social aspects of the community including ceremonies and celebrations.

Bird Clan:
The bird can fly high in the sky observing the world at great distances.  Like the Eagle, the bird is known to be closest to the creator as they are part of the sky world and can access his/her wisdom.  The Bird Clan are the keepers of knowledge and responsible for spreading the seeds of knowledge.  The Bird Clan were traditionally the teachers and farmers.

Marten Clan:
The small, agile marten is limber, quick-tempered, ferocious, has quick reflexes and is an excellent hunter.  Members of the Marten Clan carry these characteristics and as a result are the strategists, warriors, and builders within their community.

Fish Clan:
The fish watch the sky and have the knowledge of the sun, stars, and moon.  In this way, the Fish Clan hold the most intelligence and are the people's philosophers.  They are also advisers to the Chief Clans.

Traditional Healing

Traditional Healers and Elders say that the Great Spirit works through everyone, so that everyone can heal, whether it’s the mother who tends to the scrapes of her child, a friend who eases your pain by kind words or the Healer who heals your sickness. Everything that was put here is healing – the trees, the earth, the animals and the water.

In the past, knowledge of the medicines was a natural part of everyone’s learning. We knew what plant medicines were for and how to prepare offerings for them. When we needed special help beyond what was common knowledge, we looked to our Medicine People and Healers. This familiarity with the healing properties of the plants that grew around us was empowering. It was something that belonged to the community.

This knowledge is no longer widespread and many of the illnesses that our communities are faced with today were not seen in the past. Many Native people are seeking emotional, mental and spiritual healing for past abuses and traumas, for the pain that they are carrying as a result 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 affect Native people in disproportionately large numbers.

Native people know that everything in Creation -- the plants, trees, the water, wind, rocks, nd mountains –have spirit. As part of Creation, we also are sacred and have spirit. Healing is understood in terms of the spiritual basis of everything.
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 life and the importance of balance and harmony in Creation.

The Number Four in Creation
In all of Creation, there are four parts to everything that is natural. There are four parts to morning, four parts to the afternoon, four parts to the evening and four parts to the night. The human body has four sections: the arms, legs, trunk and head. A tree has four sections: the roots, branches, trunk and leaves. They are all connected but have different functions.

Just as in Creation all things are connected but have different roles, so our mind, body, spirit and emotions are part of the sacred circle of life and are interconnected. When one of them is out of balance, it affects the others. 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 significant amount of healing comes from ourselves because we want to be healed. In taking responsibility for our healing, we may participate in ceremonies. This can include our daily service 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 sun dance, 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 differ from First Nation to First Nation, fundamental beliefs are similar. We have all come to take care of the spirit. Use of 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, which 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 are aware where we belong, we know where we are going, and we know where we came from.

We can approach a Traditional Healer or Medicine Person for healing. We can also approach our Elder who heals 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 come from the Creator and their spirit helpers and from within themselves.
Healers and Medicine People work in a variety of ways. Each Healer has their way and unique gift. Healing involves ceremony. When a person comes for doctoring, that is a particular kind of ceremony. When Medicine People call in the spirit of the medicines to help, that is also a kind of ceremony. 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.”

Great respect is shown for 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 Native name as, it is said, at least half of 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 counselors, 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 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.

The Four Sacred Medicines

Tobacco is the first plant that the Creator gave to Native people. It is the primary activator of all the plant spirits. Three other plants, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass, follow tobacco, and together they are referred to as the four sacred medicines.

The four sacred medicines are used in everyday life and ceremonies. All of them can be used to smudge with, though sage, cedar, and sweetgrass also have many other purposes. 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.

Traditional people say that tobacco is always first. It is used as an offering for everything and in every ceremony. “Always through smoking,” the saying goes.

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 unique relationship with other plants: it is said to be the primary activator of all the plant spirits. It is the key to the ignition of a car. When you use it, all things begin to happen. Tobacco Is always offered before picking medicines. When you provide 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, Healer or Medicine Person, and give your offering of tobacco, they know that a request may be made as tobacco is so sacred.
We express our gratitude for the help the spirits provide us with through our offering of smoking. It is put down as an offering of thanks to the First Family, the natural world, after a fast. Traditional people make an offering of tobacco each day when the sun comes up.

Traditional tobacco is still grown in some communities. For example, the Mohawk people use a traditional tobacco that they grow themselves, and that is very sacred to them.

Sage is used to preparing people for ceremonies and teachings. Because it is more medicinal and stronger than sweetgrass, it tends to be 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 items. It also has other medicinal purposes. There is male sage and female sage. The female sage is used by women.

Like sage and sweetgrass, cedar is used to purify the home. It also has many therapeutic medicinal purposes. Cedar baths are healing. 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 sweat lodge, 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.

Taking care of the Medicines
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 have been using alcohol or drugs, Healers say you should wait four to seven days before touching the medicines.

Your Name and Colours

Why Having 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 how are in Creation. We can identify ourselves when we communicate with the minds of each thing in Creation. A spirit name is necessary for a good beginning, powerful prayers and the good life.A spirit name is needed for personal protection against sickness and disease.

When you have your spirit name, which may be referred to as your Indian 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 colors 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 supposed 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.

Receiving Your Spirit Name
Before the arrival of the newcomers, Native people had a way of getting their name. This varied from Nation to Nation. Today, there are communities where the traditional ceremonies for the naming of babies are still held as they were for thousands of years.In some communities, children are given their spirit names when they are two, three or four weeks old. An Elder who has the ability and honor to give spirit names talks to the baby in their Native language and the child’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.In some Longhouse traditions, a clan name is given to a child. A Clan Woman who takes care of the names of her clan chooses a name that suits the character of a child.

It is never too late to get your spirit name and colors. 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, nd 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.

Naming Ceremonies
Naming Ceremonies are held in some communities to announce a person’s name.For Example, in some Longhouse traditions, children born during the year are brought the Mid-Winter or to the Harvest Festival To receive their names. A circle dance is performed, the father introduces the baby to the community, and the name is given.

In some Anishnawbe communities, the Naming Ceremony would be held before sundown. Food would be placed on a blanket on the floor. The child would be held by the parents facing the person who is going to name the infant. Then, taking the child, this person tells the child his or her name, colours, spirit helpers and what offerings to make.Many Traditional people say that when you receive your name, you should announce it to the community and the 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.

Those Who Give Names
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, a spirit name such as “Bringer of the First Light” has to do with the morning, with the colours purple and yellow which are the first colours that appear in the morning. This is the time that this person would do ceremonies because at this time she will gain strength and gifts.When you wear your colours, (i.e. ribbons) it is considered the Good Life which keeps you straight and walking in a good way. Colors are as important as your name. It is said that your colors should come with your name. They represent your powers, you receive guidance from them and they help you focus. You can hang your colors in your room if you are on a healing journey. You can make your dancing regalia with your colours in beads and material. Honouring your Name and Colors 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 colors are associated with your name and when you feast your name you are also including your colors.


When you are on a healing journey, it is a natural step for you 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 spirit's 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 are what makes them different. They always express their sincere 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 some Healers are said to be their birthright, and 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 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 for smudging.

Some Healers are called Medicine People because they work with the plant medicines. They know about plants, and they prepare medications.

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 methods. The Healer may need to fast to learn about a particular medicine. Healers say that they are continually learning.

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.

As Traditional Healing is holistic, if a person seeks help for an ulcer, it is not only the ulcer that is treated. The cause of the condition is addressed.

Spiritual Healing
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 regarding working with energy, the mind, and the spirit. They might work with eagle feathers to get to the core of the problem.

Counseling is an intrinsic part of all Healing, but there are Healers whose particular gift is to use words to heal. Some communities have seers who it is said can see backward and forwards.

Healers may perform doctoring during a sweat lodge ceremony, or they may take care of you when you go on your fast for healing. They may work through the shaking tent to advise and prescribe, and they may support you when you participate in the sun dance.

A Traditional Elder is someone who follows the teachings of our ancestors. It is said Traditional Elders walk and talk a right way of life.

Traditional Elders teach and share the wisdom they have gained from 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 of their community by contributing to its spiritual development.

When you go to a Healer, Elder or Medicine Person, be yourself, be respectful to them and 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 moon time.

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. For example, they will let you know whether you may receive treatment after having chemotherapy.

Moontime and Grandmother Moon

Native people know that everything in Creation has spirit. The plants, the trees, the water, the wind, the rocks and the mountains have spirit. The sky world, including the moon and the other planets, have spirit. All of these are part of our First Family, the natural world. The Moon is called Grandmother Moon, and great respect is paid her.

The cycles of the moon determine our yearly calendar. The changes that come with each passing moon indicate the times for planting, harvesting, hunting and gathering. In the Anishnawbe calendar, the 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.

Spirit Moon Mnidoo-Giizis (January)
Bear Moon Mkwa-Giizis (February)
Sugar Moon Ziisbaakdoke-Giizis (March)
Sucker Moon Namebine-Giizis (April)
Flower Moon Waawaaskone-Giizis (May)
Strawberry Moon Ode’mini-Giizis (June)
Raspberry Moon Mskomini-Giizis (July)
Thimbleberry Moon Datkaagmini-Giizis (August)
Corn Moon Mdaamini-Giizis (September)
Falling Leaves Moon Binaakwe-Giizis (October)
Freezing Moon Bashkakodini-Giizis (November)
Little Spirit Moon Mnidoo-Giisoons (December)


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 cleasning 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 herself 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, balancing for wisdom, and for helpful her children and others. Grandmother Moon can give her he a balanced 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 newlife 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.

Around the full moon, women on their moon time become very intuitive. It is an opportunity for women to take time for themselves to help foster their intuition and 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 are held in many communities. The ceremony may differ from place to place. It is held either on the FullMoon 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, 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, now called moon water, can be used as a medicine during the month.


The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan surpassed its goal of creating a monthly set of Anishinaabek Cooking Resources (ACR) in 2021 and recently distributed hot off the press cookbooks, recipe cards, and posters to tribes that participated in its former Walmart Healthy Native Food and MI Tribal Food Access projects.*

These brand new materials support the Anishinaabek Cooking Resource (ACR) cooking videos, which were created and released monthly in 2021 by email and through the ITCM’s social media. The recipes feature healthy and traditional foods and were created with a community-based lens and feedback from participating tribes on the design, content, and cultural appropriateness.  The five tribes include the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, the Hannahville Indian Community, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Tribe, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and the Bay Mills Indian Community.

The ITCM is re-featuring these recipes and materials through its Facebook and Instagram postings from January to December of 2022. Participating tribes will support this activity by showcasing the monthly poster and distributing the cookbook and recipe cards to those who visit their health center or food distribution sites.  

Cathy Edgerly, ITCM, said “My role as the Program Manager of the Anishinaabek Cooking Resources initiative has been tremendously gratifying. My hope is that others will not only appreciate the beautiful materials but will also enjoy the health-giving benefits offered through traditional foods within our Anishinaabek inspired recipes”

To view the cooking videos and other ACS resources, please visit the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan’s Anishinaabek Cooking Resources webpage at: http://www.itcmi.org/anishinaabek-cooking-resources/  

*Funding and support for the ACR materials were made possible by the National Walmart Foundation and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.  The content and recommendations included in this product are those of the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its funders.


The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc. is a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation duly organized under a state charter filed April 16, 1968.  The agency represents all twelve federally recognized tribes in Michigan.  The agency is divided into several different divisions, including:  Headstart; Early Headstart; health services; behavioral health; environmental services; child, family, and education services; and administration.  The agency employs approximately 160 employees. 35 of these employees are based in the agency’s central office in Sault Ste. Marie, while member tribes have offices and staff on site.  Visit http://www.itcmi.org/to learn more about the agency.