Ginoozhe vulnerability (continued from page 8) TEK, climate & understanding the natural world By Jennifer Ballinger GLIFWC Outreach Specialist Work under GLIFWC’s Great Lakes Restora- tionInitiativecapacitygrantcontinuestoincorporate traditionalecologicalknowledge(TEK)intomanage- ment of treaty resources within of the Lake Superior basin and throughout the Ceded Territories. TEK is a source of understanding the proper respect for a particular resource and often includes information about harvesting techniques and best management practices. Interviews with elders and harvesters have been a vital resource for document- ing and learning such knowledge. One forager was gracious enough to share part of her recent interview related to manoomin and cli- mate change management with anyone interested in plants found in the Ceded Territories. As customary in Ojibwe country, our talk begins with a traditional introduction. Noondinesiikwe izhinikaazo. Mikinaakwan odoodeman. Tonawanda ishkoniganing onjibaa. Noondinesiikwe (Little Wind Woman), also known as Hope Flanagan is turtle clan from the Tonawanda Seneca reservation. She has been gathering extensively for community members throughout the Ceded Territories since she was young. Flanaganrecentlysharedsomeofhertraditionalknowledgeonvariousplanttopics. “Every day I’ll be out and about. I’ll find something and I’ll get all excited about. Hey, you can use this for this, or this one’s showing up with a change in climate, or this one is going away. Or you can look at this birch bark and see how this poor tree really struggled because of all the injury that it’s suffering from, borers or fungus. You can see from the plants how they struggle with climate change just by looking at them. So, that’s something for the kids to start noticing. I want them to be able to see what’s going on for the plants. That’s what I do almost every day, something like that. I truly believe that, every plant has its gift of food, utility, or medicine. Those three right there. And even if they didn’t, they’re giving us air. I truly believe that. It’s like seeing a friend. It’s like look at that one right there. I believe they have a spirit. Some people say they individually have different songs. I think that’s probably true. I’m really interested in their gifts of healing through their spirit or medicines within. Also, how they talk to each other on the ground and even above ground, how they talk with their biochemistry. I just love that and how they help each other despite what their differences are. They will help each other. There’s some really interesting stuff going on in that. I recently asked Ogimaagwanebiik [Nancy Jones] about the difference of the awakaanag and the awesiinyag. I said: ‘can you apply that to plants too?’And she said: ‘sure.’ Because if you think, the awakaanag are the enslaved ones or like a cow or a stalk of corn that has to grow in a row versus awesiinyag being like a bear or a chokecherry tree growing out at the edge of a forest. They’re sur- rounded by their friends. They chose to be there so their medicine and their power is so much stronger and cleaner because they’re choosing to be there. They have all their relatives around them and all their helpers around them. I heard from University of British Colombia now, they said you can look at a forest. Those older trees are like a wagon wheel. They’re giving out gifts to all the other trees that are around them and so there’s all these wheels around of support and help. That makes sense why those medicine plants would be stronger. Wild rice won’t put up with our nonsense, I don’t think. It says you’re going to treat us like that, we’re taking off. That was a teaching that I received from niiyawe’enh [my name giver]. She said when you don’t respect your elders and your teachers, and she didn’t mean just humans, she said they’re going to leave. And then, what are you going to do? Meaning if the rice says, oh, I’ve had enough of you or the spirit keepersthatwatchovertherice,iftheygoyou’renottreatingusright, they’re going to take off. That’s why I always talk to the kids about. Thank them. Thank them: always put down your asemaa, always say thank you for giving this gift. Whenever, if you’re out looking at a plant, thank them for showing up and showing their beauty and their gifts. They’re offering us their gifts so generously and that’s what brings them closer, just like your relatives. I love that term that “ninandotaagonaanig” I heard from Ogimaagwanebiik,theonesthatarelisteningtousallthetimesowhen you thank them, they come closer. You say, oh I’m so grateful that whoever it is, has come around and is helping me out, or the ones I can’t see. They come around. They want to help you. Same way with the plants, same way with the animals, they have these gifts to give. I learn every single day. I learn from the plants every day. For example, the farmers where I work, [didn’t want to] grow parsnips. I mean clearly the earth is allowing wild parsnips to show up. They’re showing up everywhere. I’ve eaten them from Iowa up into Ontario. You buy them at the store for $2.99 a pound, and it’s the exact same thing according to Sam Thayer. Let’s grow them and harvest them. But this was an interesting thing. What people don’t like is they’ll come by with their weed whipper to mow them down, and of course, they get the juice on them. Then they get those photodermalogical blisters. Well if you just respect them and dig them out with a shovel, you’re going to be fine. So to me, that’s so symbolic of what we need to do. Instead of saying get rid of it, we have to look at what is its gift and let’s treat it with respect. I mean if the worst possible thing is we have to put on some gloves to dig it up, how bad is that? Flanagan was more than happy to share her observations about manoomin and other plants for GLIFWC’sclimatechangework.Flanagan’swilling- ness to share comes from a sense of duty from when she received her Indian name which was Ojibwe and not Seneca. “When I got my driver’s permit, I used to drive an elder around, Rose Barstow. I loved to learn from her so I was always picking her up and taking her places or doing whatever I could. She had four Ojibwe names and she was a name giver. She told me that she had a dream of my name and that is why she told me to put up a ceremony to receive her great-aunt’s name, Noondinesiikwe. So I feel really honored that she did that, and I’m grateful because then she told me that I would be carrying on the responsibility of her relative who carried that name. For the rest of my life, I will be carrying on her work—that’s what I was told.” Flanagan currently works at Dream of Wild Health as a Wild Foods Educator andteachesOjibwemowinatFourDirectionsFamilyPartnershipintheTwinCities. M. Huerth photo PAGE 19 MAZINA’IGAN WINTER 2017/2018 • TEK •