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Ininaatig: Bob Shimek discusses the Sugarbush

Bob Shimek
Walking with the moon this morning, expressing gratitude for all our relations

Ininaatig...what we're talking about here is Tree of Man or Tree of Mankind. When we say that word...in our own Indian way around here... it is like our Tree of Life. - Bob Shimek 

Sugarbush season is powerful time for the Anishinaabe. Bob Shimek recently joined us from the northeastern shores of Mud Lake to discuss cultural aspects of this time of year, including a brief lesson on the word “Ininaatig” and an idea of what happens during the sugarbush ceremony.  

When we call out the maple tree in our own language, we call them Ininaatig...And the essence of what that is about...the way we believe - our old time Anishinaabe, spiritual structure, spiritual belief...there is one central higher being, but there's all these helpers, there's all these spirit helpers and they're all over the place and there's a whole bunch of them. But there are some that are specific to the Sugarbush, so during that ceremony, first of all, we asked permission to go out among them and gather that life-giving sap, but it's also about Thanksgiving for all that they have provided for us.

...There's a legend that goes with that... we have our creation story like many other cultures and belief systems do, but ours is kind of ongoing. There wasn't just this one moment or this one week or this one month or this one year or whatever. Ours is ongoing. And we talk about how Ininaatig got here...we tell that legend about... how it came to be that the Anishinaabe became aware of that gift of life that this particular tree brings. - Bob Shimek

Click the arrow above for the whole interview!  

Let us know how your sap season is flowing along...email comments@kaxe.org!


Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. Since 2016, she's produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota. She's our local host of NPR's All Things Considered and CBC's As It Happens every weekday from 4-7pm.