Nmezodan

My family, with my dad in the middle on the Grandfather Water Drum, and his mother and father to his left behind him, as you look at the picture. The rest of the folks pictured are relatives, uncle to his right as you look at the picture and his wife behind him. His cousin is to his immediate right at the far end. The children (5) of them are all cousins.

I share these pictures on this site so folks can know who I am related to and to give recognition to those elders who had the greatest influence on me as I grew up among our community members. My family was Mide and Wabeno practitioners and they all lived pretty much separate from other groups that did not practice those old ways.

To be surrounded by these elders and the teachings they gave me is evidence of who I am today. I have often said that no one can say they have achieved anything in this life without the help of someone else. I would be nothing without my elders for I walk upon the legacies of their teachings and the ceremonies they introduced me to. My ggreat grandfather was the Mide Chief that served several tribes and he passed on the teachings to his son who was my grandfather and then my dad, ultimately to me.

None of this was done in English. The languages were Potawatomi, Menominee, and Ojibwe. Even the Winnebagoes came and participated with us in those days. I often feel so humbled as to who my family were to the Neshnabek of Northern Wisconsin and wanted only to please my elders and the God who governed our ceremonies. When one walks in those legacies, one cannot help but feel awed and humbled at the tremendous responsibilities of such an undertaking.

To learn all the songs along with each ceremony is a lifelong task and all of it done in the context of the languages mentioned. These days I feel such nostalgia when I roam the lands they once occupied and farmed, making their living from the fields or the woods as loggers. The old foundations to many of the buildings are still there and rings through to my spirit (jibaum), whenever I have an opportunity to go there. No one lives there anymore and nothing grows there any longer, but the trees and foliage have taken over, as though they are the silent sentinels of all we believed and practiced at one time. I feel humbled sharing this with you, the readers.

Iw enajmoyan.

Donald Neaseno Perrot

Author: neaseno

I was born on Powers Bluff in Wood County, Wisconsin, into a traditional community of Neshnabek. I was raised speaking only native languages, and learned to speak English upon entering school at the age of 6. As of this writing, I am one of 5 remaining Heritage Fluent Speakers of Potawatomi.

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