Neshnabek Inendaget

Inéndagzewat wa je mendokaswat

What they permit as they worship…

Inéndagwet – what is permitted

Inéndagwzet – he/she who permits it

We are going to take a look at some of the

dispensations that effected the Neshnabék

throughout the years they have been

around. (dispensations of time)

How they walked from mercy to mercy,

and are still walking hand in hand with the

mercies that have been extended to them

throughout their sojourn here on earth.

We say, walking from sacred to sacred….

In the beginning, we came through portals

in time and of time…….our people came

through portals/doorways in the Universe

Of Universes, appearing here on this Earth

in different places, to spread out among the

Peoples that were here. Our nations are a

myriad of stars with a history all their own,

so unlike the history told about us here on

this Earth. Before Earth was, we were!

Dispensations of time

Peace,love,unity, guidance: ga she wébek ibe pi

Mno wi pi

7 G.F.’s: 250+ BC until present


Éshkewébsek nish wabdek nsech nyanno


1st 25 years

Énishwék nish wabdek nsech nyanno pon

2nd 25 years

Énswések nish wabdek nsech nyanno pon

3rd 25 years

Énéwsek nish wabdek nyanno pon

4th 25 years

Wabseni                                 white stone man

Skebgya seni                          blue stone man

Mskwéwa seni                       red stone man

Wizawa seni                          yellow stone man

Kche wabe windigo              great white giant

Pondese                                  old man winter/great white giant

Pi’éjkena                                wild man of the woods

Nyéwo mina’éwen                the four gifts

Dokmezwen                           peace

Égwamzewen                        go in peace

Dabanawen                            love

Widoktadwen                        unity

Géknomaktadwen                 guidance

Mshkekiw détpesé zhechkéwen

Medicine wheel concept

Shkwéyak bnewi                   historical

Ngom                                      today

Wabek                                    tomorrow

Nigan wa zhewébek              future

Gekéndeman                          what I know

Nsedwadsewen                      awareness

Ngom wa zhe wébek           what’s going on


Wawabmowen éwabdesyan ézhechkéyan

Mirroring of what I am doing

Wa gekéndeman                   what I need to


Niyaw éwi gwi kwimgek     self and cultural


Majishkawen                         on going change

and adjustment

Nedwabdeman                       what I envision

Some further terms:

Nyéwak nsech nyannen wabesen nenwik

405 white stone men

Jayék wdo wjit mowan node

All are helpers of…

Mesho                                     grandfather

Mnedo                                    spirit

Shkwedénsi                            fire spirit

Geshémnedo                          great spirit

Wiské ngot o makjewit        1st worker

Jak gégo ga gishtot               creator

Besakwnesénjayék                spark of all

Shkwedé                                 fire

Wabno                                    morning star

Gishgeni                                 Morning Star’s name

Mdewadsewen                       way of invisible walking

Mdewadsejé                           one who walks invisibly

Anwe she nagansejek anet yawik

Some are princes though

Winwa wbitoshka nawa ode sen mnedo


They symbolize the various powers of the

stone god

Épij ébim skwébek bmadsewen

The never ending cycle(s) of life

Wéj byamgek jayék mishkoswen

All power emanates from this (these) cycle(s)

Meshomsen                            grandfather stone or

ancient stone of beginnings

Some terms:

Jak shna gégo                        types

Kejgakwéwen                        shadows

Gédaswen                               figures

Yajmowen                             metaphors

Yajmowen                             allegories

Gnemadwen                           dark sayings

Yajmowen                             parables

Madgomgek                           symbols

Gigdowen badwéwéwdon    sounds, etc.

Mshkeke détpesé weye omamo wishgeset

éyo jgaset                                       

Seni shkwedé mnedo           fire stone god

Nsedwadsewen                      awareness/alertness

Éwetodének                           wisdom

Nsetadwen                             understanding

Géno nsedwadsewen           exaltation

Édbeséndowen                      humility

Édbesénjegéwen                   humiliation

Édbesénjegé                           humbles oneself

Éga waskonénjegét jayék gode bmadzewat

The light of every living being

Nizho gadéjek                        two leggeds

Nyéwo gadéjek                      four leggeds

Bébamodéjek                         CCT’s

Bébamashiwat                       winged creatures

Peace                                      Dokmezwen

Love                                       Ndebanawen

Unity                                      Widoktadwen

Guidance                                Nizhokmagéwen

Inéndagwet                            What one permits

Inéndagzewen                        What is permitted

Tétbeséwen                            Way of the Wheel

Wawyéyanon                         The Circle

Neshnabé Zhechkéwen        Ceremonies

Noég Meshomsek                 Seven Grandfather’s

Nyéwo Weji’igwanen          four directions

Wéjksenyak/kiwednon         North

Wéjmokék/wéjbsegwit         East

Wéjgshaték/wéjnawkwék    South

Wéjbgeshmok/ébgeshnot     West

Énazwenen                            colors





Some Terms

Gishki                                     cedar

Ézheshkméyagwek               sweetgrass

Séma                                      tobacco

Mshkwedéwabek                  sage

Skwedé                                   fire

Sen                                          stone

Nibi                                         water

Éskebgyag                             the green

There is much more to the Neshnabé cultural ways than this little short 1.5 hour presentation can accomplish. All we can do is point to certain facts about a way of belief and life that was embraced by our people for so many years before us. This way worked for them and they came to express themselves through their language and believed in the efficacy of their tribal ways as taught them by their elders through spiritual visions and the many revelation knowledge experiences their people had while seeking the God of their belief.

I cannot believe for you. That is something you have to do if you are Neshnabé. I cannot act upon these ceremonies for you and if they are not being performed by your community elders, then that means they are not known to them, thus you must learn them through participation with those communities still practicing them, or journey among those communities that practice their Neshnabé ways so you can participate and learn for your children and people.

I hesitate to go deeper because we have rules about revealing the deeper things of our cultural ways to those who are not of our persuasion. Perhaps the answers lie within holding closed sessions that take on the Immersion mode of teaching these things in our language. That being said, I must await further interest from you, the listeners, and if there is none forthcoming, then I have done all I can do. A further interest means a request, generally by those people who desire learning the deeper things and perhaps even joining a traditionally organized group, but that must be restricted to Neshnabék people only.

Ahau, iw énajmoyan ngom…..

Neshnabek Edebwetagwzewat

Native American Spirituality

E’gi zhechke’wat mno wi pi gode Neshnabe’k ga je bmadzewat.

What is spirituality?  (E’yawyan/Ndaw/E’yaw)

Sensitivity or attachment to religious values. 

The quality or state of being spiritual.

There existed no words for religion/religious in the old language. I know of none at present.  Even the word Spirituality is a new one which came about recently. Spirituality is part of Culture, and there is not a word for Culture, either.

Ritual could be another word: Mendokas, mendoke, mnedoke…

What Culture is: Ritual.

Dynamic, neither fixed nor static.

A continuous and cumulative process.

Learned and shared by a people.

Behavior and values exhibited by a people.

Creative and meaningful to our lives.

Symbolically represented through language and people interacting.

That which guides people in their thinking.

Feeling and acting.

What Culture is not:

Mere artifacts or material used by a people.

A laundry list of traits and facts.

Biological traits such as race.

The ideal and romantic heritage of a people as seen through music, dance, holidays, etc.

Higher class status derived from a knowledge of the arts, manners, literature, etc.

Something to be bought, sold or passed out.

Questions for the Listener…

What do you think this country looked like before the coming of the Europeans and others who settled here?

Have you ever thought about what languages were spoken here to greet these folks?

What of the various religious beliefs of the people who once inhabited this great land?

What of the philosophy of those original folk who were already here?

What is spirituality?

Questions for the Listener…

What is culture?

Surface Culture:

Surface culture includes the products of artistic endeavor, achievements of intellectual and artistic genius, deeds of heroic valor and concepts of lofty spirit, and various modes of significant thought, genteel living, and racial vigor.

Deep Culture:

Deep culture involves the thoughts and beliefs and actions, the concerns and hopes, worries, the personal values, the minor vanities and the half serious superstitions, the subtle gradations of interpersonal relationships as expressed in actions and words, the day by day details of life as it is lived.

Elements of Surface Culture:

Food          (Food and culinary contributions)

Holidays    (patriotic holidays, religious observances, and personal rites and celebrations)

Arts            (traditional and contemporary music, visual and performing arts and drama)

Folklore              (folk tales, legends, and oral history)

History                (historical and humanitarian contributions, social and political movements)

Personalities       (historical, contemporary, and local figures)

Elements of Deep Culture:

The Universe,

Time and Space,

Community and Self,

Language and Thought!!

Native American Spirituality-E’gi zhechke’wat mno wi pi gode Neshnabe’k ga je bmadzewat. 

Some things for consideration about language:

A language has power/is holy/is descriptive

Is fully capable of expressing all that is/was and is going to be…….

The word Mnedo means spirit.

Me’ndokaswen/Me’ndokaswenen/Ni me’ndokas

A man with the name Mendoke’ — Spirit Worshipper!

Talk about what the original inhabitants of this land did in seeking a GOD/the GOD or similar concept for whatever reason(s) they might have had………

GOD:  Anything that causes movement

GOD:  That which is preexistent

GOD:  Omnipotent, omnipresent, omnicognizant, omniscient, thus what needs to be worshipped or considered for worship.

Let’s talk about the importance of tobacco/semau……..

Let’s talk about when putting that semau in the fire/on the earth and what that meant to the original man/woman and why……………………

The purity

The innocence

The state of grace

Following original instructions

The story of Semau as told by various elders:

          Mediator with ability to hear and speak.

Some more things to consider:

Some names to consider:

          The FIRE

          The First Worker

          All Eyes

          The Fire Spirit

          Father of all

          Moves Walking

          Invisible Walks

          Ringing in the Water

          Moves that Moves

          That Which Moves, Moves

          Carries the Bone

          Eternal One

          Wind Walker

          He/She Made Everything

          Fire within/Fire without

          Fire behind the Fire

Tell a little about the ceremonies and how they came to be.

Where did they come from?

Who they are meant for?

Who owns them?

Who maintains them?

Who comes to them?

Who are they directed to?

On Neshnabe thought and belief…..

Neshnabe Philosophy:

          Past – Present – Future:

          The Fire, the Rock, the Water, the Green;

          2 leggeds, 4 leggeds, winged ones, and creeping crawling ones.

All LIFE comes from Moves that Moves or That Which Moves, Moves. (Menedomajitowen)

Everything receives ORIGINAL INSTRUCTIONS upon inclusion into this sphere or experience.  Man also received his/her instructions to care for this earth.

ANI                     INISH                  NABE

Why                    Let down   Man

Nabe contained both the male and female essence.

Neshnabe – being with good intentions,

                         being with higher morals,

                         being from on high,

                         being with high ideals,

                         etc., etc., etc.

Anishinabe – Why let down man?

          It poses a question to whom?

          Not man/woman, although they were a small part of the plan.

          No, this conversation/question was to the created beings, that we now call spirits.

Everything that was mentioned in the philosophy of the Neshnabe’k was given the same ORIGINAL INSTRUCTIONS:

Tree(s)                  (can be reduced to this statement:

Animals(s)            all life consists of: 2L, 4L, CCT, WT,

Insect(s)                 and the fire, rock, water and green.)


Other mammals


Everything!  (all created life forms and other forms)

















Hunting ceremony

Green corn ceremony

Thanksgiving ceremony


Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes Yajmowen

The Story of Little Red Coat Woman

Ngodek shena gi-yawe ode gigyagos.

Once there was a little girl.

Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes gi-zhenkazo.

Her name was Little Red Coat Woman.

Ngodek wgiyeyen gi-kedo, “Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes, majidon ode gokpenagen. Gokmes yaknoge.”

Once, her mother said, “Little Red Coat Woman, take this basket. Your grandmother is sick.”

Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes gi-kedo, “Ehe nwi-majidon i gokpenagen.”

Little Red Coat Woman said, “Okay, I’ll take the basket.”

Sesha, Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes gi-bmose.

And so, Little Red Coat Woman started walking.

Mtegwakik, O KcheMjiMoewe gi-kkezo mine neg-wabmiyen.

In the woods, the big wolf was hiding and looking sneaky.

KcheMjiMoewe gi-kedo, “Bosho gigyagos, weg ni je e-tek zhi gokpenagen?”

Big Bad Wolf said, “Hello little girl, what’s in the basket?”

Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes gi-kedo, “Nde-ton pkweshgasen mine ti.”

Little Red Coat Woman said, “I have buiscuits and tea.”

KcheMjiMoewe gi-kedo, “Ohhh, ni pi je ezhyayen?”

Big Bad Wolf said, “Ohhh, where are you going?”

Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes gi-kedo, “Nokmes wigwamek nzhya.”

Little Red Coat Woman said, “I’m going to my Grandmother’s house.”

KcheMjiMoewe gi-kedo, “Ohhh, egach!”

Big Bad Wolf said, “Ohhh, be careful!”

Sesha, gi-bmose mtegwakik.

And so, she started walking in the woods.

Gekpi, gi-bidge Wokmesen i wigwamek.

Finally, she went in to her Grandmother’s house.

Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes gi-kedo, “Bosho Nokmes, ni pi je eje-yeyen?”

Little Red Coat Woman said, “Hello Grandmother, where are you?”

KcheMjiMoewe gi-kedo, “Bosho gigyago, byan zhode! Mbagenek nde-ye.”

The Big Wolf said, “Hello girl, come here! I’m in bed.”

Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes gi-kedo, “Wa, Nokmes, kchetogen gde-ton!”

Little Red Coat Woman said, “Wow, Grandmother, what big ears you have!”

KcheMjiMoewe gi-kedo, “Ehe, gigyago, nde-mnonodwa.”

The Big Wolf said, “Yes, the better I could hear.”

Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes gi-kedo, “Wa, Nokmes, kchewibeden gde-ton!”

Little Red Coat Woman said, “Wow, Grandmother, what big teeth you have!”

KcheMjiMoewe gi-kedo, “Ehe! Nwi-mnowisen!”

The Big Wolf said, “Yes, the better I could eat.”

O KcheMjiMoewe, gi-mawan Mskwa Biskowagen Kwes mine Wokmesen.

The Big Bad Wolf, he ate Little Red Coat Woman and her Grandmother.


The End

Another of Don’s Bios

Donald A. Perrot was born in 1939 near Arpin, Wisconsin, at a place known to the native people at that time as Skunk Hill or Powers Bluff.  It was a mixed community of Neshnabek peoples, so he learned to fluently speak Potawatomi and conversational Menominee.  He then learned English upon entering grade school, at the age of six.  In his community, everyone spoke each other’s languages, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Winnebago, and Menominee. At that time even the white shopkeepers in town could speak and count in Potawatomi. 

Times have changed, and now the Potawatomi language has dwindled to less than 15 fluent speakers.  Mr. Perrot is the founder of the Neshnabé Institute for Cultural Studies, which seeks to keep this endangered language going.  He has been teaching this language for over 30 years, in informal group settings in Kansas and Oklahoma, in Michigan at the Hannahville Indian School, and for the 200 Words to a Community grant in Southwest Lower Michigan.  He is currently retired, but consulting with the Citizen Potawatomi Language Department, and he continues to teach this language through online classes.  Through technology, he has been able to teach this language literally worldwide, and has students in every time zone as well as active duty servicemen who log in from overseas. 

Mr. Perrot is a US Navy Veteran and Intertribal Spiritual Leader who has traveled around the world and has had discussions with other international indigenous communities about language and culture preservation.  He is an enrolled member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.  He currently lives in Tecumseh, Oklahoma with his wife and three of his daughters.  

Ibe pi égi penojéwiyan…

I was born in a place my people called pgwakik, The Bluff, Powers Bluff, near present day Arpin, Wisconsin. A farming community made up mostly of German immigrants working smaller farms near Wisconsin Rapids, WI, which was the county seat of Wood County in central Wisconsin. My birthing was one performed by a midwife with an attending doctor near by in the event of any problems, but the birth was a normal one.

I am proud of the way I was born, no chemical hospital birth, and the many other things they do to babies in hospitals these days. Then too, there were spiritual people attending my birth which were to figure throughout the course of my life, as a child, as a youth, and then as a young man. I was raised in the old fashioned ways of my people, having to fast immediately from the time I could barely walk, and my elders saw to it I was introduced into the proper ceremonies, being named within the first moon of my life.

Everything I experienced as a child was governed by those elders who also raised me while my parents worked, thus I was introduced to all the old ceremonies from the time I was a mere baby.

I heard the language as a baby also, but also learned the older language of our people, which not many people speak any longer. My fondest memories are of those times when our elders spoke to us of our history, the memories they had as young children, the things they were told by their own parents and grandparents. I heard of the Removal Period, first hand, so to speak, or at least what my grandparents remembered as they were told.

I also had the opportunity to participate in the old ceremonies and listened with awe the old people speak about our ceremonial history, heard the old words some of my ancestors must have spoken and actually witnessed the opening of ancient medicine bundles, and listened with great interest,  the old songs sung by many of the old people living back then. 

Yes it was an exciting time to be sure, but the things that mattered most to me was my elders loving me and taking care of me, teaching me the things I needed to know about our old Potawatomi ways; Mshkoteniyek is what we were called back then…it was a blessed time to be alive back then and to speak only the old language. When I started school, I could not speak English, and it was awesome to me as a young boy, to see those white people and to communicate with them in the halting English I did know, which wasn’t much then.

I learned much from my white class mates and the white teachers. I quickly learned to speak the English language from several teachers who took a personal interest in my education, and learned to play the various sports the rest of the young boys played back then. I was strong and could outrun any of the other boys and even many of the older boys were hard put to compete with me. I was lean and hard from all the hard work we were so accustomed to doing. It was a wonderful time to be alive and I don’t think I would trade that time for anything in this world.

People living today have no idea what the old ceremonies and the old language was like. Many of our people alive today are spoiled from living like white people too long and can not perform any of the old fasts and early ceremonial life I had to go through.

Grandma and Grandpa used to make me fast from sunup to sundown often and they told me to work hard always, hauling water, splitting wood, sawing trees, and gathering in the garden, as well as picking the many wild fruits and nuts. We arose early in the morning and went to bed when the sun went down. It was a good life and I have many a wonderful memory of it.

I shall share more as my memory serves me…..

Nin se Neaseno.

Wenet shna emikwendemyan anet egi zhewebziyak ibe egi penojewiyan…



Your Mighty Hand is in the storm

But your eye is on the smallest of those whom you’ve created

The Splendor of Your Breath

Is upon the tree tops

While the hindmost parts of Your Glory

Rests upon the flowers and other little ones

The strength of Your Breath

Prevails upon me

While the softness of Your Touch caresses my cheek

I am reminded of how much I need you

And all you symbolize in this Earth Walk

To find my way back when this sojourn is over

Is the truest form of love you have extended

Thus the fierceness of the Storm

Reminds me of the frailty of Life

And where I need to focus my attention

For this is not my home

But there amidst the clouds and thunder

Hides the Mighty One I need to return to

When all is said and done

Oh Mamogosnan, may I always find you

Hidden in every walk of Life

I have been given

Nin se Neaseno…….

Days of Buffalo Grasses

Blue skies over waving prairies, tall Osage grasses

beckoning weary travelers to take comfort and shelter, seeming to say,

come and rest, feed yourselves, as they have for countless generations,

the bison herds and all who have been so nurtured.

White faces cannot comprehend this compassion and kindness, so they cut, slash and burn

their way through all the cursed growth, to remove it out of their way.

Make room for crops, homes and children to play

along with their small vain animals, they say—-

Relentless attack on grasses, trees and plants of all kinds,

they did not understand nor accept, thus creating massive hordes

of water spirits for

their off-spring to contend with and there was nothing left

to slow them down or deter them.

Noden (wind) comes calling blowing gusts of sand everywhere,

and the people still cannot grasp what has happened!

We must create, we must civilize,

sounds the cry of the conqueror And they don’t stop

with grasses and trees.

They continued with the children of the common people who greeted them

and nourished them, for a time.

Educate, civilize becomes synonymous with enslaving

the two-legged and their kind—­

Cut, tear, slash, create civilized dwellings

for us to live and breathe, they say—-

And now the plantings they have done,

seem to cry in the night and beckon for attention in the day,

so that the conqueror

must start yet another process of clipping and shearing,

lest they grow and multiply beyond demand.

And what of those

who were educated and primed for becoming civilized?

Are they improved, or have they become

impoverished, bereft, stripped of everything they once were,

thus creating another dependency to be dealt with?

Where is the voice

of the grasses when

Noden (wind) called upon them for their songs?

Voices stilled forever

so the common people cannot

hear their sounds of joy and peace any longer.

The true education

must reign and be allowed

to share its wisdom for the children to be free, bright and true.

Where are the voices and songs of the people, as they rode and played

among the tall grasses and frolicked among the trees?

The original songs

and teachings are slowly coming back,

but through different voices,

echoing the injustices and the sufferings, the common people have endured.

This then could be the Indian Literature

the conqueror makes such big talk about—-

Ah, but he thought he had silenced all those voices,

and now wants them to be heard again, throughout

the hallowed halls of learning he has created

among the squares of stone and wood he has chosen to

place the voices of the common people within.

Can this be?

DaysNin se Neaseno…

Sharing a memory

April 25, 2015

It’s very easy to believe things that one WANTS to believe, in order to preserve one’s viewpoint, one’s way of life, one’s values and beliefs.  The problem with that line of reasoning is that it goes against not one, but two of the seven grandfathers, Truth and Honesty. 

During Mrs. Marian Perrote’s final illness, leading up to her death in Sept 2013, I had plenty of opportunity to sit and just listen to an old woman sharing her life.  She spoke very clearly of her two oldest sons, Donald Jr. and Edward, the only two to be born on the Bluff (Skunk Hill, Pkwakik, etc).  Of her 8 children, they were the only two to be raised by HER PARENTS.  You see, at that time, early 1940s, parts of the Bluff were already being lost, and Mrs. Perrote had decided to accompany her husband Donald Perrote Sr to the lumber camps in the north, first as part of the WPA and CCC, but then as part of the war effort.  She left her two young sons, Don Jr and Edward, in the care of her parents, Frank and Sarah Young, with assistance from Don Sr.’s parents, Star Amos and Susan Crow (Pidwawegishgokwe) Perrote.  All four of these elders were completely fluent.  Frank Young spoke Potawatomi and Ojibwe, Susan Crow Perrote spoke fluent Potawatomi, Winnebago, Menominee, and Ojibwe, Sarah Young spoke fluent Potawatomi and Winnebago, and Star Amos spoke fluent Potawatomi, Menominee, Ojibwe, and even French and some Polish.  So Don Jr. was raised by these old people in his formative years, becoming fluent in Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Winnebago, Menominee, as well as being exposed to Odawa, English, French, German, and Polish, because of the area in which he lived, and the folks they did business with. 

All four of these elders were also completely traditional in their beliefs, Frank Young being the grandson of John Young, who had gone to meet Wenankwe and was one of the group that brought the Big Drum to Wisconsin, and Star Amos Perrote being the grandson of Judge Jean St Baptiste Sabatis Perrote, who was one of the priests of the Menominee Mide lodge, widely and publicly documented by Alanson Skinner, anthropologist.  Donald Perrot Jr. was raised completely traditionally until his mother converted to Christianity in the late 1950s, and even then, he continued to participate in the ceremonial ways of his people at his grandparents’ influence and sometimes insistence. 

This is the story I learned from Mrs. Perrote, as she lay slowly dying at age 95, here in Waupun, WI, just a short year and a half ago, and it is corroborated by her other children, who all admit that eldest brother Don was the only one who was raised “that way,” as they put it, and who only know snippets of Potawatomi and ask Don to translate old notes and other findings in the family. 

Dolores A. Perrot.