Jim Thunders Book 1,2,3 are available here with audio online.
Children’s page. Designed to let kids explore the different buildings
in the town. Once they click on a building they will have an option of two
rooms. Click on a room. Then click on different points spread out in the room.
There are between 5 and 6 different videos attached to each room. Learning
videos, Cultural teachings, Songs, Movie spoofs like frozen and despicable me,
Another way to access the kids stuff in on our youtube channel. If you
search Potawatomi Language kids or Justin Neely and Potawatomi you should find
the page. It has about 100 videos.
Online self paced Beginner I 20 chapters, Beginner II 20 chapters and
Intermediate 7 Chapters. You have to create an account and then wait for us to
This is the Pokagon Youtube channel right now just one video but
perhaps more to come.
Pokagon Website a number of coloring books can be downloaded for kids.
Youtube channel by Don Perrot about 10 videos
Hannahville Potawatomi Language site. This hasn’t been updated in
awhile but there is a cool storybook and some games you can play in the
language. Like a basketball game.
Smokey Mckinney’s website. Not active but has great 2000 word
dictionary. Also Mathew and Luke in Potawatomi.
Memrise Potawatomi course. Two courses A day in the life and Potawatomi
Phrases. Potawatomi Phrases is packed
full of audio from various speakers. It can also be down on an app. But its
easier to find first online.
You can order you very own Potawatomi dictionary! Here’s all you need
The dictionaries are $85.00 a piece, depending on how many you would
like to purchase. The Forest County Cultural Library & Museum can calculate
shipping costs for you and send you a final invoice.
The Forest County Cultural Library & Museum accepts all forms of
payment. If you are order via check/money order/purchase order, they will mail
the dictionaries out after we receive payment.
The dictionaries are shipped priority mail, and they can provide a
tracking number, if needed.
Order your dictionary online, or contact Tribal Librarian Samantha R.
Smith, (715) 478-4841, today!
The Citizen Potawatomi has one with about 5200 files available on our
website for download. It can then be printed in book format if u want. It is
not mac friendly so if u want let me know i can send u a word copy.
Smokey Mckinneys dictionary he did several years ago is available
online still and has about 2000 words. I don’t think the audio files work.
A day in your life on memrise which follows a daily routine.
Potawatomi Phrases 12 levels with audio from lots of different
You can find 3 different Apps if
you search the apple store for Potawatomi.
Forest County Potawatomi, Pokagon, and Prairie Band apps.
You may need a password for Prairie Band one.
Self paced classes Beginner I,II and Intermediate 3.
We also stream all of our onsight classes in the facebook group
Kevin Daugherty teaches a
class with the university around dowagaic i believe.
Prairie Band goes into Royal Valley and Citizen Potawatomi teach an
online course currently available anywhere in Oklahoma for high school students.
We need to set it up with the district ahead of time if possible.
Hannahville teaches language in their K-12 school on a daily basis.
Each Band has different schedules of classes which may be offered in
Jim Thunders Book 1,2,3 all with audio is available here. I believe u
can also buy a physical copy from their museum.
Intro to Potawatomi I book for
mac users. Developed by Pokagon.
Conversational Potawatomi book by Justin Neely
Can be found in download section of Facebook group Potawatomi Language
Not Potawatomi but
similar and good references.
Ojibwe peoples dictionary
Kenny Pheasant website
Verb paradims Odawa with
Rand Valentine a little different but close
Ojibwe dictionary with
about 100,000 words
Stuff from Michigan
Videos with Barbara Nolan
using Total Physical Response Story telling Odawa
This article was written by Mark Delta, writer, translator and language teacher, and published on this site with his consent.
Many students say that it is difficult for them to understand unadapted oral speech. Here are two tips that will help you improve your listening skills. Every person is different, of course, so I can’t guarantee that they will help everybody. However, the students for whom I developed this advice have successfully passed the Listening section in the IELTS tests, and to others, these tips helped understand news reports and films – in Hebrew or in other languages they were learning. These tips are applicable even for Latin – as strange as it may seem, there are videos in that language too.
Suppose you are watching a video and it goes too fast for you to understand what is spoken in it – however, the same text would be quite clear to you if you read it. Why exactly can’t you decode the speech as quickly and efficiently as when you would do it when reading? Most often, it is one of the reasons listed below – depending on the person.
Ahabitoftranslatingeveryphraseintoyourfirstlanguage. Try to analyze your own cognitive process when listening to a fast flow of speech. If you discover this habit in yourself (not everyone has it but a lot of people do), try to pay attention to it and take a firm decision to turn off this internal dilettante interpreter.
A translation of some phrases in a strictly defined learning context may be (but not always is) useful. It makes sense to translate specially chosen phrases in certain conditions and with certain limitations, when nothing distracts, and only in one direction – from the first language to the one
you are studying.
But when you need to comprehend the unadapted fast speech of native speakers, your attempts to build phrases in your first language in your head in parallel take an enormous amount of time and energy. They are fatiguing and counterproductive.
You need a conscious effort to get rid of that. Acknowledge that you have a habit of translating the speech in your head (if you have it) and turn off your internal interpreter every time you notice his or her working. Remember that translation is a very tough and complex job, and leave it to professionals.
You don’t need a translation to understand a phrase made of the words you know according to the rules of grammar you know. You can absorb phrases without building sentences in your native language in your head in parallel.
Let us give it a try:
Es un libro. Do
you need a translation to understand it? Let’s extend this a bit: Es un libro interesante. It’s still clear without a side-by-side translation,
isn’t it? Es un libro interesante en inglés. The sentence is a bit longer, but we still can perfectly understand it. And, extending it even further, we can get: Es un libro interesante en inglés escrito por la periodista Pamela
Travers cuando dejó Australia para irse a Inglaterra. – a really long phrase, and yet we can understand it without having to look for the necessary English words to translate it.
Now, as we are learning Hebrew, let us do the same exercise, going from short sentences to longer ones:
זה ספר מעניין.
זה ספר מעניין מאוד
זה ספר מעניין מאוד
באנגלית שכתבה העיתונאית.
זה ספר מעניין מאוד
באנגלית שכתבה העיתונאית בשם פמלה טרברס.
זה ספר מעניין מאוד
באנגלית שכתבה העיתונאית בשם פמלה טרברס אחרי שעזבה את אוסטרליה.
When we are listening to a continuous flow of speech, we often get distracted, not only by random thoughts. Most often, our attention is distracted by what we have just heard but could not understand. And in this case, instead of keeping on listening, we are frantically thinking: “What was that?! Two short words or one long one? Was there a z or an s? Looks like there was a verb in the beginning that I learned some day. What a scatterbrain I am, can’t remember anything well! But wait, that was not the verb I thought of, I have never seen that word before. Should look it up in the dictionary. But I’ll forget it before I open the dictionary!”
While this thought process was happening in our mind, we have completely missed the next big fragment, and are now desperately trying to focus again on the speech, and we don’t understand anymore what the lecturer is talking about or what the movie characters are discussing.
The best solution to this problem is to develop a habit of real-time listening. If you didn’t understand some phrase, just keep on listening. It’s not important why exactly we didn’t understand something – whether it’s because we knew some word and forgot it, or didn’t know it at all, or didn’t encounter it in that context, or didn’t correctly decipher the sounds, or to any other reason.
It’s important to listen to what is being spoken right now. Then, even if you don’t understand everything, you will understand much more than you will if you continue thinking about the words and sentences that were said before. And the probability that you catch the general meaning will improve considerably. Even if some of your assumptions about the meaning prove to be wrong, the accuracy of your understanding will improve over time.
To develop this ability to “listen in real time,” I propose a mode of listening which I call GM, since its purpose is to improve the understanding of the General Meaning.
Imagine that you have just listened a piece of audio where you have perfectly heard all words and expressions and never got distracted. One can think that in such a situation there can be no problems with understanding the meaning at all, but this is often not the case. The reason is that you don’t have enough time to make sense of all the words you’ve just heard. One of the obstacles is the already mentioned propensity to internal translation. But not the only one. Getting rid of the habit of translating, we will make it easier for ourselves, but the flow of speech may still be too fast for us.
In this case, it’s not the pace of speech by itself. Remember that we are considering the case when every word is perfectly heard and understood. The problem is too short pauses between words and parts of sentences, and because of that we still do not have time to fully understand the content. To accelerate my ability to “collect meaning” I propose a second type of listening. Let’s call it UA, because its purpose is to understand not just a common sense, as in the first case, but Understand All.
I recommend that you do these exercises one by one, but not too long (more on this later), as these exercises are rather unusual and therefore very tedious, and fatigue often comes unnoticed.
Since regularity is important in any activity, it is necessary to ensure that every time before starting the exercises, we would be enthusiastic, and not discouraged, for example, by the fact that we too tired from studying over the last three days. To this end, it is useful to praise yourself for any, even a tiny success (hurray, I understood a phrase that I could not understand before!) And in no case you should blame yourself. We need motivators, not demotivators.
In order not to forget to do this, you can accustom yourself to some kind of gesture. For example, which is quite natural, a thumbs up. Personally, I imitate Kyle McLachlan as agent Cooper in Twin Peaks. It seems that no one so contagiously performed this gesture, like him.
How exactly these exercises are done, how to pick the training material, what software can be used (on a PC or on a tablet or a smartphone), is the topic of the next part.
The original version of the article is available here.
On Listening – part 2
7 January 2018
The best way to learn to understand and speak a language is to converse in it as much as possible. However, not everyone has the opportunity to do that.
The two listening methods I propose below are intended for those who do not have access to the environment speaking in the languages they are studying for one reason or another, as well as to those who have such access but cannot immerse themselves in the new language completely and isolate themselves from their first language environment. In addition, the often-recommended abstinence from using the first language is a serious challenge for many people.
If done daily or almost daily, 5 to 15 minutes long listening sessions can help to achieve satisfactory progress. Even better if you can do two or three such sessions per day, with several hour breaks between them. Modern technologies can facilitate a lot of processes, and it would be unwise not to use them.
If your day is busy, it would be easier for you to schedule one continuous time slot per day for the exercises. In this case, you can do both of the exercises below in succession. I would recommend you to decide which of the exercises is harder for you and to start with it, and to relax a little when doing the other one. However, the exercises are so different that just switching from the one exercise to the other one gives some sense of relaxation. Still, don’t do any of the exercises for too long, as fatigue will accumulate.
Method 1: UE (Understand Everything).
Objective: understanding a text you have analysed upfront when it is played back at a fast pace.
Choose short audio or video fragment (up to one minute) – of course, it should not entirely consist of music and silent scenes. The best choice would be a video with subtitles.
You should first completely understand the text. You can do it either in advance or immediately before the exercise. You can use dictionaries, ask the people you know in case you don’t understand some parts, ask questions here or on our Facebook page, etc. To put it in a nutshell, you must completely understand the text’s meaning. It’s not obligatory to understand all the grammatical details and learn the words by heart, as our objective is different. If the passage turned out to be impossibly difficult for you, take another one, with a simpler text.
Of course, I help my students analyse the text and I explain the grammar to the extent that is the best for each individual student. For one student, it’s the best to correct him when he says ti’er instead of תֵּאֵר
~ תיאר te’er, without saying anything about the effect of guttural radicals (he will lose focus instantly!). With another student, I can browse through verb tables and the etymological dictionary, as that’s interesting to him and helps him to remember the material better.
After the text is analysed, start listening. Pick up a playback speed at which you can understand everything without looking at the text or subtitles. You may have to slow down the playback significantly to achieve that. Make the pauses between the words as long as your brain needs to understand what you are listening to, even if that means playing at 25% of the original speed. See the recommendations regarding the necessary software below.
When you find the playback rate at which you completely understand the text without effort, listen to that text over and over. At each repetition, raise the playback speed slightly – in order for your brain not to feel the difference and to understand everything perfectly.
For example, you can increase the speed by 25%. If you understood everything, that’s wonderful. If that’s too much, take smaller steps. For many, a 10% speed increase at each repetition is the best. The difference in speed between one repetition and the next one is almost imperceptible, and you can still understand everything.
In several minutes, we will reach the 100% playback speed – that means that we will effortlessly understand the fragment played at the speed at which it was recorded. However, you should not stop here! We want not only to teach our brain to make sense of the words when listening to a fast flow of speech. We also need to remove the fear of fast speech and get rid of the sort of an inferiority complex that we have in relation to the native speakers (if such complex really exists). You should increase the playback rate until it reaches the speed of the birds’ chatter – so that even native speakers have trouble understanding it. But you will still understand everything: from the very beginning, you have increased the playback rate in small steps so that your brain didn’t notice the increase.
If you are working with learning materials, try to reach around 200% playback speed. If you are listening to an unadapted speech, it should be at least 130% or, even better, 150%. In total, this exercise should take no more than 10 minutes. In several days you will find that you do it in 5 minutes or even less, as your brain adapts itself to fast speech, and the step of playback speed increase can be bigger, and the total number of repetitions can be reduced.
How can you make sure that you have achieved good results with the fragment you have taken? From time to time, after another repetition at an increased speed, try to listen the fragment at its original rate (100%). When you will not only understand everything, but also be bored with such a slow speech (which may have seemed too fast to you in the beginning of your studies), the job is done. Congratulate yourself.
This last step is the most psychologically important in the whole routine. You should understand the text you are listening so easily and so well that listening to the recording at its original rate would be terribly boring. Now, recall that only 10 or 15 minutes ago at the 100% playback rate you thought that the characters speak too fast. Now, you definitely hear that they talk too slowly.
In fact, I told the same thing in the two previous paragraphs, and have already started the third one. This is because it is too easy to miss the last step in this method. You can reach the 200% speed, understand the birds’ chatter and call it a day. However, I suggest you spend several seconds more and do this last step. And after that, give yourself a thumbs up and congratulate yourself on your achievement!
Method 2: GS (General Sense).
Objective: listening ‘in real time’, guessing the general meaning, even if some words and expressions cannot be understood.
Pick an audio or video piece 2 to 5 minutes long. In case you worked with a fragment of a long movie in your first exercise, you can keep watching the same movie – but in a different fashion. Turn off the subtitles, if the movie has them. If you cannot turn them off, try to not to look at them. You can also place the window in the video player so that the subtitles are hidden below the bottom of the screen.
Don’t change the playback speed and don’t take the text apart in advance. Be prepared to encounter words and expressions that you don’t know or don’t remember at the moment. Just hope that you hear something that you can recognize. Listen once or twice to the fragment you have picked. You can listen to it more times if you want, but don’t bring yourself to exhaustion with your enthusiasm. If you are passionate about the film’s content, you can go on (it’s interesting to know when Don Pedro gets his memory back, isn’t it?). But as soon as you feel even the slightest fatigue, stop everything until the next day.
The target of this exercise is to listen at every moment to what is being spoken right now. If you find yourself not understanding something and trying to understand it post factum – and thus you risk missing the part that is being said right now – immediately turn your attention to what is being spoken presently. Try to understand the general meaning, reconstructing it based on the words and expressions you could hear and understand, as well as on the non-verbal information.
In this regard, a video is much better than an audio piece. Visual information helps us reconstruct the topic. Imagine the following: in the middle of the night, a married couple is woken up by a phone call. The husband picks up the phone and hangs it up immediately. The wife asks him who has called. He keeps evading the question. We don’t understand half of their quarrel, but we take it easy. In any case, we have a general idea of what is going on.
It’s possible that the subject of the video clip was entirely different from what we thought. It’s not very important. Your objective should be to teach yourself to listen and pay attention in real time – to think about what is being said right now, and not about what was said ten seconds ago. If you want to know whether you guessed the story correctly, you can read the subtitles after you are done with the exercise – but that is optional and not part of the exercise.
Now, regarding the software, and also which materials are better, and where to get them.
For the UE exercise, it is important to be able to rewind the video by several seconds and to change the playback rate to very slow or very fast without losing the sound quality.
On a desktop or a laptop, VLC Media Player would be a good choice. It is available for free download. You can download it from a number of sites, but it’s best to download it from the official VLC site to be on the safe side.
After you install it, open the View menu and turn on the Status bar option. A status bar will appear in the bottom of the player window, and you will be able to change the playback rate by clicking on it (it will be set to 1.00x by default). Note that this window will appear only after you open some file. You can rewind the video in small steps by pressing Shift with left or right arrow keys.
To watch a movie (or a clip) in VLC, you need to download it as a file. If that film exists only on YouTube (we will omit the discussion whether and how, technically and legally, it can be downloaded), you can do the UE exercise directly on YouTube. If you click on a cogwheel in the bottom right corner of the video, you will see a small menu in which you can change the playback rate. The choice of different playback speeds on YouTube is not very rich, however – you can’t move in smaller steps than 25%, but if the fragment is not very difficult, that will be fine (in VLC, it’s very convenient to move in 5% or 10% steps). There is no sound on 0.25x playback speed, so you will have to start with 0.5x or faster.
When doing the GS exercise, you don’t need to change speeds or rewind the video multiple times, so you can use any video player you like, or you can watch them on YouTube.
On Video Materials
What kinds of materials are best for doing these two exercises? In principle, any videos with subtitles will do. Some people like comedy sketches, some people prefer TV series or melodramas; some people can watch everything.
Note: at least at first, it makes no sense to use the automatic subtitles which are added in some YouTube clips (you can turn them on in the same menu where you change the playback rate). These titles are made not by people but by speech recognition algorithms, which often incorrectly interprets what is spoken.
I believe that everyone is skilled in searching and finding everything they need on the Internet, so my advice is not much needed. However, I will still say a couple of words regarding study materials for Hebrew, English, German, French and Spanish – pick the ones you need.
If you are learning Hebrew, I can personally recommend the witty comedy sketches of the band קצרים Ktzarim (or החמישייה הקאמרית Ha-chamishiya ha-kamerit, or “chamber quintet”, as they were called several years before they became Ktzarim), as well as the newer comedy series היהודים באים Ha-yehudim ba’im “The Jews are coming”.
For the UE exercise, you should look for clips with subtitles (there are a lot of them), and for the GM exercise, clips without subtitles (there are a lot of them too), or take a clip with subtitles but don’t look at them when doing the exercise.
For English learners, the situation is even better. You can found a million films and series with subtitles in any language or without subtitles by just searching something like “TV Shows in English with English subtitles”.
You can also find a movie and then download subtitles separately. For example, if you need subtitles to the episode 15 of the 3rd season of Twin Peaks, google for “Twin Peaks s03e15 english subtitles”, where s is for season and e is for episode. When both the video and the subtitles are downloaded, launch the video in VLC and then use your mouse to drag the subtitles files to the player window.
Finally, there is an enormous amount of videos on special sites, like Ororo, which also has subtitles that you can turn on or off as you wish. Also, there are a lot of lectures and talks on the TED website. Unfortunately, there is no storyline like in TV series and comedy sketches, so not everyone may like them, but there is nothing better to learn rich, proper language with a sprinkle of slang. Here is a list of several lectures in English with subtitles. Also, I can recommend the BBC Extr@English series.
For German language learners, I have some unpleasant news. Unfortunately, in German videos, the subtitles are often paraphrase what the characters say, but don’t match the speech word-for-word. Same thing concerning Austrian videos. Very often, verbal tenses are not preserved. For example, the simple past can be used in the subtitles when the compound past in used in speech. For example, a character says: “ich habe dieses Buch nicht gesehen”, and the subtitles read: “ich sah dieses Buch nicht”. The subtitles can still be helpful if you take this into account – to an extent.
If you want specialised study videos instead of ‘real’ films, try Extr@Deutsch by BBC with German actors. The videos are humorous and fun, and the subtitles match what the actors say. Also, there high-quality exercise audios on YouTube under the title Deutsch lernen durch Hören; part of them comes with subtitles.
It’s difficult to find the film’s subtitles or script for German films as a separate file. I have found them only for three films, definitely not of German origin (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), but professionally dubbed in German. These films didn’t quite work out for me: too much music and noise.
Spanish and French
In Spanish and French internet segments, there are not many subtitled films either. However, I have still managed to find some movies. This is a channel with subtitled fragments from Spanish and Latin American movies, and this is a list of French videos with French subtitles.
There also are English-language films with French and Spanish subtitles, and also Spanish-language and Francophone films with English subtitles. That does not work for everyone, but may still help.
There also are decent learning materials, like Extr@Spanish and Extr@French by BBC, voiced by Spanish (and French, respectively) actors. The storylines of all Extr@s are similar, and they are funny.
Don’t also forget the TED talks: here are lectures in Spanish with English subtitles, and here are lectures in French with English subtitles.
The original version of the article is available here.
Being Neshnabe means you were born that way….you’ve always
been that way, there was no alternative but that for you. This means you grew
up speaking the accompanying language that goes with being Neshnabe, you also
grew up with those mores, norms, standards, sanctions, and taboos. Everything
you are, were and became means you learned it all through the target language
of the group you were born into.
You learned nothing you currently know in English, it was
not gleaned from University studies, nor from any other book learning, or in
any other form of English inspired action. It wasn’t learned in English, but
passed on to you from a heritage fluent speaker who taught you. This means you
literally learned all that you know, all that you are, from your experiences as
a traditional person growing up with the language, surrounded by like speaking
elders and peers,
This sort of person can be referred to as Gete Neshnabe! The
modern day world identifies him/her as a traditional person. Traditional
because they are heritage fluent speakers, schooled and skilled in all of the
lore and craft of their origins, adept and expert in the physical, material,
and spiritual culture of their heritage speaking group they emanate from. One
important fact, this kind of person was not trained in anything, they were
taught from their youth up….
What of others who appear to be like them? Those who mimic these people? Those who sound
like them, but were not taught like them, but were trained by Gete Neshnabek
who must specialize in training those who have not been taught, but have become
separated from their archaic ways and the language so needed to find the way
back to their origins?
These people could properly be referred to as quasi traditionals,
or even pseudo traditionals then, borrowing upon the modern day terminology
used by the dominant society they have become part of. Can they ever become
like their Gete cousins one might ask? Can they somehow transpose themselves
into what they want to be or study so hard to be?
The indisputable answer is NO!
The best they can do is follow the teachings of those who
are Gete Neshnabek, become trained in the lore, the craft, the sacred ways,
learn their heritage language, and begin the process of learning so their
offspring can be taught, instead of having to be trained like them. One teaches
a child, one trains a monkey, a dog, or some such other creature, but not a
human being. We, who are Gete Neshnabek were taught, not trained!
I am using English to inform those who will read and listen
and take appropriate action, but for those who read and do not listen and do
not take any action, I can do nothing….also, there becomes no hope for their
offspring, no hope for the generations who come after them. They must look to
the future so those who come after them have a chance to survive as Gete
Our old people used to tell us we had to render decisions
with Seven Generations in mind, so there could be a future for those who would
come after us. This kind of thinking has nothing to do with Self, or hedonistic
pleasures. We must remove Self from the pedestal and return to that Seven
Generational thinking our forefathers utilized in their decision making. Only
then can our offspring/children have a chance to become Gete Neshnabek once
again, and then there shall be those who are taught the sacred ways of the Gete
Learn your Language!
Live your life for the future generations so that anything
you become trained in today can benefit them. Live like a Gete Neshnabe even if
folks refer to you as a quasi neshnabe, but do not be a pseudo neshnabe or live
your life like one, especially in front of your children. Embrace the teachings
and learn your heritage language and become trained in them, so you have
something to teach your offspring.
Neshnabe means you were born that way….you’ve always been that way, there was
no alternative but that for you. This means you grew up speaking the
accompanying language that goes with being Neshnabe, you also grew up with
those mores, norms, standards, sanctions, and taboos. Everything you are, were
and became means you learned it all through the target language of the group
you were born into.
nothing you currently know in English, it was not gleaned from University
studies, nor from any other book learning, or in any other form of English
inspired action. It wasn’t learned in English, but passed on to you from a heritage
fluent speaker who taught you. This means you literally learned all that you
know, all that you are, from your experiences as a traditional person growing
up with the language, surrounded by like speaking elders and peers,
This sort of
person can be referred to as Gete Neshnabe! The modern day world identifies
him/her as a traditional person. Traditional because they are heritage fluent
speakers, schooled and skilled in all of the lore and craft of their origins,
adept and expert in the physical, material, and spiritual culture of their
heritage speaking group they emanate from. One important fact, this kind of
person was not trained in anything, they were taught from their youth up….
others who appear to be like them? Those
who mimic these people? Those who sound like them, but were not taught like
them, but were trained by Gete Neshnabek who must specialize in training those
who have not been taught, but have become separated from their archaic ways and
the language so needed to find the way back to their origins?
could properly be referred to as quasi traditionals, or even pseudo
traditionals then, borrowing upon the modern day terminology used by the
dominant society they have become part of. Can they ever become like their Gete
cousins one might ask? Can they somehow transpose themselves into what they want
to be or study so hard to be?
answer is NO!
they can do is follow the teachings of those who are Gete Neshnabek, become
trained in the lore, the craft, the sacred ways, learn their heritage language,
and begin the process of learning so their offspring can be taught, instead of
having to be trained like them. One teaches a child, one trains a horse, a dog,
or some such other creature, but not a human being. We, who are Gete Neshnabek
were taught, not trained!
I am using
English to inform those who will read and listen and take appropriate action,
but for those who read and do not listen and do not take any action, I can do
nothing….also, there becomes no hope for their offspring, no hope for the
generations who come after them. They must look to the future so those who come
after them have a chance to survive as Gete Neshnabek.
people used to tell us we had to render decisions with Seven Generations in
mind, so there could be a future for those who would come after us. This kind
of thinking has nothing to do with Self, or hedonistic pleasures. We must
remove Self from the pedestal and return to that Seven Generational thinking
our forefathers utilized in their decision making. Only then can our
offspring/children have a chance to become Gete Neshnabek once again, and then
there shall be those who are taught the sacred ways of the Gete Neshnabek
life for the future generations so that anything you become trained in today
can benefit them. Live like a Gete Neshnabe even if folks refer to you as a
quasi neshnabe, but do not be a pseudo neshnabe or live your life like one,
especially in front of your children. Embrace the teachings and learn your
heritage language and become trained in them, so you have something to teach
Our old people tell of many humorous
things that happened to the Neshnabek when the whites sent them away from their own tribespeople to attend schools in the east, and
other places they had established for
the early people. The missionaries operated “mission schools” for the
Neshnabek and other tribal groups
during the early colonization period of this country. The following is an account of when several young
people were sent away from their
tribe to one of these schools at Carlisle, PA.
Two young men were simultaneously
sent to the same school from one of the reservation areas. After
being there for some time, they were finally allowed to go home for a brief
time to visit their people. Upon arriving at their home
reservation, they were warmly greeted, but with some
reserve, as they had been away for some time and they were dressed in
strange clothes, with new habits of speaking and short hair.
They were told to separate themselves
from the common people until such time as they addressed a
“grand council” of elders and their people. A
place was fixed for them to sleep until the next day when they were told they
would speak to the common folk of their tribe. They were told what
the elders wanted to know. One of them was to speak in the foreign tongue,
English, while the other translated into Neshnabemwen so the elders
and others could understand what they said.
The things they wanted to know were
what they were being taught, how many of the
“kchemokmanek” there were, what kinds of ways the
whites had about them, and what they thought their intents were
toward the Neshnabek. They would also be subjected to individual
queries about themselves from various members of their
own people, and they would ultimately be “smudged” with the
sacred herbs that were used in the “smudging ceremony.” Then,
and only then, would they be allowed to mingle at large with
all of their own people once again, and be permitted to go anywhere
among them they chose to go.
spent a restless night communicating among themselves as to what
they would say to their people and who would speak English and
who would speak Neshnabemwen. After deciding on these few things
they retired for the night. Upon arising, they immediately went to the “council grounds” and
waited for the people to begin assembling themselves for their
Some elders arrived first and told them where
they would be seated and how they would begin addressing
the people. The young men took their places and awaited the rest
of the people to come forth
from their various dwellings. When the moment arrived for them
to start speaking, the elder who was in charge told the people,
their relatives were back for a visit and would be telling
them much about the whites and where they were going to school.
He then turned the meeting over to the young men.
The young man who was to speak in English had thought much
on how he was to greet the people, and wanting to impress
them with his learning, he started out like one of the
teachers he admired at his school. “Well,
well, well! Here we are today!”
The other young man was to translate into Neshnabemwen and
he used the only words he knew in their language to tell them
what his companion had said.
tkep, tkep, eje mawjeshnoyak ngom!”
Everyone looked quizzically at one another wondering why
the young man was talking about a well
or waterhole/spring, to greet his
people. So you can see how these young people had been influenced
by the white man’s educational system even back then.
There are more stories of this type. Iw,
enajmoyan odo pi.
Back to Neaseno Eyajmot
A long time ago it was told by
some of the elders that a certain
young woman took a white man for her
husband and this man was very devoted to her and the people she grew up with. It
was said that he took her
ways unto himself, learning the language and
he even attended the ceremonies of her people until the day she died and
left him alone among her people.
her death, some of the people wondered what he would do; would he go back to
his own people, or would he stay among the people of his deceased wife?
He answered the queries of the people by continuing to
show up at the ceremonies of the Neshnabek and praying with them.
stayed on at the dwelling place they had made together during the time of her
sojourn with her people and took loving care of their garden and other things they
had shared as husband and
wife, including a little dog she had loved.
this little dog was a little rascal of a fellow and he followed the man everywhere, as he missed ‘the woman who was his mistress
very much. One day a Neshnabe stopped by and gave the man some tobacco/sema to come to a song service that evening. He
was told to make sure this dog did not follow him as the spirits didn’t take kindly to animals around a
might think you want to sacrifice this little dog to
them if you allow him to follow you, the Neshnabe told him, with a twinkle in his eye. He assured
his guest the little dog would be locked up for the night inside his house where he
would not be able to follow
it was time to leave, the man locked the little dog inside the house, but he had forgotten to close the window
in his bedroom, so the little pet sneaked out and followed his master to the drum doings. The song service lasted until
about 10 PM and the people gathered
in the kitchen of the home they had met in for some refreshments before returning to their homes. The Shkabewes of the drum also gave the men sema for
the next doings and debated with one of the others as to whether or not
to give the white man some. They assured him
the man was all right and he gave him
plenty of sema with the admonition not to give it all away to the night spirits, should they decide
to follow him.
of the other men joked with the man and told him about one of the spirits of the forest who liked to follow
folks at night just so he could get tobacco/sema from them. They cautioned him
to give any spirit an offering of
tobacco whenever he heard any distinct sounds in the woods. With a
final friendly warning not to give all his tobacco away to the
spirits, they all departed in various directions. The man visited with his
hosts for a little while before departing for his home again,
not knowing his little dog was waiting in the woods for him, so
he could secretly follow him again.
Upon exiting the home of his hosts,
he followed his favorite trail toward his home. Presently he heard some sounds
behind him which he took to be that spirit
they had told him about, and he
quickly squatted down and gave a small offering of sema to the forest spirit.
He began to walk with a faster gait toward his home thinking of his little dog he had left there.
After walking for a few more minutes,
he heard a louder noise behind him. Thinking it was the
spirit of the forest the men had warned him about, he quickly
squatted and put down a bigger offering of tobacco this time. He
was to walk only a few more minutes and he again heard the same
sound behind him. I must have done something to displease this
spirit he thought, and he quickly placed a larger offering of
tobacco beside the trail, this time praying even; “Oh
Spirit of the Woods,” he prayed, “Don’t hurt me, I mean you no harm
and I’ve given you a large offering of tobacco, as you can
see.” “I’ll give you even a larger offering if you
would like, even the whole bag of tobacco, should you insist,” he
After getting back on his feet and
moving as swiftly as he could, he again heard a rather loud
sound coming from the woods. He quickly dumped out the remaining
tobacco he had in his bag and then took off running toward his
home. As he ran toward his house, the little dog sped past him
in an attempt to reach the house before him. Realizing his “spirit of the
woods” was none other than his own dog, he quickly stopped, puffing hard,
but laughing at himself for being so foolish and becoming
frightened as he had. This will make a good story to tell the
others when we meet again he thought to himself as he scolded
the little dog for following him yet again.
There are many stories like this
among the Neshnabek which we shall be sharing with you from time
to time. The period of time when they first met the white people
was an especially good time with many humorous happenings among
them, learning the English language.
Ahau, iw enajmoyan,
yayajmomen mine ngotek. Neaseno.
Making a monkey of oneself…
When I was a boy we would often
gather for a “song service” with
the Big Drum. It is a ceremony in and of itself. One might say
it is a smaller version of the Big Drum ceremonies that are held
seasonally by the Neshnabek. This type of ceremony would usually be held mid
week and could last for several hours, 2-4 hours
We would meet at someone’s home, usually the “keeper of one of drums”
we had in our extended families at that time. They would usually
serve a simple pot luck style of supper for the members, and
then would start the song service around 6-7 PM in the early evening.
During those days, we had quite an active group that would
gather, around 9-10 families, that meant about 30-35 people,
normally. With a crowd like that, that also meant the bathroom
did some overtime, but many of the people in those days also
had an “outhouse” that could serve as an overflow for the guests.
On one such an evening, our family
attended a song service and participated. There was the usual crowd of people
who came for each session and there was a line for the bathroom,
when I asked my mother if I could go “relieve myself.”
She told me to go outdoors to the “outhouse”
so I didn’t have to wait too long. I went outdoors to the
“privy,” not stopping to ask if someone might be in there first. I
opened the door to find one of my older female relatives sitting on the
potty. I quickly excused myself and ran from the scene, greatly embarrassed.
I must point out that this relative’s
name was Zaga. Now Zaga sounds
a lot like the word Zago too,
which means ape or monkey, to the Prairie Potawatomi people I was part of.
During those days, we usually went by our Indian names, and Zaga was
my cousin’s name.
I went running back into the song
service and breathlessly told my mother I couldn’t use the outhouse
as there had been someone already in it. She asked me who was there and I
answered, ” Zago gi bidget se zhe anwe bwamshe
ebyayan.” Her husband overheard my remark and the whole
room burst into laughter when he announced he
had apparently married an ape/monkey. Both Zaga and I were the brunt of a lot
of teasing for the rest of the evening and for
some time to come at gatherings of our people.