An abstract of what I taught my Zoom class last night


The White World knows little about the workings of the human mind and can only guess as to the true workings of the Neshnabe pysche. Ocasssionally they get lucky and someone will write a paper on his/her discovery to supposedly share with the rest of the world, but in  reality, they publish for recognition. There is much in the White World that speaks of greed and they are always doing things for personal recognition.

That should not be so in the Neshnabe World, but it is our observation  that many Natives are becoming much like their White counterparts. There was a time when everyone was motivated for the right reasons and for the right goals; that of making the nation strong and personal recognition did not matter all that much. Even on the path of battle (war), the warrior did not cast aside his ability to reason and his loyalty to the group he came from was never at issue in his thinking.

The people of yesteryear were a complete people and could have taught many cultures a thing or two about longevity in this world. This is a truth, for they are ever coming to us now and seeking the wisdom, knowledge, understanding that our teachings and teachers still possess. If they had only listened to some of our early Sages,  things might have been different for all of us. For now, we struggle to get the few blessings which are entitlements for us in that they come from The God, not from Congress or the individual states we reside in.

Such is the Purification Lodge and all ceremonies that emanate from it.

So, it behooves us to protect and preserve the things we have shared with you, for they belong not only to you, but to all of your children and grandchildren and so on down the line of descendants we leave behind us. Long after we are dead there will be someone stirring the ashes of some ceremony looking for some wisdom, knowledge and understanding.  Let us take good care of the teachings and ceremonies so there shall be something left for those who are walking along behind us.



The rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct……natural philosophy, moral and metaphysical philosophy.

LIFE:          The Fire, The Rock, The Water, The Green.

The Two-Leggeds, The Four-Legged,

The Creeping Crawling Things, The Winged Nation.

The Life Principle is found in The Liquid Life Of All Things.

The Blood = Liquid Life

The Four Basic Questions Known to Man:????

          Who Am I?

What Am I?

Where did I come from?

Where am I going again?

The Four Hills of Life:

Babes                    Youth          Middle-Age          Old-Age

Everything Has A Beginning and An End:

Only The Fire God, The God, or He Who Walks In The Fire,

has no beginning and no endl

But we have Life in and through The Fire .

It is through The Fire that we have our movement, being:

past, present, future.

98.6 Fahrenheit.


Shkwedé Épénmondagéyan

Ancient Symbolism Attached To This Rite:

Eternity Past Eternity Present Eternity Future

GAGI: Forever, always, never ending……

The concept of Eternity in the Indian language has a present sense about it;


From the most ancient times, Eternity


The distant future, Duration

Perpetual Without end, Always, Everlasting time, Lifetime (s).

Some words that could be similar:

Time-always  happening-time,

The beginning is like the end-the end is like the beginning. Wheel without end or World without end!

All we can do is mark the circle of our lives with certain happenings as gradations of our lives, likewise the RITE OF PURITICATION  or SWEAT RITUAL or any other type of wheel; medicine circle/wheel/ceremony.

Fasting or Mkedekewen

It is a serious business of allowing the Spirit of all Life to review your life and being willing to take a hard look at yourself in retrospect, as the God sees your life. Most folks do not view fasting as such, as they see themselves going out and getting some sort of power animal, or a gift for themselves to wallow in pride with, collection Sea-Stories, any vision based on their current vision of themselves, usually based on some inflated image of themselves. Fasting can be a deadly game to play, with Spiritual Powers sent to help you examine yourself.

Let us examine this word fasting and see what it means, both to the secular world and then to the traditional Neshnabek world.




gerund or present participle: fasting

  1. abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.

Mkedekewen/Fasting to the Neshnabek:

Abstain from all food and drink, companionship, creature comforts, such as sleep, reading, any form of relaxation of the body, in an effort to discipline your soul and spirit to commune with itself and the God.

Mkedekewen becomes a time of how one learns to listen to their own spirit and soul’s rhythm, while the God and His Messengers help one review your life and how that has influenced your life thus far. It is a slo a time of deep relaxation without sleep and learning how to turn your complete self, jejauk, over to the Spiritual Powers. God can show you the truest form of deep relaxation, without all the vexations of sin and its influences.

Sin to the Neshnabek is any act, any thought, any word(s) that tend to separate one from an honest and open communication with the God and his Spiritual Powers, for those Powers are but a true reflection of himself.

One goes out to some solitary place to reflect on your life, sit alone and become at one with all of Nature and the God who created it all. There shall be no one to sit with you, human that is, but the Intercessor/Medicine Man/Holy Man, shall be in direct communication with the God and his Powers in your behalf. All the while you’re out there by yourself; 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, or 96 hours.

For me, fasting is all about choices; once I am there seated among my spiritual fellows and amongst the God and His Powers, I must make a choice to accept what is revealed to me about self and future goals the God may have for me. I can either accept what I am shown or reject it, perhaps it was only a dream, which many do. Many come back from their fast and try to live righteously for a time but usually fail after a time, if they are not committed to what they are doing in the first place.


First, The Pipe carries: Wisdom Knowledge



We must always pray for: Bravery

Endurance Alertness/Awareness Patience

Tobacco is the sacrificial Offering that gives its life for us-

Fire is the “One” that activates,facilitates the life of the tobacco so it can then approach the (12) Grandfathers Council Fire (Altar) in its spirit state as smoke.

Fire Can Give Life or Take It!

As smoke, tobacco can thus rise upward to present the petitions it has heard within the Sacred Circle of Life.

The Fire and Tobacco work together to carry our prayers upward to the third plateau (spiritual mesa).


Third Plateau:


(12) Grandfathers

All Future Life

Second Plateau:

All spirits, (mjimnedok as opposed to spirits)

past and present.

First Plateau:

The Heavens-

The Two-Leggeds, The Four-Leggeds

The Creeping Crawling Things, The Winged Nation

The Fire, The Rock, The Water, The Green

Mother Earth/Segmekwe

Father Core “Fire”

Some Further Sacred Notes:

The Red Pipe Bowl represents the blood of The People. The Female is the ‘ one held responsible for the Nation’s welfare as it is through her the little ones are born, thus the Red Pipe Bowl is representative of her.

0                Grandfather Earth         u

N                Grandmother Earth       N

E                 Father Earth                  I

N                Mother Earth                 0

E                 Son Earth                      N

s                 Daughter Earth

s                 Father Fire Core

Perfect unity exists in the Universe of Universes!

Unity also speaks of Marriage Relationships and should tell us why The Marriage Rite is so sacred to our people.

There is marriage between two elements in the Pipe cere111ony: Wood and Stone.

The Pipe Stem has the Male End The Pipe Bowl has the Female End The Tobacco is the Intercessor!

The Spiritual Marriage between Eternity past and Eternity Present is consummated when the Bowl/Stem are joined together.

That is why this ceremony;  The Pipe Ceremony and any time the Sacred Pipe is used, is so important to our people.

We are actually re-creating something from Eternity Past and asking for a joining together of our wills (desires) and thus, requesting the power to carry out only good actions, speak good words, think good thoughts among the Life we are a part of on this altar: Mother Earth, Father Earth, Son Earth, Daughter Earth.

1st 25 years

Éshkewebsek nish wabdek nsech nyanno pon

2nd 25 years

Énishwek nish wabdek nsech nyanno pon

3rd 25 years

Énswesek nish wabdek nsech nyanno pon

4th 25 years

Enyewsek nish wabtek nsech nyanno pon

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

This Life that we embrace is not really the Life we are after.

All life comes to a predicted end; death-

All tribes have teachings and ceremonies governing this phenomenon: To take care of the grief and other feelings connected with it when we, the living must say goodbye to a friend or relative.

The real Life is hidden in The Fire and  it is not until death that we shall really know what we are and where we are going again:  Going Home Ceremony!

Thus  the four basic questions will ultimately be answered in Eternity Future, but do not forget it is all part of -the present to our people. How we should walk ever so humbly and carefully and not tread on anyone else or on anything else that is living or has Life!

We need to remember how frail we are


   GI            Grandfather CORE, The spiritual part of our being, the lamp of our being, the fire within


        Grandfather Soul-

        Rationale intellect, thinking, choosing, reasoning.

Grandfather (Body)-

Terrestrial, takes care of body, feels grief, joy, sorrow, Strong feeling part of our being.

MUHN (Body) is for feeling

and that is why a lot of sicknesses into come from guilt.

Guilt lives in the belly region, loins, operates from there out the blood. Life is in the blood!

The Muhn (Soul)  (Body) is an unusally sensitive part of all human things.

It will do exactly what one tells it to do.

Hence, if you keep telling someone or yourself a negative thing about themselves (yourself) he/she begins to believe it and will ultimately act upon it. The Liquid Life within us begins to accept whatever it is that it is being told and it then becomes a part of us.

When we begin to believe something ourselves or someone else it becomes a part of our rational intellect or thinking, thus a part of our complete selves:

Aura. Chee Jauk. (Gi Bah Mahn)

Those of us who have children should long remember the vvords of the elders on these few simple things. If you are married, never tell your mate she is useless. Always hold one another in high regard and prefer each other before the other. Practice this simple act of humility in all aspects of traditional life. Always remember your children are watching you.

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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