Traditional glossary of some words

Enendemwat gewinwa gi gete Neshnabek

Herein are many words I use in teaching or lecturing on the Neshnabe Way of Life, i.e., the traditional ways.

A glossary of some more words.

Neshnabe kendaswen      traditional neshnabe knowledge.

Neshnabe                the good being (male) created from nothing and                          lowered down to this earth. Name of all people                          who are descendants of the people who speak the                       various dialects of neshnabemwen

Mjina neshnabek         there are those who think they are neshnabek and                        by all they try to do and act, they will become                         more neshnabe-like and/or spiritual. These tend                        to act as though they are more spiritual than                               others of their kind. Proud and haughty are                               they!

Neshnabemwen            The Neshnabe language/The Three Fires language

Sema                    tobacco

Sen                     rock/stone

Atsokan                 traditional cultural story

Ezhikenimnonadzed bemadzet     The study of the behavior of life

Bemadzet                a human being

Bsendagmowen            acquired knowledge, learning from listening

Bgosenjegewen           things hoped for

Zhewenmeshen            pity me/have mercy on me

Zhewenmeshnak           have pity on us/also mercy

Zhawenmengomen          they are jealous of us

Kcheneshnabe/kcheneshnabek     The Ancient Ones

Epitsewat neshnabek           The Ancient Ones

Gete Neshnabek          The real ones

Wakendemwajek           the wise ones

Debwewen                truth

Gwekwadzewen            honesty

Dewegen                 drum

Edneswen                Natural Law, natural way of behavior

Segmekwe                Mother Earth

Eyawyan                 identity, the way all is in me or every way I am

                        of my being

Kche mkede mko          large black bear

Gichidakwe              female ceremonial helper

Getesewen               intuition, the navel way, mother Earth connection to you

Gwabminjegewen          knowledge from observation

Kshemenedo              Great Spirit

Mamogosnan              The Creator

Kendaswen               knowledge

Kenjegadewen            reality, a known truth

Kimingoa anwe kendaswen        The original instructions given to the

                               Neshnabek by Kshemenedo

Mkedeke                 the act of fasting

Mkedeke’w’egan          a fasting lodge

Mkedekewen              fasting or vision quest, the way of the quest.

                        We say this because the spiritual people who put                        us in the ways of “extreme danger”, or “path of                         the fire”, literally place us in harms’ way when                      we go out to fast. That is why we place the                              smudges of black charcoal on each cheek and                           forhead of the “quester.

                        To go before the SPIRIT in such a manner with                           the imploring we do when we cry out for a                               vision, or a gift, in those lonely places is to                         be willing to die for the sake of the people.                          i.e., so the common people may live. So the                          “vision quest” has nothing to do with individual                    effort or EGO. In fact, the EGO of the quester                          must die out. It is the way of death to man’s                           spirit or control over his pitiful life, so the                         real spirit inside him can live and do the will                        of the SPIRIT for the common people. It is a way                      of self sacrifice to bring back the power of the                        SPIRIT for one’s people, so they can all live!

Mnedo wabewen           Revealed Knowledge

Mnedo                   a spirit

Mnedoke                 conduct a ceremony

Mendokaswenen           a ceremony

Mnedoskwim’mendamowen   Spirit memory/blood memory

                        Stitched into your spirit

                        The knowledge that enters this world when one’s

                        spirit fuses with the physical body, spirit                             idenity    

Menjemendamowen         memory, hold and stitch together

Mnobmadzewen            The Way of the Good Life, In order to have a                            good life one must have a goal. This goal is to                         be free from illness, to live to the fullest.

                        Bemadzewen is based on a concept of health and                          good living. One must work on prevention and not                        only healing. It is a Holy Life. One must eat                          well, act well, and live physically, mentally,                           emotionally well. Emotional well being is a key                      to Bemadzewen.

Mshekeke                medicine that comes from the roots of Earth

Mshkekiwen              the way of medicine

Meshomes                Grandfather

Debwetawen              belief, the truth that is evident in the way of                         action. One cannot know the truth unless one has                        seen or experienced it in a direct way                                (physically or spiritually).

Debwewen                Faith, the heart that all relates to,                                   truthfulness.

Nedendowen              responsibility.

Nagdewendemwen          A spiritual vision/or deeper level thoughts

Apwewen/nademowen       Vivid dream/lucid

Nbwakawen               wisdom, from the root-nebwa-in the kindness of                          putting yourself backwards but at the same time                         of bringing forward the wisdom one carries.

                        Thinking back, bringing forward and stitching                           all together; i.e., life knowledge (Elders).

Nendamowen              forget, unstitched.

Nenmowen                thought.

Nisawai’igwan           at the center, Nawai: center.

Nswe shkode Midewigan   The Three Fires Medicine Society

Noden                   wind, also the old term to describe the workings                        of the mind.

Nokmes                  My Grandmother

Nwendeman               choice, browsing in one’s thoughts

Nwennamdanwen           making a choice

De’h                    heart

Odewegen                the way of the drum

Shkabewes               the new one, male ceremonial helper

Gichidakwe              female ceremonial helper

Wenizhejegeyan          free will, the way I am going to do things

Wanen’enema             will, has to do with the ability to think                               independently.

Wigiwamatek             lodge pole

Zagidewen               love/caring, all of something emanating out of                          you. Not the same as the English “make love”,                           sexual, but rather of caring. It is something                           based on mutual respect. You can feel it but you                     cannot touch it. It is all of you filling the                              heart of another, mnadenemwenen, feeding that                          heart with the thought of something. Out of

                        Zagidewen a human being is able to heal him/her                         self.

Zhishigwen              shaker, rattle.

Shkebdagen              shooter, as in medicine dance ceremony.

Some words to consider:

Inendeman               what I think

Inendagwet              what I permit

Inendagzewen            what is permitted

Nagdewendemwen          deeper level thoughts, often what one does not

                        share with others easily for whatever reason,

                        or reasons. These deeper level thoughts are

                        sometimes somewhat embarrassing to reveal for

                        the individual, but are known by the SPIRIT and

                        the Interpreters/Translators.

                        The stuff we keep inside is what makes up who we                                                  really are and what our true identity is.                               (Eyawyan)

Kchenendezwen           proud, haughty thoughts of oneself!

Shiwnendezwen           mean, ugly, vicious thoughts culminating in                             that type of actions toward another or                                  others. Generally a mean spirited and dishonest                         action.

Shiwnadzewen            verb describing the above actions of a person                           like that. (Shiwze: mean, cruel, without mercy)

Gishkteg’gazwen         Judgment! Any action(s) the Spirit/spirits take                         against a person who is bad or acting contrary                          to what is believed and embraced by a like-                          minded group. This is thought to include                                    witchcraft of any kind and any mean actions that                         are thought out and carried out against another.

                        The old people used to tell us when a person

                        knowingly starts out on the wrong path and keeps

                        going down that way, it is like a person who                            grabs the top of a small sapling and bends it                           all the way to the ground, then lets it go,

                        whereupon it springs back at him/her slapping

                        with full fury at that person again and again.

                        From this story, they would tell us the Spirit’s

                        word or judgment is “springy”.

Gemazhechkewen          Sovereignty! Usually refers to the sovereignty                          of the Spirit!

Yanshitmawat            they became discouraged

Shiwze                  he/she is fierce/mean/cruel

Shiwzik                 they are fierce/mean/cruel

Gzhiptem                you are hard headed

Gzhiptemwik             they are hard headed

Gzhiptemwenen           hard headedness/stubborn-ness,           

                        usually referring to a state of being;

                        that of being stiff necked, beyond reasoning and                        usually of an impassable nature; very stubborn.

Gdemages                you are poor

Gdemagzewen             a state of being poor and not realizing how poor                        one can be. Said to be without mercy, thus                              without love, humility, truth, honesty, wisdom,                         bravery and respect; even self respect.

Widoktadwen             that sense of community, togetherness, that                             innate sense of tribalism that permeates a group                        that one can sense long before they can                                verbalize on it. It has a sense of love and                               belonging that others who do not have it can                               feel with their spiritual centers; the soul,                               spirit, and body each have the (5) senses active                        within them;

                        touch, taste, smell, feel, hear and more.

Widoko                  to interact, commune with; usually on all                               levels when used in a spiritual context.

Gambojek                those that passed away, that walked on, those                           that died.

Gambot                  he/she who died or walked on.

Nbowen                  to pass from the scene, to walk on, but in                              spiritual application, it has to do with dying                          out to the self, so the gete neyaw can live.                          i.e., the real man/woman self in all of us. It                             is said in the old days, this concept was taught                         to all young boys and girls who were going out                           to vision quest. (mkedekewen).

                        Young people were taught to allow old habits to                         die out so the real self could live and be                              invigorated with a new heart, soul, spirit so as                        to acquire new habits pursuant to the teachings                        of the early neshnabek.

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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