I share these pictures on this site so folks can know who I am related to and to give recognition to those elders who had the greatest influence on me as I grew up among our community members. My family was Mide and Wabeno practitioners and they all lived pretty much separate from other groups that did not practice those old ways.
To be surrounded by these elders and the teachings they gave me is evidence of who I am today. I have often said that no one can say they have achieved anything in this life without the help of someone else. I would be nothing without my elders for I walk upon the legacies of their teachings and the ceremonies they introduced me to. My ggreat grandfather was the Mide Chief that served several tribes and he passed on the teachings to his son who was my grandfather and then my dad, ultimately to me.
None of this was done in English. The languages were Potawatomi, Menominee, and Ojibwe. Even the Winnebagoes came and participated with us in those days. I often feel so humbled as to who my family were to the Neshnabek of Northern Wisconsin and wanted only to please my elders and the God who governed our ceremonies. When one walks in those legacies, one cannot help but feel awed and humbled at the tremendous responsibilities of such an undertaking.
To learn all the songs along with each ceremony is a lifelong task and all of it done in the context of the languages mentioned. These days I feel such nostalgia when I roam the lands they once occupied and farmed, making their living from the fields or the woods as loggers. The old foundations to many of the buildings are still there and rings through to my spirit (jibaum), whenever I have an opportunity to go there. No one lives there anymore and nothing grows there any longer, but the trees and foliage have taken over, as though they are the silent sentinels of all we believed and practiced at one time. I feel humbled sharing this with you, the readers.
Whenever I get the opportunity to sit down and compose something of value about this language that has carried me for all these years, I am immediately reminded of it’s vastness and incomprehensibility. It has truly carried me forth into many situations, experiences, both physical and spiritual, and even to many countries to establish contact with others who still spoke their original tongues. It has enabled me to express myself to many, family, friends and other acquaintances. I have often felt so small and helpless in some situations, but this language enabled me to rise to any occasion to communicate my thoughts to others. You see, I think in Bodewadmi seshmowen since it is my heritage language, my birth tongue, if you will. It has been a friend to me, both in my waking hours and even in my dreams, and certainly in my spiritual pursuits of the various Bodewadmi ways of worship.
I want to be able to introduce someone properly to this language that has been my portion throughout my entire life in the most fundamental way possible. It is within my heart and soul to share the simplicity of this language the way I came to know it growing with it and maturing with it. I want to share it’s many descriptive variants when one comes to depend on it and begins to love it’s many ways of describing things and situations. It is not akin to English, though many have tried to equate it with such. Many of the ways we utilize it defy English comparison, for it is a language full of different sounds and meaning.
It leaves me feeling humbled so often as I attempt to explain it’s intricacies to someone of English only background, as so many of our own people have become like today. Toward that end, we have designed our various web sites; Patreon.com, Egoyak Edayak on FaceBook, and now this new site. We sincerely hope those that view our Potawatomi language shall make every effort to learn it and use it. We hope to arouse our own people to learn their heritage language and perhaps instill in others an appreciation for our language and culture. So please take some time and surf through our many resources. Please view all the web sites we have, patreon.com/neaseno, egoyak edayak on FaceBook and this site as well which has APWAD with many files. (A Potawatomi word a day).