My family, with my dad in the middle on the Grandfather Water Drum, and his mother and father to his left behind him, as you look at the picture. The rest of the folks pictured are relatives, uncle to his right as you look at the picture and his wife behind him. His cousin is to his immediate right at the far end. The children (5) of them are all cousins.

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.

Iw enajmoyan.

Donald Neaseno Perrot

Nin mine ode ngyéyom…Zhikwés Marion Young Perrote

This is Neaseno, and his mother, Marion Young Perrote, Zhikwés. She is directly descended from Nsoakwet John Young, and along with her husband, Waubenose Donald Amob Perrote Sr, raised this little man on the Bluff near Arpin, WI. In this mixed community, she spoke Potawatomi and Winnebago to her children, and they did not use much English until Don Jr. was in school.

As her name indicates, this fierce little woman was a stalwart in my husband’s life, raising her children with dignity and grace, and always remembered the importance of her identity as a Potawatomi and the importance of her language.

When this beautiful woman combined her efforts with my husband’s, they were able to teach me the basic rudiments, tone, and cadence, of this language. Many a day I would spend on the phone with her, practicing speaking this language, until she grew too tired to do so anymore. She had such a beautiful soul, and stood on her faith in Christ with a fierceness that matched her name.

My husband’s parents, Waubenosé and Zhikwés, provided the upbringing, support, and knowledge that formed and shaped my husband. He was raised speaking many languages and learned to live and operate in a culture that in these modern times is considered foreign on the very soil where it was cultivated for thousands of years. We remember our elders today and how we walk following their footsteps. They made many sacrifices to keep and pass on what we hold dear today.

nin se zagjewekwe

Ahau nwi mbyege nomek…..

Yes, both of my parents were highly instrumental in giving me all the rudiments of being Neshnabe. They taught me it was more than looking like a Neshnabe, sounding like one in spoken language, acting like one, but being one of the heart. My dad used to say such simple things, which I still hear in the silence since he left. He once told me to seek the God, not the gift. If I would seek the Giver, and not the gift, I would always have him in my heart. That became of paramount interest to me over the years. I can know everything about my culture and its roots, but if I don’t have the Spirit deep within me, I have nothing.

I have sought that more than anything else in this world and have been privileged to being given all the rest of anything I ever wanted to know, simply because I sought the Giver first……making sure of the relationship I had with him, Mamogosnan.

Ahau, iw enajmoyan, nin se Neaseno.

Nin se o n’os; Waubnose Donald Amob Perrot, Sr.

This is my father. He has been gone from me for many years now, since September of 1983, which is about 36 years. There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss him. He taught me much about being a man and the responsibilities that go with being a man. I learned how to speak this language from him and my mother, along with the many other older peers of my upbringing.

They both taught me about our Native Potawatomi cultural ways, those of being Neshnabe, and the many ways of our people. I learned to fast, Mkedekewen, and the various ceremonial customs of our people, and all the specific ceremonies from him. I learned all the songs and how to sing them properly, for there is a proper way to sing our sacred songs when one makes a noise unto the GOD. He taught me much about the material culture along with the spiritual culture of our group. He was Potawatomi, Menominee, Winnebago and French, and could speak those various dialects, along with Ojibwe. The only language he did not speak fluently was French. My mother was Potawatomi and some Winnebago and she could speak those dialects also.

Everything I know as a Bodewadmi nene, I learned in our language, not in English. The language was preeminent in all that we did as a family, and as a group of Native People living with the land and by the land. We grew much of what we ate and hunted the rest, often fishing the rivers and streams close by. Those were the best times of my life.

All of that changed somewhat when I became school age, as the elders wanted me to attend the schools that were local to us, and not go off to some Indian School. My elders wanted me to learn English and some of the ways of our neighbors, so I would be able to survive in this world when I became a man and moved from the community I grew up in. Those school years were some of the hardest I endured but I learned this English language and much of the ways of the whites surrounding us. I grew to love the Sports I was introduced to and many of the studies I had to do. I especially loved to read the many books I came to know and learned much of this American culture from reading.

It has been a good life and I am truly thankful for all those elders who taught me all that I know of my Bodewadmi cultural ways, including this language I love so much. I want to introduce some of those elders I have come to value throughout my years as a Neshnabe, from time to time, on this site. For now, this is my dad whom I loved and still miss him from the depths of my soul.

Ahau, nin se Neaseno.