ziibi~ Gichigami

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.mnoutcomms.com/Assets/Northshore.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.mnoutcomms.com/ExtrasPage2007.html&usg=__8PXxmeS5wLW2pKWkHDQ10vvG-VQ=&h=450&w=600&sz=84&hl=en&start=4&itbs=1&tbnid=NRFZXvViOniiVM:&tbnh=101&tbnw=135&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlake%2Bsuperior%2Bnorth%2Bshore%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dig%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1Gichigami ~

Oh powerful Nookomis!

You take my breath away
Every morning when my eyes set upon you.

One day you will be gentle and soothing
The next day you are raging with passion.

At times people fear you
At most they are in awe!

You are Nookomis to all!

Then why is respect lacking for you?
Why every day are you poisoned?
Why do people fight over what is left of you?

Oh powerful Nookomis!
Are you laughing or crying at us humans?

©River 1996

One of my favorite poems I wrote many years ago. I grew up on the very tip of Lake Superior in Duluth Minnesota. The lake is a big part of who I am along with my Anishinaabe/Ojibwe heritage. I use a couple of Ojibwe words in the poem. Gichigami means Lake Superior and Nookomis means grandmother. There was a battle over the big fresh water lake at the time I wrote the poem. Some Southwest States wanted the States around the lake and Canada to agree to pipe water down to them because they were running out of water. In my opinion and many others they choose to abuse their water so they could have green grass in desert conditions and other reasons. We did not go for it. I have no idea what they ended up doing with their water shortage.
***I explain further in a comment in response to a friends question.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. buttercup600
    Jul 11, 2010 @ 16:20:49

    Beautiful image to compliment your poem. Just lovley!! Thanks for sharing:)


  2. slpmartin
    Jul 11, 2010 @ 16:44:18

    The inclusion of the photo and comments really help me fully interpret the underlying meaning of the poem….thanks so very much for adding them to your poem. I was wondering about the initial line “Oh powerful Nookomis!”… in my cultural view “grandmother” is wise and gentle….so I didn’t fully understand the line…but that is my weakness not the poems…which was well crafted. Would you mind expanding on your intent with that phrase?


    • ziibi1
      Jul 11, 2010 @ 23:12:42

      I guess to start, I should explain water is female and animate in our cultural view. Nookomisag or grandmothers are wise, strong, and gentle. They are the teachers and traditionally were part of the council. “Oh Powerful Nookomis” Lake Superior is one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world. It is part of the St Lawrence Sea Way and the huge ocean liners carrying loads follow the water trail dropping off cargo on their way to Duluth. A bunch of those ships lie on the floor of the lake. The storms are intense. Once a friend and I were knocked down by a wave that crashed against the shore rocks walking on a boardwalk. My old dog that was 110 pounds got away in time but we were on the ground soaked. Thats on shore. Anyways, Lake Superior is a Grandmother and very powerful. “Oh Powerful Nookomis” I hope that answered your question Charlie. I wish I could read it for all of you..oh I just had an idea..lol! I will get back to you on that one. 🙂


  3. ziibi1
    Jul 11, 2010 @ 16:44:46


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