By Paula “Mashkosiikwe” Cooper, Indigenous Visionaries Fellow
Boozhoo nindinawemaganidog! Paula Cooper nindizhinikaaz. Name nindoodem, Odaawaazaagaa’iganing endayaan.
Hello relatives! My name is Paula “Mashkosiikwe” Cooper. I am from the Sturgeon Clan and reside on Lac Courte Oreilles near Hayward, Wisconsin. I study human services at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University (LCOOU) to give back to my community. In collaboration with my mentor, Sirella “Asiniiwaabiikwe” Ford, we utilize Indigenous science and research through a community project supported by the American Indian College Fund’s Indigenous Visionaries Native Women Fellowship Program. Our objective is to bring healing to our neighborhood by creating a safe space for students and community members to rekindle our interconnectedness through a monthly Grandmother Moon ceremony.
Indigenous science is the methodological process in which Indigenous people gather information about the natural world through experience and dissemination; traditional teachings are the result of their research. The Anishinaabe Grandmother Moon ceremony is one such tool that was given to us by our matriarchs. Each month, women come together to remember the teachings of the grandmothers and to share and reconnect with the role of caring for water. Through a single tobacco tie, a simple, yet profound act of gratitude allows for the acknowledgement and clearing of historical and generational traumas and brings forth the healing of an individual. Grandmother Moon is available to everyone; she encourages us to reflect, embrace, and focus on what is important in our life cycle to create healthier communities.
To practice self-care is to look closely at the health of your mind, body, and spirit and honor the water and life within you. Through reclamation of the Grandmother Moon ceremony, we are illuminating a bold, bright, future, fulfilling our role to share the understanding of our symbiotic relationship with nature. Through the tradition of this ceremony, our community has an opportunity to share, learn, and grow together. Colorful ribbon skirts unite aunties, nieces, sisters, cousins, and mothers who bring kindness, support, happiness, and laughter to one another. This nurturance has a positive effect that resonates into families, circulates into communities, and creates ripples of healing that radiate into the world. This ceremony is self-care in service to others and is Indigenous science and research in action.
My TCU, LCOOU, takes an active approach to repair our community and provides the support and space to do so. When we understand our responsibility to ourselves, each other, and the earth, we become better leaders for our communities. Our ancestors knew one day wars would be fought over water and we would forget that every moment of life is a ceremony. Our ancestors did not leave us alone with nothing but left us with the knowledge that when we balance our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual intelligence, we make choices in the best interest of the next seven generations to come.
Pursue education. Reclaim Indigenous language and ceremony to ignite the sacred fire within. We thank the College Fund and our TCU for recognizing the significance of reclaiming connections to build a greater future for our global community and for their support of this project on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe reservation. Their kindness has a positive impact in the lives of others and strengthens families, language, and culture. Miigwech bizandawiyeg! (Thank you for listening to me).