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MIKWENDAAGOZIWAGWATER WALK Mikwendaagoziwag Run at 15 and about that stone on Madeline Island By Charlie Otto Rasmussen Staff Writer With a spirit dish and shaker in hand Kabapikotawangag LakeoftheWoodselderFred Kelly sings an ancestral song prior to the Mikwendaagozi- wag feast at Sandy Lake Min- nesota July 29. More than 350 children women and men came together to recognize the sacrifices of the Ojibwe people of 1850. Inset Strong west winds during the ceremonial paddle forced all watercraft back except for one canoe with Neil Kmiecik and Booj LaBarge right. photos by COR Where the Sandy River begins its short downstream run connecting Big Sandy Lake to the Mississippi a nearby glacial knoll buzzes with activity. Bundled against negative four-degree mid-morning temperatures a gathering encircles a large potato-shaped hunk of red granite set upon a concrete base of faded crimson. The men and women wearing running shoes do their best to shake off the cold stretching and kicking at the frozen snow-covered ground as they wait for the sunrise ceremony to begin. At last a car carrying Tobasonakwut Kinewthe late Ojibways of Onigaming spiritual leaderpulls into the parking lot below. Gerry DePerry GLIFWC Deputy Administrator unloads as soon as Kinew is in earshot Where the heck you been Kinew strides into the gathering carrying a colorful medicine bundle and grins The suns still rising. Its December 2 2000. And so it was with humor deep appreciation and some small measure of discomfort people came together for the Mikwendaagoziwag Run recreating perhaps the most poignant chapter of the Sandy Lake Trag- edythedefiantreturntoOjibwehomelandsinWisconsin. OnehundredandfiftyyearsearlierUSgovernmentofficials completed a partial annuity payment to treaty tribes at the newly established Sandy Lake Indian Sub-agency. Min- nesota Territorial Governor Alexander Ramsey and others hatched a plot to illegally lure Ojibwes and their annuity money west of the Mississippi River to the future state. But the ploy was a grim disaster resulting in 400 Ojibwe deaths including 230 Ojibwes who died trudging their way back east against the teeth of winter. While honoring the sacrifice made by the Ojibwe of 1850whorefusedtoabandontheirtreaty-guaranteedhome- lands the 2000 Mikwendaagoziwag Run further created a ceremoniallinkbetweenthetwo-tonmonumentstoneatSandyLakeanditsgranite foot installed at Madeline Islands Ojibway Park. Months earlier GLIFWC staff oversaw preparation of the massive stone in Mosinee Wis. In order to mount the stone to the concrete pedestal under construction at Sandy Lake engineers created a flat surface by cutting off a small end piece which tribal advisors ordered to the Islandthe spiritual centerpiece of the Ojibwe Nation. This is part of the connection between Sandy Lake and Madeline Island DePerry explained. And its significant in that the Island was the original annu- ity distribution site before they moved it to Sandy Lake in 1850. Annuity dis- tributionscash durable goods and other supplies paid to treaty tribal members in exchange for land titlesreturned to Madeline Island after an 1852 meeting between Chief Buffalo and US President Millard Fillmore. The Mikwendaagoziwag Run included 17 core runners and 14 additional participants. Runners and walkers alike carried one of four ceremonial talking sticks crafted by Red Cliffs Marvin DeFoe. Adorned with the colors of the four directionsred yellow white and bluethe sticks were also integral to talking circles and fireside ceremonies on the frigid relay-style journey December 2-4 2000. These same sticks are ever-present at GLIFWC Voigt Intertribal Task Force and Board of Commissioners meetings and additional high-level gatherings with other agencies. At the Mikwendaagoziwag Runs closing ceremony near LaPointe on Madeline Islands southwest shoreline Sokaogon Mole Lake elder Fred Ackley articulated the importance of actively commemorating sacrifices of the past. After all mikwendaagoziwag means they are remembered. Through this we connect with our ancestors and become more involved in the meaning of treatiesthe humanelementsnotjusthuntingandfishing.Itisrespect- ing what they did for us today Ackley said. 2015 Mikwendaagoziwag ceremonyWater Walkers Thedangerofoilspillswasthefocus of the 2015 Mother Earth Water Walk. Following the path of the Anishinaabe migration from the East coast the 2015 Mother Earth Water Walkers set out on June 23 from Matane Quebec on a jour- ney that would conclude on Madeline Island on August 29. WalkersactuallyjourneyedtoSpirit Island near Duluth Minnesota and then returned back to Madeline Island. Both are places where the Sacred Megis Shell appeared to migrating ancestors indicating they had arrived at their new homeland where food grows on the water. Thiswasthe10thyearthataMother Earth Water Walk took place since the original walk around Lake Superior in 2003. Inspired by the message and example of Josephine Mandamin OjibweelderfromThunderBayOntario supporters have joined her to help carry the copper bucket of water countless miles around all of the Great Lakes raisingawarenessofwaterissuesandthe role of women as keepers of the water. The message as usual focused on theneedtorespectandprotectourwater resources. But the 2015 message was particularlyaimedatrisksfromoilspills through train derailments or potential spills from cargo ships in the Great Lakesamessagewhichresonatedinthe OjibweCededTerritoriesduetoconcern about expanded pipelines. The Great Lakes inland lakes rivers streams wetlands all need to be considered and protected from potential degradation. Some GLIFWC staff Bad River members and Midewomen joined the walkers at Wakefield Michigan as they headedtowardsBadRiver.WaterWalk- ers were greeted with a Drum Song as they entered the reservation on August 18 where they were also welcomed by former Tribal Chairman Mike Wig- ginsTreasurer Raeann Maday and later celebrated with a community feast and visit before beginning the journeying to Spirit Island. Once they reached the Island GLIFWC Warden Dan North was able See Chi miigwech page 22 photo by Charlie Otto Rasmussen MAZINAIGAN PAGE 20 WINTER 2015-16