Anishinaabe Astronomy and Identity

Night sky with the constellation of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor and the North Star.

Understanding who we are happens as we acknowledge where we are and the relationships around us. The following phrases were created for the children and teachers living near Gichi-Onigaming (Grand Portage, the great carrying place) in Cook County, Minnesota. They are words and phrases to teach us where we are in the universe, the way our system is solar and defined by the sun, and the way our stories of the stars acknowledge worlds beyond and beside our own.

Where we are in the universe

Astronomy 1

Nindayaa omaa.
I am here.

Gidayaamin omaa akiing.
We are all here on earth.

Giizis miinwaa gakina anangoog moozhag ayaawag ishpiming giizhigong miinawaa dibikong.
The sun and all the stars always are above us day and night.

Gizhe-manidoo miziwe ayaa mizhakwadong mii miinawaa bishagiishkaanakwadong.
The Creator is everywhere when there are no clouds and when the clouds are dark.

Minogizhebawagad. Minogizheb. Gichi-minogigizheb.
It is a good day. A good day. A very good day.

Anishinaabemowin onzikaa endazhi-giiwedinong akiing.
Anishinaabemowin originates in the Northern Hemisphere.

Aaniindi ayaawaad anangoog?
Where are the stars?

For more about annual star locations in Ojibwe, visit
Designed by Annette S. Lee (2007), the Native Skywatchers initiative seeks to remember and revitalize indigenous star and earth knowledge.

The way we are defined by the sun

Astronomy 2

Gichi-giizhigad izhiwebag niibinong apii besho ayaad giizis.
The longest day happens in the summer when the sun is near. (summer solstice)

Dakwaa-giizhigad izhiwebag biboong apii waasa ayaad giizis.
The shortest day happens in the winter when the sun is far away. (winter solstice)

Endaaso biboon akii owaakaashkawaan giizisoon epiichi biimiskobizod.
Each year the earth circles the sun while also rotating.

Endaaso giizis dibikigiizis owaakaashkawaan akiin epiichi biimiskobizod.
Each month the moon circles the earth while also rotating.

Giwaabamaanaan dibikigiizis ge zaagaateshkaagod giizisoon.
We see the moon as the sun is shining on her.

Stars and their stories

Astronomy 3

Awenen aawiwaad anangoog?
Who are the stars?

Giiwedanang ayaa giiwedinong ge giiweyang.
The North Star is in the north as we all are going home.

Maang-madogaaning iwedi ayaa.
It is located in the Loon constellation.

Bezhig anang izhinikaazod Ojiig-anang, gemaa Migizi-anang.
One of the stars is called the Fisher-star or the Eagle-star.

Carl Gawboy odibaajimaan Ojiig-anangoon.
Carl Gawboy tells a story about the Fisher-star.
You can view the story here:

Gidaa-gikendaamin ezhi-dibaajimangwaa anangoog.
We should know how to tell stories about the stars.

Gidaa-gagwejimidizomin ina ayaawaad anangoog ishpiming giizhigong?
We should ask ourselves who are the stars up above in the sky?

A song to ask this question is here with Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Anishinaabe Star Coat

This beautiful coat designed by Michael Zimmerman Jr. shows the constellations and star stories that are special to his family.