Songs for the Changing Year

Miini-giizis Nagomowin (July Song)

Before, during and after July is prime berry time in many Ojibwe communities so the name of the month is often Miinigiizis (Blueberry Month) or Miinikewigiizis (Blueberry Picking Month).

But this is also the height of summer in Anishinaabewakiing so the month is also often called Aabita-niibino-giizis (Mid-summer Month) or even Baapaashikizige-giizis (Exploding Month) which you can take as the sound of fireworks, salutes of honor to Veterans, the celebration of sovereignty and democracy, the burst of berries in your mouth or all of this. Revitalization of language means the words become your own and you choose which layers of meaning to emphasize as you speak.

The song this month brings back a few words that might be less familiar but are still important: anjise (to change), minjimendan (to remember something), miinobidoon or miinobiizh (to straighten out something or someone) and miinobanji’o (to re-balance). We think these are good words for young people and old people to talk about together, so find someone from another generation and start a conversation!

A row of flowers in the Woodland art style by Neebin Southall

Miinigiizis

Miinigiizis, miinigiizis noongom igo
Miinigiizis, miinigiizis niibinong

Nimiinikaaniw waabigwaning
I am the seed inside a flower
miijiyaan biidaasigewin
eating the sunshine
minikwadamaan gimewang.
drinking the rain.
Giwii-miinikaaniw ina gaye ?
Are you a seed too?

Miinigiizis, miinigiizis noongom igo
Miinigiizis, miinigiizis niibinong

Miinan atenoon noopiming
The blueberries are in the woods
ozhaawashkaandewan igo
they are green
mii dash aanjimiinaandeg.
turning purple.
Giwii-aanjisemin ina gaye?
Are we changing too?

Miinigiizis, miinigiizis noongom igo
Miinigiizis, miinigiizis niibinong

mishoomisag miinobidoonaawaan
the grandfathers are straightening
migiskaneyaabiin gaye
the fishing lines and
gichi-minjimendamowaad.
really remembering things.
Aaniin waa-minjimendamang baanimaa?
What will we remember later?

Miinigiizis, miinigiizis noongom igo
Miinigiizis, miinigiizis niibinong

Nookomisag omiinobizhaawaan
The grandmothers are straightening out
oniijaanisan ezhi-bimaadizinid
the children’s lives
gichi-zaagi’aawaad miinooj igo.
and loving them anyway.
Aabideg miinobani’ididaa.
We’ve got to keep one another in balance.

A row of flowers in the Woodland art style by Neebin Southall

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