Gichigami - Lake Superior near Montreal River, Ontario
Photographer: June Kaminski, 1976
Music by Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
The Great Lakes are situated in the center of North America, consisting of five huge fresh water lakes, joined in two distinct clusters. The Anishinabe called them Gitchigami roughly translated as "Shining Big Sea Water." These great waters include:
The song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is a stark and hauntingly beautiful reminder of the majesty and awe-striking force of the Great Lakes, especially the greatest of all, Lake Superior. The Edmund Fitzgerald was the biggest Great Lakes steamer when launched in 1958. The ballad by Gordon Lightfoot graphically conveys the terror the men aboard must have felt as Gitchigami raged in all of her power and force on the early November night where the ship met her fate. Approximately 6000 other commercial shipwrecks have been cited in the Great Lakes over the years. Because of the deep frigid waters, it is difficult to recover the wreckage and crew, since the water conditions tend to keep the ship at the bottom of the lakes.
Even white culture has experienced the awe inspired by these Lakes. To the Anishinabe, they were sacred, powerful, and worthy of ceremony and respect. Legends abound that explain the mystery of these waters in spiritual ways. This section offers some insights into these legends.
In recent years, new initiatives to heal and save these sacred waters have sprung up like new hope. Some of these movements are also profiled in this section. Each of the five lakes are presented as unique yet interconnected bodies, together conveying the energy and spirit of Gitchigami.