Chi-Manidoo - Great Spirit of My Anishinabe Ojibwe Ancestors
Chi-Manidoo - Great Spirit of My Anishinabe Ojibwe Ancestors
Gichigami - Sacred Great Lakes - Home of the Anishiabe Ojibwe BACK NEXT
Gichigami - Lake Superior near Montreal River, Ontario - Home of the Anishiabe Ojibwe
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:
  • Lake Superior
  • Lake Michigan
  • Lake Huron
  • Lake Ontario
  • Lake Erie
Together, these vast five lakes form the largest freshwater system on the planet. About three billion years ago, volcanic activity seered and molded the foundation for these sacred lakes. At the end of the Ice Age, retreating glaciers further carved out the lake bottoms and deposited huge quantities of water and sediment to form the massive waters. People began to inhabit the rich ecosystem that was formed, approximately 10,000 years ago.

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.

Resources

Chi-Manidoo - Great Spirit of My Anishinabe Ojibwe Ancestors

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