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Spiritual Values in Anishinaabe Literature - Essay Example

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Anishinaabe literature is a general term applied to oral and written works of the culture of Native American Indians living within the Great Lakes Area.The spirituality of Anishninaabe is thought to make a rich contribution into Native American literature. …
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Spiritual Values in Anishinaabe Literature
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Despite the fact there were two more groups of Anishinaabe – the Potawatomi and the Ottawa – the Ojibwa is often used to speak about Anishiniaabe, since it is the third largest group among the Native Americans, which stems from Anishinaabe people. Anishinaabe literature is deemed to contain not only oral traditional texts, but also a range of fiction, drama, poetry, memoirs, and essays created since the 19th century. My goal in this paper is to explore how spiritual values of the Anishinaabe people are reflected in the works of their literature. Spirituality of Anishinaabe The spirituality of Anishninaabe is thought to make a rich contribution into Native American literature. In “The Spiritual Legacy of an American Indian”, Joseph Brown highlights the fact that the term ‘religion’ cannot be found in any Indian language, including Anishinaabe. Hence, in Anishhinaabe culture “spirituality is not a category or a limited expression of dualities such as good versus evil, spirit versus body, or sacred versus profane, but a belief system in which the world is a sacred place filled with wonder and awe”. The spiritual beliefs of the Ojibwa have been passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition. It followed the Midewiwin teachings. The latter contain a creation myth, as well as tell about the origins of Anishinaabe rituals and ceremonies. Just as the Ojibwa were guided throughout their life by spirits, spiritual beliefs and their ancient rituals were significant for them. It is worth mentioning here that prior to their contacts with the newcomers from Europe, there was hardly any formal ceremony within the Ojibwa religion. Medicine men or shamans were in charge of healing with the help of medicinal herbs. Just as they got exposed to new dangerous diseases through contacts with Europeans, they found themselves defenseless. Te undertaken measures to combat sickness grew into the Midewiwin Grand Medicine Society – s secretly operating society that included members involved in performing special ceremonies and rituals (Sultzman, “Ojibwa History”). Spiritual Values in Anishinaabe Oral Tradition The Native American Indians that belong to Anishinaabe have debaajimojig (the name for ‘story-tellers’) tell traditional Anishinaabe stories called aadizookaanan . These stories are told only during winter with the aim to keep their transformative potential. Aadizookaanan feature a number of spiritual beings known as manidoog. These include Gitche Manito. This is Great Spirit who is believed to be the Creator of everything, the source of life and good. The name may be translated as a big mystery. The belief in Manitou is about interactions and mutual bonds between nature and life, it is about their balance. Judging by traditional oral sources, this spirit is perceived as the one that may be contacted. In other words, it does not exist in a form of a mere concept. It is rather the collective spirit of everything devoid of hierarchy. In this respect, Elder Fred Kelly writes, “For the Anishinaabe life and everything in creation comes from Kizhemanito, the Great Kind Spirit.” (Kelly in Watts 89). Another prominent character of Aadizookaanan is Nanabozho, Way’- naboo-zhoo or Nanabush. One comes across Nanabush in the story of creation of the world. He is a trickster (“a mythological being who takes many different forms” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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