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An Anishinaabe Ceremonial Dance

Authors Lee Obizaan Staples and Chato Ombishkebines Gonzalez

Minnesota Historical Society Press (September 5, 2023)

An essential guide to the sacred Big Drum ceremony of the Ojibwe, as told by a respected elder, explained in both the Ojibwe and English languages.Description


Sometime in the last half of the nineteenth century, a group of Dakota presented the Ojibwe with the Big Drum and the ceremonies around it, as an act of peace and goodwill. The US government promptly outlawed the traditional, spiritual ceremony, along with all other Indigenous spiritual practices, in order to destroy Native culture—but it permitted the secular powwow as a tool of economic development. The Ojibwe people, however, maintained the ceremony in secrecy.

In this firsthand, bilingual account, Lee Obizaan Staples shares the stories and the practice of the Big Drum ceremony. He discusses the use and care of the drum, the duties of membership, the spirits associated with the drum, personal conduct while near the drum, and much more.

"These Anishinaabe ceremonial drums were given to all Anishinaabe people," says Obizaan. "I am doing this writing so that the Anishinaabe will be able to get a better understanding of the spiritual depth of what is available when these ceremonial drums are being used." Obizaan—a ceremonial drum keeper at Aazhoomog, a first-language speaker, and a principal authority on the ceremonial life of the southwestern Ojibwe—has worked with Ombishkebines, his surrogate son and right-hand man, to provide these Ojibwe and English versions of these ceremonies.

Author Information

Lee Obizaan Staples is a spiritual advisor for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. He is from the Aazhoomog community (also known as Lake Lena, Minnesota), and he extends
his help to all the surrounding communities. He has published two other books explaining
the ceremonies that Anishinaabe go through during their lifetimes, as they were
passed down to him. Other communities may vary in teachings; Obizaan shares
what he was taught so they will live on among the

Chato Ombishkebines Gonzalez is a language and
ceremonial apprentice, scholar, and teacher. He has worked with Lee ObizaanStaples since 2006, learning language, customs, ceremonial procedures, and
community history. He taught Ojibwe at Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Medium School; he also worked on five monolingual Ojibwe books created by theAanjibimaadizing program of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. He is an Ojibwe language and subject matter expert for Rosetta Stone's Ojibwe language course materials.

  • Trade Paperback
  • 204 pages
  • 9 in H | 6 in W
  • ISBN: 9781681342788

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