Mary Pember: Saginaw Chippewa museum stirred 'blood memory'

"“Blood memory is described as our ancestral (genetic) connection to our language, songs, spirituality, and teachings. It is the good feeling that we experience when we are near these things.”

So the Ziibiwing Center, on the Saginaw Chippewa Reservation in central Michigan, interprets the 7th Prophecy or Fire of the Anishinabek nation. The prophecy predicts that the Anishinabek people will rekindle their old ways and be reborn.

And for the present… “Blood memory has been crucial to the survival of our culture.” The Ziibiwing “Place by the River” Center stirred my ‘Shinnob’ blood big time. Although my Anishinabemowin language skills are pretty limited (in my family, we kids all thought, “Gaween” meant, “Behave!” It actually means “no.”), I continue to marvel at the effect the language has upon me. It gives form to something I know yet don’t fully understand. This knowledge or memory from the blood is the elemental aspect of being Anishinabe. In hearing it, I am pleased and fed in a way that goes deep into my bones.

Shaped like a crescent moon, the 32, 000 square foot building houses an array of exhibits showcasing the history and culture of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe and other Great Lakes Anishinabek tribes. Built in 2004, the $10 million museum includes permanent and changing exhibits, a research center, meeting and conference facilities, a gift shop, administrative offices and the tribe's center for historic preservation."

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: Blood Memory (Daily Yonder 7/16)

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