Long ago, the Great Spirit looked for a home for people, the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), and for all they would ever need. Out of nothing, that All Loving Spirit created the universe and solar system, including Mother Earth. When She was a cold, lifeless rock, the All Loving Spirit blew life into Her, causing Her to spin and support life.
From that time on, the All Loving Spirit sent spirit helpers to help get Earth ready for Anishinaabeg. Many parts of our Creation Story tell of the deeds accomplished by these spirit helpers. Ojibwe pre-Christian spirituality’s belief is in a singular Higher Power and many smaller spirits. It is with the smaller Spirits that much of the day to day spiritual work gets done. These smaller Spirits brought the gifts that make life possible, though all the gifts originate with the Great Spirit.
When Anishinaabe got here, they were given instructions to live by, including Honesty, Respect, Wisdom, Love, Humility, Bravery, and Truth. For thousands of generations, the Anishinaabeg kept it going.
At different times throughout the creation story, there are times of great change. There is mention of visitors coming to our homeland. More recently, Elders have spoken of a fire that will take many gifts of the creation from us. Early on, many thought it was nuclear weapons, others spoke of pollution. Others spoke of the life-giving ceremonial fire that has brought us through good times and bad, and of corruption of that life-giving fire. The Elders, and more, now realize our creation story was speaking of climate change.
The plants are confused, the animals are confused, the Anishinaabeg life ways are becoming increasingly endangered. There are no easy answers for any of this. Perhaps that time of great change is upon us.
Robert Shimek RRI is the Executive Director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project.
Today’s practice is to participate in Earth Hour, a global event of switching off all lights for one hour to focus attention on climate change (check out the inspiring official video). Earth Hour is TONIGHT from 8:30-9:30pm local time. Use the Earth Hour tracker to find an event near you or add your own to the map.
Today’s resource for deepening this message is the White Earth Land Recovery Project, an organization founded by Winona LaDuke that aims to reclaim the original land base of the White Earth Indian Reservation and preserve original land practices and stewardship. Explore their website and Native Harvest, their online store.
p.s. If you are not American Indian or First Nations, educate yourself and your loved ones about how Indigenous peoples around the globe are at the frontlines of climate change and are leading struggles for climate justice. Two great places to start are the Indigenous Environmental Network and Idle No More.
Commit2Respond's Climate Justice Month intends to take you through a transformative spiritual process leading to long-term commitments to climate justice. At the end of the month you will be asked to SHIFT to a low carbon future, ADVANCE human rights, and GROW the movement. Learn more and start thinking about how you will #commit2respond to climate change.