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Ode’imin Giizis (Strawberry Moon)

15 June 2009

By Wayne Dupuis, FDL Resource Management, Environmental

Ode’imin (strawberry) is known to the Anishinaabeg as the “heart berry.” According to Edward Benton-Benai in Mishomis, “It was said the ode’imin resembled the heart in shape, structure and color. Just as the ode’imin was connected to the plant by a vast system of leaves, runners, and roots, so was the heart connected to the organs and other parts of the human body.” Also, according to Mishomis, the roots of the ode’imin could be taken just before the berry ripened to purify a person’s blood. It is also good medicine for the heart and the teeth. The health of the teeth has recently been recognized, through medical research, as an indicator of and contributor to a healthy heart. The Gete Anishinaabe (old time Anishinaabe) recognized the importance of the ode’imin long ago and this recognition was most likely the reason for this important plant’s name in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language).

Sonny Greensky shared that during his childhood his parents brought him and his brothers and sisters out during the late ziigwan (spring) to pick ode’imin, which was the first berry to ripen. His father, Jacob Greensky, Sr., would tell him in Anishinaabemowin that ode’imin stems were like the indiskweyab (veins) in our bodies. Sonny added: when using the language, the “glottal stop” (the apostrophe in ode’imin) usually indicates something powerful about the subject. His recollection was that Kitchi Manitou (the kind great spirit) was upon and about them like the sun when his family picked and ate this good food. These good memories of ode’imin will always warm Sonny’s heart.

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