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Manidoo Giizis

1 December 2010

Manidoo Giizis is the Little Spirit moon and begins its cycle as a new moon on December 5. Leroy DeFoe, FDL’s Cultural Resource Specialist shared that the name shows the influence of Christianity and European influence, specifically the baby Jesus.


Women and Biboon

1 December 2010

Historically, when the men returned to their lodges and families, they would find the women engaged in their usual and accustomed winter activities. During the winter the women used their time to make eating and cooking utensils and food containers like wiigwaasi-makuk (birch bark baskets). They fashioned clothing and foot wear from deer and moose hides they had tanned in the fall. They decorated their work with intricate designs made from porcupine quills.

Biboon, though sometimes harsh, was a time of peace and introspection for the Ojibwe people. It was a time for together- ness and teaching. This was traditionally the time for the children to hear the aadizookaanag (Aa-di-soo-kaa-nag) (legends) of how the Anishinabeg came to be, how they received the gifts of fire, birch bark, tobacco and mahnomin (wild rice). Tradition tells that when a well known relative of the Anishinabeg leaves his human form and takes the shape of wabooz (waa-booz) (the snowshoe hare), when he sits down and lights his pipe, when the smoke rises and the snow falls, that is when the legends are heard…

Mad River Canoe adopted a version of wabooz for their company logo

Excerpted from Biboon – Winter Lifeways of the Ojibwe,


1 December 2010

In the fall of 1850, representatives from 19 Ojibwe Bands started the arduous journey to the shores of Sandy Lake (Gaa-mitaawangaagamaag), where they had been told to gather by late October by officials of the Zachary Taylor administration and MN Territory. The Sandy Lake Tragedy is the culmination of this series of events, which resulted in the deaths of several hundred Lake Superior Chippewa.

The goal was relocation of several bands of the tribe to areas west of the Mississippi River. By changing the location for fall annuity payments, officials intended the Chippewa to stay there for the winter and lower their resistance to relocation. Delayed and inadequate payments of annuities and lack of promised supplies led to the death of about 400 Ojibwe, mostly men, (12% of the tribe) from disease, starvation, and freezing.

Nearly 3,000 Ojibwe men waited there for several weeks before a government agent arrived, only then informing them that the government had been unable to send the money and supplies. It was early December before a fraction of the payment and only small portion of supplies, much of the food already spoiled. By this time about 150 Ojibwe had already died of dysentery, measles, starvation, or freezing. They returned to their home territories under peril: aside from being weak from sickness and hunger, the Ojibwe had not expected to have to make such a winter journey. As a result, 200-230 more died before reaching their homes by the following January.

As a result of this tragedy, the Lake Superior Chippewa bands under the leadership of Chief Buffalo of La Pointe, pressed President Millard Fillmore to cancel the removal order. Many of the United States public were outraged about the government’s treatment of the Ojibwe and supported the end of removal. Chief Buffalo called on Wisconsin residents to support them in their effort to stay in the territory. Not wanting to live with Indians among them, European Americans encouraged the establishment of Indian Reservations.

On October 12, 2000, the US erected a memorial commemorating the Sandy Lake Tragedy at the United States Army Corps of Engineers Sandy Lake Dam Campgrounds. In addition, the state created a rest area with a view of Sandy Lake along Minnesota State Highway 65. A Historical Marker plaque memorializes the Sandy Lake Tragedy.

Content adapted from information available  at

Days of the week

1 December 2010

Shared by Leroy DeFoe

Did the days have names before the arrival of Europeans? One might ask what need was there for names of the days? Possibly days were only named as they related to moon stages: new or full. Ojibwe names for the days reflect the influence of Christianity. Note they are verbs…

Anama’e giizhigad

(be) Sunday, the Lord’s day


(be) Monday, the day after


(be) Tuesday, the 2nd day


(be) Wednesday, the middle day


(be) Thursday, the 4th day


(be) Friday


(be) Saturday


Binaakwe Giizis

25 September 2010

Binaakwe Giizis is the falling leaves moon.  This moon is a time for preparing the home and the mind for winter and for the harvest of moose (mooz).  Binaakwe Giizis begins its cycle as a new moon on October 7.

Preparing the home for winter

25 September 2010

By: Andrew Imig, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College

Winter is coming and most people are looking for simple and inexpensive ways to reduce their energy costs this year.

FDLTCC works closely with the Fond du Lac Reservation housing construction crews to help implement building science into ongoing work with local homes. This partnership will result in lower energy cost for occupants while increasing comfort levels in the homes. I have assembled a couple of easy tasks that can help reduce energy loss from a house while improving overall comfort.

First, clean the window sealing areas on the windows. Many times bugs and dirt build up in the sealing area of the homes windows. If the weather gets cold and the window is not properly latched, flies and Japanese beetles will hide in the seal area and later, when the window is latched, the bugs will cause seal leaks which allow cold air to enter the house. Wash the seals and the window contact points using warm water and mild detergent. Use a rag that you don’t mind getting really dirty. After the windows are dry and clean latch the windows for the winter. This will help insure proper seal contact and it can prevent air leakage and ice build up on some windows.

Next, insure that the furnace filter is clean and the correct size for the furnace. The furnace filter is commonly found in a covered slot in between the furnace and the return ducting. There are often arrows on the furnace filter to help install the filter correctly. This is the number one forced air inefficiency in high heating demand climates. Replace the filter once a month to insure maximum furnace performance.

Dirty Filter

These and other tips are often covered during an energy audit. FDLTCC has just started a Building Performance program that is teaching people how to use building science to test and improve residential homes. In February the first two courses were introduced in Minnesota. Currently, FDLTCC is training other instructors and colleges around the state to teach the same building science principles. FDLTCC is also working closely with the Fond du Lac Reservation housing construction crews to help implement the building science into their ongoing work with local homes.

I hope these tips help you prepare for the upcoming winter.

Wigwam: the winter home

25 September 2010

Winter Wigwam

By Dave Wilsey

The winter wigwam was a seasonal home built by woodland tribes upon reaching their winter camps. In its most basic form, the winter wigwam was framed with saplings and covered with birch bark, held fast by cedar strips and spruce roots.  Bark was layered so as to shed water. Some wigwams had overhead vents and air intakes to improve the interior air quality when burning fires. Double-wall technology may have been used to increase the structure’s insulation capacity. Floor mats of grasses and other fibers also helped to keep the interior warm and clean.