THE TRAIL OF NENABOOZHOO and Other Creation Stories by Isaac Murdoch
Reviewed by MariJo Moore (Guest post)
There is no better way to begin to know the nature of a nation than through their sacred stories. Among Indigenous peoples, traditional stories preserve tribal histories in epics, as well as keeping spirituality alive. Traditional storytelling is a greatly respected skill; the storytellers are responsible for teaching as well as entertaining. To the storyteller, remembering is an art. He or she has committed to memory knowledge of medicine, tribal laws, ceremonies, dances, and rituals assuring their existence through future generations. Isaac Murdoch, from Serpent River First Nation located on Anishinaabek Territory on the North Shore of Lake Huron, is a gifted, dedicated storyteller. He shares in the thoughtful foreword, “My journey for a good story has taken me all over the Great Lakes and beyond. I have made offerings for the stories I carry and the stories told in this book and I always followed our ways using our good manners, which means we never take a story or use it without asking and we always give something for it in exchange. This is the Anishinaabek way.”
Not only are the stories purposely told in proclamation of a people who are connected deeply to their land, they are excellent teaching tools. All are magnificently illustrated in the enduring style of Ojibway pictographs by the author and Christi Belcourt, a Michif (Métis) community based visual artist, who also edited the collection. Through the story of Nenaboozhoo, the Ojibway creator spirit, as well as other creation and sacred stories, explanation is given as to the importance of all beings – spirits, humans, animals, fishes, birds, as well as the deep respect of the land and waters. When reading these stories, one can experience a deep knowing of spiritual interconnectedness that resides in all souls.
Although thousands of distinct Indigenous languages have been silenced forever due to pandemics of smallpox and other diseases brought by European contact, acculturation, and total annihilation, many still exist and various nations are doing their best to keep their languages alive. Some of the stories in this collection are in both English and Anishinaabemowin, which is a descriptive, experiential language that embodies a whole culture. This beautiful and opportune book is a testament to the sustainability of the Anishinaabek people.
In this fast-paced world of microchips and sound bites, stories are a way to reconnect to the spirituality of all things. Sharing stories like the ones included in this collection entices one to question, to explore one’s beliefs and actions.
Isaac’s wise words tells us why he works so hard at all he does: “And so it’s with great hopes and encouragement that I offer these stories as a map to understand how to go back to the old ways. The old people always said we are going to go back to the old ways and I truly believe the time is now. We mustn’t wait.”
Sacred stories can help us to harmonize with the world, to rediscover the spirit dwelling inside ourselves that begs for a reprieve from technology. And perhaps most importantly in this day and time, to begin to see how we can help with clearing the paths for generations to come. To make sure they have decent land upon which to dwell and clean water to share.
As the last line of the book reveals, “Everything that we do now is going to matter in the future.”
I totally agree. This is a book I will share with my grandchildren. Perhaps others, regardless of nation or ethnicity, will do the same.
BUY THE BOOK:
Fiction, 143pp | Kegedonce Press | $25.00
MariJo Moore, an award winning author/poet/artist/anthologist/seer is the author of over twenty books including Bear Quotes, Crow Quotes Revisited, The Diamond Doorknob and A Book of Spiritual Wisdom- for all days. She is also editor of numerous anthologies of Indigenous writers including Genocide of the Mind: New Writings; When Spirits Visit; and Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time: Indigenous Thoughts Concerning the Universe, which is dedicated to Vine Deloria, Jr and coedited by Trace DeMeyer Hentz. Currently she is compiling a new anthology of Indigenous writers/artists titled Power of the Storm, dedicated to John Trudell. She resides in Asheville, NC. She is of Cherokee/Irish descent.
”All the tribes say the universe is just the product of mind … It fits perfectly with the Quantum. Indians believe the universe is mind, but they explore the spiritual end of it, not the physical end.” –Vine Deloria Jr. (from the introduction in anthology Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time)
TOP PHOTO book cover
FYI: Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time: Indigenous Thoughts Concerning the Universe, which is dedicated to Vine Deloria, Jr and coedited by Trace DeMeyer Hentz and MariJo Moore… MariJo put out a call for Native American writers and many responded immediately with essays, poems and stories. Forty Native writers from across the world participated and this collection is dedicated to the late literary genius Vine Deloria, Jr. who himself has a extraordinary essay about quantum physics in this book.
I just finished re-reading God is Red, a classic by the late and brilliant scholar Vine Deloria. Watch this
Read more : Unraveling
Thanks for reading. I will be posting soon xoxox Lara/Trace