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Four Seasons

Updated: 6-27-2011 11:17 AM

Ningo Gikinonwin: Ojibwe Four Seasons


Biboon- Winter

In winter, people left the large summer planting villages with their rectangular bark houses, and moved into much smaller family groups in the woods. Winter wigwams, a framework covered with bark, mats, brush insulation and a thick cover of dirt, would be where the women, children and elders lived. While the men hunted and ran their traplines,women's main winter activities included scraping and tanning the thick hides winter animals have. The elders would tell stories to the children. When the lakes freeze and the snow falls, the original people of the Great Lakes region struggled to survive through the long winter. They moved to their winter camp using snowshoes to walk on top of the snow. They hunted, fished, and trapped to get food for the community. They also found the rice that was stored in the Fall to eat now in the winter months. Today, the Ojibwe still spear fish through the ice and trap according to the season, but they have snowmobiles to get around and have adapted new tools to survive the long northern winter. Soon, it will become spring again and the traditional activities will continue through the four seasons.



Ziigwan - Spring

When the snow and ice thaw, it is the beginning of a new year for the Ojibwe as they moved their camp into the forest to harvest maple sap for making sugar. The whole family participated in the work. They used birch-bark baskets to gather the sap. At night time they went fishing in the shallow waters and used a burning torch to see the fish in the lakes. It was a happy time of year after the long winter. Today, tribal members still gather maple sap, but they use metal or plastic containers to gather it and big iron kettles for boiling the syrup. They also still go fishing at night but they use an electric flashlight to see the fish instead of a birch-bark torch.



Niibin -Summer

The green leaves on the trees and lush forest come alive in the short summer, which is the warmest time of the year. Long ago, the original people peeled birch bark from the trees to make baskets, houses, and canoes in the summer. They also fished, picked berries, gardened, and gathered the food that they needed. Summer tasks included; working in the cornfield, gathering and drying of berries, crushing berrycakes, the main source of all winter nutrients -- especially vitamin C -- not supplied by meat and grain. There are raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, sarsaparilla vine (wabos odjibik mean rabbit root) and butternuts. The Elders were the teachers of the children and were respected in the community. Today, Elders continue to teach young people how to gather the birch bark and how to make baskets. Summer is the time for celebrations and families gather for the traditional powwow, to dance and visit with relatives.













Dagwaagin- Fall

When the leaves turn red and orange, the original people of the Great Lakes region moved their camp to gather the wild rice from the lakes and rivers. The men would harvest wild rice and the women would process the rice. They had to dry, roast, and winnow the rice for this was our staple food throughout the year. It was also the time to dry deer meat and fish to store for the long winter months ahead. The children helped with these activities and also gathered firewood to stay warm. They still had time to play games like LaCrosse. Today, Ojibwe families still participate in the wild rice harvest and go deer hunting together.






Pictures from the Four Seasons Room at the Mille Lacs Museum