A special event took place at the Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) Cultural Center, Library & Museum on Feb. 24, 2018. The event was a “Clans Teachings” led by Bawdwaywidum Banaise (Edward Benton-Banai), Grand Chief of Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. This event was open to all community members and mide relatives, and there ended up being quite a large turnout with well over 100 people signing in.
This happening was not an actual ceremonial practice but rather a way of “teaching” people within the community so as to enable them to have an understanding of one’s clan and how that knowledge can help people work together; how it can help a person understand their spiritual, physical and mental well-being; and how that can be used in everyday life with their families and people in general. The clan system is the Anishinabe way of governance, and it helps tackle the requirements that a community may need for its everyday life — food, security, medicines/healing, education and leadership.
The day started with arrival, prepara- tions and fire lighting by Herb Daniels Jr., who did his first flint and stone fire lighting for this occasion. After Daniels said a prayer, it was time for a hearty breakfast with all the fixings including donuts, boiled eggs, fruit and a crowd favorite: oatmeal with bacon grease.
As a result of the cooks’ efforts doing the preparation, many were pleasantly content with full bellies once the session began. FCP Chairman Ned Daniels Jr. commented on how well the ladies did in preparing this “feel-good” breakfast for everyone in attendance. FCP Councilman Nick Shepard gave some words of thanks and wisdom to those who were present and was honored that he and the other singers were invited to drum on this special day. Once everyone was finished with breakfast, the teachings began.
Joe Daniels, FCP treasurer, opened with a few words of explanation as to how the day was going to break down and what to expect. Next, the Chairman took over to again say a few kind words about the cooks/helpers, to everyone present, and to express how great it was to see everyone in the room. Fire Nation Singers were present to offer some good beats to get everyone’s spirits lifted and to instill that feel-good vibe everyone gets while listening to the drum and singing. Chairman Daniels made special note of one special lady present and that was Josephine Mandamin, who is known throughout Indian Country as the “Wa- ter Walker”. She has walked more than 25,000 kilometers along numerous rivers and lakes — all for the conservation of clean water and to make sure her people will always be supplied with it. Her last walk was in the summer of 2017. She is quite a remarkable Anishinabe woman. By looking her up online, one can read about Mandamin’s accomplishments and better understand her passion for her movements and appreciate how deeply she cares for her people.