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Bimaadiziiwin (Living a Good Life)

Bimaadiziiwin (Living a Good Life) painting by Sam Zimmerman. | SAM ZIMMERMAN

With November being recognized as Native American History month, I wanted to share a piece that reflects my own family’s history.

My uncle recently shared with me and my cousins of how when he was a baby in the early 1940s, nookomis (my Grandmother) would put him in a hammock to nap while my Grandfather worked on Mt. Maude in Gichi-onigamiing (Grand Portage). So, when I stand along the North Shores of Gitchi Gami (Lake Superior), I always think of the Ojibwe families who once lived along the same shores; raising children, gathering, hunting, passing down the traditions and the wisdom of the elders shared.

This piece, titled Bimaadiziiwin (Living a Good Life) is meant to honor all of these families and my own. The mother sharing her love with her son after a day of gathering miinan (blueberries). She has placed a dream catcher above him in the giizhik (cedar tree) to ensure good dreams while her own mother, his Grandmother, tends to the fire. The figures are placed along the four hills of life with the Grandmother sitting in front of the last hill/season of life. The phases of the moon depict the passage of time along one’s life and the lives of this family.

The child’s tiginaagan (cradleboard) is adorned with the medicine wheel and 14 flowers to honor the total number of grandchildren that followed after my grandparents placed their first child in a hammock to sleep on Mt. Maude.

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