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Gaa-Kizhaadaged Makwa (Bear Guards Fire and Friends)

Artwork by Sam Zimmerman. | SUBMITTED

My East Coast niijii (friend) and family flew to Minnesota for an exhibition ishwaaso-anama’e-giizhik (a few weeks) back. It was their first time odishiwe (visiting) Minnesota, meeting my ingitiziimag (parents) and siblings, seeing Gichi-Gami (Lake Superior) and my home and studio, and visiting Gichi-onigamiing (Grand Portage) and Binesii-wiikwedong (Thunder Bay).

I wanted to honor their visit in this new piece. While in Gichi-onigamiing (Grand Portage) dibikidaabii’iwe (driving late at night), we pulled over, turned off the car lights and stood under the beauty of the Bineiwi-miikana (Milky Way). It was such a majestic peaceful evening to watch the anangoog (stars).

This piece has 257 anangoog (stars) for our collective ages, and naanan (five) pines—one for each person who kept me grounded during my time away from home. The makwa (bear) guards and cares for the family represented in the ishkode (fire) as embers dance above into the giizhig (sky). The ajijaak (crane) constellation for my own doodem (clan) is hidden in the night giizhig (sky).

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