I went home in September to Gichi-onigamiing (Grand Portage) to house sit for a cousin; it was the first time back since my naming. I was a little bit out of Gichi-biitoobiig (Grand Marais) when I saw a makade (black) shape coming out of the woods. As I got closer, I realized it was a makademakwa (black bear). She was so gwanaaj (beautiful), I pulled over on the shoulder and sat with her.
After a few minutes, she wandered back into the woods. I felt so blessed that she had come out to gift me with a visit. I kept driving up Hwy 61 until I got to Gichi-onigamiing. As I was rounding the curve heading up to Hat Point, a gwanaaj ma’iingan (beautiful wolf) came up from the shore and niibawi (he/she stands) on the shoulder. I stopped again and watched it—reminding myself to stay in the car. It laid down on the shoulder and then its mate came out from the other side of the road and joined it.
After a few minutes they walked off together and I continued to my cousin’s place. I sketched it out that weekend but have been wanting to paint it.
Gichi-onigamiing for me is family gatherings around campfires and I wanted to manaadendamo (honor) both for visiting me as it filled ninjichaag (my spirit) with joy from their visits. May the New Year bring you the same wonder and happiness I feel when I am on the North Shore.
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