Thursday, March 16, 2023

Superpowers of the Anishinaabe, by J.C. Kavanagh


Book 3 of the award-winning Twisted Climb series

I continue to be pulled into the history of my country, Canada, and in particular, the history of the Anishinaabe tribes: Ojibwe, Algonquin and Cree. Also stemming from these tribes are the Potawatomi, Nipissing, Odawa, Chippewa, and Mississauga First Nations. If you follow my BWL blogs, you've read about the First Nation tribes and you know that their traditions and myths are woven into my latest book, A Bright Darkness. Still, I feel compelled to share the enlightenment and respect for nature that is intrinsic to the culture of the Anishinaabe. Their story is a fascinating tale of reverence and resilience.

Many thousands of years ago, the Anishinaabe lived in a place they called 'Turtle Island,' believed to be one of the Canadian Maritime provinces. The Elders of the tribe told the story of how the world came to be. Their legend, passed down from generation to generation, explained that the earth was made by Gitchi-Manitou (the Creator). Gitchi-Manitou created a family that preceded humans: Nookmis Dibik Giizis (Grandmother Moon), N’mishoomis Giizis (Grandfather Sun), and Shkagamik-Kwe, (Mother Earth). They chronicled the spiritual relationship between the environment and all living things, stressing that a natural balance was vital to all elements. They believed that all things in the universe had a connection, therefore a place of importance. And therefore deserving respect. From these sacred standards, the Anishinaabe developed the Seven Grandfather Teachings - wisdom, respect, love, honesty, humility, bravery and truth. These are what I believe to be the superpowers of the Anishinaabe. Remember - these sacred standards were developed tens of thousands of years ago. They are simple moral guides with an exceptionally high set of principles. The concept of respect/honesty/balance prevails in their traditions to this day. 

Anishinaabe Superpowers:
Wisdom, respect, love, honesty, humility, bravery and truth

While researching the Anishinaabe language, I found a great reference source - a book written by an Ojibwe Elder and teacher in Central Ontario. The Elder, B. Jeff Monague, is a former Chief of the Beausoleil Nation on Christian Island. His book, Ahaw, Anishinaabem (OK, Speak Ojibwe), was a valuable tool in understanding the nuances of the Ojibwe language. When Jeff was born, his parents were told they could not give him an 'Indian' name - only Anglophone names. This was due to the Indian Act restrictions at that time. His parents chose the names Brandon and Jeff which an agent recorded in the Indian Act Registrar. The Anishinaabe did not have surnames - each person had one name which was provided by an Elder after observing the child for a period of time, sometimes over the course of many years. One of Jeff's ancestors had the name Minonaakwhe, meaning 'shoots well.' In order to use that as a surname, the family had to substitute 'Minonaakwhe' with an anglicized version: thus 'Monague.'  (As a side note, Jeff is in the process of legally changing his name to Myiingan Minonaakwhe meaning, Wolf Shoots Well).

Thunderbird - the crest of the Anishinaabe people

A Bright Darkness, the final book in The Twisted Climb series, intertwines the traditions of the Anishinaabe and their mythological creatures. The three main characters, Jayden, Connor and Max, work with an Ojibwe Elder to release the lost souls trapped in the danademo nde' (place where the heart weeps) and seal the entrance to the Un-World. Action and drama abound in this epic conclusion. A Must Read!

Till next time, stay safe and happy reading!

J.C. Kavanagh, author of
The Twisted Climb - A Bright Darkness (Book 3)
The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends (Book 2) voted BEST Young Adult Book 2018, Critters Readers Poll and Best YA Book FINALIST at The Word Guild, Canada
The Twisted Climb,
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers Poll
Voted Best Local Author, Simcoe County, Ontario, 2021
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)
Instagram @authorjckavanagh


  1. Sounds so interesting! I'll get this on my summer reads list.

    1. Thanks Julie! I think it's an epic conclusion to the trilogy. Enjoy!

  2. Really interesting material you've read. I did read and enjoy your latest

    1. Thanks so much, Janet. Your support is so greatly appreciated:)

  3. Fascinating history, often swept under the rug. Thank you for researching it and using it in your novels. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I agree, Vijaya! We need to reveal and revere more history from our North American tribes.


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