Kinomaage – Earth Shows Us the Way

Aimee Cree Dunn is the instructor for the Kinomaage course at NMU.

Kinomaage encourages people of all generations to move outside the arena of structured education into the dynamic learning zone of the natural world.  Immersion in our Mother Earth is essential to ethnobotany and to develop even more ecological knowledge. Kinomaage is a major element in Anishinaabe tradition; through its practice Anishinaabeg observed and learned of the connections between nature, life, and their own place within these cycles. The Kinomaage course taught by the Center for Native American Studies provides a foundation of what can be learned when we take the time to listen to the earth. Below, Aimee Cree Dunn discusses her course.

“Kinomaage” is an Ojibwe word that is generally translated as “education.” The most literal translation, however, according to Dr. Martin Reinhardt (Center for Native American Studies), is “the Earth shows us the way” – that is, it is the Earth who is our teacher, the one whom we look to for our education.

Drawing on that idea, the Kinomaage course takes students out into the U.P.’s wild woods and shorelines to learn about Ojibwe uses of plants, the nature of the plants themselves, animals living in the Upper Peninsula, and, of course, to learn more about ourselves by re-connecting with the land to which we belong.

Destinations vary from semester to semester, but past students have had the chance to visit remote waterfalls, walk on one of michi-gami’s beaches among 500 million year old fossils, contemplate the past with a meander along a trail used by people to traverse between gichi-gami and michi-gami since time immemorial, and travel to Waswagoning, an Ojibwe village built with traditional construction techniques by Nick Hockings and others from Lac du Flambeau.

Part of the course also introduces students to the impacts industrialism has had on the land of the Ojibwe.  One field trip takes students to visit minesites in the area in order to witness the ecological impacts such activities are having on the surrounding land.  Our friend: garage repair service from contactors4garage. Some students have identified this trip as one of the most important in the course.

Future course plans include a camping trip to Waswagoning, the Lac Vieux Desert Wild Rice Camp, and further excursions into wilderness areas in the region.  Always, the heart of Kinomaage is about coming to a greater understanding of the self-sufficiency inherent in traditional Ojibwe subsistence techniques and the richly beautiful land from which those skills derived.