Connect With Culture

Explore What Ojibwe Youth Say About Climate Change and Water. Tim Tynan producer
Listen to the Nibi (Water) Song, a song for the water by singer/writer Doreen Day.  

Words to the Nibi Song:  Water, we love you. We thank you. We respect you.

Use the Menu of Resources to learn more about the importance of water to the Ojibwe people both historically and today. Explore and evaluate place-based evidence of how climate change may be affecting water and watersheds or develop your own experiential learning opportunity.

Waynaboozhoo and the Great Flood 
An Ojibwe legend, adapted from a story
retold by Valerie Connors

Long ago the world was filled with evil. The Creator was unhappy about this and decided to cause a great flood to purify the earth.

A man named Waynaboozhoo survived. He turned some floating sticks and a log into a raft for the animals and himself. They floated around for a full moon waiting for the water to go down. It didn't, so Waynaboozhoo decided to do something about it.

"Maang!" he called to the loon. "You are an excellent swimmer. See if you can dive down to the Old World and bring back a lump of mud in your bill. With mud, I will create a New World." Maang dove into the water and was gone a long time. When he finally did return, he said, "I could not reach the Old World. It was too far down."

"Amik!" called Waynaboozhoo to the beaver. "You are an excellent swimmer. Will you try next?" Amik dove off and was gone even longer than Maang, but he too returned empty-handed.

"Is there anyone else who'll try?" asked Waynaboozhoo.
Many other animals tried, but failed. Just then a small coot, Aajigade, came swimming along and asked, "What's going on?" "Get away Aajigade," called one of the birds. "We do not have time for your nonsense." 

Suddenly, there was shouting on the other end of the raft. Someone had noticed a small body floating in
the water. It was Aajigade. They brought his body to the raft.

Waynaboozhoo lifted him up, and looking in his small beak, he found a particle of mud. Little Aajigade had swam down, reached the Old World, and got the mud! He had given his life to do this.

Waynaboozhoo took Aajigade's little body and softly blew life back into him. Waynaboozhoo held him closely to warm him and announced that from that day forward, Aajigade would always retain a place of honor among the animals. Waynaboozhoo set Aajigade down on the water and he swam off as though nothing had happened.

Then Waynaboozhoo took Aajigade's mud in his hands and began to shape it. Next he commanded it to grow. As it grew, he needed a place to put it. Mikinaak (the snapping turtle) came forward and said, "I have a broad back. Place it here." Waynaboozhoo put it on Mikinaak's back so that it could grow larger.

"Miigwetch (thank you), Mikinaak," said Waynaboozhoo. "From this day on, you shall have the ability to live in all the worlds, under the mud, in the water, and on land."

The mud began to take the shape of land. It grew and grew, and more animals stepped onto it until finally it was large enough for moose to walk about.

At last, Waynaboozhoo stepped onto the New World. It had become a home, a place for all the animals, insects and birds, a place for all living things to live in harmony.

Source: "Legends Retold by Students Participating in the Anishinabe Teachers for Anishinabe Children Pre-College Program-Using Native American Legends to Teach Mathematics"

Menu of Resources Learn More About the Cultural Importance of Water

Indigenous Water Traditions from the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) Nation

Indigenous Water Traditions from the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) Nation
Take a "deeper" dive into understanding Ojibwe cultural traditions around nibi (water) in this Google book excerpt. 

Climate, Water, and Resilience

Climate, Water, and Resilience
This Wisconsin Project WET hands-on, science-based  curriculum to help teachers engage middle to high school students in investigating climate impacts on water and how to build resiliency. Aligned with Common Core and NGSS standards.

Integrating Ojibwe Traditional Knowledge to Assess Climate Vulnerability

Integrating Ojibwe Traditional Knowledge to Assess Climate Vulnerability
A research report and vulnerability charts of the vulnerability of plant and animal beings based on Ojibwe native knowledge.

Interview a tribal or family elder on their thoughts about “nibi.” Ask them for their perspective of how a changing climate might affect water and the cultural practices that rely on it. 

Interview a Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife (GLIFWC) water resource manager or researcher on how climate change might impact water and what evidence there is of this change.

Find out if your watershed has a citizen-based group that is working on monitor water quality or watershed restoration. Interview a volunteer about how they feel climate change is affecting water resources within your watershed.