The Mitigwaakiins at 1467 HWY 15 includes a lowland forest that is wet spring and fall. In the spring giziibwewed can be heard, and lots of bineshiinyag are seen in the hedgerow that runs in that area. It's tricky though, because this lowland area also dries through the summer, so mitigook who will likely do well there also don’t mind drier soil some of the time.
Maskigwaatig doesn’t mind it both ways: it grows in mashkiig, along with zesegaadag, winizik, poison sumac and orchids and also tolerates dryer landscapes and can be found with zaatiik, baapaashkwaatikgook and wiigwaasaatigook in open areas. It has shallow widespread roots because it is often in areas with a high water table.
It is deciduous conifer: its needle-niibiishan change from green to a brilliant yellow and then drop in the fall. Wee cones are formed in May that ripen in the fall and stay on the tree in the second year. Pollen and seed cones form on the same tree. In mashkigwaatogokaa, the seeds, needles and inner bark are eaten by bne(k), waaboozook(k), ajidamoo(g), gaag(ook) and waawaashkesh(wak).
Mashkigwaatig is Anishinaabemowin – sometimes translated at “swamp tree”. Trees are our oldest Elders – also sometimes called “the Standing People”. Mashkigwaatig, like many of their relatives, take care of us. They provide us mashkiki: its medicinal effect can be given by nokwezhigan, niibiishaaboo or agwanhimiwin; Jiibik(an) can be used for cordage and weaving and was used to make manoomini-mashkimod and sew canoes. Joseph Pitiwanikwat of Creators Garden loves this medicine and uses it to treat people for nerve related symptoms.
I recall a friend treating their sciatica with Tamarack tea. The branches were gathered from a mature mashkigwaatig that stands at a nearby shoreline. Asemma was offered and words spoken asking the plant to help with the specific ailment. A song in the language was sang at the time the mashkiki was made. This is the way love, respect, relationship and reciprocity were expressed with Mashkiwaatig in that situation.
Robin Wall Kimmerer, a mixed ancestry Indigenous woman has shared with the world some of the ways that reciprocity is understood. Here is a very short Youtube video in which she talks about the Honorable Harvest
Here is a recipe for a tea to help relieve cold symptoms:
A version of a traditional story told about Maskigwaatig and gijiganeshiinh gives us teachings respect, relationship, responsibility and reciprocity. I really enjoyed this version, and the storyteller uses a little bit of Anishinaabemowin. Listen to an English version with a little bit of Anishinaabemowin (8:16 min).
This post was written by Maureen Buchanan.
Agwanhimwin – a soak
Ajidamoo(g) – red squirrel
Baakpaashkwaatik(ook) - balsam
Bineshiinh(yag) – birds
Giziibwewed - spring peeper
Jiigbiig – shoreline
Manoomini-mashkimod – wild rice bag
Mashkiig – swamp
Mashkigwaatig – Tamarack
Mashkigwaatigokaa (Tamarack stand)
Mitig(ook) – trees
Mitigwaakiins - little forest
Mashkiki – medicine
Nokwezhigan – smudge
Gaag - porcupine
Waabooz(ook) -snowshoe hare
Wiigwwaasaatig(ook) - birch
Winizik(oog) – yellow birch
Zaat (iik) - poplar/aspe