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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 4, 2003 - Issue 97


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Bimaadiziwin, "A Good Life"


by Timm Severud

art Discovering Wisdom by Leland Bell

Discovering Wisdom by Leland BellI have come to love the Ojibwa language because it takes the concept of the dichotomy to another level. My Ojibwa nickname is Ondamitagos. That means 'Causes Others to Lose Track of Time by Talking.' All Ojibwa names have a positive and negative facet to them, even nicknames. I have to ability to be profound and deep in my discussions of subjects, but I also talk too much, too often and guess who is the first one to get lost?

I live between two worlds. One is the world I grew up in, one that uses fear to manipulate and control us, and the other, a world that is struggling to keep an old ethic. The Ojibwa call it Bimaadiziwin 'A Good Life.'

Our 'Culture of Fear' makes us buy insurance to protect us from the inevitable and plan for the future we dream of for ourselves. We are frightened of dying, living and dealing with the problems of our lives. We are taught, through living in this culture, that this is considered normal.

Bimaadiziwin like all Ojibwa words has two meanings, a positive and negative meaning. One meaning is a trap and the other is the key to life. You see when we see the words 'A Good Life' we are focused on our life and how good it is, this enables the ego the swell and take hold of our dreams. When we see that Bimaadiziwin also means 'A Life of Good' we see the heart of the idealism of Ojibwa Culture. When we live just for doing good, we transcend ourselves and fill our place in society, and give the culture its spirit.

Every person has to face these aspects of themselves. We can dance with great greed or with great deeds. Freedom comes when we abandon fear and accept that we have been given the gift of life and our path through it nothing but our opportunity to walk a path with purpose of something more than filing our purse.

It is so easy to get lost in Life's small details and big fears. Mutual Assured Destruction has never been a comfortable night-light, but it is a reality of human capability. We fear the darkness of our own souls and never learn to nurture them. What is fear but something we put there, not something others put there, but something we have bought into. We are the masters of our destiny no matter how much we deny it. Which is the better life? One where we have all the treasure of the world, but still live in fear of the world - or one where the world is the treasure.

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