Anishinaabe Language Project


An Elder’s Vision by Sam Zimmerman

Biindigen, come in!

Welcome to Cook County Co-op! The front door is just a few steps away from Lake Superior (gichigamiing), on the East Bay of the Grand Marais harbor. The North Shore of Lake Superior is part of the traditional homelands of the Lake Superior Anishinaabe (Ojibwe, Chippewa). Anishinaabe are first people of the North Shore, who are still deeply intertwined with us as our neighbors and family. The entire Minnesota Arrowhead was usurped by the U.S. Government as part of the Treaty of 1854. As part of the treaty agreement, two of the ten Lake Superior Anishinaabe Bands – Grand Portage and Bois Forte bands – continue to hunt, fish, gather food, and recreate within the 1854 territory boundaries. The Anishinaabe name for Grand Marais is Kitchibitobig, which literally translated means, a place of duplicate water or double bays. The multi-cultural knowledge of our area includes a rich history of foods, herbal medicines, sustainable harvesting, and forest maintenance methods that have been passed down from endless generations. Anishinaabe subsisted on “seasonal, local” food long before the first European “settlers” arrived in the 1600’s, and long before the co-op movement began. These living and treasured traditions have helped sustain the people, plants, and animals of the North Shore for thousands of years, and continue to provide for current and future generations of residents and visitors, alike.

The Anishinaabe word wiisiniwin-adawewigamig means a store that sells food. The Anishinaabe belief is that once you name things, you bring them into the world. For this reason, the Cook County Co-op is proud to honor the historic and cultural contributions of our Anishinaabe community members by incorporating Anishinaabe names into many item tags. A very descriptive language, the Anishinaabe words for things are often longer than the English word because the name is the description. For example, the word for yeast-based bread (or the baking powder-based bannock) is bakwezhigan, which means it rises up. To bake yeast bread in an oven is called gibozigan. Because bread rises up as it cooks, it is animate and part of the living world of foods. As you shop, you are welcome and encouraged to say the words out loud, as a way to learn more about local history and the items on your grocery list. Co-op can provide local food staples like wild rice (manoomin), maple syrup (zhiiwaagamizigan), fresh Herring (odoonibiins), and Lake Trout (namegos). For more about Anishinaabe language anishinaabemowin see: Ojibwe People’s Dictionary and Anishinaabemodaa: Ojibwe language resources.

Miigwech for visiting the Co-op. In Anishinaabe instead of goodbye, it’s said gigawabamin, or I’ll see you.
So, until then, gigawabamininim minawa, we’ll see you again.