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Ancestral Teachings

Kinebeg Go Shim Mowiin – Snake Dance

By Elder Alo White

1976, I volunteered at my home Reserve White Fish Bay Pow Wow as Arena Director. Now named Naotkamegwanning First Nation. A visiting Elder and his family from the Menomonie Nation from Wisconsin USA came to celebrate with us.

In those days, me and my cousin Andy White used to take visiting families out for a day of fishing and that time we took this family out. It was their first time fishing and having a shorelunch with all the walleyes they caught. We had a good day.

That evening after Grand Entry the visiting Elder walked up to the MC stand and told the people how humbled him and family were after experiencing a day on the lake. He wanted to honour the community of Whitefish Bay by sharing a special Healing dance from his Tribe.

He explained about the Ginabeg and the teachings how the ginebeg is very close with Mother Earth and that Ginebeg heal us and listens to us. From spring time to late fall the Ginabeg is with us, protecting us when we are on the land. Listens to our pityful words to spirit. When it is time for Ginebeg to rest in winter, Ginebeg takes our words to the four sacred layers of Mother earth and this has been done from the beginning of time.

So we honour the Ginebeg in imitating its ways of walking our mother earth. The elder choose me and my late cousin Tony White to lead the Ginabeg Nimiwiin, also called the snake dance.

He gifted me with a sacred stick. The stick is made from megis shells embedded in the wood. The shells are from the Great Lakes and they are connected to the creation story of the MIDEWIIN. He explained this dance was led by a midewiin man. What a beautiful sight as the dancers came behind us as we danced both inside the arbor and outside, then just like the ginabeg we go into a circle, we dance out of the circle just like the ginebeg shedding its skin to renew itself and then ginebeg swims across a river for cleansing.

The Elder gave me and my late cousin Tony White more teachings the next day . Whitefish Bay Singers were gifted with the song. I am one of the original singers.

It is in great honour to be invited and share the origin of the Snake Dance. I also acknowledge World Class Singing Champions Whitefish Bay Singers for rendering the sacred songs.

Also to Couchiching Pow Wow 2024 committee for the invite.

We Are Not Alone

By Elder Alo White

We come upon a fork on the road of life, and we are lost in mind, body, and spirit. What road should we take? The road leading straight ahead is about “SELF” and the one veering off is dark and dangerous.

Take a deep breath and ask spirit,

“Help me,” trust in the message, your feelings. Be brave, and walk straight ahead towards the good road about “self.” This path will not mislead you.

Have trust and do not look down, Instead,look ahead at new discoveries about yourself, Learn and share to others who might be standing on that fork. You are being guided. Spirit truly loves you.

Ancestral Way

By Elder Alo White

A long time ago, before the coming of the white man upon our lands, the Anishinaabe lived in harmony with Mother Earth. Everything was connected to the land and water.

They held deepest respect with the swimmers, 4 legged, flyers, and crawlers.

The connection with the creator was strong.

Knowledge was shared in the Midewiin Lodge.

To uphold survival of all things, the ancestors were people of the Midewiin way of life. Midewin simply means

“Heart way.” Consisting of sacred rights, duties and responsibilities of a way of being.

Spirit Bowl

By Elder Alo White

We all have a spirit bowl.. while alive we fill our bowl by doing good and walking the Ancestral way.

When it’s our time, our loved ones will look at the night sky and see the big dipper, they will remember and never forget who their ancestors were. We will stand in front of creator, he will ask about our bowl, which will be spirit form.

I made it my life commitment to fill my bowl.

It is an endless bottomless bowl… it is spirit, just like the Universe

In spirit… no one counts or keeps track. What is important is the physical, because spirit is always with us.

Just like the stars… no one can count how many or where the universe ends or starts.

Loss of a Loved One

By Elder Alo White

Time stops and you can not think about tomorrow. Overwhelming pain and grief.
It hurts your chest, breathing is fast. The shock of a loved one passing away. Sadness, hurt, pain and tears which seem never ending.

The unsaid words you should have said, even an “I love you”.

Maybe words of anger you said, which you now regret. Or not spending enough time and energy to listen. Guilt and sadness is overwhelming. 

Spirit is with you, it is not your fault, creator has given your loved one time with you and then they have to go…

Spirit is the sun, moon, stars, wind, birds, 4 legged, crawlers, and swimmers. Allow them to sooth your tears.

Spirit is your every breath, sight, hearing and taste.

Spirits are your friends and family who will be there for you in this, your most darkest time.


A Guest’s Last Visit

By Elder Alo White

In 2009, I quided a guest, a lady, all by herself. She and her husband had been coming up for over 20 years, always pre-paid, booking the same date for the following year.

Her husband had passed away that winter. His wishes were that she come by herself and visit all the shorelunch spots we used and then place his ashes in his favorite fishing hole.

I had always taken him to this place where it is a quiet bay with plenty of animals and fish. That day, she did not want to fish, but I took some walleye fillets and still cooked for her. She was pleasantly surprised.

After shorelunch we continued on with our day. The last stop was his favorite fishing hole. I did a ceremony and she released him to the water spirits.

She cried for awhile as I sat patiently beside her. Then an eagle swooped down right in front of us. I told her “The eagle acknowledges the spirit of your husband, John.

She said to me, “This will be the last time I will see you, I am never coming back.

I told her “I know.”

The following year I recieved a letter from her son. She had instructed him to write to me as she was getting ill.

She had passed away.

Lost Fishing Rod

By Elder Alo White

I had a guest accidentally drop his fishing rod in the lake. He said his mind was not focused on the task at hand and the rod just slipped from his hand.

When this happened, he was sad as it belonged to his late father.

I offered my words of condolences and said, “A good thing will come out of this. 

I went back on my first day off, dragged the bottom with treble hooks and scored the fishing rod.

I sent it back to him by mail.

A month later. He called me to tell me how grateful he was that I had taken the time to recover his fishing rod. He remembered my words about “good things” and told me he got married to his high school sweetheart.

That made my guide year!

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