Gift of the Thunderbirds




Gigiizhigongimaani nanaandowadaan
Endazhi dani-dabayaan
Migizi miigwan giga Mizhinawa-eg
Gizazaagiwichigan w'da bimise
Ginandagoog binesiwag
Gigikinoowizhigoog binesiwag
GICH-MANIDOO gizhewaadizi niikaan.

I address my voice to the skies
While I sit here
The eagle feather will be your Messenger
Your sacred charm will take flight
The Thunderbirds hear you
The Thunderbirds guide you
The GREAT SPIRIT is generous with you my brother.

Native Woodland artist Zhaawano Giizhik presents to you with a grateful heart the above digitized 23,622 x 23,622 inch (60 x 60 cm) pen and ink wall print, titled gift of the Thunderbirds. It is part of a large collection of art prints, conceived in an ancient and most sacred Indigenous tradition of Anishinaabeg and Ininewak (Cree) storytellers.


Zhaawano's elegant line art tells his People's aadizookaanan, their legends and sacred stories — stories that were used as a teaching tool long before there were schools. The stories and narratives that are being shared through his prints are as strongly allegorical as in the old tradition of storytelling, yet they also contain lessons that reflect today’s world. Stylized in the powerful painting discipline of the Woodland School of Art, and carefully wrapped in ancient metaphors and age-old symbolism, each one of Zhaawano's art prints is a teaching mirror, instilling in the minds of those who make the effort to look in it a living sense of the unique worldview, dreams, and visions of the original inhabitants of the northern land of woods and lakes of Turtle Island.




An Anishinaabe Thunderbird dreamer sits on top of the Animikii-wajiw (Thunderbird Mountain) and communes with the Thunder Grandfathers that gift the earth and the lakes with their blessings of Thunder, Rain, and Lightning. 


The two Bald Eagles in the image symbolize the incredible powers of the Thunder Grandfathers; the purple and pink symbols attached to their tail feathers represent the Great Mystery. They are depicted as miinikaanag (“seeds”), circles divided in half that represent dualities present in the world. These seeds, which carry the sacred Medicine that the Thunderbirds bring to Earth and the Anishinaabe Peoples, carry many layers of meaning. 


One of the things they remind us of is how the Thunder Grandfathers fulfill their revitalizing tasks as they return each spring with the migrating birds, bringing the cleansing rain to the trees and plants and lakes and rivers so that life on earth continues. Thus, these Mystery seeds are magic symbols that bring nature life and fertility and gift the humans with medicine, knowledge, and wisdom. 


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> Read the story behind the print.