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Rezidivism 8: Who is Nazhike-awaasang?

Aaniin, today on Rezidivism I would like to talk about when learned about my Anishinaabe-izhinikaazowin (Anishinaabe Name). This has been an ongoing lesson as I hear more, learn more and understand more about Anishinaabemowin(Language), Anishinaabe Izhitwaawin(Way of Life) and Bimaadiziwin(Life Energy). When I was younger, growing up in the 80's, I heard the language constantly. My grandmas and papa were fluent speakers along with their relatives and friends. I would always fantasize about knowing what was being said, I would pretend I knew how to speak. Deep down, I knew/know that it is very critical to my being that Anishinaabemowin is used. I felt it deep in my spirit, my anishinaabe spirit is what I would learn about later on in life. On the surface, I was filled with contradictory thoughts. I believed that I would never speak. I will never know what is being said. I will never be able to understand let alone be smart enough to. I believed that I was inferior and that my mental capacity was insufficient when it came to being capable of understanding, using, accepting such a beautiful way to express myself. I would get goosebumps just hearing the language and my beliefs guided me to the understanding that I was not good enough for the language.

Rezidivism tells me to compensate for my inefficiencies by trying to apply a warrior attitude. The warriorism I adopted was from a Chimookomaan perspective. I need to be incarcerated in order to display warriorism as I talked about in recent Rezidivism post. Since I believed that I would never be Anishinaabe enough to use the language, I expressed myself through the contemporary, stereotypical characteristics of a native warrior. I fought, used drugs, defied all authority, neglected my education. All of these realizations began at the crucial life stage of puberty. My awareness of self, world and others would greatly diminish. The young boy fascinated with the language, teachings and culture would turn into a self-conscious, low self-esteem, angry young man that would mask it all with cockiness, violence and outright disregard for anyone around him. As I think back, I am unable to pinpoint the timing, if there is a certain instance, where this subconscious mindset takes hold of my consciousness. I remember being a boy believing I can play sports, go to college, be intelligent and then a young man sabotaging anything good because I believed I did not deserve happiness.

I was in the Rush City Correctional Facility in 2005. I had a 3 year old daughter and burnt most of my bridges leaving only the criminal element to rely on. I wanted to get my Ojibwe Name tattooed on me. Obizaan was coming into the prisons then so I asked him what my ojibwe name meant and general spelling. I only knew the pronunciation "nashkay ahwaahsung". My mindset at this time definitely was criminal, psychopath and sociopath would be better terms. I only cared about myself. When I asked Obizaan what my name meant, I sensed a change in thinking. He told me my name meant "the star that shines alone". I couldn't comprehend fully the magnitude of such name but do remember having an understanding flow though my body of which I am unable to explain, my anishinaabe spirit knew tho. I would start using my name and each time I did for the next 5 years, I would gain a larger viewpoint of who I am as an Anishinaabe. I started questioning my purpose, constantly weighing out the beliefs and disbeliefs I had about myself, the world and others. After a few years, I grew what I can reliable call a connection to the energy of the star that shines alone. Chimookomaan would call it a conscious but it definitely was not Jiminy Cricket. This was much more.

April of 2010, I was yet again in prison at the Lino Lakes Correctional Facility and 5 years of using my name has now built up my spiritual connection to my guiding energy and then the Manidoog put me in the position to put all my beliefs about myself to the test. Who is Nazhike-awaasang? What is his purpose? I was failing treatment. I was highly criminal, addict minded and sociopathic. I had the utmost desire to complete treatment in order to avoid treatment when I get out but most importantly, PIZZA!! I will be able to spend the remainder of my sentence ordering pizza while I am in minimum security. There was a turning point in my treatment that knocked over my beliefs and as I tried to keep them from falling, one dropped. The belief that I had no fault in my current situation. I believed that there was a larger conspiracy to lock indian people up, but there is, and that I had no fault in it, but I did. I realized that what I am a part of "IS" in fact a conspiracy against indians. I also realized that I can do something about it. Who is Nazhike-awaasang? I had to find out if I am to ever escape this loop of oppression and self-oppression.

2019, Nazhike-awaasang helps his community, he studies the language and culture. He is a helper, an Oshkaabewis. There are many lessons I learned from that time in 2005 until now. I want to use them to help others understand the effects of Rez Life and how they cause a tendency to commit undesirable behaviors over generations resulting in identity loss, "Rezidvism". External forces that cause internal issues and internal forces that cause external issues, they rely on one another to keep the cycle going, they are reciprocal. Us as men need to figure this out individually and collectively if our sons are ever going to have a chance at an Anishinaabe Life.

We will further get into this topic and look forward to hearing your stories.

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A new Rezidivism Post will be out every Monday and the Rezidivism Podcast will be out at the beginning of December.

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