Gimaanaajitoomin Nibi

Gimaanaajitoomin Nibi

“Gimaanaajitoomin Nibi”
“We Honor Water”
Margaret Noodin

Gimaanaajitoomin nibi
We honor the liquid

aabijiwan akiing gakina akeyaa
the entire flowing watershed

ni dagoshinoyang, bi dagoshinoyang
echoing here and there

nibi babaamiwidooyang
water infusing our path.

Gimanaaji’aanaan Nibi-giizis
We honor her silver brilliance.

Gimaamwimanaaji’aanaanig giizisoog
We honor both of them, the night and day suns

nookaad nookomis waasaabikizod,
soft grandmother reflecting,

mindidod mishoomis jaagaakizod
great grandfather burning.


Baanimaa biidanaamoyang biidaaban
After a breath dawns within us

mii maajinanaandawi'iwe-nagamoyang
and a healing song begins

bagaka'amaazoyang, aabida'amaazoyang
we sing clearly and constantly

naadamaageyang nagamong.
in the service of sound.


Gizhaabowemin ezhi-zhaabwiiyang
We accompany our survival

odaminowinan ozhitooyang, mazinitooyang
with games creating, arranging

aanikinotawangwaa dewe’iganag gaye zhiishiigwanag
translating for drums and rattles

minogondaaganewaad mino’anishinaabeyang.
to animate the sound of being good beings.

Honour Water Songs

Honour Water Songs

Since Honour Water is only available on iPads, we would like to share with everyone the gameplay footage of the songs. You'll miss gameplay features like being able to look closely at each phrase and recording and sharing your singing, but the most important aspect will now be available on web and any device.

Thank you for your part in singing for the waters!

Honour Water Launch!

Honour Water Launch!

Proud to announce that Honour Water, a singing game that shares Anishinaabe songs for healing the waters, has launched for free on iPads through the Apple Store!

Water is vital for life and yet undergoing vast harm from toxins that impacts us all. Anishinaabe water songs are understood to heal waters through their intention. By sharing water songs in Anishinaabemowin through gameplay, the hope is for Honour Water to contribute to the healing of the Great Lakes and all waters.

People from all over are welcome to sing these songs with good intentions for the water. Players sing along with the Oshkii Giizhik Singers and follow scrolling text in Anishinaabemowin and English. Fun gameplay passes on these songs through in a way that encourages comfort with singing and learning Anishinaabemowin.

Developed by Pinnguaq
Art, Design, Writing by Elizabeth LaPensée
Songs by Sharon M. Day and the Grandmothers at the Oshkii Giizhik Gathering
Singing by the Oshkii Giizhik Singers
Translations by Margaret Noodin
Sound Engineering by Jeremy Gardner
In partnership with Nibi Walks and the Research for Indigenous Community Health Center
With gratitude to The Pollination Project

We Sing for the Waters

We Sing for the Waters

Water songs find their way to me through friends and family,  even as an Anishinaabekwe who was born and raised on the West Coast. I do my best to pass these songs on in a good way. Since there are so few Anishinaabeg in the Pacific Northwest (well, compared to around the Great Lakes anyway), we held gatherings so we could share our language, songs, good thoughts, and of course food. Many of us also became apart of the Intertribal Canoe Family in Portland, Oregon and I hoped to bring Anishinaabeg canoe teachings and offer up songs for our relatives and the waters.

When I knew I would be moving back to the Great Lakes closer to where my family is from, I was asked by elders to record water songs that are allowed to be shared digitally so that they could continue to learn and pass these on when I was away. It was an honor to be asked to help and so I video recorded songs for White Earth elder and Intertribal Canoe Family member Mary Renville on her phone, but there was a major flaw in this process that we didn't see coming--when her phone broke, the songs were gone, and I was too far away to be re-recorded by the community. I then asked myself: How can water songs be shared in a better way that can express singing alongside the teachings and the meanings?

"The Water Carries Her, She Carries the Water," Elizabeth LaPensée, 2016 In the "Re-" Exhibition at Gimaajii in Duluth, Minnesota

"The Water Carries Her, She Carries the Water," Elizabeth LaPensée, 2016
In the "Re-" Exhibition at Gimaajii in Duluth, Minnesota

Fortunately, I had been collaborating with the game company Pinnguaq as well as Margaret Noodin and the Miskwaasining Nagamojig on an Anishinaabemowin singing game for passing on the language. While living beside Gichigami in Minnesota, I was grateful to meet Sharon Day who coordinates the Nibi Walks as well as Lyz Jaakola who dreamt the path of the Oshkii Giizhik Singers. And there, in the heart of the place where such vital fresh water is under threat, water carriers, singers, and language speakers came together to work on the singing game Honour Water with the hope of sharing songs for healing the waters that can be shared with all people, because the wellbeing of water is vital for all life.

- Beth

Call to Action for the Waters

Call to Action for the Waters

Thanks to the Onaman Collective and support from many communities, over three hundred people gathered in July 2016 at the Garden River First Nation for the Great Lakes Gathering to address concerns about the wellbeing of the waters. As water carriers, singers, women, and allies, those of us involved in the making of the singing game Honour Water are grateful for the teachings shared and the following call to action. By sharing water songs in our language, Anishinaabemowin, we hope to contribute to the healing of the waters.



Everywhere all over the world we are witnessing the utter destruction of our waters. Pipelines, nuclear waste, fracking, plastics, toxins, invasive species and chemical run off. With climate change and the political actions that support this continued destruction, this can seem like a mountain impossible to climb. Even political will cannot reverse this process because it is the social conscience of the people that needs to change. We are seeing this change within people everywhere. Everywhere people are waking up and taking actions and speaking out for the waters.

Over 300 people met in council over four days in Garden River First Nation from July 14-17, 2016 at the Great Lakes Gathering to deliberate and pray for the waters of the Great Lakes. We met in circles of Men, Women, Two-spirit people, and Youth, and presented our ideas to the Elders Council. The Elders met, deliberated, and this is the direction they provided to all of us.

The Elders Council said that above all else must continue to offer our Asemaa (tobacco) and keep everything in ceremony when taking actions for the waters. We must continue to coordinate water walks and host large ceremonies and gatherings for the water. They encouraged us to hold water ceremonies in accordance with the moon cycles and on sacred sites. They encouraged us to continue to fast and send our young people out to fast. They also understand and respect the direction given to our people through the Jiiskaan (shaking tent) and encouraged us to seek the direction from the spirits in all we do.

The Elders council stressed personal responsibility and action to protect Nibi (water) and Aki (earth). We must begin to live the way our ancestors did, on the land and spread across our vast traditional territories. We must bring our families, our children and the youth into the bush to build wiigwaams and teaching lodges. We must begin to harvest and plant our traditional seeds. We must go “off the grid” and begin to move into the forests. We must eliminate plastic in our lives. We can also individually and collectively boycott harmful corporations like Nestle, and raise our voices about government policies that harm us or Nibi (water) and Aki (earth).

The Elders Council also told us that our languages are integral to the health of the waters. We all must do what we can to learn our language and do everything we can to transmit the language and teachings to the children and youth in Anishinaabemowin (Indigenous Languages). The languages and wisdom in the language is what can protect the waters.

The Elders Council also encouraged us to share our actions with the world to demonstrate that we are doing the work for Nibi (water) and Aki (earth). We must share everything we are doing through all of our connections with each other. We must share what we are doing and use technology to our advantage on platforms that unite us such as social media. They stressed that they want the children in particular to be informed of the actions we are taking because they are the ones who are feeling the most hopeless. We must restore hope in the young people.

The Elders also specifically mentioned that they want to see the men visibly involved with and walking with the women by carrying the eagle staff for them and being there to support the actions that women are leading for the waters.

In addition, the Elders Council was presented with Asemaa (tobacco) to give blessings to the vision of Edward George, who paddled on Lake Huron to the Gathering. One by one we offered our Asemaa (tobacco) on the sand scroll that he drew out at the gathering. We confirmed our support and commitment to work towards the vision he received which will see the restoration of our clan governance system. We must begin to collectively work towards this as a common vision for the people.

We have officially entered into a new era where Climate Change and Water Crisis can be reversed when we work together. The time to act is right now. The Grandmas and Grandpas have spoken.

"Our Grandmothers Carry Water from the Other World," Elizabeth LaPensée, 2016  In the "Re-" Exhibition at Gimaajii in Duluth, Minnesota

"Our Grandmothers Carry Water from the Other World," Elizabeth LaPensée, 2016
In the "Re-" Exhibition at Gimaajii in Duluth, Minnesota

Chi miigwech,
- Beth

Water Messages in the Work of Christi Belcourt

Water Messages in the Work of Christi Belcourt

Métis artist Christi Belcourt's works infuse teachings with art in ways that feel like they are waking up memories. The Anishinaabe singing game Honour Water shares the name of one of her paintings. Although that wasn't intentional on my part, I'm sure I was influenced by her art and that this is exactly how it was intended to unfold. From recalling the teachings about trillium that my Anishinaabe and Métis mother Grace L. Dillon gifted to me to reinforcing the vital role of copper, Belcourt's art inspires and uplifts me. Her paintings are like the prayers in water songs. Every painted bead is like a note, and, all connected, the points carry vibrations like a song with a message of healing.

"Honour Water," Christi Belcourt, 2010

"Honour Water," Christi Belcourt, 2010

Belcourt's work reinforces why I am so passionate about creating art. As artists, as storytellers, as designers, we are not only sharing an aesthetic--we are sharing teachings about science. From ecological knowledge to star knowledge, there is so much that reveals itself to those who look and listen. For example, the copper visitors in Belcourt's "Honour Water" (2010) are spirits and caretakers. I also see them as representations of the amplification of electric connections in water. As I understand from what my mother has taught me, we live in the constant motion of water and light (waves and photons). Since I see this way, from an Anishinaabe worldview, I acknowledge that the sky also includes water and that the copper in "Honour Water" is interacting with that form of water. 

"Water Song," Christi Belcourt, 2011

"Water Song," Christi Belcourt, 2011

Similarly, in Belcourt's "Water Song" (2011), medicinal plants, flowers, birds, and insects are fluidly connected with copper gently joining throughout the dance of the life that echoes and replicates. Like a water song with layers of repeat verses, Belcourt's painting portrays balance.

Whether as a vessel for carrying water during walks, flourishing in the water in the lakes, or as spirits in space, copper fills the role of strengthening communication through electricity + water. Songs, too, serve as communication that carry resonances.

In looking back to Belcourt's work, I'm also looking forward, with hope that the game Honour Water will encourage new voices to sing for healing the water, recognizing that water is life.

- Beth

With Gratitude

With Gratitude

Aaniin! Welcome to the dev journal for Honour Water, a singing game that shares songs, teachings, and intentions for healing the waters. The plan is to release the game for free on iPads by September 2016!

Thanks to Anishinaabe grandmothers, ceremonial walks known as Nibi Walks have happened all around the Great Lakes and other waterways such as the Ohio River. Songs in the game written by Sharon Day and the Oshkii Giizhik Singers are shared during these walks and available on CD. Sharon Day, who is Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe and one of the founder's of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, has been a leading voice in the importance of using singing to revitalize the water. The Oshkii Giizhik Singers, a community of Anishinaabekwe who gather at Fond du Lac reservation, continuously contribute to the healing that happens for singers, communities, and the water when songs are shared.

People from all over are welcome to sing these songs with good intentions for the water. The hope is to pass on these songs through fun gameplay that encourages comfort with singing and learning Anishinaabemowin, the language of Anishinaabeg.

The game includes three songs--Miigwech Nibi, Gii Bimoseyaan, and Gizaagi'igonan Gimaamaanan Aki. They represent low, medium, and high level singing challenges which are determined by the complexity of Anishinaabemowin in the lyrics. The lyrics are sung in Anishinaabemowin, written in Anishinaabemowin in Roman Orthography, and also written in English translations. Successfully completing a song unlocks vital water teachings. 

For my role, I've partnered with the game company Pinnguaq and adapted core design from SinguisticsPrior to working on Honour Water, I created the user interface for Singuistics and also contributed as an artist to the Anishinaabemowin add-on and coordinated songs by Miiskwaasining Nagamojig, a community of Anishinaabekwe who have been singing together since 2009. Since, I've been excited about modifying the design for Honour Water and integrating gaining teachings as an aspect of gameplay.

Art that I've contributed to the game includes symbols or imprints of Anishinaabe teachings as well as more recent findings that reflect the molecular changes to water when sung healing songs thanks to research by Dr. Masaru Emoto. Look closely throughout the game to see what you can see!

So far, development has been supported through the kindness and passion of everyone involved as well as a recent grant from The Pollination Project (yay!). Since the grant award, the Oshkii Giizhik Singers have recorded the songs (studio quality, yeeaah). I'm currently working on actually writing down the translations. In the meantime, I've completed most of the art (I only say this because I'll probably go over the top and make more than what's needed for the game). The art is also available as 16" x 20" or 11" x 14" gallery quality prints either on paper or metal. It's incredible to see the game art also included in exhibitions such as my show at Pow Wow Grounds in Minneapolis, Minnesota with more opportunities to share the works coming up.

"The Women, They Hold the Ground," Elizabeth LaPensée, 2015 In the "All About Eve" Exhibition at Gimaajii in Duluth, Minnesota

"The Women, They Hold the Ground," Elizabeth LaPensée, 2015
In the "All About Eve" Exhibition at Gimaajii in Duluth, Minnesota

I'm very grateful for all the people who have helped make this possible and I'm excited to share our development process as we build up to launching on iPads!

- Beth