Michigan Travel: Ziibiwing Center Preserves Tribal Heritage
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Top  Photo:Every culture seeks to tell their story.  The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe's story is told at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways. 
Courtesy photo
Bottom Photo:  Through the presentation of  selected cultural textiles,  the cultural center teaches about the vibrant lifestyle.
Courtesy photo
Ziibiwing Center
6650 E Broadway Rd, Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
Phone: 989-775-4750
Monday:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Tuesday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Thursday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Friday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday: Closed
Admission varies, log on to www.sagchip.org for more
By Rick Garcia
If you and your family ever want to experience a Native American attraction rich in culture and education, The Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways in Mt. Pleasant, is less than an hour's drive north of Lansing.
The center, which features the Spirit of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and other Great Lakes Anishinabek (original peoples), opened its doors in May of 2004 with the goal of honoring their ancestors, who against tremendous odds, protected and passed down the cultural knowledge, language and teachings of their people.   The design of the 34,349 square foot facility, fashioned to a traditional ceremonial lodge with an eastern entry to an elongated geo-dome hall, has been presented with numerous awards on their museum exhibits, displays, cultural and performing arts programs.
Every culture seeks to tell their story, and the Diba Jimooyung (Telling Our Story) permanent exhibit tells a fascinating story of the original people of the Great Lakes as you walk through the 15 areas of the exhibit which teaches about the struggles of the tribe to hold onto their land, language, and lifeways. 
Integrated throughout the exhibit are the Seven Prophecies that were given from prophets that visited the Anishinabek thousands of years ago when they were living a peaceful life on the East Coast of North America. The tribe believes that the eighth and final prophecy, the Eternal Fire of Peace, will light if they follow the Seven Teachings: love, respect, bravery, honestly, humility, wisdom, and truth.
About 10,000 years ago, the Anishinabek (original peoples) lived along the Atlantic seaboard from what is now Nova Scotia to the Carolinas.  Hence 9,000 years later, they began the Great Walk to the Great Lakes area and beyond.  Between the 13th and 14th century, the Anishinabek established the Three Fires Confederacy throughout the Great Lakes - the Ojibway (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), and Odawatomi (Potawatomi). The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan is comprised of three bands of Ojibway (Saginaw, Black River, Swan Creek), who lived primarily in the Eastern region of what is now Michigan.
By the mid-17th century, the first European visitors, primarily the French, made contact with Anishinabek in Baawaating (Sault Ste. Marie).  Sixteen treaties were made with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe by the U.S. Government between 1795 and 1864. The Saginaw Chippewa signed treaties with the United States ceding almost all of their land.
Approximately 20,000 people visit the center each year according to William “Willie” Johnson, the center's curator.  Diba Jimooyung presents an insightful presentation of the tribe's past, present, and future through the use of artifacts, computer technology, hands-on and interactive learning, and the integration of their beautiful language throughout the exhibit. This exhibit displays the celebration of their survival, spirit of sovereignty, and message of hope for all people of the world.
The Diba Jimooyung permanent exhibit, one of two in Michigan, offers programs for all ages to learn about the original people of the Great Lakes. Educational tours are based on the four seasons which integrate the many gifts each season provides for us. With this permanent exhibit, the tribe will have the privilege to honor the courage of their ancestors and grandparents, the promise of the youth, and the determination of their people. 
The cultural center allows many to appreciate that there  are  similarities of other world belief cultures of divine creation. In this case, Gitche Manido, the Great Mystery, provided the tribes people with many gifts that provided endurance and strength to survive decades of tremendous change. Also, their teachings tell us that all things are balanced in this world; experiencing good and bad days, happy and sad moments, as well as prosperous and poverty stricken times. During the time of colonization, the tribe's ancestors were subjected to warfare, diseases, land theft, broken promises, boarding schools, and forced assimilation, but despite these challenges to their very survival, the Saginaw Chippewa and other Great Lakes Tribes have overcome.
 Anishinabe values, rooted in the Seven Grandfather teachings (bravery, love, wisdom, humility, truth, respect, and honesty), and their deep spirituality are the guiding principles in decision-making for the next Seven Generations. These principles enable the tribe to provide economical, educational, social, and spiritual improvements for their people, and for the people of central Michigan. 

The Enduring Spirit of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, sustained through the generations, comes from the love, like all of us have for our children, life, and nature, and from care and deep respect for others.

This was printed in the January 12, 2014 - January 25, 2014 edition.


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