Red Lake News: Tribe hosts Healing Day to mark 2005 tragedy

The balloons released simultaneously to the all-embracing sky. The blue orbs drifting high and away to the north. Photo by Michael Meuers

Noojimo Giizhigad (Healing Day) Held
By Michael Meuers

Noojimo Giizhigad (Healing Day) was held at Red Lake Humanities on Saturday, March 28, from noon until about 5 pm.  

When there was talk of the approaching 10th Anniversary of the Red Lake Tragedy at the January tribal council meeting, it was decided that the Hereditary Chiefs along with the Red Lake School Youth Council would plan an event.  

Led by Chief Greeting Spears and Youth Council President Matt Antone, the decision was to have a Noojimo Giizhigad on March 28 for all those who find the need for healing for any number of reasons.  All were welcome that sought healing with a true heart.

Murphy Thomas graciously agreed to accept the role of emcee.  As is his manner, he told tales of healing and the culture and tradition of the Red Lake Ojibwe.  He offered many stories sometimes with humor but more often solemn and dignified.  

There was talk among the participants to have more healing days, perhaps as often as once per month.

Chief Greeting Spears (back to camera) was joined by young drummers from the high school leadership team, a healing song on Spears healing/traditional drum. Photo by Michael Meuers

The event lent itself to dignity, pensiveness and reflection.  Much of the day was ceremonial, cultural, and very Indian.  It included the smoking of pipes, smudging with sage, the offering of asemaa (tobacco), prayers, jingle dress dances, and healing songs from the healing/traditional drum of Chief Greeting Spears.  Young drummers from the high school leadership team joined Chief Spears.

Around 2:30 all in attendance enjoyed an excellent meal of Red Lake Walleye, followed by a very large giveaway with all receiving several gifts.

At about 4 p.m., seeming to appear out of nowhere, near the bleachers to the north side of the Center, there suddenly emerged several bouquets made up of hundreds of helium filled blue balloons.  In this time of new beginnings, participants slowly exited the humanities center into the warmth of spring and a clear blue sky punctuated with high, wispy, cumulus clouds.

Balloons in hand, men and women, boys and girls their balloons reaching for the heavens, struggling to be released, waited for the moment.  And as if on cue, all released the balloons simultaneously to the all-embracing sky, the blue orbs drifting high and away to the north, over the Sacred Lake on a lofty journey to Obaashiing and then to everywhere.

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