Returning to one’s ancestral homeland offers time for reflection, but also reminds us that even these sacred places are often threatened. Read more →
Noodin and Giizhik
There once was a pup that belonged to a large pack of ma’iinganag (wolves), he was called Noodin (wind) because he wandered like the wind. He was covered in dark tan fur with black on his back. Noodin wandered around the forest, wherever his nose led him. He was a loner and had a bad temper. Sometimes, Noodin revealed a much softer side. He dreamed of becoming a great leader and was sure he’d become Alpha one day.
It was a beautiful day when the hunting party left to go searching for food. The young were left behind with a few sitters to watch the litter of pups. They also knew Noodin was a pawful so they needed the extra help.
“Gibakade na Noodin?” asked onesheyan (his mother’s sister) Waabiski-ikwe (white woman).
She was young with fur as white as the clouds. A spirit blessed with kindness and understanding. Unfortunately, she was injured as a pup and could not go on hunting parties, so she stayed behind to babysit. She always told the pups the story of a strange wolf pup that came to save her when she was lost and injured. She would never forget him.
The other sitters were gone hunting for ajidamoog (squirrels) and waaboozoog (rabbits) until the hunting party came back with fresh deer to eat.
“Eya, nimbakade!” he growled.
Waabiski-ikwe threw the pups some bones she saved from the last feast. All twelve pups scurried to grab a bite, but Noodin had already grabbed them all.
“May I have one?” the other pups whined with their ears held back.
“Gaawiin!” he growled. A couple of the other pups began fighting Noodin for some of the bones.
“Daga, gego miigaadikegwan! (Please, stop fighting!)” yelled Waabiski-ikwe.
The rolling ball of fur was divided into three pups panting heavily with their tongues hanging out. Noodin was angry, he didn’t want to share.
“We are a pack, and packs share and look out for one another,” said Waabiski-ikwe.
“You shouldn’t be so GREEDY!” said Ogichidaa (brave one or warrior).
All the other pups nodded in agreement. This made Noodin furious and embarrassed. He ran into the forest as fast as his four paws could take him.
Noodin had run so far, and so fast, he had no idea where he was. He sat down by a creek and drank some water. Overwhelmed, his tail drooped between his legs and his head hung low. Noodin began to feel bad about his unpack-like behavior.
“Maybe I should never go back and be a lone wolf,” thought Noodin.
“BOOM!” grandfather thunder hollered. He vibrated the earth and rolled across the sky. A strong storm came with strong winds, and lightning struck the trees below.
“ROOOAR,” Makwa (black bear) appeared growling and flashing his big canines. He swatted at Noodin with his huge claws.
The frightened pup wasn’t sure which was louder: Makwa’s growl, the cries of hunger or grandfather thunder’s rumble. Noodin quickly and awkwardly jumped back; he hurt his foot. Makwa stepped closer and closer. Noodin ran for his life!
His hind paw throbbed with pain. He could no longer sense the makwa nearby, so he rested. He’d never been this far from his den before. He was exhausted and heard something moving just beyond his sight.
“Boozhoo, Giizhik indizhinikaaz, ezhi-ayaayan? (Hello, I’m Cedar, how are you?)” asked a wolf pup. She was white with tan and soft black fur on her back. He was stunned by her graceful beauty.
“Boozhoo, Noodin indizhinikaaz. Niwiisagishin (Hello, I’m Wind. I am hurt),” whimpered Noodin.
“Are you lost?” Giizhik asked.
“Eya,” Noodin responded shamefully.
“I’ve seen you before wandering in the woods just west of here. I know how to get you back. I’ll help you!” Giizhik proposed.
Noodin kind of liked the idea of the beautiful Giizhik walking him back to his pack.
Giizhik and Noodin talked as they headed back. Noodin learned a lot from Giizhik. He never listened to anyone’s stories before besides Waabiski-ikwe’s. He spoke of her to Giizhik.
“She sounds lovely!” said Giizhik.
“She is nice,” uttered Noodin, realizing he was being a hard-nosed wolf. He remembered the story Waabiski-ikwe always told the pups of the kind loner wolf that had helped her.
“I wish I belonged to a pack,” Giizhik confessed, “They’re in the spirit world now.”
Noodin saw the pain in her eyes.
“You can be part of my pack if you want,” whispered Noodin.
Giizhik lifted her ears, and her eyes began to sparkle like anangoog (stars). She wagged her tail and licked his cheek. They talked until they became hungry and decided to hunt. They caught ajidamoog and had plenty to share. As they played together on the way back their spirits seemed to become one.
The storm had passed and the pack was worried. They searched during and after the storm and no one could find Noodin. The pack of sitters and pups began to howl for Noodin in the night. The clouds swept across the giizhig-dibikak (night sky) and the anangoog began to sparkle.
“Do you hear that?” asked Noodin. “It’s my pack! They’re calling for me. They’re over this way!” Noodin howled and took the lead.
Giizhik followed; she was worried the pack would reject her.
The pups found the pack and everyone was happy to see that Noodin was safe. They surrounded him and licked up. He shared his story about the storm, makwa and Giizhik.
“Who’s Giizhik?” asked Waabiski-ikwe.
Noodin looked around and didn’t see Giizhik in all the furry faces surrounding him.
“Giizhik, ambe omaa! (Cedar, come here!)” Noodin yelped.
Everyone looked, as an uneasy, sweet little face peaked out of the brush. She slowly stepped forward, tail between her legs and ears pointed down.
“Biidigen Giizhik! (Welcome Cedar!)” the pack barked, as they gave her a big welcome. She was overwhelmed with joy.
“Giizhik and I caught some ajidamoog for us to eat. Wiisini! (Eat!)” yapped Noodin and the wolves ate as a pack. Waabiski-ikwe was proud of Noodin and Giizhik.
When the hunting party finally came home, they were surprised and pleased with the stories they heard. They allowed the lone pup to live among them, and treated her as one of their own. They were also impressed with the transformation Noodin made during his irrational adventure.
Noodin and Giizhik were on their way to becoming great leaders within the pack. They spent every day playing and hunting together. They became inseparable friends and grew up to become alphas, and had a litter of their own.
Grace Gidagaakoons (Fawn) Roberts is Anishinaabe; she’s enrolled in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and is also a descendent of the White Earth Nation. She is majoring in Native American Studies at White Earth Tribal and Community College.