1/3/2012 5 Comments
Black Face Blogging
Mshkoziwin and Mkadengwe
In the Anishinaabe tradition a speaker’s face is an important element of learning the intended knowledge. When someone tells a story the process of listening involves watching the facial expressions of the speaker as they convey if the speaker is happy or sad or in a state of wonder. If the speaker is sad the listener not only hears it in the stated words but also reads it on the speaker’s face. The same goes for joy and wonder. Through watching the emotions on the speaker’s face listeners feel what the speaker feels through a process of physiological synchronization. It is because of this process that it is stressed that listening in the Anishinaabe sense involves good eyes and a good heart rather than merely good ears. Many people skilled at the oral tradition rely on facial expressions when conveying knowledge.
Further, in the Anishinaabe tradition there is a teaching that encourages people to show the good side of their face. Mshkoziwin is an Anishinaabemowin concept that references “the Art of Being Brave” and the process of finding one’s true face, or alternatively the need to get to know our core selves. It is often said that at times our greatest enemy is our self. To help remedy this there is the need to get to know our core being. Anishinaabe wisdom informs us that our essence is made up of two parts. While one part is positive, the second part is negative. Given this, there is the need for individuals to travel deep within themselves and get to know both their positive and negative sides. This requires bravery as the negative side is indeed difficult to befriend. Regardless, if we fail to befriend our negative side it could very well take over who we are. Alternatively, although our true face is the positive side of who we are, we must befriend our negative side and manage it in a way that allows our true face to manifest in the way we walk through the world.
In the Anishinaabe tradition people also expressed times of bereavement through the practice of Mkadengwe which translates to Black Face. This tradition involved painting one’s face with black ash or paint to signify one’s state of being. In reading the person’s face members of the community were better able to affirm the mourner’s feelings and accommodate their needs when required.
In following this later tradition of Mkadengwe over the next few months I will offer Black Face blogging as my way of expressing matters that I feel require thought.
1/3/2012 11:20:12 pm
Brilliant! Chi Miigwetch Lynn, it is very powerful medicine when we invoke who we really are and any reemergence of who we are is very much needed in this time of our part in “her story”.
Mrs. Anna General
1/30/2013 11:46:27 am
Lynn, Now I remember you. i am very happy we connected again. And away we go. I am so proud to meet you again. I just know our words, ideas, plans of the current and future is based from where we came from. It is not who has the best, this world is all about sharing, loving and constantly learning and understanding. Meegwetch.
4/2/2014 03:44:02 am
Thank you Anna
So interesting...this is why I nver got any help in the white man's community for so many ,many,many years because they weren't reading my face.I even wore brown clothes and cut my hair and they still didn't SEE. I felt so ,so alone.Now I have a Voice and This is healing.White culture seems to want everything nice and smiling all the time that no one SEES the truth of what others are going through.thanks you Lynn. I ought to have painted my face black for the years of deep mourning...I used to wonder why no one could See.
7/29/2016 03:07:26 pm
chi-miigwetch Lynn for sharing your debwewin journey
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