Water Spirits

Art Type
Original acrylic on white canvas
Original Painting
Size (in)
Canvas (H x W x D): 20 x 36 x ¾ in
Size (cm)
Canvas (H x W x D): 50 x 91 x 2 cm
Not Framed, please enquire
Product ID



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Water Spirits‘ by First Nations Ojibwe artist Jackie Traverse – Original First Nations Woodland Art style painting presented by DaVic Gallery of Native Canadian Arts

Condition:       No condition noted.

Description by Artist:     No description provided by artist …

Notes from DaVic Gallery:     Water has always had an important place in the lives of the Ojibway. Glenn Reynolds, in “A Native American Water Ethic”, recounts a story of one group of Ojibway, named the Sokagon Chippewa. This group of Ojibway migrated west to the Great Lakes region, because an elder prophesied that they would find “the food that grows on water,” also known as manoomin or wild rice. There is a lake in Wisconsin, called Rice Lake that provides rice for the Sokaogon Chippewa. The history of this band illustrates the relationship that the Ojibway have with nature, and water, in particular. The Sokaogon believe that surface and ground water represent the lifeblood of Nokomis Oki, or Grandmother Earth. They believe that they have a deep spiritual responsibility to protect the purity of springs. These spiritual beliefs are reflected in the names that they give local places; a creek that feeds Rice Lake is called Mushgigagomongsebe, or Little River of Medicines, by the Sokaogon, while the Europeans named it Swamp Creek. The Sokaogon also believe in a responsibility to the seventh generation, which means that they must plan for the future needs of at least the next seven generations.

The Ojibway people have a history of recognizing the importance of water, and fulfilling their responsibility to both protect the water source, and raise awareness about water issues. On April 18, 2003, a group of Ojibway women began a 2,090 kilometre journey from Bad River, Wisconsin, around Lake Superior, to raise awareness of the importance of keeping water clean. Throughout the journey, they carried a copper bucket of water, and an eagle staff, which symbolized the traditional role of women as water protectors within the Ojibway teachings. The women finished the walk on May 26, 2003, and have since walked around Lake Michigan in 2004, Lake Huron in 2005, Lake Ontario in 2006 and Lake Erie in 2007. They believe that water availability and consumption is taken for granted, and their goal is to help people to realize that water is being consumed and polluted at such a rate that, unless people join together to reverse the current trend, clean water will soon be scarce.

Words from the Water

Water is amazing, it flows where it wants to, it can go through any crack, crook or cranny. It can sing the most beautiful songs, if you listen well. She can sound like a male voice, especially during huge waves. It ebbs and flows leaving us messages in her journey throughout life. We are connected and united to life with water, and as we are all united by water; it seems we must be conscious of all things united. This connections or linkage helps us understand life and what it gives to humans, nature and animals. We are all so connected, so united with/by water. It is all life.

To see how water can mold itself to any situation, we can see it in any shape we put it in: jars, small containers, huge gallons – it flows to any shape or form. We are all connected by water and as we are all of water: 70 or 80% of our body mass, why can’t we flow like the water? To unite ourselves with each other, to sing like the water, to think like the water, to be of one conscious entity? Why can’t we? IF we could be, we will be one big ocean of love, kindness, respect, united and jelled together as one, we will be the generation to save our Mother.

Science is slowly catching up to our Anishinabe thinking about our natural laws as governed to us by Creation/Creator. Our duty and responsibility is to our Mother’s care and well-being. The common denominator of life is Water. In our Mide Lodge we know all this from the teachings and oral inscriptions left by our ancestors, but we have not been vocal enough to tell the world and science that we know what they are collecting as new science. It is not new knowledge, or new understanding. It’s been around as long as our Mide ancestors have been on this Mother earth. Our ancestors knew where water comes from, whence it flows, and how it flows. This is all understood in our waters songs and Lodge creation story.








Tags: First Nations Art collectors; First Nations Art; Indigenous Art; Native Art; Woodland Art
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ReferencesJackie TraverseNative Art In CanadaLegends: First People of America and Canada – Turtle Island