Subverting ritual: an Ojibwe woman's verbal art on the powers of women and renewing culture
Mary Magoulick (Georgia College)
Paper short abstract:
Oogima Ikwe (an Ojibwe woman in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) gives a poetic speech about subverting rituals in her tribe when she disagrees with rules about whether women can participate during their menses. She believes, during this time of renewal, that everything must adapt to survive and thrive.
Paper long abstract:
Oogima Ikwe (an Ojibwe woman in Michigan's Upper Peninsula) gives a poetic speech about subverting rituals in her tribe when she disagrees with rules about whether women can participate during their menses. Menstruating women are "too powerful," those in charge say (usually men). Oogima Ikwe perceives the Great Spirit as accepting her participation on her own terms, believes this interdiction is recent, and that Natives have multiple resources (such as visions) for the emergent cultural renewal (which is occurring across the continent). She affirms that her ritual path, even though newly forged, is "good": "And the earth did not shake, / And pipes did not break apart, / And life went on very smoothly, / And it was actually quite pleasant and good." At the heart of her message about the fluidity of culture and identity, and the need to adapt to survive and thrive, her words become especially rhythmic and fluid, like poetry. She explicitly says "all things," "culture," "languages," "economics," "climate," and "everything" "HAVE TO" adapt to survive. She believes that the very existence of these rituals demands that they allow for change, just as all other aspects of society and even nature itself must change to survive or thrive. Her philosophy here is summed up in the last lines I'll examine: "You name it . . . everything has to adapt or . . . it doesn't exist." She thus succinctly iterates the nature of culture as well as her hopeful, forward thinking, feminist activism.
The multifaceted ritual