In 2007, SGEI’s Indigenous Wellness and Addictions Program (IWAP) students asked if the organization had a Grandfather drum they could sit with during difficult times. SGEI held meetings with territory drum keepers to discuss if the organization was ready to walk with a drum. As per tradition, Asemaa (tobacco) was given and a jiisakaan (shaking tent) ceremony was held July 31, 2007 and the construction, naming, and accompanying sacred items was determined. SGEI held a birthing ceremony on April 1, 2010, SGEI’s 25th anniversary, next to Rainy Lake.
Saagajiwe is the name given to our Grandfather Drum. In Anishinaabemowin, Saagajiwe refers to the rays of light as the sun breaks the horizon during sunrise which leads the Gimishoomisinaan Giizis (Grandfather Sun) across the sky each day.
The drum colours, as determined through ceremony, are black, red, blue and green. Saagajiwe is accompanied by four staffs, each a different colour in relation to the four directions; yellow (East), green (South), red (West), and white (north).
The drum is not meant to touch the earth. To separate Saagajiwe from the earth beneath it, the drum rests on cedar bows and makwa (a bear). The makwa is laid facing East, while Saagajiwe’s navel—the SGEI logo—faces Southeast between the green and yellow staffs.
A song accompanies Saagajiwe that shares that the spirits are watching over us from the sky. This song was shared by the late Tommy White.
Gookomisinaan is the name given to our Grandmother Eagle Staff. In Anishinaabemowin, Gookomisinaan means Our Grandmother, the Moon.
The thirteen white circles and feathers on her dressing represents the thirteen moons throughout the year. The top arch features three feathers; for the past, present and future. A mirror is present to chase away negativity.
A wooden spoon, copper cup and wooden bowl sit at the bottom of the staff. When not in use, or “resting,” the copper cup and spoon should be placed upside down. There should always be a path between the drum and staff.
To learn more about how these items are used during ceremony, please click here.