Saagajiwe & Gookomisinaan

Saagajiwe & Gookomisinaan

Saagajiwe and Gookomisinaan are the names of the Grandfather Drum and the Grandmother Staff that walk with Seven Generations Education Institute.

In our language, Saagajiwe conveys the rays of light as the sun breaks the horizon during sunrise which begins the journey of Gimishoomisinaan Giizis (Grandfather Sun) across the sky each day.

Gookomisinaan can be understood as “Our Grandmother.”

After requests for the presence of a drum by students in the SGEI Indigenous Wellness and Addictions Prevention (IWAP) program, as well as recalling similar discussions in years prior in the SGEI Aboriginal Cultural Interpretative Program, meetings with drum keepers in the territory took place in 2007 to discuss if Seven Generations Education Institute was ready to walk with a drum.

Asemaa (tobacco) was given and ceremony took place in July 31, 2007 and directions were given to Seven Generations Education Institute for the construction of the drum, including his name, as well as sacred items that would rest with him in his bundle. This bundle, entrusted to the CEO of the Seven Generations Education Institute, includes directional staffs, a pipe, and other items.

A birthing ceremony was held on April 1, 2010, which was also the 25th anniversary of Seven Generations Education Institute.

The song that accompanies Saagajiwe shares that the spirits are watching over us from the sky.

The colours of Saagajiwe are those that came through ceremony which are black, red, blue, and green in the center. The Directional Staff Colors are: Yellow (East), Green (South), Red (West), and White (North). These colors and directions are also the colors and directions of the small staffs that are to be held by four identified Ogichidaakwewag when he is sounded.

Saagajiwe’s navel, where the SGEI logo is located, faces Northeast between the large Yellow and White staffs.


The Opwaagan (“pipe”) was carved by former Seven Generations Education Institute CEO Delbert Horton. The pipe is kept in a white-bag and rests next to Saagajiwe and is only put together when it is going to be used. Sometimes it is put together and not smoked right away, but loaded for use. Also sitting with Saagajiwe are two Grandfather Stones which rests in a Birchbark Basket on a red cloth.

There is to always be a path between the drum and the staff.

Tobacco can be offered to the drum (in the red bag attached to the Red Western Staff), with the Grandfather Stones (on the red cloth in the Birchbark Bowl), and in the Wooden Bowl (that sits with the staff).

During spring or fall ceremonies, as well as celebrations where there is a fire, the asemaa can be gathered and put into the fire as an offering.

Makwa which Saagajiwe rests upon, as well as Gookomisinaan, face to the East.


Gookomisinaan, the Grandmother Eagle Staff, is very beautiful and began as a plain wooden staff and was dressed by women in the Indigenous Wellness and Addictions Prevention Program.
The thirteen moons throughout the year can be seen as thirteen white circles on her dressing. There are also thirteen feathers, brought by students, to honor the moons. Also, the SGEI colors can be seen as those utilized to dress the feathers. On the top, there are three feathers. One for the past. One for the present. One for the future. There is a mirror present to chase away anything negative. With the staff are a wooden spoon, copper cup, and a wooden bowl for tobacco. When not being used (“when resting”), the copper cup and the spoon should be upside down.

In the territory, ten men and ten women are identified to sit and stand with the drum. The men are singers and the women (“Ogichitaakwewag”) hold the small staffs. The men sit at the drum and the women stand behind them.

If there are no identified Ogichitaakwewag present, any women wearing a skirt may hold the small staffs and ideally, the drummers sitting at the drum should be selected from the ten drummers identified. This gives representation to the ten original First Nations in the area which helped define and govern the direction of Seven Generations Education Institute. A Grandmother must hold the Grandmother Staff.

We, Seven Generations Education Institute, are proud to have Saagajiwe and Gookomisinaan walking with us.