wiindigookaanzhimowin

I live four miles, as the crow flies, from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota.  Cass Lake (the name of both a lake and a town) is located on the reservation.  On the lake is an island called Star Island, and on that island is Lake Windigo.  Potato and Cedar Islands are located on Lake Windigo, and so on and so forth.

A windigo, or wendigo, was a malevolent cannibalistic spirit.  The last known Wendigo Ceremony, to emphasize the seriousness of the taboo against cannibalism, was held on Star Island.

Today a satirical ceremonial dance called wiindigookaanzhimowin is held as a last day activity at Sun Dance.  It is danced backwards around the drum, and the wearing of a mask is involved.

And that is a story of singing and dancing very close to me in a geographical sense, but very far away in a cultural sense.  Or is it?

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