"Nookomis Obagijigan" Our Grandmother's Gift, Makizinikewin Project commences

Nookomis Obagijigan "Our Grandmother's Gift, a Makizinikewin Project has been awarded a Minnesota Historical Society Residency for 2018-2019. 

House of Howes artist, Sarah Agaton Howes, "When a person is learning the art of their grandmothers there is frustration, insecurity, excitement, and hope.  My favorite moment in moccasin classes is when the maker turns their moccasin right side out.  They have been, no doubt, struggling, poking themselves, questioning themselves, and then they flip them around. This is the moment when they become their grandmothers.  Cultural arts are a gift from our ancestors to us." 

The project will interview artists and elders, create an online moccasin patterning tutorial, collaborate with Ojibwemowin speakers on providing instruction in the language, and creating a pattern book and digital download for makers.  "The legacy of the project will be the moccasin pattern book.  It will outlive us all." Howes notes.

"When we develop one “maker,” we have helped 3-4 generations of this family have their own access to the gifts of our grandmothers.  I always had many open giving teachers.  These gifts are our inheritance."

Howes will work with apprentice Michelle Defoe on patterning and first language teacher Maajiigwaneyaash on translation.  

Howes explains her personal reasons for her work "If you're anything like me you didn't grow up feeling like a whole, intact Anishinaabe person.  My paternal grandmother was not a maker.  She was a boarding school survivor.  But one of our grandmothers, one of our ancestors kept this gift alive for us.  Connecting to our grandmother's gifts is one way we become whole."  

Read the Historical Society's article here:


For information about Makazinikewin, classes, tutorials, and other information contact us at info@houseofhowes.com

1 comment

  • Joyce Packard

    Thank you! My grandmother was placed in five different foster homes because her mom passed when she was under a year. Her father had four other children to care for. She always wanted to know her history but her records were sealed. She died from alcoholism. She was amazing when she was sober. We found out our history after her passing. Her story is very sad. She loved to see and she made pajamas for all 19 of her grandchildren for Christmas. She made quilts that we’re so warm and weighed a ton. I am so proud of her and wished she had the info that we were able to learn.

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