Robert Van Zile: The Joy of Returning to Madeline Island

Produced by Nick Vander Puy
Reserve, Wisconsin (IndianCountryTV)

According to Robert Van Zile, Madeline Island was once known as the nesting site for the flicker. Which is why the Ojibwe word for the island is  Moningwanekaaning Minis, "the place of the golden- shafted woodpecker."

Many native people regard the flicker as a courageous bird. The Ojibwe medicine man Sun Bear (Winona LaDuke's father) spoke of the flicker as the totem for the Strong Sun moon in medicine wheel astrology.

It is said that the flicker brings new growth and healing love.

In any event, the island is still a magical, creative place. Yet, only a little, postage-stamp parcel belongs to native people. 

A spiritual leader from the Mole Lake Sokaogon Reserve, Robert Van Zile, talks about the ferry ride from Bayfield, Wisconsin across the bay to LaPointe, Wisconsin and how a larger native presence might be re-established.

"Crossing over to the island, the stars were flickering with joy and happiness."


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