by Gregory Hermann
An Ojibwe expression
From James Vukelich
Well, not quite, but ‘thank you’ is how it is used today.
Trade agreements were a necessary part of life. Trade agreements were much like harvesting foods and medicines. We never harvested more than we needed. We never took all of a food or medicine from one area so there was some left for others, and some left to seed the new crop in the next season.
While trading, each participant asked for what they needed. When their needs were met, they would say “miigwetch”, meaning that we had enough. It was an agreement that each participant had their needs met.
There was no expression of gratitude. Such an expression was not necessary because each person made sure that the needs of all were met. This was a life style. No greed. No hoarding. Life was a simple act of assuring the welfare of every person in the village.
There was no need to express gratitude.
Giving and receiving are as simple as breathing.
When Europeans entered our country, we Natives ended the agreements with the expression ‘miigwetch’. Europeans assumed this meant “thank you”. Thus, this meaning has carried forward to this day.
Let us be kind to each other