Joshua Biron

Joshua Biron

Anishinaabe Cultural Specialist, Anishaable Agriculture


Winter 2021

Aaniin (Hello), My name is Joshua Biron, I am an Anishinaabeg from the area historically known to our people as Baahting (Bahwating), or known today as Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. This place is located in the North Eastern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Our people once thrived throughout the Great Lakes region, and I work every day to make sure our identity and wellness will be passed on for generations to come.  Here in Baahting (Bahwating) my roles are as an Oshkaabewiis (Spiritual Helper) and a Dewa'gaan Ninni (Big Drum Keeper) for our people.  I am a passionate, motivated, and knowledgeable Anishinaabe Cultural Specialist with over 25 years of experience in traditional life-ways, Ceremonial practice, activism, and cultural heritage and awareness. My dedication is steadfast and focused on providing cultural enrichment, Indigenous language revitalization, as well as promoting healing of generational and historical traumas for all of our Indigenous communities.

Tell us: what excites you about your work?

I am really passionate about passing on our Anishinaabe knowledge of growing and harvesting our traditional foods. It's amazing to see our youth learn and work to produce our traditional foods, as well as learn to cook and preserve the staples.

What feels rich and abundant in your work right now?

Watching our next generation of knowledge keepers learn and practice our traditional Anishinaabe food ways. It really gives hope for the future of our people, by sharing our heritage and reclaiming the traditional sets of knowledge. Revisiting who we are not only heals the historical and generational trauma, it gives our people a sense of identity and pride. These factors are all key components of promoting wellness in our communities.

Who do you dedicate your work to?

My work is dedicated to our Anishinaabe Ancestors. Despite the historical genocide of our Indigenous people across the continent, our people remained resilient. This is why I can share our Anishinaabe traditional lifeways today.

Who inspires you, who are you learning from, what books are you reading? We are really excited to learn this about you!

My Elders and our Spiritual leaders in our community inspire me. Each of them carry an immense amount of knowledge of our heritage as Anishinaabe people. While many of our teachings and Ceremonies are passed on orally, there are several Indigenous authors I really feel share our story in a good and meaningful way. Anton Treuer has several books that I have enjoyed, but currently I am reading his newly released "The Cultural Tool Box." The knowledge and inspiration within his writings help us to promote education, identity, and wellness.

“Revisiting who we are not only heals the historical and generational trauma, it gives our people a sense of identity and pride.”

How can people reading this support the work you are doing?

One of the biggest ways to support the work I am doing is to reach out to our efforts and learn. Many Indigenous communities are in an age of revitalization and reclamation of heritage and traditional lifeways. This really is an uphill struggle due to the historical genocide and trauma that was inflicted on our people. Learn the truth of our history. Connect and create relationships with efforts like mine in your region. All support is appreciated of course. However monetary donation enables us to reach more of our community members.

What something you didn’t know, that now you understand differently with wellness?

Overall, wellness focus for me was on our Anishinaabe youth and community members. But this past year I have learned from several mentors that wellness is all inclusive, and we need to share that when doing the work we do. We need to understand that by teaching and sharing, we plant a seed of positivity that is going to influence the wellness of all for generations to come.

What is your own wellness practice? How do you find balance?

To keep a balanced life, I pray a lot. As Anishinaabe, we are rooted in our spiritual and physical connection to our Creator and all of creation. For us this is not a religion. It is our way of life. Taking time to sit in a forest or along the lakeshore really helps me focus and recharge. Using our traditional sacred medicines and practicing Ceremony also helps me to stay healthy physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

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