Indigenous Arts & Stories - Johnny Seven Fires

Johnny Seven Fires

2009 - Writing Winner

Johnny: “Baaahh…. Gaawiin kino ne’en debwenan aanzinoon mdimooyenyish…. gaawiin nokiimgaasinoon ne’en…. Nsostaawag go giw annind Zhaaganaashiimowaad…. gaa dash, niin da-nendam iw…. gaawiin sa nda-nwesii!” (“Baaahh…. none of those things are true you sneaky old woman…. it doesn’t work like that…. I can understand when other people speak English…. But, I think that…. I just can’t speak it!”)

Read Howard Adler's Johnny Seven Fires

Howard Adler

Ottawa, ON
Lac des Mille Lac First Nation
Age 28

Author's Statement

Why did I choose to write about the historical events I selected?

The events I wrote about have to do with historical places and locations, and with traditional Anishinaabe legends. The reason I chose them is because the entire Johnny Seven Fires narrative is an extended metaphor for the survival and continuation of Anishinaabe language and culture, and these historical events/locations reinforce themes of life and death, beginnings and endings, and continuance and transformation.

These themes are apparent in the re-occurring imagery of sunrise and sunset, Johnny’s casual use of cigarettes and alcohol, his attempted suicide, his ironically life-saving electrocution, his modern carving into the cement pathway at the Petroglyphs, and his spontaneous ability to speak fluent Ojibwa. Even Johnny’s name “Seven Fires” alludes to an apocalyptical Anishinaabe prophecy in which humanity will have to make a choice between a good path or a bad path, between death and destruction or peace and prosperity. Also, Jenny’s telling of the story of Jiyaa-waabooz the ruler of the underworld, re-contextualizes this traditional story as having meaning and value for Johnny, an Anishinaabe youth, and by extension this suggests that all traditional stories can continue to have meaning and value for future generations of Aboriginal Peoples.

By setting part of the story at the Petroglyphs, as well as at Nogojiwanan “The Place at the End of the Rapids”, these locations contribute to the themes of continuation and transformation, and reflect the continuation of language and culture. For example, Nogojiwanan (more commonly known as Millennium Park), is in the center of downtown Peterborough, yet this place still continues to be known as Nogojiwanan, and by using this setting it re-affirms this space in the center of the city as an Aboriginal space, and thus deconstructs racist discourses whereby Aboriginal peoples can only spatially or temporally reside in the past or on the periphery. Likewise, by using the Petroglyphs as a setting, this also reflects the continuation of language and culture. For example, the Petroglyphs are housed in a building whose primary purpose is to protect and preserve this historical and cultural site, and by Johnny carving an image into the cement pathway surrounding the Petroglyphs, this is a powerful and symbolic statement that preservation of Aboriginal languages and cultures alone is not enough, and that they must continue to be spoken and practiced.


Johnny Seven Fires

A Video Script
Written by Howard Adler
Anishinabemowin Edited by Shirley Williams

Scene One: Johnny

[Johnny is an Anishinaabe youth and he wears his hair styled in a mohawk which is died blood red (not spiked). Johnny is in a bathroom and the camera angle shows both the back of his head and his face reflected in the cabinet mirror. He's hunched over the sink and is visibly distraught. The sound of water can be heard from the bath tub filling. Johnny adds bubbles to the filling tub and then turns off the water. There is a CD player next to the tub and he puts on a CD. Music Plays. Johnny gets undressed and slips into the tub, relaxes, closes his eyes, and leans his head back. Moments pass. He lights a cigarette, smokes some, and then lets the half smoked cigarette fall into his bath water. Johnny has an old-fashioned straight razor. He examines it from different angles, feels its weight and then tests its edge on his finger drawing blood. Moments pass. He calmly begins to cut his wrist lengthwise, but then he sucks in air through his teeth in pain and flinches, which accidentally knocks the CD player into the water. The music stops, everything goes black, and the sound of electricity crackling is heard. End Scene]


Scene Two: The Dream

[It is night. There is a camera shot of flowing water, it's a churning river, and in the darkness you can see the whiteness from where it flows over rocks. Then there is a loud noise like screaming or a hurricane, followed by silence and darkness.]

[This scene is at night and it is very quite. Johnny opens his eyes. He's naked and alone and laying on a dimly lit rock. He stands up and looks lost and confused. The rock is covered with petroglyphs, and he reaches to touch one but then pulls back. He looks at his surroundings and the camera sees too, sees the glass and steel and the concrete path built around the rock that he stands on. Then he is walking barefoot on the concrete path. A rabbit appears. Johnny sees the rabbit, reaches towards it, and it bites his hand. He jerks his arm back and looks at his bloody finger. A loud thumping sound is heard and there is a half-beat between each thump. End Scene]


Scene Three: Waking

[Johnny's mohawk is spiked-up for this scene]

[This scene begins with a camera shot of a sunrise, it's beautiful. The thumping sound is still heard with a half-beat between each thump. Then there is a shot of a fist pounding on a door. Then a shot of Johnny's eyes opening. He sits up quickly while choking and gasping as a women's voice can be heard yelling....]

Sarah: “JOHNEEEY, what the heck are you doing in there?”
[Shot of Johnny coughing and spluttering and breathing deeply]

Sarah: [shot of door and more loud knocking]
“You’ve been in there for like hours and I’ve gotta a piss like a race horse”
[Johnny doesn't answer; he just sits in the tub breathing]
“If you don’t come out like right now, then I’m gonna come in!!”
[Pause... and then angrily] “Are you listening?”, “what the hell are you doing in there?”

[Johnny gets his bearing this time and becomes aware of his surroundings; he clumsily replies {unknowingly} in Ojibwa]
Johnny: “ah…. gawiin gego…. Nga-gii-zhiitaa go wiiba”
(“ah…. nothing…. I’ll be finished soon”)

Sarah: “Stop messing around Johnny…. I’ve really got to go”

Johnny: “Naahaaw… Gaawiin njida…. Nga-gii-zhiitaa go wiiba…. daga-moozhginang ndahiiman”
(“Okay…. I’m sorry…. I’ll be right out… just let me get my stuff together”)
[As he talks Johnny wraps a towel around him self, closes his razor and gathers his clothing in his arms; then he opens the door and lets Sarah enter]

Sarah: [Brushes impatiently past Johnny into the bathroom saying....]
“Why the hell are you talking like that? You’re not funny you know…. stop pretending like you know how to speak…. Ah! My god what is that smell? It smells like bacon in here…. and why the hell is the CD player floating in the tub? That’s really stupid! You could electrocute yourself you know”

Johnny: “Gaawiin niinaa ngii-kendziin! Gii-bkobiise niina nbiing!” (“I don’t know, I guess maybe it fell in the water….”)

Sarah: “Aargh, stop talking like that. You don’t seriously think that it’s funny, do you? Ah, you know what, just get the hell out!”
[Sarah pushes Johnny out of the bathroom and slams the door shut. End Scene]


Scene Four: The Store

[This scene begins with a shot of a sun set. Music is playing. There is a shot of a convenience store sign. Johnny is outside the store, he looks cool and is wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans, and sunglasses. He enters the store and the music fades as he walks up to the counter]

Clerk: “Hey there, what could I do for ya?”

Johnny: “Boozhoo! Ah…. Aaniind na go nda-giishpinonaa semaa? Togwash go miinshin niizhoo-gchi-mkakoons miinwaa dash shkodens”
(“Hello! Ah…. Could I buy some cigarettes? Give me two king-size packs and a lighter please”)

Clerk: “Uh… what?”

Johnny: “Oh…. ah…. miinshin eta niizhoo-gchi-mkakoons miinwa shkodens”
(“Oh…. ah…. just give me two packs of king-size smokes and a lighter”)

Clerk: “Oh! You don’t speak English eh? Ah… Just…. point…. at…. what…. you…. want…. [Clerk speaks slowly and emphatically making hand gestures]

Johnny: [Speaking loudly] “Geget sinna! G-npaaj-dibenh na? Miinshin mkak-semaa!”
(“God damn it! What’s your problem? Just give me a pack of cigarettes!”)

Clerk: “Wow… calm down…. now what is it…. that you want?

Johnny: “Saaaaay…. maaaaa, Nwii-yaawaa…… semaa”
(“Ciiiig…. arrr…. ettes…. I…. would…. like…. ciiig…. arrr…. ettes”)
[Johnny speaks slowly mocking the stupid way the clerk speaks, and at the same time happens to point at the cigarettes behind the counter]

Clerk: “Oh…. you want cigarettes! Which…. kind…. would…. you… like… [Clerk asks with hand gestures in a Jack Black sort of way]

Johnny: [Sighing loudly he points at a brand, takes a lighter off a display, pays for the items, and leaves. End Scene]


Scene Five: The Bar

[Johnny walks into a bar, he no longer wears sunglasses. Music is playing in the background. A server sees him, smiles, and comes in his direction]

Server: “Hi there, what could I do for you?”

Johnny: “Oh…. Boozhoo, Nda-ndawendaan biitewaagmiseg!”
(“Oh…. Hi, I need a beer!”)

Server: “Ah…. Oookaay! I have no idea what you just said! Umm… Do you speak any English?”

Johnny: [Angrily] Geget Sinaa! Ndi-zhaagnaashiim! Miinshin biitewaagmiseg! Kino gwaya bmaadizjig gii giiwnaajidibewag? [To the Server] Ogwash go…. wiindimooshin! G-nsostam na ekidiyaanh?
(“God Damn it! I am Speaking English! Just give me a beer! Has the whole world gone crazy? [To the Server] Please…. tell me that you understand what I’m saying?”)

Server: Wow, calm down. Now…. what…. can…. I…. get…. for…. you? [Speaking slowly with hand gestures]

Johnny: “OHHH…. Gaawiin miinwa! Ntam nwiijkiiwenh ngii-wiindimaag giiwnaadaangidoonyaanh, mish miinwaa aw daawe-niniiyish, miinwaa aw ziignige-niniiyish! Aanish go na ezhiwebak noongoom?”
(“OHHH…. Not again! First it was my friend telling me I was talking funny, and then it was that stupid guy at the store, and now the stupid bartender! What the hell is going on?”)

Server: “Oh, I have an idea…. what…. is it…. that…. you…. want? Just…. point…. at it, okay?”
[Server speaks slowly with hand gestures and indicates towards the refrigerator behind her with its glass front through which an assortment of alcoholic beverages can be seen]

Johnny: [Johnny sighs and says....] “Bezhigwaatig naan-midina”
(“One bottle of fifty”)
[ he points at, and the camera sees a bottle of Labatt's 50 in the fridge, we also see the brand of beer next to it. He puts a bill on the counter, and then slumps on the bar in exasperation with his head on his folded arms]

Johnny: [Johnny's beer arrives and he remains slumped on the bar. Several beats pass before he sits up and looks at his beer and notices that it's not the right brand that he pointed at. He sighs, mumbles a complaint, and then takes a long swig anyways]
“Ziignige-niniiyish gii-npaaj-biidood biitewaagmiseg!”
(“The stupid bartender brought the wrong beer!”)


Scene Six: The Dog

[This scene takes place at Millennium Park in downtown Peterborough, Ontario. It is night time. There is a shot of the sign that reads: "Nogojiwanoong, The Place at the End of the Rapids". There is a sweeping shot of the park which runs along the Otonabee River, and a shot of the metal wolf sculpture with the looming M&R building in the background. There is a shot of Johnny sitting on a slab of concrete and the train-track bridge stretching over the river is seen directly behind him. Johnny looks thoughtful as he smokes a cigarette, after a minute he speaks...]

Johnny: “Geget sinaa! Wegensh na ezhiwebak noongoom?”
(“God damn it! What is going on today?”)
[Johnny says angrily as he throws his cigarette away and cradles his head in his hands. Several beats pass. A dog appears wagging its tail and looking for attention]

Johnny: “Nimoosh? Wii-yaawaa na nimshish? Maajaan, maajaan, nmadabin!
(“A dog? What do you want you stupid dog? Come here, come here, and sit down!”) [The dog listens and sits down next to Johnny who pets the dog absently]

Johnny: (“Naahaaw, nmaajaan nimshish….”)
(“Okay, go away you stupid dog….”)
[The dog listens and starts to leave. Beat]
“Hey bekaa! G-nisotoo na go? Bskaabiin!
(“Hey wait a minute! You can understand me? Come back here!”)

[The dog returns when Johnny calls it back. Happy that the dog understands him he gives it a big hug. Afterwards the dog runs away and Johnny gives chase. He follows it across the train-track bridge over the river. The dog stops near a bench in a small park overlooking the river from the opposite side. The color of this scene should look like Gericault's painting "The Raft of the Medusa"]


Scene Seven: Jenny

[Out of breath, Johnny takes a slumped position on the park bench while absently petting the dog. He begins to speak, oblivious as an elderly Nishinaabe woman who is futuristically dressed {like the film 'The Matrix'} appears on the bench beside to him]

Johnny: Naamdamwinish iw…. waaboozoonyish aw…. miinwa bemaadizijig gaawiin nisotaagosiig gego kidiyaanh Ngii-kid…. kino na kiing eyaajig nda-giimoji-nzhiigenmigok! Nimoosh eta niijkiwenh!”)
(“That stupid dream…. with that stupid rabbit…. and stupid people who can’t understand anything that I say…. the whole world is against me! Only the dog is my friend!”)

Jenny: “Kaa, Gaawiin dibwewin aasinoo, Ge-giibaajizhiyaa, Gaawiin aasinoo! Kino go kiing eyaajig yaawag eyaayin… mii sa go enendaagok!
(“That isn’t true, you’re being foolish, and it’s quite the opposite! The entire world is on your side…. it just seems that way”)

Johnny: “Kaa, G-debwe go! Pii Giigdoyaanh, bemaadizijig gaawiin na-nsotaagsiig…. Hey…. Bekaa…. G-nisotoo na go?
(“No, it’s true! When I talk, people don’t understand me and…. Hey… wait a minute…. [Surprised, Johnny looks up from his slumped position]…. can you understand me?)

Jenny: “Mii go geget, Giin sa go naa ggiibaadiz…. aaniish go na ezhignoonaa giish pin
Nsostooyimba? Wiindimooshin shkiniigish, aaniish go naa ga zhi-ntaa nishinaabemoyan? Aabiji go naagod ensa ngodemowin ji Nishinaabemowaapa! Aabiji ngchi-nendam noondoonaa giigdooyin!
(“Of course I can, you’re being foolish…. how could we be talking if I couldn’t understand you? Tell me young man, how did you learn to speak so well? It isn’t very common for one from your generation to be a speaker! Though I am happy to hear you speak!)

Johnny: “Wegnesh go na debaataamon mdimooyenyish? Kino gwaya gii-kendaan waa-zhi-niishinaabemod.
(“What are you talking about you crazy old woman? Everyone knows how to speak”)

Jenny: “Enh, gaawiin kina gwaya ntaa nishinaabemosii”! (” Yes, but not everyone can speak in Ojibwe!”)
[Johnny goes silent, looking at Jenny in confusion]
“Shkiniigish, aabiish enji baayin? Miinwa aabiish gaa-nji-kendimon waa-zhi-nishinaabemoyin?”
(“So young man, where are you from? And where did you learn to speak Ojibwe so well?)

Johnny: “Kaa go ngoji”
[A pause, and then absently] “No where”

Jenny: “Aambe shkiniigish, kina go ngoji bemaadizid binji-baa”
(“Come now young man, everyone is from somewhere”)

Johnny: “Kaa…. Ndi–kid…. gaawiin wii-kaa ngii-Ojibwemosii…. Mii na noongoom eniweyaanh? Mii na noongoom ezhi-naangidoonan? Mii na gwaya enji nsostoosig iw?”
[Thoughtfully] “No…. I mean…. I never learned to speak Ojibwe…. [Excitedly] Is that what I’m speaking right now? Is that what you’re speaking? Is that why no one can understand me?)

Jenny: “Mii go geget, gda-Ojibwem! Gwesin na gdib? Giiwnaaj-dibenaadig?”
(“Of course, you are speaking Ojibwe! Are you right in the head? Are you crazy?”)

Johnny: “Gaa naa ngii-kendiziin, Gnimaa-niinaa-giiwnaajndibenaadig! (“I don’t know, maybe I am crazy!)

Jenny: [pause] “Aniish ezhinikaazyin?”
(“What’s your name?”)

Johnny: “Niizhwaaswi-mshkode ndi-zhinikaaz, kiin dash?”
(“My name is Seven Fires, and you?”)

Jenny: “Hmm…. aapji-mshkawzimigad iw zhnikaazwin, Gda-gchi-nendaan iw zhnikaazwin!”
[Looking very serious] (“Hmm…. that’s a very powerful name, you should be proud of that name!”)

Johnny: “Aaniish edimon? Nda-aan memoonji zhinikaade nooswin! Gaawiin gchi-mshkawziimgaasinoo”
“What do you mean? I’ve got the most common name there is! It’s not powerful”

Jenny: “Gaawiin na gdi-nenziin iw gchi-piitendaagok zhinkaagoyin ezhi-waanjigewin iw sa aawaang gchi-mshkoziimgak iw sa niizhwaaswi-mshkode nikaazwin?”
[Looking cross] (“You don’t think that it’s important to be named after ‘The Prophecy of Seven Fires?’”)

John: “Gaawiin ndi-zhinikaazsii iw…. Jcha….aaauu….neeee, niinaa ndi-zhinikaaz, ndi-nendam!”
(“But that’s not my name…. my name is… Jcha…..aaauu…..neeee, at least, I think it was anyway!”)
[Before Johnny says his name he pauses to think, and then he says 'Johnny' awkwardly as if he's never said the name before]
“Naahaaw, aaniish dash ezhinikaazyin?
(“Well, what’s your name?”)

Jenny: “Aanzhenii Ndizhinikaaz”
(“My name is Jenny/Angel”)

Johnny: “Ngchi-nendam-nkweshkonaa Aanzhenii, debwewin, ngchi-nendam gnoonaa. Ngii-de-gwiinindam go, eko gzhebaagak go, gaawiin go gwaya ngii-nsostaagsii gego kidiyaanh. Geget na go nda-Ojibwemowem?”
(“Well, it’s nice to meet you Jenny, or more truthfully, it’s a relief to talk to you. I was starting to get worried, since this morning, everyone I tried to talk to couldn’t understand a word I said! Am I really speaking Ojibwa?)

Jenny: “Enh, mii go geget! [Pause] Gnabaaj sa go naa gdebwenaadig? Gii-gshkoz na gzheb Ojibwemoyaan?
(“Yes, of course! [Pause] But, is it true? Did you wake up this morning just speaking Ojibwa?”)

Johnny: “Enh, Ngii-nendam go” (“Yes, I think so”)

Jenny: “Miinwa go noongoom, gda-zhaaganaashiim na?”
(“And now, can you speak English?”)

Johnny: “Gaawiin dash nda-nendisii!” (“I don’t think so!”)

Jenny: “Debwetaan! Giish pin zhaagnaashiimoyaan kidoyaanh dash ‘you have a silly haircut, you smell funny, and your left ear is lower then the other one?’”
(“Prove it! What if I said in English that: ‘You have a silly haircut, you smell funny, and your left ear is lower then the other one?’”)

Johnny: “Baaahh…. Gaawiin kino ne’en debwenan aanzinoon mdimooyenyish…. gaawiin nokiimgaasinoon ne’en…. Nsostaawag go giw annind Zhaaganaashiimowaad…. gaa dash, niin da-nendam iw…. gaawiin sa nda-nwesii!”
(“Baaahh…. none of those things are true you sneaky old woman…. it doesn’t work like that…. I can understand when other people speak English…. But, I think that…. I just can’t speak it!”)

Jenny: “Naahaaw, kidan dash gego zhaaganaashiimong”
(“Okay, then say anything in English”)

Johnny: “Gego naa zhaagnaashiimong”
(“Anything in English”) [Tentatively]

Jenny: “Huh, Gdebwe na? Aabijig go migeyaamigad!”
(“Huh, you’re telling the truth aren’t you? That’s really strange!) [Thoughtful pause]

“Aabji go megzi nimoosh eta enishinaabemod”
(“Stranger then my dog who speaks Ojibwa”)

“Maajaan nimosh, Manitou zhinikaazo, miinwa Mnis gdoonjiba”
(“Come here dog, his name is Manitou because he comes from the Island”) . [Jenny calls the dog over, and absently pets it]

Johnny: “G-dbenmaad na nimoosh?”
[Surprised] (“It’s your dog?”)

Jenny: “Enh…. Gaawiin aw nimshish gii-bzensii, bamaa pii go gaa-nshkaadiziiyaanh miinwaa gaa-giiwnaadenmaa, mii dash gii-noondaagoziitowag gii-nokaaziiyaan gii-Ojibwetawaag aw sa nimshish…”
(“Yes…. That dog wouldn’t listen to anything, until one day I got so mad and upset that I started to scream at it in Ojibwa….”)

“…mii dash miinwaa gii-nokendaamog gii-ni-bzendang kina gego ekidiiyaanh! Ngii-naa, nmaadibin, gwiishimon, miptoon… kina go gego gaa-nag gii-ojibwetowag”
(“….and the next thing I knew it was obediently doing everything I said! Sit, stand, lie down, run… anything as long as it was said in Ojibwa”)

“Gii-kendan nag ego? Gaagwa gwaya genigeng gwaya daa-wiindimowaasiin nimooshan gego wii-zidchiged”
(“And do you know what? Barely anyone else can tell that dog what to do”)

“Baamaa pii ngii-nokendan eta aw gaa-dibenmaad nimooshan gii-ni-Ojibwemtawad”
(“It wasn’t until later that I found out that his previous owner only new how to speak in Ojibwa”)

“Mii dash maanda gii-nsostamaa eta aw nimoosh gii-nishinaabemo!”
(“So, that was how I solved the mystery of the Nishinaabe-nimosh!”)

“Boo’aaj dash go… Ngii-ni-nendam maanda gaa-zhiwebak da-ni -znagad”
(“But…. I think that in your case it’s going to be a bit trickier”)

Johnny: “Onhh, mii gaa-wnji-nsostam nimoosh ekidiyaanh!”
(“Oh, so that’s the reason why the dog can understand me!”)

Jenny: [Pause] “Hmm…. mewzha gii-ni-nishinaabemom eta gii-ni-shkiniigyan, gii-ni-baangdibeshimigonaadig epiich nbaayaan dibikoong, mii-dash kina gii-ni-biidoowasinogen kidiwenan gdibang!”
[Pause] (“Hmm…. long ago, maybe you were exposed to the language at a very young age and you bashed your head while you were sleeping last night, and all those words came flooding back into your brain!”)

“Kaa, esa naa goopidad! Hmm… Wiindimooshin, gda-kendaan na go ooshime gwii-ji-bmaadiz! Wegnesh dash enendamon iidig maanda enji zhiwebak enaandigedoonan?”
(“No, that’s stupid! Hmm… Tell me, you would know more then anybody else! What do you think is the reason for the way you’re speaking?”)

“Gego na gii-zhiwebzinaaba noongoom naanimii?”
(“Did anything out of the ordinary happen recently?”)

Johnny: “Gego…. Ngii-zhichigenaaba gego bangii gaa-gopidad dbikoong…”
(“Well…. I did kind of do something really stupid last night…”) [pause]

Jenny: “Naahaaw, aanshji, wiindimooshin!”
(“Okay, go ahead, tell me!”)

Johnny: “Ngii-bchi-niiswebshkan mdewechgan biinji gziibiigzhe-naaganing dbikoong…. mii dash gii-waasimoondizyaanh gaawiin gshkozisii bijiinag zhebaa”
(“I accidently knocked the radio into the bath tub last night…. and then electrocuted myself, and I didn’t gain consciousness until this morning”)

Jenny: “Huh, Gdebzi sa go bimaadiziiyan! Gaawiin nsodwaaminaagsinoo, gego na gii-bkaan-zhwebad?”
(“Huh, you’re lucky to be alive! But, that doesn’t really explain anything, did anything different happen?”)

Johnny: “Ngii-me-bwaajge sa ge maapii”
(“I did have this really weird dream afterwards”)

Jenny: “Mii sa iw, mii sa gnaabaaj gego digoshinaang! Wiindimooshin megwaaj gaa-naabndamon”
(“That’s it, now we’re getting somewhere! Tell me about the dream”)

Johnny: [As Johnny recounts his dream, his words become a narration as the events from "Scene Two: The Dream" are replayed for the viewer]
“Aapji go gii-dbaakaaminaagod. Aasmaabikoong dash ngii-yaa; Mii iw kenoomaage-waabkoong”
(“It was dark. I was on top of this rock; it was a teaching rock {petroglyph rock}”)

“Ngii-yaa binji-gamigoong gaa-biikoonkawang miinwa gaa-waachiganikaadeg. Miinwaa dash…. ngii-nomose miikaansing aashbikoong”
(“I was inside a building made of steel and glass. And then…. I was on the concrete path surrounding the rock”)

“Ngii-waabmaa waabshki-waabooz sinni-waabkoong. Ngii-oo-dang naa dash, mii dash miinwaa ngii-dkomig ninjiing mii dash gii-miskwiiyaanh, mii dash gii-gshkwaaseyaanh!”
(“I saw a white tailed rabbit on the concrete. I went to touch it, but it bit my hand and made me bleed, and then I woke up. But…. it was only a dream!”)

Jenny: “Enh, gii-naabndamwin eta! Aanind naabndamwin gii-zhwebad besha-nbodwin. Nangodinong giish pin waabmaadaamon gego megwaaj epiichi naabndamon gego, mnidoog gii-biindge gdoo-gjichaakiming miinwa gego wiindmaag. Wiikaa na gnoondan Jiiyaa-waabooz aadsookaan?”
(“Yes, it was only a dream! But some dreams occur at a level near death. Sometimes, if you see things in a dream, it is the minidoo’s entering your being and communicating with you. Have you ever heard of Jiibay-aabooz?”)

Johnny: “Bangii eta” (“Only a little bit”)

Jenny: “Gchi-mewzha, epiichi shki’aawid ki. Winoh minwaa Epingishmod gii-yaawaan niiwin gwiswaan: Maadjii-kawis, Paakwis, Jiiyaa-waabooz, miinwaa Nanaboozoo”
(“Long ago, when the earth was young, this happened. Winonah and Epingishmok (the west wind) had four sons named Maadjii-kawis, Paakwis, Jiiyaa-waabooz, and Nanaboozoo”)

“Jiiyaa-waabooz gii-eko-zsing gii-zhigaabwi”
(“Jiiyaa-waabooz was their third son”)

“Ngoding gii bmaadzi, miinwaa gii-zhinikaazo ‘Waab-oozoo’”
(“At one time he was alive, and his name was ‘Waab-oozoo’ {rabbit}”)

“Gii-mino-kenoomaage niibino gego ezhiwebak maan pii kiing”
(“He taught humankind many good things”)

“Maanda dash bezhig gaa-kenoomaaged wii-ntaa dbaajimodtwad Minidoo’s enaamdang miinwaa enaabinjiged”
(“And one of those things he taught them was how to communicate with the Minidoo’s in dreams and visions”)

“Ngoding ekwesdadiwaad ezhi-nwedawaad miinwaa wiijkiiwenyin, Maadjii-kawis gii-baapinodwaan Waaboozoon”
(“But one time at a gathering of family and friends, Maadjii-kawis made fun of Waaboozoo”)

“Mii dash Waaboozoo gii-maanenmod Mudjii-kawisan, Gii-naad: “Waawiinj gwewedig miigaazo-nini miinwa dash nga-miingaanag!”
(“And then Waaboozoo challenged Maadjii-kawis, he said: ‘Name any warriors and I will fight them!’”)

“Mii dash Maadjii-kawis gaa-kidod: Waabmaadaa ji miigaanod aw Bbooni-ezhtood”
(“And then Maadjii-kawis said: ‘Let’s see you fight Winter-maker’”)

“Baamaa dash pii, Waaboozoo gii-ninbo”
(“But then later on, Waaboozoo died in the process”)

“Baamaa naagach Nanaboozoo gii-ni-sodaawendam, mii dash gii-damaad mnidoon wii-bskabiwinaad wiikaanebaniin enji-bmaadizing kiing”
(“Afterwards Nanaboozoo was very saddened, so he called on the spirits to return his brother to the world of the living”)

“Mii dash Waaboozoo gaa-ji-bskaabiid, gii-ni-jiibaawi dash, mii dash gii-ni-gimaakaadang nami-kiing!”
(“And then Waaboozoo did return, but as a ghost, and as the ruler of the underworld!”)

“Mii dash enji zhinkaazod noongom Jiiyaa-waabooz”
(“And that’s why he is now called Jiiyaa-waabooz”)

Johnny: “Aanii dash maanda dbaajimmowin enaabidak nji sa gaa-naamdamaa?”
(“So, what does this old story have to do with my dream?”)

Jenny: “Enh, bangii go, nangodinong naamdimowin gchi-twaa’endaagod”
(“Yes, a little bit, sometimes dreams are special”)

“Ge-nendimin go gii-gchi-naamdamon, miinwaa dash gaa-bzendawag mnidoog miinwaa dash gda-zhidchge waa-yaamiwaad!”
(“I think that you had a very powerful dream, and that you should listen to the spirits, and then you should do what they want!”)

Jenny: [Jenny stands up]
“Naahaaw, Mii wi. Nwii-maajiyaa nongom. Giin Shkiniigish, maajaan maanpii naagaj nbwaachiweshin miinwa wiindimooshin gaa-zhiwebak! Baamaa pii gwaabmin”
(“Okay, that’s it. I have to leave now. You young man, come back here later and visit and tell me how everything turns out! Good bye”)
[Jenny disappears. Johnny sighs and slumps on the bench with his head cradled in his hands. End Scene]


Scene Eight: The Petroglyphs

[This scene begins with a camera shot of a sunrise, it's beautiful. The sun time-lapses moving quickly across the sky, and then sets, it's beautiful]

[It is night. There is a camera shot of flowing water, it's a churning river, and in the darkness you can see the whiteness from where it flows over rocks. Then there is a loud noise like screaming or a hurricane, followed by silence and darkness.]

[It is night. A loud industrial genre of music is heard during this part. There is a camera shot of the Peterborough Petroglyphs sign. A car drives into a wooded parking area and its headlights turn off. In the car Johnny puts on a balaclava, grabs a backpack and a crow bar, and then gets out. Camera shot of a building, and then of Johnny approaching it. Johnny uses the crowbar on a door forcing it open. The loud music stops as Johnny enters and there is silence. Inside is where his dream with the rabbit took place. Johnny takes off his balaclava and walks up to the high point on the concrete path. He sets aside his crow bar, and takes items out of his backpack. He smudges using sweet grass, takes off his shoes, climbs over the railing onto the rock, and puts down an offering of tobacco onto the stone altar. He climbs back over the railing. On the spot where the rabbit bit him, using a hammer and a chisel, Johnny carves an image onto the cement pathway. This scene ends as a loud thumping sound is heard, and there is a half-beat between each thump]


Scene Nine: The Eighth Fire

[Camera shot of a sunrise, it's beautiful. The thumping sound is still heard with a half-beat between each thump. Then there is a shot of a fist pounding on a door. Then a shot of Johnny's eyes opening. He sits up quickly while choking and gasping as a women's voice can be heard yelling....]

Sarah: [Calling through a door] “JOHNEEEY, What the heck are you doing in there?

Johnny: [Shot of Johnny opening his eyes and sitting up in the tub] “Ah…. gawiin gego…. Nga-gii-zhiitaa ga wiiba”

Sarah: What did you say?

Johnny: “I said that I’m not doing anything, and that I’ll be finished soon” [End Scene]

Mii Wi (The End)



1 The dialogue in this script is almost entirely in the Ojibwa language, English translation of this dialogue is included. On screen, this may require English subtitles.

2 All music in this project should be the work of local musicians from Peterborough, Ontario!

3 Ideally, this scene would be filmed at the Peterborough Petroglyphs. I am aware that there are Cultural Protocols that forbid the use of electronic devices to record the Petroglyphs, but I can’t stress it enough that direct recording of the Petroglyphs is not necessary for this project. More important is the space and the interior aesthetics of the building, and that the viewer simply understand that this scene takes place at the Petroglyphs, without actually seeing them.

4 Note that this carving does not actually have to be carved into the cement pathway at the Petroglyphs. It can be carved into an individual slab of concrete, and the recording of Johnny making the carving can simply be done in a room with similar lighting.