Dish With One Spoon


Image courtesy Ogimaa Mikana Project.

The Ogimaa Mikana Project proclaims Indigenous presence in cities that have emerged on Anishinaabe territory.  By fixing Anishinaabemowin on billboards and street signs, this artist collective brings awareness to an original local language and culture that Canada tried to erase.  The Parkdale billboard depicted in this photo reminds Toronto residents that they are on Dish With One Spoon territory.  The Dish With One Spoon wampum agreement is an Indigenous citizenship law made between Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe nations in 1701 (Borrows in Craft 2013, 24) that extends from Montreal to Fort Erie (Maracle, L. 2015).  It consists of three basic rules (Hill in Maracle, C. 2015):

         1) Take only what you need

         2) Leave some for everybody else

         3) Keep it clean   

Mohawk activist Sigrid Kneve demonstrated how to honour this law when I asked her in 2015 why she cooked and brought meals every Sunday to feed homeless people at Allan Gardens.  “We don’t let people starve on our territory,” she stated.

Historical Thinking Questions

Check out the links below and answer the following questions. 

The Historical Development of the Indian Act  p. 114 (indicated in the top right corner of the page)

Stolen Children Residential school survivors speak out 

Ruby’s Story in âpihtawikosisân

1.   To what extent are you aware of the Indigenous languages, cultures and governing systems of the land you live on?  (Historical Significance)

2.  How has Duncan Campbell Scott’s goal to erase Indigenous identity and culture remained consistent throughout the years in Canadian education systems and in Canadian society in general?  (Historical Significance)

Looking after Gdoo-naaganinaa: Precolonial Nishnaabeg Diplomatic and Treaty Relationships by Leanne Simpson

3.  What were the Cree expectations for the treaty relationship with settlers on Cree territory, according to Cree law?   Why did settlers not follow these expectations?  Explain why Canadians today might be willing to honour these laws.  (Historical Perspective) 

4.  What does Bimaadiziwin mean, and what territory does it come from?   Evaluate its relevance to settler and Indigenous societies since before contact until today.  (Historical Significance) 

5.  How does Bimaadiziwin influence notions of traditional leadership and diplomacy?  When the Canadian government and church officials sought to erase Indigenous traditional knowledge as savage, what on Earth were they thinking?  (Historical Perspective) 

6.  How does the traditional knowledge of Gdoo-Naaganinaa provide a template for a respectful relationship between Canada and First Nations? (Historical Significance)    


Craft, A. 2013. Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One. Vancouver, BC: Purich Publishing.

Maracle, C. (2015). Grandfather of All Treaties. Toronto, Ontario: Vtape.

Maracle, L. (2015).  Indigenous Citizenship: Discussion with Jeff Corntassel, Lee Maracle, and Latisha Reddick. First Nations House, University of Toronto Indigenous Education Week.