Moses Starr – 1959 Speaker
1959 Speaker of Biigtigong Nishnaabemwin
Moses was a fluent speaker of Nishnaabemwin who loved to laugh. His laughter was the source of much happiness for his family and community. Moses appreciated the simple things in life. He did not complicate life; he understood the importance of love, kindness, and caring. As a father to Tom, Leonard, Abraham, Allen, Veronica, Lucy, Emil and Annie, Moses stressed the significance of strong family relationships. He loved and treasured his children and grandchildren. Moses spent time transferring Nishnaabe values and knowledge to his family and others. He appreciated the richness that came from family and community life.
Much of Moses’s life was spent on the water. He had a profound respect for, and intimate knowledge of, Gchigam (Lake Superior) and the waterways in our Biigtigong territory. Moses understood the importance of water to life and to our Nishnaabe way of being. He understood the teachings and lessons which derived from the water and the land. He knew his place in the universe and understood the complex relationships and connections. He lived his life aware of his connection to all things. Moses successfully passed these insights on.
Raised in a home where Nishnaabemwin was the primary language spoken, Moses became a proficient first-speaker of our language. Nishnaabemwin was not only his first language, it was the language which connected him to everything in the world. For example, when Moses looked at a raccoon, he did not just see a raccoon; he also saw who our ancestors saw: esban, a “being who used to be a shell.” Through his active awareness of these interconnections, revealed so vividly by our language, Moses lived his life as a Nishnaabe within our unique Biigtigong Nishnaabe universe.
Moses understood that our true power as Nishnaabeg lies ultimately in our relationships with our relatives, our language, our land, our history, our ceremonial life, and ourselves. He reminds us that it is our responsibility to think, speak, and behave like Nishnaabeg.