By: Christine McFarlane
Within the Aboriginal worldview, it is understood that if you belong to a certain ‘dodem’ such as deer, moose, buffalo etc, you cannot partake in eating them because it is considered a personal taboo, and a violation to the “blessings” in which their dodem can bring into your life.
Dodems are an integral part of an Anishinabe person’s life, because it is often through our relationship with our dodem that we learn of the roles that they can play in our daily lives, and how we are to carry on those roles ourselves. These blessings are strictly adhered to because they are considered gifts that are given to us by our ancestors, and in A. Irving Hallowell’s words in Chapter 6 “Religion, Moral Conduct, and Personality “the blessings obtained from other than human persons were never free gifts,” (92) and involved “reciprocal moral obligations on the part of the recipient.” (92)
Within the story of “The Woman Who Married A Beaver,” we are privy to how a woman through marriage learns to interact with what is clearly a dodem-the beaver. It is through her dodem of the beaver that I believe she learned the teachings of wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility and truth. It taught her how to be in the world, and that is clearly what our dodems are all about-teaching us and guiding us to live the good life- piimaatsawin.