Monday, August 4, 2014

Grand Monadnock ~ What does the name mean.

grand monadnock

chi monidou'nok


Article updated with additional information

Does it really mean mountain that stands alone? A good friend of mine lives near Grand Monadnock in New Hampshire. She is of Abaneki Ancestry and has been doing research to identify the aboriginal activity around the mountain prior to colonial settlement. The information about native use of the mountain is almost nonexistent and little factual information is available. Beth has read just about anything she could find on the subject. Recently she contacted Russ Moore. Russ is a witter and has done many articles about the Monadnock Region. He responded, properly I might add, and said this:
"The best evidence of Native Americans living on or near Mt. Monadnock is that it is a Western Abenaki word and they must have been in the area to give it a name later adopted by the European decent persons who explored the area in the late 1600s and early 1700s."                                                                                                                                                                 Russell Moore
With all that has been written about this great mountain it would seem that its human history prior to white settlement of the area is forgotten. Almost like it was a secret to be kept from the new people who had come.

So I responded to Beth's inquiry:

July 27, 2014

Booshoo Beth,

What you have gathered is pretty much all I have ever found historically about aboriginal occupation. Most Abaneki people that I have met have a rather different understanding but no proof that validates their knowledge. Based on the little I have been able to discover I tell my story of what I believe happened. It has very little information that documents the claims I make. Some Native heritage people like you Beth Royce, your grandfather, your great grandfather, Charlie Royce, Lee Willette and Sue Tirrell seem drawn here to take care of this place. To me that is a helpful confirmation of what Energy of Spirit desires.

One night I received a call from a Pottawatomie Ojibwa Chief, Nick, who lives in London, Ontario. He was calling to inquire about any stands of birch in the New Hampshire area that might be available for bark harvesting to build canoes. He was asking for my assistance to approach the state about the harvesting. In the conversation he inquired as to where I live. I told him I live on a mountain in a state reservation park located in south west New Hampshire. He asked if any Indians lived on the reservation. I told him there were no Indians here and he said that I was lucky. All of this in jest of course. He asked what the mountain was called. I told him it was known as Grand Monadnock.

The Pottawatomie language is Algonquin based and very close to the Abaneki language. The Pottawatomie settled in Wisconsin, Michigan primarily and are a part of the Ojibwa or Chippewa Confederation. Ojibwa tribes migrated from the east over the past thousand years.

Nick is a professor in Ontario and said that the name sounded Algonquin. He is a fluent speaker of Pottawatomie as well as many dialects of the Algonquin language group. I told him that it is said to mean: Mountain That Stands Alone. I went on to tell him that I tried to find a similarity to that meaning in Algonquin but could not. Nick began to sound it out ~ Monadnock, Grand Monadnock, Monidnock, Monidnik, Monitou Nic, Grand Monitou’Nic, Chi Monidou’Nic. He then said; Chi Monidou'nok meaning: Great Spirit Place. That could also translate into mountain that stands by itself due to the difficulty in translation into English.

The way that I tell it is that the first colonists that came here inquired to the local Indians about what they called the mountain. In their language they said the name. The colonists asked what that meant. At the time the Indians spoke very broken English without command of the definitions to the English words. I believe they told the colonist it meant Mountain That Stands Alone either because they did not know another way to define it in English or because it is a close definition and they did not want to disclose the great Spiritual meaning the mountain holds for them. Probably both reasons are why they said the meaning of the name in that way.

To the Western Abinake this is A Spirit Place, Chi Manitou’Nuc. Most tribes that I am in touch with have a specific mountain that is a powerful Spirit guide for their people. Those mountains are often unique in that they stand by themselves or tower over other mountains in the area. Mountains such as Bear Butte in South Dakota, Mt Carleton in New Brunswick, Katadin in northern Maine. These were places that were used as watch places to spot approaching threats and, more importantly, where the people, Medicine People, would commune with Spirit. Over the past nine years I have kept the fire for this Spirit place and I will do this to the end of my time if Spirit guides me to.         
Apane, Noodin

Well, maybe I am wrong!

As in any pursuit it takes time to find the truth of what is. It can be even more difficult when the people who hold that truth have become silent. The Western Abenaki people are still here but, sadly for many, the memory of the language is limited to a very few. The original posting of this article brought a response from one of those people. 

This is wrong, comes from Abaneki word "moniadenak" and means Silver mountain.
                                            Watie J Akins

This statement came from a man who I know to be very knowledgeable about the Western Abenaki people. He is, in fact, a man I consider to be one of my mentors. His name is Watie Akins and he was born on the Penobscot Reservation at Panawampskeag near Old Town, Maine. Watie has done extensive research pertaining to the Abaneki people. 

He tells it this way: "As my cultural knowledge expanded, it became evident that the Abenaki in Maine included the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Maliseet Tribes.  These groups had absorbed the remnants of the other northeast Tribes that were destroyed during the colonization of our territory.  With this knowledge, I turned my attention to the collection and learning of all the Abenaki music that I could locate in the (former) Abenaki territory, with my focus on keeping the old knowledge of our music alive."

Watie has produced CD's of the original songs of the Abenaki to preserve the music and culture of the people.
The CD “For the Grandchildren”, is the first of two CD’s

To honor a mountain

James B Beard aka Noodin
So why a white man keeping a fire to honor a mountain of ancient Spiritual meaning to the aboriginal people now called Indians. Well, look to the Algonquin Ojibwa prophesies. It is said that in the seventh time, this time, a white man will be involved in the return of the teachings held by the people. Algonquin language based people migrated and went to the place where food grows on the water. A white man will bring these things back to the east to be shared by all of the people who continue to live in the east. Maybe I am one of those white men. I don’t know. I do know that I am driven, I believe by Spirit, to learn from my Native brothers and to share, under their direction, what I have been given to share. Keeping a fire on this place, Grand Monadnock, is a part of what I feel given to do. If I am ever asked to leave this place I will keep the fire from afar and within my heart. Grand Monadnock is a part of who I have become. It is a part of my bundle.

Mii’sa ii euw


Post script from  Watie J Akins ....I believe the word comes from the Western Abenaki and is "moniadenak" and means At Silver Mountain. Could be the mountain that Escombuit got his silver from. 

Watie is Native American and one of my mentors. He is very knowledgeable in the Abenaki language.

Books :

“To be centered is to stand alone together” Noodin

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