Chi-Naaknigewin: How we govern through our roles and responsibilities

Big Ideas

  • The Anishinaabeg have roles and responsibilities to care for each other as well as the lands, waters and all of creation.
  • These roles and responsibilities are outlined in Chi-Naaknigewin and other laws that are part of the governing system of the Anishinaabeg.
  • Laws are informed through our interaction with the natural world which includes all life (e.g., animals, plants, etc.) throughout the universe.
  • When these laws are not followed disease and other consequences such as climate change occur.
  • Following Chi-Naaknigewin through our roles and responsibilities ensures that future generations are able to enjoy a beautiful life.
  • Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe (One Anishinaabe Family) is the preamble to the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin. The Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin was developed by the Elders Council for the Anishinabek Nation to establish a governance structure.

Let’s Explore


  1. Watch the videos above (Or click on these links to watch the videos: Natural Law; Inaaknigewin with Isaac and Jerry; Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe)
  2. Engage in discussion using the suggested inquiry prompts:
  • How does using an approach of roles and responsibilities differ from a rights-based approach (e.g., I have a right to clean water vs I have a responsibility to ensure everyone has access to clean water)?
  • How does Chi-Naaknigewin inform a fundamental belief system in terms of the relationship with the lands and waters?  How would this impact the way decisions are made with respect to treaty agreements from the Anishinaabeg in that they would never cede or surrender the land?
  • What are some consequences of not following Chi-Naaknigwein?  How is this contributing to climate change?
  • How is Chi-Naaknigewin in contrast to the ideologies and practices of big corporations? How does this impact the environment?

Connecting Colonialism to Climate Change

  1. Watch the video above.
  2. Consider the following:
  • How is colonialism impacting climate change?
  • What are the consequences to resource extraction? How are Indigenous communities impacted? How does this compare to non-Indigenous communities?
  • How can corporations be held accountable for contributing to climate change and the destruction of the environment?

Investigate the impacts of resource extraction

Students can explore the provocation for inquiry: Is there such a thing as responsible resource extraction?

This is based on the activity from:

The following slide deck is available for teachers to use:

Celebrating the proclamation Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin every June 6. Anishinaabe Giizhigad.

Copyright 2020 @ Union of Ontario Indians | All Rights Reserved