Important Phrases

—General Concepts—

Mookomaan/Mōhkomān: (Anishinaabemowin/Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): “Long Knives.” White person (singular), settler – person from the east.

Pāhsetonaewak: (Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): White people, settlers.

Tiahui: (Nawatl): Moving forward with no retreat.

—Politics & Ideology—

Doodem/Otōta͞em/Kahwá:tsire: (Anishinaabemowin/Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen/Kanien’kéha): Clan. Whether the clan membership is traditionally patrilineal or matrilineal varies from nation to nation .

Iakoiá:ner: (Kanien’kéha): Clan Mothers, Title Holder, “they know the path”, “good path maker”, “good”, “noble” within the Rotinonshón:ni.

Kaianere’kó:wa: (Kanien’kéha): (ga-yon-eh-ray-go-wa) “The Great Good Way”, “The Great Law”, “The Great Law of Peace”, “The Good Tidings of Peace and Power (and Righteousness)”, “The Great Binding Law”, “The Constitution of the Rotinonshón:ni”.

Nikan Titlakah: (Nawatl): “We People Here” (Nee-kahn Tit-lah-kah). Refers to the Indigenous peoples of Abya Yala. In this usage it refers to all of our peoples, full-blooded and mixed-blood: First Nations, Métis, Xikanos, Boricua, Genízaro, Inuit and the majority of the population of so-called “Latin Amerika.”

Ogimaa/Okēmāw/Roiá:ner: (Anishinaabemowin/Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen/Kanien’kéha): A chief. The method by which one assumed the position, their powers, and how (if) they could be removed from the position varied highly from nation to nation.

Onkwehón:we: (Kanien’kéha): “the original people” (oon-gway-hoon-way). Refers to First Nations people.

Onkwehonwe’neha: (Kanien’kéha): “the way of the original people” (oon-gway-hoon-way-NAY-ha).

Xikano-Mexikano (Chicano/Xicano-Mexicano): When the european spaniards invaded the western hemisphere they were unable to correctly pronounce the word “Mexikah.” (There is no “CH” sound in spanish.) So, when the spaniards phonetically wrote down the word Mexikah, they used an “X” to represent the unknown sound it produced. (In mathematics, “X” signifies an unknown value). As time passed, the “X” in Mexikah and Mexiko got changed into the Spanish “J” sound we hear today. As in Europe, the Spaniards added the suffix “ano” to the end of Mexikah – as a means of labeling which nation they belonged to. (In Europe, Italians were ItaliANOs, Spaniards were HispANOs, etc.) So, Mexikah (Meh-Shee-Kah) became Xikano/Mexikano (Meh-Hee-Kah-Noh) a word which has remained with us to this day. Xikano is a shortened way of saying MeXikano. This word has been in use since at least the 1600′s. A Xikano is an Indigenous person of Mexican background who resides in the so-called united states.

Xikano is also commonly spelled Chicano, and while both variations are in widespread usage, the difference in what the spellings imply is important. Xikano, compared with Chicano, represents an Indigenous and indigenist turn in Xikano identity and politics. A turn away from Mestizaje. To be Xikano is embrace indigeneity. For many years Xikano has been prefered over Chicano by activists and artists in reference to written Nawatl. Additionally, for many the “X” signifies lost and colonized history.


Animikii/Ena͞emaehkiw: (Anishinaabemowin/Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): (uh-nih-mih-kee/eh-nah-meh-kee) “Thunderer.” The Thunderbird. Beings common to many northern and western nations. They are the second highest beings in creation, just below the Great Mystery, existing in both the spirit realm and the material world. They are the defenders of the Earth Mother and her children, the Red Nations.

Atl Tlachinolli: (Nawatl): The sacred struggle between the dual aspects of nature; the water and the fire.

Dewe’igan Omi’giwen/Enāpahtan Nīmwan: (Anishinaabemowin/Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): The Dream Dance of the Woodlands Algonkian Nations. A post-invasion spiritual movement seeking to create a sense of unity Indigenous Peoples.

Gichi-Manidoo/Ma͞ec-Awa͞etok: (Anishinaabemowin/Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): (gih-chee-muh-nih-doo/mats-ah-watt-ok) The Great Spirit/Mystery. The divine, cosmic, creative force with no human form or attributes.

Huitzilopochtli: (Nawatl): “Hummingbird on the Left”; referring to the sun rising in the wintertime; a concept meaning the will of a person or people to be positive, progressive, and creative.

Kanonsehsneha: (Kanien’kéha): (ga-noon-ses-nay-ha) “The Long House Way”. The traditional ways of the Six Nations Confederacy.

Mexikahyotl (Mexicayotl): (Nawatl): “the essence of being Mexikah” or “all that is Mexikah”. In it’s simplest sense Mexikahyotl refers traditional foods, clothing, music, languages, cultures, cosmology, social organization, philosophies, etc. of those who identify as Mexikah. Today though for many indigenous-conscious Xikanos Mexikahyotl is also an ideological stance, a social movement and a life philosophy all rolled into one; for these revolutionary minded indigenous-conscious Xikanos to struggle for Mexikahyotl is to struggle for the autonomy and self-determination of indigenous people.

Midewiwin/Metewen: (Anishinaabemowin/Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): The Grand Medicine Society of the Maritimes, New England and Great Lakes regions.

Mixkoatl: (Nawatl): Cloud serpent; a snake with a large mouth, out of which deities and ancestors emerge; Sky Snake; the Milky Way.

Nanabozho(Nanabush)/Manabush(Manabozho): (Anishinaabemowin/Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): (nay-nuh-boo-zhoo/muh-nuh-boosh) The Trickster or Transformer; a centrally important figure in the stories of the Great Lakes Nations. Also called Michabo, “The Great Hare.”

Nokomis/Nōhkomaeh: (Anishinaabemowin/Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): (noh-kuh-miss/no-kuh-meah). The Earth Mother, Grandmother of Nanabozho/Manabush, whom she raised.

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