What Does Namebini Mean?

It’s a question we’ve been asked often.  Namebini is a portion of the Ojibwe word for the Sucker River that flows through one of our properties.  The full Ojibwe name is Namebini-ziibi.  This directly translates to “Sucker River”.  Namebini is pronounced NAM-uh-BIN-ee, similarly to the Namekagon (NAM-uh-KAH-gun) River, near Hayward Wisconsin.

The sucker holds an important place in Ojibwe culture, and is the symbol for the month of February: Namebini-giizis, or Sucker-Fish Moon.  It is taught that the sucker gave up its life for the Ojibwe in the month of February.  The previous month, January, is the hardest time of year to get food because of the scarceness of game.  In some places, in February it is easier to net these fish and it is believed that the sucker is giving its life for the people.   On the Sucker River, a large run of longnose suckers ascend the river each spring in May, bringing native fish up from Lake Superior into the lower river.  

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