Ajijaak on Turtle Island tells the story of Ajijaak, a young Whooping Crane. Separated from her family in a fire caused by the monstrous Mishepeshu, Ajijaak must make her first migration from Wood Buffalo, Canada down to the Gulf Coast on her own, finding her voice and a family through the interconnectedness of all of creation.
Ajijaak begins her travels with a medicine bundle given to her by her parents as her guide. She encounters deer, buffalo, coyote, and turtles as well as communities of people living in balance with their environments. These people share with Ajijaak prayers, songs, and dances that celebrate life on earth and help Ajijaak to find the meaning and strength of her own song.
It is with this song that Ajijaak must restore balance to Turtle Island and return Mishepeshu to sleep.
On her heroic journey, pieces of the Ojibwe, HoChunk, Lakota, and Cherokee Nations are highlighted along with cultural rituals and practices of Indigenous Peoples’ on Turtle Island (North America). Bringing community together through puppetry, traditional dances, animations, and kites, Ajijaak on Turtle Island reveals the symbiotic relationship between cranes and Native American/Indigenous people inspiring the next generation of eco-champions.
Photos by Carol Rosegg
Lehman Center for the Performance Arts, 2017