Lodge shares Ojibwe practices with global visitors

By Sandi Krasowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Chronicle-Journal

When author, lodgekeeper and elder Cindy Crowe relocated to the Municipality of Neebing in 2017 to open her Niibing Tribal Tours lodge, she knew there was a deeper meaning in the word Neebing.

“And sure enough,” she said, “I found that it was Niibin in Ojibwe, which means ‘it is summer.’ I thought well, that’s a perfect name for a tourism business and the Niibing Tribal Tours began.”

Crowe, who is Ojibwe and a member of the Opwaaganisiniing Red Rock Indian Band, has a rich ethnic Ojibwe background. She says purchasing the land fulfils her lifelong dream to live in the “bush next to water” while offering tribal tourism opportunities to global visitors.

Last month, she was part of a Neebing Municipality business tour and hosted the entourage at her lodge.

“Anybody from around the world could come and visit out here. I can pick them up (at our international airport), we might take a run out to the Amethyst Mine or Kakabeka Falls to share some of the beauty with them and give them whatever experiences they would like to have while they’re here,” she said.

She added that it is her passion to share the concepts of “all my relations” and our interconnectedness with the animals, trees, plants, mountains, water and all the other beings of mother Earth.

Crowe’s guest excursions include treks to the amethyst mine and Fabricland so they could purchase materials to later make ribbon skirts at the lodge.

“They even make their own hand drums out of deer hide that I get from

Quebec,” she said. “It’s a very special experience too, because it’s the first time that their voice and the voice of the drum are connected. It’s very lovely. We’ve made more than 200 hand drums (since we opened).”

Guests will also pick firewood, build a sweat lodge and spend time inside.

“We look forward to it every year,” she said. “I can do that with anyone that wants to come out here (and give them) whatever kind of experience they would like to have because I’m happy to share the initial Ojibwe practices.

Crowe called that her “spiritual role.”

“I’m a lodge keeper. I’m responsible for a teaching lodge and I get to do that here every day,” she said.

Crowe described a large grey wolf pelt that she received as a keepsake during a midday ceremony.

“In the belly, you can feel a little clump of something. That’s eight medicines in there. I received her around 2010. It’s a very old, old ceremony,” she said.

Crowe held sage that was harvested from her small medicine garden. She also held sweet grass, which she called “the sacred medicine.”

“Once you smell sweet grass, you don’t ever forget that smell,” she said. “You’ll be standing in a field somewhere and you’ll (recognize it).”

Another sacred item that Crowe received following an Ayahuasca ceremony is a wolf paw, which doubles as a medicine bag. A weasel hide that she received is representative of the little people, she said.

“Some people call them the Elementals. I have an area over there where I bring my grandchildren and other children and show them where the fairies like to live. We have a little house out there for them,” she said.

Crowe held up seeds that came from the Peruvian Amazon jungle. “They are from an elder who practices with Ayahuasca medicine. He gave them to myself and my daughter for protection,” she said. Crowe held her abalone shell that she uses for smudging.

“Smudging is a ceremony in itself where we will burn the sage or the sweet grass that’s going to blow away in the wind. We would bring the smoke across our bodies for cleansing and preparations for ceremonies,” she said.

Crowe is preparing the site to offer wedding ceremonies and is in the process of becoming registered as an officiant.

“It is a very beautiful spot. My daughter had her wedding here last year and people were encouraging me to do it as a profession. So why not? Why not invite joy?” she said.

For more information or to book a tour, contact Cindy Crowe at crowe@tbaytel.net. Day passes are available and arrangements can be made for day experiences