Unpacking Pimachesowin as a Framing Concept for Indigenous Self-Determination | Eyapachitayak Pimachesowin ta Othastamasoyak Nehithaw tipethimisowin


  • Bonita Beatty University of Saskatchewan




Pimachesowin, Indigenous Self-Determination, Pimâchihisowin, Pimacihowin, Acimowina, Oral History


Pimachesowin, the northern Cree term for making your own livelihood or charting your own way of life, is a rich, compact, and difficult term to unpack because it entails all aspects of life and its complex integrated processes (other Indigenous languages have their own ecquivalent terms). The concept’s resilience is sustained by its very complexity and fluidity to change. While Indigenous languages are stronger in the more remote communities, all Indigenous communities are struggling to protect their languages, and essentially their ways of life, against the many external marginalizing influences. This article suggests that pimachesowin (variant spellings include pimâcihisowin, pimâcihowin, pimachisowin) with its key elements, can serve as an effective conceptual framework for Indigenous self-determination and, as such, can help inform the development of more culturally responsive approaches to the many issues facing Indigenous self-determination. The key elements include land and resources, spirituality, autonomy (self-rule), livelihood knowledge and skills, hard work ethic, kinship bonds and networks, and cultural values (respect, responsibility, sharing, and resilience). These elements reflect findings of many studies that suggest that, despite numerous challenges, Indigenous Peoples still remain connected to land, livelihood, families and kinship, language, community, spirituality, and cultural values. This article is a chapter in the open textbook Indigenous Self-Determination through Mitho Pimachesowin (Ability to Make a Good Living), developed for the University of Saskatchewan course Indigenous Studies 410/810 and hosted by the Northern Review.

Author Biography

Bonita Beatty, University of Saskatchewan

Department Head and Faculty Member, Indigenous Studies.
Deschambault Lake, Northern Saskatchewan, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation
Guest Editor, The Northern Review 53