NYLE MIGIZI JOHNSTON – WiishkisiMigiziNini, Whistling Eagle Man, is of the Little People Clan from the Neyaashiinigmiing First Nations


NyleJohnstonHowDeepOurRootsMuracopylIn celebration of the How Deep Our Roots public art project, contemporary muralist, Nyle Migizi Johnston transformed the Gallery’s loading dock door located at Second Avenue West in Owen Sound for his 11.5 x 14 foot mural.  The mural entitled, “MIIGWETCH ANIMIKII BINEEYHNSHI (THANK YOU THUNDERBIRD SPIRIT),” depicts a colourful and striking Thunderbird image united with an Anishnaabe Medicine Person.  This mural acts as larger visual teaching tool sharing the rich history and culture of the Anishnaabe Nation.

Artist’s Statement

The Anishinaabe people use the Thunderbird as their symbol to represent their nation. The Thunderbirds are a Manidoo (Manitou, Spirit) second only to Gzhi Manidoo (Creator). They are not only Keepers of the Water but protectors of NaanKummikAsiniKwe (Under the Earth Rock Woman, Mother Earth). When Mother Earth is thirsty, she will call to the Thunderbirds to bring water. When a forest or prairie needs revitalization, the Thunderbirds will stoke the fires. Anishinaabe people believe that the Thunderbirds appear akin to Eagles, sometimes shape shifting into Eagles to watch from the skies before ascending out of sight into the clouds. When the Thunderbirds hear the call from Mother Earth for water, the Thunderbirds will gather the clouds and take off from the mountains in the West and soar across Turtle Island Eastwards. When they flap their wings it produces a deafening thunder with bolts of lightning shooting out from their eyes. The Thunderbirds looks into the West because Anishinaabe people believe the Thunderbirds dwell in the western mountains. The Medicine person gazes into the East to greet the Morning Star as it rises every day. This image is intended to be a teaching   tool, similar to the Teaching Rocks (Petro glyphs).

Gtchi Miigwetch/Thank You.

Artist’s Biography

Nyle was born and raised on the beautiful reserve in the Saugeen First Nation, Bruce Peninsula.  He took a keen interest in painting and art at a very young age. Sources of his artistic inspiration include woodland painters, story-tellers such as his great-grandmother and Elder, Verna Johnston, and the traditions of his culture.  Johnston paints the stories of the Anishinaabe people in order to raise awareness of their unique histories as they in turn inform his process. He is an Aboriginal Community Worker and experienced muralist.  Johnston currently lives and works in Toronto, Ontario. To see more of the artists work on Instagram or twitter: @miigizi  To contact the artist, email: