AKI GIIZHIGAD (EARTH DAY) CELEBRATED AT RED LAKE
"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children." ~Ancient Indian Proverb
The Red Lake Nation Earth Day Fair was held on April 21, 2011 from 1:30 to 5:30 PM. Earth Day was officially April 22nd, but due to Good Friday falling on that date, this year it was decided to celebrate on April 21st. The theme for this years event was: ³Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Renew². The earth day fair, much bigger and broader than last year, was held again at the Red Lake Nation Boys and Girls Club.
³We are enthusiastic about the event and were pleased to have a good turnout from the community and programs², said Red Lake DNR Water Resources Director and organizer Jenilynn Bohm. The event was well attended with 342 people registered said Bohm. ³Our events (the community clean-ups and Earth Day) were scheduled to not conflict with Good Friday as tribal employees were scheduled to be released at noon that day. The clean-up, then, was scheduled before our fair so that people could attend both the clean-up and the fair², Bohm explained.
³We wanted this years Earth Day Fair to be an interactive event,² said Environmental Program Director Cody Charwood. ³Our plan was that this would allow the community to learn of natural resources related projects and/or
services, in hopes to inspire an awareness of the environment², he said. ³Open to all - activities and booth presenters incorporated the theme (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Renew) into their presentations and was geared to
both children and adults², noted Charwood.
Parking Lot: Upon arriving at the Boys and Girls Club, the first thing one saw were activities outside the building. The first was a ³tire pressure check² near the entrance to the old casino door at the Humanities Center. A mechanic supervised volunteers who looked like NASCAR workers surrounding each car as it drove up, one person to a tire. Proper tire inflation can improve gas mileage. The first 50 drivers got a free tire pressure gauge.
Sponsored by AmeriCorps.
Walking toward the Club building, one came upon a booth about ³Bike Safety². Sponsored by the RLPD, volunteers explained bicycle safety, and that proper bike safety practices...prevent accidents. Volunteers checked brakes,
chains, air pressure, etc. Utilizing bikes for transportation saves gas, provides good exercise, and saves the environment.
Next came a truck and trailer collecting hazardous household waste. The household waste collection drop off, sponsored by the Red Lake DNR, gathered household waste items for proper disposal. These types of waste need to be properly disposed of, not dropped off in a dump for example.
Lawn: On the lawn, just before one entered the Boys and Girls Club, was a plastic bag recycling exchange booth. Used plastic bags were gathered to be recycled so as to eliminate their disposal in trash. In return persons
received a reusable grocery bag to use in recycling efforts. Several business places donated canvas bags to give in return for the plastic bags. One Redby business (The Other Store) offers 5% off if you bring in your recycle bags, and use them for purchases. The booth was sponsored by the Red Lake DNR and Fire Prevention.
Opening Ceremony and Blessing: Spiritual Elder Eugene Stillday provided a prayer at the beginning of a program held in the Boys and Girls Club gymnasium. Speakers on the subjects of Earth Day and the environment included; Stillday, Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain, Jr., and Red Lake DNR Director and Redby Representative Al Pemberton.
Jourdain gave praise to tribal programs and others who were just finishing two days of clean-up on the Reservation. ³Red Lake members and tribal program employees hit the streets, ditches, and other areas of Red Lake Nation with big green bags and yellow vests and proceeded to pick up trash and clean up the community², he said.
³Hundreds of Red Lakers were participating in Earth Day activities² said Pemberton, and marveled at how the event has grown over just one year. Jourdain said that new ³controlled² dumping recycle areas will soon be open,
and the old ones closed. ³We are having to many foraging bears and fires being started², said Jourdain. ³This does not bode well for us as a proud people. We have a responsibility as Indians and as cultural stewards of the land to do better², concluded Jourdain. Stillday was then asked by Jourdain to explain more fully about Ojibwe tradition, in regard to and respect for, Mother Earth and the environment. After a lesson on respect for all living things and the environment that supports them, Stillday concluded with a positive thought, ³The world may yet realize the ancient American Indian environmental ethic², said Stillday, ³this is important, it begins with us, and we must share this ethic².
Main Lobby: Upon entering the Boys and Girls Club, attendees signed in and then received an Aki Giizhigad (Earth Day) t-shirt, and a pen made from recycled materials. The T-shirts made of recycled plastic, very were quite creative, the design highly symbolic. The logo was not unlike a medicine wheel with ³reduce, reuse, recycle, renew², representing the the four directions as feet of a mikinaak (turtle), and even included the sky and earth if one included mikinaak¹s head and tail. The design also included Red Lake logo contained within.
Turning to the right upon entrance, one could get a ³Green Mug Shot². Participants wrote on a whiteboard their statement of environmental stewardship commitment, then a photographer would take a photo. Being
photographed with a promise hopefully will encourage compliance. Charity Pemberton from Red Lake Nation Newspaper took many of the photos. She will be putting together the pictures of the Earth Day commitments for that publication.
To the left were tables of give-a-ways related to Earth Day. Drawings were held to provide an incentive to complete a survey on the day¹s events and what was learned. Snacks of a sustainable nature were provided.
Gym: In the gym, where the program was held earlier, were several hands-on demonstration booths. Booths were staffed by the Red Lake DNR, tribal programs, federal and local organizations, community service members and
High School students. There was a power point presentation on solar energy.
Fishing game: A fun activity for children was a ³fishing game², a teaching tool for kids sponsored by the Red Lake DNR and Fire Prevention. The game was modeled after the old ³fish pond game² idea one saw at church carnivals ³back in the day². Kids would put in their fishing rod lines in a hole, then a magnet on the end would pick up and old tire or other such garbage rather than fish, to demonstrate to children the importance of keeping Red Lake clean, and to create awareness of outdoor activities.
Tech Center: ³Red Lake Walleye Recovery², a recent video was played in continuous loop in the tech center. The Native Nations Institute Film, Ogaag bii azhe giiwewag (Return of the Red Lake Walleye) was filled with many familiar faces. Sponsored proudly by Red Lake DNR/fisheries.
Arts Room: Face painting was going on in the arts room, with designs of an environmental nature. The theme was geared toward children to teach about sustainability practices. This was sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club
members and staff.
Aki Giizhigad activities was yet another program that has been using Ojibwemowin as part of the event over the past year, a grand idea as more and more Indian Nations seek to revitalize language and culture. This is consistent and very important in re-establishing the importance of the environmental ethic and care for the land that is so much a part of American Indian culture. Written words used in addition to Aki Giizhigad (Earth Day)
included the events theme: Reduce (Bangiiwagitoon), Reuse (Ayaabajitoon), Recycle (Aanike-aabajitoon), and