Language Revitalization Event Held at Ponemah - P2
A warm June evening welcomed about 200 people gathered at the Ponemah Powwow grounds on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, for an event billed as an Ojibwemowin Revitalization Celebration. The event drew many first speakers from Red Lake, a few from Leech Lake, and others interested in rejuvenating Ojibwemowin.
The effort was Coordinated by Red Lake Economic Development and Planning.
Spiritual Elder Larry Stillday, who provided the invocation, would be the first of many speakers introduced by Emcee Wesley Cloud. Honor songs followed by Young Kingbird, Black Bear Crossing, Eagle Clan, and P-Town Boys. Songs and dancers continued through much of the three hour event, alternating with speakers advocating the need for language revitalization.
Spiritual Elder Larry Stillday prepared a spirit dish and offered a prayer before a feast of Red Lake walleye.
Several fluent speakers in addition to Larry Stillday spoke between drum songs. "We need to teach the parents Ojibwemowin," observed Spiritual Elder Eugene Stillday. "Many young ones learn Ojibwe in school, and many elders speak the language, we need to teach those in between, to target the parents."
"When we have an immersion school on the Rez, we will be telling all that this is how we sound, this is who we are," said cultural advisor Darrell Kingbird, Sr. "Some understand but do not know how to use or speak the language. By learning the language, we learn more about our culture. We learn about drum carriers, pipe carriers, it will all come back if we speak it. Fluent speakers need to step up and teach."
Several other speakers took their turn with the wireless microphone, most if not all involved already in Ojibwemowin revitalization in a variety of ways. They included; Elder Anna Gibbs, Elder Elizabeth Kingbird, Elder Frances Kelly Miller, Leslie Harper of Niigaane immersion school at the Bug School, and Dr. Anton Treuer, professor of Ojibwe and the director of the American Indian Resource Center on campus at Bemidji State University.
The upbeat event which all considered a success, closed with a traveling song at about 9:30 pm
Red Lake Nation Language Revitalization Plan
Vision and Mission: It is our vision that within 10 years Red Lake will have a younger generation of fluent speakers that promote the language and culture in our communities and act as leaders for the next seven generations. It is our mission to promote this vision through an immersion school as well as through a variety of other initiatives.
1) Ojibwemowin Immersion School- Endazhi-ojibwemonotaadiying - Projected start date for school is school year 2014-2015
Ongoing development of this immersion school has and will continue to occur with collaboration of skilled and fluent speaking community members, the Red Lake School District, the Red Lake Headstart, among other groups and entities. Supporting data for development of this immersion school initiative has been provided by the 2008 Five Year Ojibwemowin Plan, the 2011 Community Needs Assessment, and the 2013 Community Surveys.
Summary: The Immersion School Team is working now on developing a plan for the Immersion School, so it will be ready to open its first classroom, beginning at the 3 year old Head Start level, for school year 2014-2015. Each following year a new cohort of kids will be added.
The school will begin with one classroom operating under Red Lake Head Start, and progress into classrooms operating under the Red Lake School District. This upcoming school year 2013-2014, the team will focus on training of staff, general program and curriculum development. A Language Advisory Team composed of fluent speakers, elders, and academic personnel will guide the school in terms of curriculum, school values, etc.
2) Ojibwemowin Camp for Kids, August 2013
Summary: This initiative will be developed by collaborating with Chemical Health and the Boy’s & Girl’s Club (among other groups). The camp will be taught by community members in various areas of expertise including: Ojibwemowin language teachings, traditional teachings, etc. Details of the camp are in the process of being developed, please stay tuned to http://www.redlakenationnews.com for more details in the next few weeks.
3) Ojibwemowin Summit, September 2013
Summary: The Summit will serve as a celebration, a gathering space, for members of the community to learn about our Ojibwemowin language, to network with fellow learners and speakers, to collaborate on new exciting initiatives, and so on. There will be a schedule of events, sessions, booths, etc. These details are also in the process of being developed.
Red Lake Economic Development and Planning office invites anyone to contact their office if you have project ideas for Ojibwemowin Language Revitalization within our Red Lake Nation community! Miigwech bi-izhaayeg!
Red Lake Immersion School Project
Partners: Red Lake School District, contributing resources (i.e. space and teachers)
Red Lake Head Start, contributing resources (i.e. space and teachers)
Red Lake Nation College, partnering on various activities
Niigaane Immersion School, contributing guidance and experiential resources
Summary of Project Objectives and Status of Objectives:
General Summary of Year 1 & 2: Year 1 includes planning, training, program development for Immersion site; Year 2 includes implementation of Immersion site in Red Lake Head Start plus ongoing planning and program development for upcoming years.
The two-year project outline is the starting off point for a long range goal of a full Immersion School site. Year One is planning and development. Year Two is implementation of three-year old Head Start class. In Year Three, the three-year old class would move up to a new Immersion four-year old class in addition to starting a new cohort of three-year olds. In Year Four, the four-year old class would move up to a new Kindergarten Immersion class, and so on. Program planning and development will determine how high the Immersion school grade level will reach.
The Constitutional Reform Initiative Committee (CRI) Also Present at Ponemah
Members and staff of the Constitutional Reform Initiative Committee took advantage of the numbers of people gathered to disseminate information about constitutional reform to those assembled. All who were filled out a questionnaire were also given a copy of the current Red Lake Constitution. Then all who filled out the short survey were given a chance at several door prizes.
Questions on the form included: have you read, are you familiar, and understand the Red Lake Nation Constitution? Do you feel it meets the current needs of the tribe? The survey then asked what topics were important to the individual. Topics included: blood quantum; Natural Resources; Jobs; Separation of Power; Roles of Hereditary Chiefs; Removal of BIA oversight; language/cultural revitalization; economic development; tribal codes; and terms of office for tribal officers.
A reporter and photographer from the Minneapolis Star/Tribune were in attendance interviewing several Red Lake members for an extensive report on constitutional reform in Indian Country.
Contact the tribal council for further information on Constitutional Reform.