September Update: Ojibwemowin Advisory Committee Meets
Committee Meets Elders Council Helps with Word Lists for Immersion School/Middle School/Ceremonies
A mixture of elders/first speakers, teachers, and staff for Red Lake's Ojibwemowin Advisory Committee attended their monthly meeting at Oshki-maajitaadaa (New Beginnings) in Redby on Monday, September 14, 2015, from 3:30 until about 6:00 p.m.
The Ojibwemowin Council gathered round a four-sided table-group, including again, several residents of Jourdain/Perpich Nursing Home. The group gathers each month to develop additional language materials and teaching tools for Red Lake Head Start Ojibwe Immersion School.
After an opening prayer by Anna Gibbs, Dr. Giniwgiizhig, new Curriculum Writer for the Head Start Immersion Classroom, opened the meeting with announcements and introductions. Moving clockwise, all present shared their name, clan, and home in Ojibwemowin, including the non-fluent speakers who are at various levels of learning the language. These learners can't help but digest more Ojibwemowin and culture from these lighthearted and cheerful elders. Sometimes half the meeting or more is spoken in Ojibwemowin.
First up was a request by Red Lake Middle School teacher Tami Liberty who asked the fluent speaking Advisory Committee members for help with an Ojibwe Language Class curriculum she is putting together. She is starting by using words related to the Gifts of the Seven Grandfathers (Ojibwe Value System) of Love, Courage, Honesty, Respect, Truth, Wisdom, and Humility.
Liberty is using as a reference the Mishomis (sic Mishoomis) Book. Written for children by Ojibwe educator and spiritual leader Edward Benton-Banai, and first published in 1988, The Mishomis (Mishoomis) Book draws from the traditional teachings of tribal elders to instruct young readers about Ojibwe creation stories and legends, the origin and importance of the Ojibway family structure and clan system, the Midewiwin religion, the construction and use of the water drum and sweat lodge, and modern Ojibwe history.
In addition to getting feedback on the words she wants to use, she wanted feedback on the spelling (of the Red Lake dialect) using the double vowel system, as Benton-Banai used a phonetic form of spelling. First speakers helped her with the correct spellings on words related to the Seven Teachings, this time Bagakaadiziwin (Humility)
• Teachings = Gikinoo'amaagiwinan
• Animals = Awesiyag
• Bones = Okanan
• Days = Giizhigoon
• Nights = Dibiikadoon
• Roots = Jiibikoon
• Medicine = Mashkiki (add wan for plural)
• Foods – Wiisiniwinan
• Wolf = Ma'iingan (add ag for plural)
• Hair = Wiinizisan
• Dogs = Animoshag
Next Zac Mitteness, head teacher for the Head Start Immersion School, and three or four elders went to another room to get feed back on words to use when telling stories. Mitteness would hold up drawings associated with children's stories and asked the elder how to describe the activity going on in the drawing.
If the Head Start Immersion School is to be successful many words must be developed for subjects such a science and math in order to keep the language alive. Unlike many languages that might borrow words from English, Ojibwemowin does not and therefore must seek input of First Speakers to make sure that the language is correct...and in the Red Lake dialect.
Then Giniwgiizhig in the spirit of cultural revitalization and its documentation, asked the remaining elders present about ceremony. To be included were the different types of ceremonies and customs/traditions that are or were practiced. The first speaking elders sited many ceremonies, customs and traditions.
Ceremonies (Practiced at Red Lake/Ponemah)
• The Naming Ceremony was mentioned first
• The first kill (hunting). (If one wounds an animal and cannot track it, that person must not hunt for a year in atonement for hurting the animal, making it to suffer)
• First Moon Ceremony for girls
• Fasting and Spirit Quest
• Marriage Ceremony (there is no divorce, under no circumstance)
• Spring Ceremony
• Bear Smoke Ceremony
• Bagachige (Water Ceremony)
Traditions and Customs (All are not practiced by all people)
• Covering mirrors during a thunder storm and put out tobacco
• Don't carry a baby at powwow
• No children at wakes, put ashes on child forehead
• Close drapes at night
• Some are given colors or objects to carry in life
• Put tobacco out whenever traveling, before entering water, and when one sees and eagle
• If a deer barks at you, it is not a good sign
• Mourning – have a giveaway soon, put away or cover photos for a year
• Giveaways also happen at powwow, big drum, first time drum, royalty, and thank you events
• Food and giveaways are also placed on the ground...on Mother Earth or blanket on the ground, not on a table
• Put out tobacco with a prayer in the morning
• Some practice adoption, when that happens the adopter and the adoptee eat from the same bowl, drink from the same cup
The time having sped by, a light supper was enjoyed before the group headed home.
The next committee meeting of the Ojibwe Language Advisory Committee will be held Monday, October 12, 2015, from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. at Oshki-maajitaadaa (New Beginnings) in Redby. All are welcome to attend.
The words and phrases translated by the committee are being transcribed and will be made available, in the near future, to any and all...including Ojibwemowin dictionaries.... in order to document the Red Lake dialect.
Want to know how to pronounce these words? Listen to Red Lake Spiritual/Cultural Advisor Eugene Stillday and others pronounce these and other words and phrases at the following U of M link for the "Ojibwe Peoples Dictionary." http://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu
Get Involved with Ojibwemowin and Cultural Revitalization in Your Community
The effort is part of the Head Start Immersion Classroom. Zac Mitteness is the lead teacher along with Marcus Tyler. Guiding elders, Frances Miller and Elizabeth "Pug" Kingbird, join them. The school is located within the halls of the new Red Lake Nation College and meets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday weekly from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The Ojibwe Language Revitalization Advisory Committee consists of First Speakers; Elizabeth "Pug" Kingbird, Frances Miller, Anna Gibbs, Susan Johnson, Mary Lou Stillday, Eliza Johnson, Murphy Thomas, Eugene Stillday, Donald Iceman, Sr., Robert "Shoopon" Kingbird, Violet Patterson, Arnold Kingbird, Lee Whitefeather, Carol Barrett and John Barrett, with more and more getting involved each meeting.
The group has developed immersion school project partners, including a collaboration of skilled and fluent speaking community members. Partners include the Red Lake School District, Head Start, and Red Lake Nation College.
The team meets monthly on the second Monday at Oshki-maajitaadaa, (New Beginnings). The Ojibwemowin Council of Elders invites any and all to get involved with Ojibwemowin Language and Culture Revitalization within the Red Lake Nation community! Get involved in this or one of the many other cultural projects in your community for a better Red Lake Nation.
The Red Lake immersion programs use the "double vowel" system as developed and presented in the Nichols/Nyholm dictionary. The double vowel system is used at Ojibwemowin immersion schools, public schools, and colleges across the country. It is the preferred spelling used in Ojibwemowin books.
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.