"Multiplying" Ojibwe language at Bemidji stores, offices, schools
When tourists and other visitors stop by the Harmony Co-op food store in Bemidji, they find doodooshaaboo (milk) in the dairy case, bakwezhigan (bread) in the bakery department, and a variety of locally grown vegetables and fruit offerings in the editegin (produce) department.
They are likely to pick up some zhiiwaagamizigan (maple syrup) and manoomin (wild rice) on the way out of the store before heading to tourist cabins or dropping in on friends and relatives in the woods and lake country of northern Minnesota.
It’s been 10 years since a few Bemidji businesses began an effort to make their city more welcoming to surrounding indigenous communities by putting dual language signs in English and Ojibwe on public restrooms, greetings (boozhoo) on entrances, and miigwech (thank you) at cash registers and doorways. As of Sept. 15, when the Beltrami County Commissioners and Court-house joined in, there are now 180 Bemidji stores, offices, schools, medical facilities and service providers with bilingual signage.