Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

December Update: Ojibwemowin Advisory Committee

Elders Record Stories/Give Advice on Constitutional Reform


The Ojibwemowin Advisory Committee met at the Tribal College

A mixture of elders/first speakers, teachers, and staff for Red Lake's Ojibwemowin Advisory Committee met at Red Lake Nation College on Monday, December 14, 2015. They would meet from 3:30 until about 6:00 p.m.

The Ojibwemowin Council was gathered for their monthly meeting in the college cafeteria where participants took seats at several round tables. The group meets each month to develop additional language materials and teaching tools for Red Lake Head Start Ojibwe Immersion School.

After an opening prayer and the blessing of a Spirit Dish by Rose Cloud, Dr. Giniwgiizhig, Curriculum Writer, Head Start Immersion Classroom, opened the meeting with announcements, then invited everyone to eat. A fine meal of natural foods was served.

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.

But today would be different; Giniwgiizhig's agenda was made up of three pieces of the Elder's 20-year plan for language revitalization the group had compiled the month before. The agenda included: Ojibwemowin and Constitutional Reform, and recording the elders in conversation.

Giniwgiizhig introduced Thomas Cain, Jr., who has recently taken the job as the Director of the Constitutional Reform Committee. Former Director Justin Beaulieu has taken a job as the Director of Red Lake Inc. Cain asked if there should be specific Article and how Ojibwemowin should be addressed in the constitution. Several elders thought Ojibwemowin should be part of the First Article as it says, "Who we are."

The Elders 20-year plan says that Ojibwemowin in the constitution is the number one priority, and that the Tribal Constitution should be translated into Ojibwemowin and recorded.

Cain said there would be a constitutional convention in October 2016 followed by a vote on that constitution during the regular Presidential election the first Tuesday of November 2016. The group will begin writing soon.

Next, Benjamin Bonga took over the agenda and asked the elders to pull tables together for a conversation in Ojibwemowin, that might include just visiting, telling stories, and even debate. This item is also part of the Elders 20-Year Plan.

The Elders 20-Year Plan for Language Revitalization (assuming money is no object) includes but is not limited to:

• Ojibwemowin in the tribal constitution is number one priority

• Translate tribal constitution into Ojibwe and record it

• Record Dialogue/trilogies of speakers talking to each other in all types of conversation, visiting, debating, and arguing

• Make reading materials for kids: books, films in Ojibwemowin

• Repository for language, perhaps the Red Lake Archives

• Language radio station speaking 100% Ojibwe, a good learning tool

• Other Media: TV shows, TV station, Ojibwe Newsletter, Make films for TV, Do Ojibwe language voice-over in English films

• Ojibwe songs for kids and adults

• Act out stories heard such as boarding schools, hunting, etc., and record in Ojibwe

• Have reservation street signs and tribal programs either translated to Ojibwemowin or given new Ojibwe names

• Immersion camps: Year round cultural language immersion camp free to learners with no English speaking allowed,

• Cultural language immersion camps: Hunting, fishing, ricing, gardening, maple sugaring activities for various age groups

• Weekend immersion programs

• An Ojibwe house drop in center that is staffed by speakers, anyone can drop but speak no English

• Language tables and Language programs for whole families and mentors for whole family groups

• Bring Ojibwe history into curriculum e.g. Pilgrim story from Native perspective

• Teach youth to be story tellers

The next committee meeting of the Ojibwe Language Advisory Committee will be held Monday, January 11, 2016, from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. place to be announced. 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 learn how to pronounce Ojibwemowin? 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."


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 often at Oshki-maajitaadaa (New Beginnings) in Redby, but on occasion meets at other venues including the Ponemah Round House. 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.

Good stories

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.


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