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

March Update: Ojibwemowin Advisory Committee

Elders Translate for Head Start Immersion Program


First Speaker Frances Miller chats with Dr. Giniwgiizhig and Zac Mitteness before the meeting

"We are fulfilling a prophecy! One of the old prophesies said young people will be born with old spirits. Young people will be going to the drum and singing the old songs. Young people will go to the elders and start asking, asking for directions. And this is what these young people are doing. I'm very proud of them." ~Gichi-Ma'iingan (Larry Stillday) Obaashiing Miikana (The Road to Ponemah)

A mixture of elders/first speakers, teachers, and staff for Red Lake's Ojibwemowin Advisory Committee met at The Red Lake Nation Tribal College in Red Lake on Monday, March 14, 2016. They met from 2:30 until about 5:00 p.m.

The Ojibwemowin Council assembled for their monthly gathering in a meeting room where participants took seats in classroom style, including again, several residents of Jourdain/Perpich Nursing Home. The group meets each month to develop additional language materials and teaching tools for Red Lake Head Start Ojibwemowin Immersion School.

After an opening prayer and the blessing of a Spirit Dish by Frances Miller, Dr. Giniwgiizhig, Curriculum Writer, Head Start Immersion Classroom opened the meeting with announcements and introductions.

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 the input of First Speakers to make sure that the language is correct...and in the Red Lake dialect.

While the Elders enjoyed a little pizza, Head Start lead teacher, Zac Mitteness, Head Start Immersion Teacher, started drawing shapes on the white board at the front of the room.

Mittness led activities to translate words/phrases while confirming the Red Lake dialect. It should be noted that some translations may differ slightly or even a lot, but because of the descriptive nature of Ojibwemowin, it will likely be understood, and so then may be of little concern. Ojibwemowin fluent speakers may understand different dialects and even other Algonquin languages.

Mitteness asked the elders about commonly used phrases in English, but not necessarily common outside an Ojibwemowin classroom.

Words and Phrases Requested by Mitteness (abbreviated list)

Fold it in half = Biskiiginan nitam aabita (like a piece of paper)

Fold it diagonal = Ashawebidoon

First = Nitam

Second = Eko niizhing

Third = Eko nising

Dotted Line = Dootoobii'iganan

Fold it = Dapweginan

Turn it right side out = Aaboojiiginan gibabagiwayaan (like a shirt)

Wear your shoes the right way = Aanzikan gimakizinan

You're wearing them on the wrong feet – Gi napaadakizine or Dakobidoonan makizan

Lace up your shoes = Naabidoo'an gi makizinan

You have your pants on backwards = Gi napaazikaan giboodiyegwaazon

Pattern = Naasaabezhiseg naasaabibii'igan or gikinawaajibii'an

Square = Makakoons

Circle = Gaa waawiyeyaag

Triangle = Nising gaa bjiishkaag

Rectangle =Ginwaamagadi makakoons

Draw the same = Naasaab ezhibii'igaadigin

Match them = Naasaabibii'igan

The words, phrases and stories translated by the committee are being transcribed and will be made available, in the near future, to any and all...including Ojibwemowin order to document the Red Lake dialect.

The next committee meeting of the Ojibwe Language Advisory Committee is scheduled for Monday, April 11, 2016, from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m., place to be announced. All are welcome to attend.

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., 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.

Susan Johnson and Eliza Johnson take time to reflect on the day

The team meets monthly on the second Monday often at Oshki-maajitaadaa (New Beginnings) in Redby, but on occasion meets at other venues including Red Lake College, and 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.

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 publications.

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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