The language warrior


April 13, 2020

Professor Anton Treuer (left) led a workshop to collect the stories of native Ojibwe speakers, including elder Brenda Moose (right).

Ojibwemowin, the language of the Ojibwe people, is dominated by verbs. Many Ojibwe animal names express how the creature moves or behaves. A monkey, for example, is a lice hunter. The word for deer depicts the white flash of its upturned tail.

Anton Treuer's Indian name is waagosh, the Ojibwe word for fox, an animal known for its spry bounding. Treuer (pronounced Troy-er), a professor of Ojibwe language, often moves in this very manner: light on his feet, perpetually in motion, zigzagging between the ancient world and the modern one. He's a man with one foot in the wigwam, and the other in the ivory tower, as he's been known to put it.


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