The Ojibwe language children’s book Awesiinyensag: Dibaajimowinan Jigikinoo’amaageng was recently crowned Minnesota’s Best Read by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, and will represent all state publications at the National Book Festival on September 24 – 25 in Washington, D.C. The book features a playful cast of relatable animals. It has been given several positive reviews in Ojibwe:
Aapiji go ingii-minwendam agindamaan o’o mazina’igan, anishinaabewi-mazina’igan, abinoojiinyiwi-mazina’igan. Baatayiinowag ingiw anishinaabeg gaa-wiidookaazowaad o’o gii-ozhichigaadeg, aanind gii-dibaajimowag, aanind dash gii-ozhibii’igewag; ingiw gichi-aya’aag, weshki-aya’aawijig igaye, gikinoo’amaagewininiwag, gikinoo’amaagewikweg igaye. Gakina go onandawendaanaawaa i’iw ji-ozhitoowaad i’iw ge-naadamaagonid iniw odabinoojiimiwaan, weweni ji-nitaa-anishinaabemonid, ji-nitaa-agindamonid odinwewinini, weweni go ji-nitaaanishinaabewibii’aminid igaye. Awesiiyensag aajimaawag o’o mazina’iganing, mino-mazinaakizowag ingiw igaye.”
—Dr. Rand Valentine, Native Language Instructors’ Program,
Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario
The book had 12 authors/co-editors: Professor of Ojibwe Anton Truer of Bemidji State University, Nancy Jones, Eugene Stillday, Rose Tainter, Anna Gibbs, Marlene Stately, Keller Paap, Lisa LaRonge, Michael Sullivan, John Nichols, Lucia Bonacci and Heather Fairbanks, and was illustrated by Wesley Ballinger. Funding for the project came from a National Endowment for the Humanities We the People Grant and was made possible by a partnership between Minnesota Humanities Center and the local, tribal non-profit Birchbark House (started in 2008 by sisters Louise and Heid Erdrich of the Minneapolis Foundation), which published the book under Wiigwaas Press and the Birchbark House Fund. Sequels are in the making.