Red Lake Ojibwa Language Preservation Summit

Ashinaabe (also called Ojibwa, Ojibwe, Chippewa) is a very large tribe situated in both the US and Canada with many bands that differ in their language, history and culture. Therefore, ‘helping Ashinaabe’ is a very political matter. Settling these matters allows groups to bind together such that they’re more equip to tackle more powerful goals.

Jan 19-20, 2011, members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and White Earth Band of Ojibwe met at a summit dedicated to Ojibwe language preservation at the Seven Clans Casino in Red Lake. Ultimately it was decided that while each band is distinct, their histories, languages and educational challenges are similar enough such that they can form a consortium to help the Ojibwa language survive. Attendees signed an agreement to work together in finding the best way to preserve ‘Ojibwa’.

Red Lake Elder Larry Stillday gave an opening prayer, at which point Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd “Buck” Jourdain Jr. signaled the start of the summit. Then, Professor Anton Treuer of Bemidji State University gave the first overview of the Ojibwe language survival project. In the afternoon, Dean Chavers, a renowned American Indian education expert, spoke on matters of school improvement. The Red Lake School district then reported on its current efforts for school reformation.

Thursday, the Red Lake Nation College hosted a college fair where various academic, military and career-oriented organizations gave career advice to tribal members, including high school students. President of the Red Lake Nation College Dan King and Leah Carpenter – a BSU professor and past president of Leech Lake Tribal College – presented a program entitled “The Value of a College Education,” accompanied by a panel with Ginny Carney – president of the Leech Lake Tribal College – and Wannetta Bennet – president of the White Earth Tribal & Community College. King commented on academic inflation and the ever growing necessity for high education. Since higher education can be intimidating, their strategy is to encourage students to at least attain an associates degree from the Red Lake Nation College, then go from there. Chavers spoke again on the process of attaining college scholarships. Tens of young students attended the summit.

All work and now play is no fun! Around noon, attendees were entertained by a local Red Lake tribal member and rap artist performance.

The summit ended with a ceremony where Jourdain, Leech Lake Chairman Arthur “Archie” LaRose and White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor formally pledged their cooperation. Presidents of the three tribal colleges, Red Lake School District Superintendent Brent Gish, and the tribal education directors from the Leech Lake and White Earth reservations signed the agreement as well.

King expressed that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota, as well as Ojibwe tribes from North Dakota, might also want to join consortium at some point.

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2 Responses to “Red Lake Ojibwa Language Preservation Summit”

  1. [...] author, and Bemidji State University Professor of Ojibwe Dr. Anton Treuer, who was mentioned in a previous SAIVUS Blog posting, to speak about Ojibwe and language revitalization. Treuer is a professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji [...]

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