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Elders Council Translates Words Relating to Sugar Bush Into Ojibwemowin

A group of Ojibwe language speakers gathered to develop language materials and teaching tools for Red Lake Head Start Ojibwe Immersion School.

A mixture of elders/first speakers, teachers, and staff for Red Lake’s Ojibwemowin Advisory Committee attended their monthly meeting at Oshki-maajitaadaa (New Beginnings) in Redby, Minnesota on Monday, March 9.

The group gathered to develop additional language materials and teaching tools for Red Lake Head Start Ojibwe Immersion School. This time they translated words and phrases to do with the coming season of Sugar Bush. The words were transcribed and will be made available to everyone, including Ojibwemowin dictionaries, to document the Red Lake dialect.

After an opening prayer by Frances Miller, updates, and announcements, associate for Ojibwemowin revitalization, Nate Taylor presented the topics for discussion: language sets for sugar bush, tapping trees, gathering syrup, boiling and bottling. Consultant Brian Smith led much of the discussion, asking everyone to describe sugar bush from beginning to end while compiling words ensuring they were the Red Lake dialect.

Want to know how to pronounce these words? Listen to Red Lake Spiritual Advisor Eugene Stillday and others online using the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary.

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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 first immersion Head Start school classroom opened this past fall with nine students. The school is behind Red Lake Elementary and meets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday weekly from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Ojibwe Language Revitalization Advisory Committee hopes to develop immersion school project partners, including a collaboration of skilled and fluent speaking community members. Partners would include the Red Lake School District, Head Start, and Red Lake Nation College.

The team meets monthly on the second Monday at Oshki-maajitaadaa, (New Beginnings). The Ojibwemowin Council of Elders invites everyone 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 will 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.