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Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota

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The band announced April 26 it will open a 67-acre language and cultural immersion center with a unique opportunity for people to experience sugar bushing, wild rice harvesting and learn the Ojibwe language and culture. The grounds span the Omix River, a mile south of Rutledge on Highway 61. It is believed this is the most comprehensive tribal language and cultural initiative in the nation. Language and Cultural Program Administrator Larry Smallwood says the program will offer band members, employees and, when possible, members of other Ojibwe band an immersion in the Mille Lacs traditional language and lifestyle. Participants can choose 3-day, 4 1/2-day or weekend sessions with about 25 participants in each session. Four to six fluent Ojibwe speakers will be on site to help guide participants of all ages in the language, seasonal activities, ceremonies and construction of wigwams. An Elderly Advisory Council works with Smallwood. "Our connection to our heritage is a key part of building our future," said Mille Lacs Chief Executive Marge Anderson.