The Bemidji School District has jumped on the Bemidji Ojibwe Language Project bandwagon. Soon Ojibwe/English signage will hang throughout the district’s schools.
"I think it will benefit all of our students," Brian Stefanich, principal of Bemidji HIgh School, told The Bemidji Pioneer. "We want to recognize all cultures and our Native American students are a big part of our high school."
Machine tool students at the high school in Bemidji, Minnesota volunteered to make the 300 signs on their school machines, helping to cut the cost of the project down from $10,000 to just over $2,000.
Michael Meuers, language project organizer, told Lakeland News that having the students volunteer gives them “some ownership in this project.”
Bemidji High School teacher Bryan Hammit agreed. He told The Bemidji Pioneer that the students chose the fonts, colors and sizes of the signs as well as supervised the engraving of the signs.
“Michael came to us with a problem,” Hammit told the newspaper. “The students did the research and designed the signs. They really owned this project.”
Anton Treuer, Bemidji State University professor of Ojibwe, also helped defray the cost of the signage by donating $1,000 he won from the St. Paul Foundation when he was honored with a Facing Race Ambassador Award in March.
Other donations for the signs have come from community businesses, but the group still needs $250 to cover the costs. Donations can be made payable to Shared Vision/BARRC and can be sent to:
4160 Connelly Circle NE
Bemidji, MN 56601
“Any money over and above, we will use to try get signage in charter and parochial schools, and perhaps county buildings,” Meuers said.
Lakeland News report about the project: