Category: Oral history

Summer 2014

By , July 13, 2014

IMG_6432Our final camp in our study of manoomin was a transitional time. Most of the original students and mentors had moved on allowing new students to join gidakiimanaaniwigamig teachers and staff. Throughout the week students participated in hands on learning, group work skills, individual skills and writing. We travelled to UMD where we took a guided nature walk through the Bagley nature Center as well as climbed the large indoor rock wall.

The highlight of the week was when we travelled to GLIFWC/Odanah and then the Madeline Island. We were reminded of our connection to and the importance of Madeline Island.

“According to the teachings of the Anishinaabe people it was the sacred Megis Shell that first guided the people to the rich regions of the Great Lakes. The Megis Shell was last seen near Madeline Island, which was one of the settling points for the tribal people migrating from the eastern shores of the continent.

The Anishinaabe were semi-nomadic people living in small bands. They followed seasonal paths to traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering grounds where they harvested deer, game, fish, maple sugar, berries, and wild rice. Lake Superior, or Gitchi (big) Gummi (water), and the surrounding land were bountiful sources of food. Lake Superior’s waters yielded lake trout, whitefish and sturgeon. It is no wonder that several bands established villages on the shores of the lake in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada. Gitchi Gummi was a bountiful source of food. (GLIFWC also supports a local fishery, visited previously by gida students. This fishery not only sells fish commercially but the waste product as organic plant food.)

As Europeans pushed into the Great Lakes region, the Anishinaabe people used fish to trade with French and
English outposts. Fish soon became one of the mainstays in the diets of the early fur traders. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Lake Superior’s fishery faced a growing number of non-Indian commercial fishermen who used new technology to efficiently take fish from Lake Superior in large numbers.” (http://www.glifwc.org/publications/pdf/LakeSuperiorIndianFishery.pdf)

IMG_6472IMG_6549Students were reminded of their history and encouraged to journal not only their new knowledge but discuss their concerns and ideas related to topics presented such as sulfide mining, the Sandy Lake Tragedy, treaty rights and education.

They worked in multi-age small groups on building (and flying!) rockets. They designed Ojibwe symmetrical glyphs for the journal covers and wrote in their journals through out the week. teachers/college mentors read each students journals and wrote back.

Considerable time was spent studying the water quality found in the St. Louis River at Jay Cooke State Park. “RiverWatch” water study activities taught students how to accurately collect water samples, look for bugs and identify them – specific bugs signify the health of the water. Students drew the bugs to better understand them.

A geology study of the rocks found along the St. Louis also provided students with a better understanding of our land. Keys were used to determine the rocks found. Students again were able to work individually as well as in small groups.

We visited Duluth’s Barnes & Nobles where students each chose a book to be purchased for them to read during our many “road trips” and before “lightsout”/bedtime.

IMG_6611IMG_6616The culmination of the week were groups presentations on the weeks activities given to family. Each student prepared statements based on their writing and participation. The program was excellent!

We had a wonderful time getting to know each other better as well as make new friends from across the area. We look forward to seeing each other again in September!

Starting to Tell the Story with Comic Book!

By , November 24, 2013
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Wild Rice Camp

By , September 16, 2013
manoomin camp Sept 2013

manoomin camp Sept 2013

Photos from camp

Students gathered wild rice in groups at local state lake most of Saturday and Sunday. Local elders shared “how to” tips and enjoyed gathering rice with manoomin students. A wild rice camp was set up at Perch Lake. Jim Northrum Jr. shared his stories and technical information of how Ojibwe people have gathered and prepared wild rice gained from his relatives talking with him as a young one and his experiences as an adult.

Phytolith Posters

By , March 14, 2013
Phytolith Poster

Phytolith Poster

Gathering Stories of Bang Lake

By , November 25, 2012

 

1916 Bang Lake

Through the core a record of our history can be observed. Our study began on Friday night as Tom Howes, FDL Natural Resources introduced Bang Lake.  He shared data collected by Fond du Lac elders about the wild rice harvest back many years. We also looked at maps of the Fond du lac Reservation beginning in 1916 that demonstrated significate changes in the landscape.

Students began their own observations Saturday afternoon by cutting open the core collected that morning and making thier own observations. The two cores were noticeably different – one more dense than the other. Lowana Greensky led students through a discussion on the dating of core beginning in 1500/bottom of our core to 2012/present-top of our core.  Significant dates in history were identified along the length of the core – 1492 Columbus reaches North America;  1787 -1803 Northwest Territory; 1803 Louisiana Purchase; 1837 Michigan became a state; 1836, 1837,  1842, and 1854 Treaties between the United States and the Ojibwe bands in which  they ceded lands in northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota but retained the  right to hunt, fish and gather on he lands they sold; 1848 Wisconsin becomes a state; 1858 Minnesota becomes a state;  1861–65 Civil War; and  1924 The Indian Citizenship Act.

Later that afternoon Louis Wise talked about growing up near Bang Lake on Perch Lake. Educated as a biologist Mr. Wise has worked with the DNR and FDL Natural Resources. He explained the role beavers and muskrats played in the wild rice. He told stories about his Grandma controlling the water level by opening and closing the damn. He told stories about sitting on his Dad’s shoulders and seeing nearly 400 muskrat houses on Perch Lake.

He descibed how wild rice needs abrupt oxygen, temperature and nutritional changes to grow. The water levels had to be brought down in January creating an open space below the ice/above the water. Come April the ice break up and drop down, creating waves (open water), allowing oxygen into the water earlier than other lakes. Also, because the water level was tended to be lower the sun would then  could reach the bottom, warming the seeds creating a temperature change. The seeds could then germinate.

Many discussion and review of all we had heard was had between student and staff alike. We hope to continue the discussion during each gathering to better understand our history with wild rice.

Coring Bang Lake

By , November 25, 2012

This years study of manoomin will be based in the core and samples collected during November’s camp. Students observed LacCore/Natural Resources scientists as they collected two cores and  live diatoms (water) from the edge of Bang Lake.

It was an unusually warm Fall day. The sky was a mixture of overcast and sunshine. Even though the lake had frozen over, the thin ice kept students close to shore as they completed their work of gathering and bagging seeds and vegetation samples. By completing a number of prepared questions students were directed in their observation,  research and ID of trees and plants (macrofossils).  Students collected information in a variety of ways – for example, written description a species of trees, bush and grasses were identified by their GPS location, seeds collected and bagged, plant samples collected and bagged, sun-prints, drawings, and digital photographs.

 

 

Wing Young Huie “Chalk Talk” Photography

By , August 26, 2012

Our first night together we looked at the work of Wing Young Huie. Mr. Huie , born in Duluth currently lives and works in the Twin Cities as a photographer. He has spent a considerable amount of time asking himself the very questions we asked ourselves through this activity. Based on the University Ave Project in Minneapolis Huie’s photographs confront many divisive social issues, such as cultural bias, immigration, religion, and social disconnection.

Contrasting points of views are engaged when viewing Huie’s  photographs demonstrating how what we perceive to be true may be open to interpretation.  By asking “What do you see?” a dialogue is facilitated before revealing the stories behind the photographs. Participating in activities such as this in a safe environment such as camp allows deeper discussion into the complexities of cultural and personal perceptions.

How are we impacted by the daily consumption of countless images created by marketing forces, the media, and popular entertainment? How can we differentiate our authentic selves from idealized realities? Do we become what we see? In other words: How do photographs form us?

Huie’s photographs allowed students to better see and understand their own perceptions of themselves as well as of  others. Through participation in the “Chalk Talk” lesson Huie developed for his own photography work along University Ave in Minneapolis students interviewed each other. Choosing another manoomin student they may not have known too well students asked open ended questions provided and interviewed each other.  They asked the  following questions:

1 Describe you life in one word.
2.What advise would you give to a stranger new to the area?
3.What is your favorite word?
4. How do you think other see you? What don’t they see?
5. How has race affected you?
6. Describe an incident that changed you.
7. What are the hopes and fears of a person your age?

It proved to be a welcomed activity, uncomfortable at times but good for us to do together.

niibin 2012 – Bad River to Bois Forte

By , August 26, 2012

Students visited Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC- Odanah, WI) to learn more about Ojibwe language and culture, current tribal management of the water and land uses and reacquaint and reestablish ourselves as needed concerning our treaty rights as Indian people to hunt and gather.

 

It was a week of connecting what we know about the areas in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan where Ojibwe people have lived for generations. We added to our knowledge by traveling southeast to the Bad River Reservation in Odanah, WI and as far north as the Bois Forte Reservation in northern Minnesota. Between the bus rides students studied the geology of the land, collected water samples for testing, swam in lakes, read books, wrote reflections/took notes and enjoyed each other as family and friends.

At the Bois Forte Museum students walked through displays describing  the history of the Ojibwe people traveling east to the place where the wild rice grew. Government boarding schools and traditional life clashed bringing with it continued years of struggle for generations to follow. Loss of language and culture, family groups broken and a lack of understanding between peoples concerning land and water use contributed to our current state and the established reservation system of government. Elders spoke about what we have been through and encouraged the young people to become knowledgeable to carry on.

“Indians lives in family groups and villages. We were not identified by a particular place and never imagined that land could belong to individuals. When the settlers arrived the government gave us names according to where our villages happened to be. They put us on reservations, forbade out traditions and ignored our reverence for the land.

I like to describe the Ojibwe and Fur Trade partnership as an  “economic cooperation”. Indians became part of the newly created global industrial  economy as producers, consumers, and traders. They were participants in that world even before many Europeans.” 
~Carl Gawboy, Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe

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