by Maya Reinfeldt, Community Engaged Intern
Spotlight series: The lands of the Ojibwe people span across southern Canada, the Northern Midwest and the Northern Plains of the United States. In working towards the Wisconsin Water Library’s goal of promoting Great Lakes Literacy, specifically, principle 6 (The Great Lakes and humans in their watersheds are inextricably interconnected), the recognition of Ojibwe cultural contributions is crucial. Only through respectfully and ethically preserving, valuing, and promoting Ojibwe artwork, stories, Traditional Ecological Knowledge and language can we fully begin to grasp the interconnectedness of the Great Lakes with the people who lived here long before European settlers colonized the land.
Ojibwemowin, or Anishinaabemowin (please read more about the nuances of the two terms here) is the language spoken by the Ojibwe people. It is a language characterized by “life, process and action” and distinct variety across linguistic regions. The home page of the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary states that “speakers of Ojibwe consider their language to be precise, descriptive, and visual, and feel that it is among the greatest treasures of their cultural heritage.” After colonization, the language was violently and forcibly repressed, and became an endangered language. Today, avid language revitalization efforts are underway for Ojibwemowin.
“Ojibwe people understand that fluent speakers of the language have a wisdom that represents an accumulated knowledge of many generations. The Ojibwe language can explain why we must respect the earth and take responsibility for caring for the land, water, and its resources. It is the antidote to global climate change, environmental destruction, and unhealthy lifestyles. The Ojibwe language is where we turn for philosophy, history, science, medicines, stories, and spirituality. It is our university and the key to our cultural survival.” – The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary
The links below will point you to a variety of Ojibwemowin-learning resources, from “word of the day” posts to formal lesson-style videos to instructional craft videos. Each resource provides a unique perspective on the language and helps to make language-learning fun and engaging.
James Vukelich, or @jamesvukelich on TikTok: a well-known Ojibwe creator who has created a long, quality series of “word of the day” posts which are often filmed against a beautiful nature backdrop. More information can be found on his website.
@jamesvukelich How to say ‘the library’ in Ojibwe! #ojibwewordoftheday #ojibwe #nativeamerican #americanindian #nativelanguage #ojibwe #nativetiktok #anishinaabemowin #indigenous #indigenoustiktok ♬ original sound – jamesvukelich
Crystal Harrison Collin, or @crystalharrisoncollin on TikTok: Crystal has created an extended, cheerful series of “how to say” posts with her granddaughter! She also shares other culture-related posts about cooking, regalia, humor, etc.
@crystalharrisoncollin #anishinaabemowin #indigenoustiktok #nativetiktok #heartberry ♬ original sound – Crystal Harrison Collin
Westin Sutherland, or @westinnorth_ojibwe on TikTok: a video and audio editor who posts popular cartoons such as Sailor Moon dubbed into Anishinaabemowin! Westin also comically explores the challenges of learning a language.
@westinnorth_ojibwe #sailormoon #ojibwe #anishinaabemowin #indigenous #native #anime #ojibwecartoons ♬ original sound – Westin-North_Ojibwe
Anton Treuer on YouTube: Dr. Treuer, a Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and an author, has a playlist of 50 invaluable Ojibwemowin-learning videos. He also posts videos on his other areas of expertise such as history, racial equity and Ojibwe culture.
Wii Chiiwaakanak on YouTube: this channel from the University of Winnipeg has not only Ojibwemowin video lessons with conversational language, but also tutorials on making traditional Ojibwe clothes with the audio in Ojibwemowin.
Pimachiowin Aki on YouTube: the channel of Pimachiowin Aki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canada, has an Anishinaabemowin playlist with content on nature, family, seasons and more.
Wes Jourdain on YouTube: this creator has over 80 detailed Ojibwe Language Table videos.
Pamela Morrison on YouTube: an Ojibwemowin teacher who posts educational vocabulary videos in various Anishinaabemowin dialects from Canadian regions.
Ojibwe.net: an invaluable collection of lessons, books, songs, stories, videos and more for Anishinaabemowin learners. The homepage of the website states: “This site represents many things, most of all, it is evidence that Anishinaabemowin is alive and well.”