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Let's Visit Red Lake: Youth Initiatives Inspire Cultural Connections

I mean, that's the goal...You want the next generation to improve and do better. So for the future, I see more Ojibwe language being spoken, I see more people practicing our ceremonies, I see our people practicing more physical health and diet health, I see us working together diligently and while not only improving our Red Lake community, but improving our northern Minnesota community because Red Lake has always been a valuable asset to this region of Minnesota.

- Thomas Barrett, Executive Director of Red Lake Boys and Girls Club. 

Before Covid-19 changed our lives,  we visited Red Lake and learned about initiatives connecting youth with their culture and langage.   TheRed Lake Boys and Girls Club incorporates cultural programming into their regular offerrings for kids and it's having a profound positive impact on engagement and moral.  The Waasabiik Ojibwemotaadiwin Language Immersion Program connects Red Lake elders with 3 and 4 year olds sharing their knowledge, language  and native ways.   Red Lake is intentionally focusing on kids, identityand culture, and the combination is instilling pride in young native kids with new levels of cultural understanding and engagement.  

It's so beautiful once you get into that first realm of opening their eyes and seeing how our ancestors saw the world...We have to focus on the young... you need to have the dreamers with you and tell the truth to the children. And that's what we're doing... it's so beautiful to see these people remembering and remembering their core identity, growing the roots back into the ground...And then everything you do has a rippling effect.

- Nate Taylor, Executive Director Waasabiik Ojibwemotaadiwin Immersion Program

Frannie Miller grew up in Ponemah.  Ojibwe is her first language.  She's now teaching it to the toddlers at Waasiabiik Ojibwemotaadiwin...

It's really amazing how some of these little kids pick up our language so fast... it's really interesting...I'm glad I'm involved in this and I'm glad they hired me for this.  They are really picking up...In my morning prayer I always mention my babies - that they will carry our tradition, our language. It would be so awesome if they did. That would be the very last thing I would wish for...- that one of them would come up to me and talk to me in Ojibwe-Oh that would be so awesome.  I'm so proud of these little kids...  They are my life. 

- Frannie Miller, Red Lake elder and Ojibwe language instructor.

Click on the links to hear more about how Red Lake youth initiatives are paving the way for a bright Red Lake future.  

Red Lake Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Thomas Barrett discusses incorporating Ojibwe culture into Club programming and positive impact such programming his having on the community.

Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. She returned for a second stint in 2016-23. She produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota.