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Bemidji org focuses on Ojibwe teachings as community health effort

Two men weave a mat on a large wooden frame outdoors
Manidoo Ogitigaan Facebook page
Zac Early creates a cattail mat using Ojibwe knowledge and teachings.

Manidoo Ogitigaan shares Indigenous teachings in support of the Native community, aiming at a future when Ojibwe language flourishes and the Ojibwe worldview shapes action.

BEMIDJI — Organizers of Manidoo Ogitigaan seek to revitalize the spiritual knowledge, language, culture and ways of life of the Anishinaabeg in an effort to improve the health of Ojibwe people and the overall ecological family.

Beginning with the dreams of Ponemah elder Larry Stillday (Chi-Ma'iingaaniban) and his adopted daughter Kaitlyn Grenier (Nenookaasii), Manidoo Ogitigaan was incorporated in 2018 and is led by community members of the Red Lake and White Earth Indian reservations.

Manidoo Ogitigaan’s work, primarily focused within the Native community, strengthens cultural knowledge, assists in community organizing efforts and improves access to resources for Native people.

In this Area Voices segment, co-directors Grenier and Zac Early discuss the organization.

Grenier said as a grassroots organization, it works with community members in northern Minnesota, but also in North Dakota and Canada. Connections occur with the Lakota people as well, she said.

"Some of the artists that we work with would be considered non-Native, but ... they have connections to land and watercraft and woodworking and trapping, and that's something that we also work with," Grenier said. "So it's really nice to come together on those things and share."

Manidoo Ogitigaan organizes a wide array of community teachings and experiences for the Native community and they offer a weekly language table via Zoom that everyone is welcome to attend.

Sharing Ojibwe language is one way to keep the language revitalization thriving, Early said.

"One of the things that's preventing our language from staying vibrant and alive is that it's only in certain spaces," he said. " ... I think and believe strongly that in our work, part of it, is breaking down those barriers and sharing."

For a full listing of cultural offerings, language podcasts and other supports, visit the Manidoo Ogitigaan website.

Area Voices is made possible by the MN Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

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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.