The American Indian Studies features several traditional activities that are built into the language curriculum. Ojibwe language and culture courses at St. Scholastica include traveling to participate in ricing, maple sugaring and ceremonial activities while incorporating the Ojibwe language to describe the accompanying steps, tools and traditions.
The sugar bush is a grove of maple trees where maple sap (ziinzibaakwadaaboo) is drawn. In the past, after leaving isolated winter camps, Anishinaabeg gathered in large groups at the sugar camp (iskigamizigan) to process the sap and produce Anishinaabe ziinzibaakwad (maple sugar). Everyone had a specific job, making things run smoothly. Anishinaabeg continue to harvest ziinzibaakwadaaboo today. This was and is a time of coming together.
Manoomin (wild rice) plays a significant role in the survival of the Anishinaabeg. Before the harvest begins, there is a ceremony thanking the creator. Asemaa (tobacco) is placed in the water before going onto the lake. Manoomin is harvested from a canoe using a bawa' iganaak (knocker). The four steps following the harvest are drying, parching, threshing and winnowing.
Students travel to an Anishinaabe community in Ontario, Canada. The people of the community generously share their time and knowledge with the group. Traveling together helps to form a bond among our own community in the program as well.
Program participants and community members come together for one week in June at Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation for an immersive language experience.
The first annual Native American Language and Culture Quiz Bowl at the college level was held at St. Scholastica in 2007 where one of our teams took 2nd place. We sent two teams in 2008 to Bemidji State University to compete in the 2nd annual. Students demonstrate their proficiency in Ojibwe language, culture and history in four-person teams. First, second and third place plaques are awarded. It is a good opportunity for students to convene from various colleges, compare notes and have a great time. More info: nativequizbowl.info