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Native Americans: The Ojibwe

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Emily Brom

on 10 December 2014

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Transcript of Native Americans: The Ojibwe

Ojibwe, Anishinaabe, Chippewa
Learning Styles
Social Identities
Minnesota-based Examples
Cultural Elements
Native Americans: The Ojibwe
Boarding Schools
Brief History
1819-Thomas McKenney, original leader of the Office of Indian Affairs, convinced congress to pass the Civilization Fund Act.
1867-Indian Peace Commission attempted to use education to convert Indians into Anglo-American civilians.1868 report claimed that language was the biggest source of friction between whites and Indians.
First Boarding school established in 1879 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
25 non-reservation schools were then opened across the United States between 1879 and 1905
Exclusive use of English in these schools-students were beaten, raped, humiliated, etc.
1889-William T. Harris (Commissioner of Education) praised the boarding school system.
1920-Boarding schools were flagged as being "penal institutions".
1950's and 60's-some boarding schools began to close.
1974-Bureau of Indian Affairs established a set of procedures to protect the educational rights of Indian students.

Ojibwe family is extended family
Includes close family, tribe, and nation
They teach one another about culture, traditions, language
Educators need to create relationships with student's family
Family often mobile and unstable which may lead to lack of attention in the classroom
Elders are those over a certain age and are respected by the younger members of the community.
They took care of things before the younger members were there,they need to be looked after and given respect. Maya said, “they’re the reason we’re here.”
Younger adults look up to these elders as role models, mentors, and teachers.
They are listened to and sought after for stories, history, advice.
Many NA students are respectful and polite towards their teachers as they believe them to be their elders. They don’t ask interrupt or question the “elder” teacher.
Maya's elders at her graduation party
Background and History
Originally lived near Atlantic near modern-day Canada
Moved near Great Lakes between 1500-1600
Always consisted of villages that share culture rather than one nation
Ojibwe- "he who writes"; Anishinaabe is named used by native people and means "Original Man"; also called Chippewa
Seven Anishinaabe nations in Minnesota
Grand Portage
Bois Forte
Red Lake
White Earth
Leech Lake
Fond du Lac
Mille Lacs
100,000 live in the US and 60,000 in Canada

Levine (2007)
Main style for learning Aural/Auditory Learning - preference for words that are heard or spoken. Native Americans are collectivist and engage through cooperation and sharing. They also learn through storytelling and oral traditions on the reservation.
Kinesthetic is second mode of learning; use practical and real examples in the classroom. Native Americans have a naturalistic and holistic view of the world and therefore have a preference for psychomotor and physical learning
Storytelling also passes on culture and makes the students good listeners.
More reflective learners tend to collect and analyze information before answering or drawing a conclusion.
Students need to feel like they can voluntarily cooperate. They do not like to feel they are being manipulated or coerced.

Ojibwe have a bad history of education beginning with white administered boarding schools
Education must not follow the structure of the dominant culture
It is believed that the government uses education to tear apart the culture through assimilation
Dropout rate 17%; Continue school only 49%, graduation within 4 years only 34%
Overrepresentation in Special Ed/EBD which creates stigma
IEPs sometimes thought of as a good thing for the students
Religion and Spirituality
Values such as honesty, generosity, character and wisdom
Story-telling and observation as education up until age 7 with mother, then turned into roles --boys hunting/fishing with men; girls home making with the women
Extended families/clans (doodems) (for government, division of labor) with totems
Ojibwe names (had meaning) replaced by European names (no meaning)
Pow wows and gatherings: friendships, dancing and singing; continue culture
Loose tribal leadership structure
Hunting, fishing, gathering, ricing, maple syrup
Preservation of land (sometimes seen as being lazy)
Religion/spirituality of all things connected; all have the same value
Boarding schools changed their names, prohibited speaking their language
Loss of lands some places only own 4% of their reservation and treaty rights
Older generation hid outward signs of ethnicity; younger generations (under 50ish) now picking it up again with outward demonstrations as well
Ojibwe became citizens of US as of 1924 (mixed meaning of US as both a persecutor and their Nation)
Previously if they served in the war right to citizenship as well
Often military service recognized in Pow Wows
More recent efforts to bring back ethnicity in schools and communities
Kinesthetic Learning:
Race/Racial Group
Gender and Affectional Orientation
Spirituality is the core of everything Indian (Poupart and Red Horse, 2010, p. 30). “In contrast to society’s view that church and state should be separate. American Indian culture believes that spirituality is a part of everyday life (p. 31).
Shamans and Medicine men
Powwows and Ceremony
Build a connection by attending a powwow or ceremony
Believe in the “Great Spirit.” Nature is sacred and they believe that they have an obligation to give back and take care of it. “Oneness with the Earth”
EX: “Spirit Dish” = During a celebration, samples of all the food are placed on a plate and taken outside to be given back to the Earth and thank it for providing for them.
EX: Indian Fry Bread = hole made in middle to let bad spirits out while cooking.
-Maya is Catholic and has a Grandma that volunteers at a Catholic Church called The Congregation of the Great Spirit. This parish combines Catholic Traditions and NA Traditions, which brings people to the church and helps remedy the idea that it is a “white man’s religion. She learned a lot about her heritage and language through the music and customs that they integrated into their masses.

Midewoiiwin - Spiritual based religion practiced by the Anishinaabe people.

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2007. Print

Buckanaga, Neil. personal communication, November 6, 2014, 4:00-5:00pm. nbuckanaga@yahoo.com

Fairbanks, Andrea. personal communication, November 1, 2014, 7:00-9:30pm. andrea.fairbanks@mpls.k12.mn.us

Gentry,M.C., Fugate, M., Jiaxi, W., Castellano, J. A., (2014). Gifted Native American Students: Literature, Lessons, and Future Directions. Gifted Child Quarterly,58,1-14.

Harrold, Teresa. personal communication, November 6, 2014, 4:00-5:00pm. Youth Program Manager, Minneapolis Employment and Training Program, Brown Roller Mill Building, Suite 200, 105 5th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55401

"Improving Education for Native American Students." Minnesota Public Radio News. The Daily Circuit, 16 Dec. 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2014. <http://www.mprnews.org/story/2013/12/16/daily-circuit-native-education?from=dc>.

Levine, Michelle. The Ojibwe. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 2007. Print.

McCown, Rick, Snowman, Jack (2013), Ed Psych, Belmont, California: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Poupart, John, and Red Horse, Dr. To Build a Bridge: An Introduction to Working with American Indian Communities. St. Paul, MN: American Indian Policy Center, 2001. Print.

Turnbull,A., Turnbull,R., Wehmeyer,M.L.,Shogren,K.A.,(2013). Exceptional Lives:Special Education in Today's Schools. Print.

Wauters, J, Bruce, J., Black, D., Hocker, P.Learning Styles, A Study of Alaska Native and Non-Native Students, Journal of American Indian Education, Aug 1989

Woodfill, Maya, Personal Communication, October 31, 2014.


http://literacynet.org/lp/namericans/strategies.html accessed 12/4/2014

http://www.magnetawanfirstnation.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=4 Accessed 12/4/2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/new-law-offers-a-sliver-of-protection-to-abused-native-american-women/2014/02/08/0466d1ae-8f73-11e3-84e1-27626c5ef5fb_story.html accessed November 26, 2014.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/us/as-american-indians-move-to-cities-old-and-new-challenges-follow.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 accessed November 26, 2014

Teacher Specific Resources:



Kinesthetic activities such as ricing or gathering maple syrup could be reflected on and connected to reading and writing
In traditional setting, children would often observe their parents and then mimic
Supports wholistic view versus Western models that break everything into small pieces of information
Supports the community/group learning well
Brings relevancy into the curriculum for American Indian students
Supports cultural value of silence and observation
NA students need to feel they voluntarily cooperate vs. being coerced
Can cause more connections to teachers and other students which will increase learning and motivation
Language is key to culture and spirituality
Every phoneme has a meaning (blueberry example)
Learning the language sparks something inside the student and they gain self-esteem (Elder)
Explained as subdued with a lot of vowel sounds, almost mumbling (Emma's interviewee)
Words are animate or inanimate. Spaghetti is inanimate; taco is animate
Anishinaabe uses a lot of verbs
Alphabet: a, aa, b, ch, d, e, g, h, ', i, ii, j, k, m, n, o, oo, p, s, sh, t, w, y, z, zh
Words carry meaning and are used sparingly. Rather than repeat, "I love you," the Ojibwe may not say anything but show it in their actions


An Anishinaabe elder was taken from her reservation at age 11 after her parents and grandmother died and placed in a white foster home (typical at that time, they are trying to change things now). She didn’t speak English. She was the only American Indian in the school. She was bullied and beaten. She was given an English name. She had no role models or mentors from any of her educators. Stripped from all of her culture, she should have turned into a statistic of poverty, possible drug and alcohol abuse. However, the roots and memories of her family and culture up until the age of 11 motivated her not give up. She became a counselor and later a teacher, and a tribal college president and is revered for her work for social change for the American Indians.
She believes strongly in giving the students back their language which is the key to spirituality, ethnicity, and self-esteem and correcting the false historical “facts” of the dominant culture to include the true stories that include the First Nations people.



preference for information heard or spoken
say directions and expectations out loud
Give examples
Collectivism-Group Discussion
working in groups
storytelling and oral tradition to enhance listening and gain knowledge
describes physical characteristics
persecution and historical trauma
"erase the Indian but keep the man"
Resistance of immersion into mainstream society
maintain values, cultural behaviors, and structural integrity of family systems
lack of knowledge about Indians
Ineffective programs and policies leading to poverty,poor health, unemployment,alcoholism,infant mortality,suicide,and juvenile deliquency
As the United States government used the education system to tear apart NA culture through assimilation and boarding schools, it is impossible to get rid of several hundred years of historical trauma. However, my interviewees say that building a relationship with NA students is important for rebuilding trust that has long been lost. Cindy and Nicole believe there is not enough relationship built with students and teachers need to hold simple conversations and make connections. The teacher must be approachable and cannot expect NA students to adapt to the “white” system of schooling. Culture is not adaptable to the system. And lastly, my interviewees wanted to see teachers making an effort to make those connections with students. Whether it is attending a powwow or holding a simple conversation, NA students want to see their teachers making an effort, because they will then do the same in the classroom.
Reservations are typically located in highly undesirable locations; poor land for farming, lack of water access, lack of resources, etc.
Often, curriculum and educational resources in schools on the reservations are limited; textbooks are dated, technology is very limited, teachers are (sometimes) less formally trained in education.
Seven Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) and 4 Dakota reservations in MN.
People who are GLBTAQ are viewed as being neither man or woman, but two spirits inhabiting one body.
The term Indians use is "two-spirited".
Honored and respected for being powerful and sacred.
Believed to harness the unique ability to connect to other people.

Traditionally, men and women divided roles for daily living (Men-Hunting, Women-gathering). Parenting roles were shared as well. Group decisions are made within circles.
Rape/abuse of women-product of loss of traditions and parenting skills that came from boarding schools.Not talked about a lot-shame.

While being collectivist is not necessarily a learning modality, it can highly effect the learning process of students.
Native American students thrive in communal learning environments; working in groups, working in pairs, etc.
Physical interaction-seen as positive/friendly, not inappropriate. Teachers should be mindful of when they discourage physical touch-gauge whether or not it is truly unacceptable.
Try not to make a negative connotation with touch-highly valued culturally.
Susan Lund, Emily Quitney, Michael Pochettino, Adam Schafer, Emily Brom
Collectivist vs. Individualistic
Poupart and Red Horse (2010)
Poupart and Red Horse (2010)
Gentry et al.(2014)
Woodfill (2014)
Woodfill (2014)
Improving Education for Native American Students
Minnesota Public Radio
From Lesli A. Maxwell's piece:
"The state of American Indian education is a disaster," says David Beaulieu, a professor of educational policy and community studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe-White Earth.
While such historically disadvantaged groups as African-American and Latino students have seen their graduation rates accelerate in recent years, American Indians and Alaska Natives, who constitute one subgroup for federal education data reporting, have not. According to analyses by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, American Indian graduation rates have been on a downward trend since 2008.
MN has lowest on-time graduation rate in Country for Native American students - 45.5 %
Ojibwe have had bad relationships with the dominant culture due to history of broken treaties and efforts to exterminate their culture. In education, the boarding schools of the past have created distrust of the system and disengagement from it. Much healing from the past is still needed.
Ojibwe are community oriented and are non-invasive. Students may not ask questions or be competitive in the school environment. Learning may be better if done in groups primarily. Time for reflection is often helpful.
Students may not look teacher in the eye as a sign of respect. This should not be interpreted as lack of interest or being deceitful
Elders are highly respected.
Learning is often aural (story telling) and by observation/doing
Time is also a circular concept and promptness is not part of the culture
Relationships and gaining trust are keys to learning
History as has been taught in standard curriculum has not included the American Indians and has been untruthful to them.
Regaining the Anishinaabe language is key to regaining their identity, spirituality and culture
To the Ojibwe, spirituality and daily life are interwoven and inseparable
Educational resources on the reservations are extremely limited and outdated
Ojibwe students tend to react most favorably to aural and kinesthetic teaching styles
Extremely important to build relationships with the students. In order to gain their trust, one must understand their history and make connections with the student.
David Beaulieu, White Earth Ojibwe, Minnesota Dr. David Beaulieu, White Earth, speaks about education, boarding schools, extendedfamilies, tribal schools/colleges and community life

Each reservation either has a school on their reservation or they send their children to surrounding school districts.

Several Native American Schools (usually magnet or charter) have been created to help re-teach Native children their culture and traditions. Some have populations that are predominantly Native, while others are more sensitive to the cultural needs of native students. A few of these schools include:

Bdote Learning Center in Minneapolis-http://www.bdotelearningcenter.org/

Center School in Minneapolis-http://www.centerschool.org/

American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul-http://aims.spps.org/

Mnic Alternative School in Minneapolis-http://www.mnic.org/

T. Harrold (2014)

A. Fairbanks (2014)
Texas State Historical Association (2014)

Poupart and Red Horse (2010)
Woodfill (2014)
McCown and Snowman (2013)
Story of Tanning Deer Hides by an Elder
Imagine you are on a committee for a reservation school that has been run by the typical dominant culture structure, trying to meet No Child Left Behind testing standards. Its statistics are dismal. The dropout rate is 17%. The graduation rate is 49%. Teenage pregnancy is the norm. Drugs and alcohol are rampant. Bad behaviors are hard to control. Students are apathetic and do not seem to be engaged or see any reason to take education seriously. Parents don't seem to care as well. Your committee has the task of revamping the school for success. Based on what you have learned during our presentation, what are some of the steps you would take for positive change?
Full transcript