Book Project Features Stories by Elders


The Mille Lacs Band is seeking to deepen the resources available to advance the Ojibwe language. In that effort, the Band has reached an agreement with the Minnesota Historical Society Press to publish three new monolingual Ojibwe books.

MNHS Press has published bilingual books in Ojibwe and English before, but monolingual Ojibwe publication marks a new direction. Earlier this year MNHS acquired four previously published monolingual Ojibwe books to add to their titles. The Mille Lacs Band will be the first to develop new monolingual material for first release and publication with MNHS Press.

To develop the content for these books, Mille Lacs Elders are participating in content development sessions during which first speakers of the language are paired with transcribers who record the stories of the Elders, which include both personal, non-fiction stories based on past experiences, as well as creative fiction.

Elder writers working on the project include Joe Nayquonabe Sr., Brenda Moose, Frances Davis, Jim Mitchell, Carol Nickaboine, Elfreda Sam, Dorothy Sam, Shirley Boyd, Bette Sam, Susan Shingobe, Lee Staples, Lorena Garbow, and Ralph Pewaush.

Transcribers include Mille Lacs Band and community mem- bers Aanakwadoons Aubid, Amanda Nickaboine, Baabiitaw Boyd, John P. Benjamin, Bradley Harrington, Jada Montano, Chato Gonzalez, and others.

Visual artists Jonathan Thunder, Wes Ballinger, and Steve Premo are illustrating the books. The editors are Anton Treuer and Michael Sullivan.

The three books are Nishiimeyinaanig (Our Younger Siblings), Anooj Inaajimod (All Kinds of Stories), and Akawe Niwii-tibaajim (First I Will Tell a Story). Nishiimeyinaanig includes 26 fiction stories for children with 100 color illustrations. Anooj Inaajimod is a collection of 23 entertaining fiction stories with human characters. It also includes 100 color illustrations. Akawe Niwii-tibaajim is composed of 80 cultural stories and reminiscences with a color cover and 100 black-and-white il- lustrations inside the book.

See next month’s Inaajimowin for more on this story.