TRAVERSE CITY — The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians will reintroduce its language and culture camp to the community next week, the first Family Anishinaabemowin Camp held in Peshawbestown since 1999.
Kenny Pheasant, a native speaker from Ontario, originally started the program 20 years ago. His vision was to create a camp for families to come together and learn about the Anishinaabemowin language through workshops and presentations.
The program was well-received, but the camp was discontinued in 2000 because of budget constraints. Pheasant moved his program to the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Manistee, where he continues to hold an annual event.
This year, the Grand Traverse Band’s newly elected Tribal Council decided the language and culture programs were a priority and allocated money to reinstate the camp.
“Community members have been asking for the camp,” said Carrie Leaureaux, Lead Language Instructor for the Anishinaabemowin Program and camp co-coordinator.
She and Sammie Dyal lead language classes and cultural awareness and sensitivity programs throughout the year and have put together what they believe will be an inspiring and informative three-day event.
“We try to bring in a mixture of fluent speakers from the Great Lakes region and focus on different language and cultural topics,” Leaureaux said.
Doris Boissoneau is a Fluent Language Presenter who has been teaching classes throughout the region for many years. She’ll be leading a workshop about the true meaning behind Anishinaabe words and another workshop about clan teachings.
“It was my first language and I never forgot it,” she said. “I carry it with me and want to give it back to whomever I meet.”
She described the camp as a coming-home experience.
“It’s a chance for people to come together and get motivated about their culture. It’s a part of us and we need to promote that,” she said.
Rhonda Migliore and Eagle James of Peshawbestown plan to attend with their three children.
“I’m just learning the language,” said Migliore, “It’s really neat to listen and get to know the words that are out there. I want to learn more because the language and culture is so unique. I know this will be good for the kids. We want them to know their culture and give them a good start to their education.”
Mary Lou Manitowabi from Ontario will present workshops on traditional baking methods and she plans to teach the names of the ingredients used in her recipes in the native language.
“I’ll be teaching Kaboni-Manitowabi methods of bread-making, which are the methods I learned from my mother,” she said. “Students will learn how to make yeast bread, fry bread, blueberry dumplings and baked scones.”
A workshop also will focus on plants and medicines in the wild, and participants will have an opportunity to learn how to make a dream catcher.
The camp will be held Aug. 12-14 at the Pow Wow Grounds in Peshawbestown, north of Suttons Bay in Leelanau County. Workshops will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided and free camping is available. There is no charge for the three-day event; costs are fully covered by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
Attendees are encouraged to stay through the week to attend the Grand Traverse Band Health Fair and Community Feast on Aug. 16, and the Traditional Pow Wow on Aug. 17-18.
“The camp is open to all ages and community members,” Leaureaux said. “If someone is interested in learning more about our culture, it will be great for them to attend. This will help foster community relations and give them a better idea of who we are.”
For more information, contact Carrie Leaureaux at 231-534-7462 or Sammie Dyal at 231-534-7758.