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.