Michael Meuers accepts the Community Impact Award on behalf of Bemidji's Ojibwe Language Project.

Ojibwe Language Signage Now in 150 Minnesota Businesses

ICTMN Staff
7/2/12

Ojibwe/English signage is now being displayed at 150 businesses, a new record for the Ojibwe Language Project.

Most recently to sign up are Beltrami Electric Cooperative in Bemidji, Minnesota, First National Bank of Bemidji, and North Country Dental in Cloquet, Minnesota.


"It's wonderful to have the smaller businesses sign on," said Michael Meuers, who has spearheaded this effort as part of Shared Vision’s subcommittee on Cultural Understanding with Rachelle Houle. "In fact that is the bulk of the 150 sites, but it's very nice to get large organizations such as Beltrami Electric and First National Bank to sign on because it demonstrates the permanence of the project. Hopefully this will encourage more businesses to add bilingual signage…not only in Bemidji… but throughout northern Minnesota. We had hoped that eventually the idea would take on a life of its' own, it has and it's exciting."

Houle said calls and emails are starting to come in from other areas and Ojibwe reservations that are interested in starting up language efforts in their communities.

Bemidji's Ojibwe Language Project has received national recognition. It was one of This Week From Indian Country Today’s cover stories last year, and has been featured in many state-wide publications and radio.

Ojibwe author Anton Treuer, a professor at Bemidji State University, even highlights the project in his latest book, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask. Treuer recognizes the effort as significant in Ojibwe language and cultural revitalization, and as an effort to help reduce racism. Last year the project's advocates were recognized by the United Way as volunteers of the year.

In May, Meuers accepted Northern Community Radio's (KAXE) annual Community Impact Award on behalf of the Ojibwe Language Project.

“Michael has worked diligently to bring Ojibwe language signs to Bemidji,” said a press release from KAXE. “Nearly 150 businesses and institutions now have Ojibwe welcome signs in their business.”

“We hope that one day Boozhoo and Miigwech will be as synonymous with Bemidji as Aloha is with Hawaii,” Meuers said.

“We want to sincerely thank each and every one of the businesses and organizations that are helping to make the Ojibwe Signage Project a success and in so doing, making Bemidji a better place to live,” said Houle. “You are the heart of the success, we couldn't have done it without you.”


Related Articles

Native American Language Project Takes Another Step Forward

Bemidji’s Ojibwe Language Project Seeking Permanence

Ojibwe Words Help Temper Racism

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hjwjc's picture
hjwjc
Submitted by hjwjc on
I admire the fact that you, as an individual, are doing what you can to save the Ojibwe language. I grew up on an Apache reservation in AZ. My story is very common. Our language is dying. Less than 50% of the people speak Apache. Some advice to those who can speak their native language: If you hear a person say something in error or doesn't know how to say "it". DON'T LAUGH/MOCK THEM AND SAY SOMETHING LIKE "YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW SPEAK (WHATEVER LANGUAGE)". Teach that individual how to speak it. There are teacher's who even saw this ridicule and said the student's who were made fun of never spoke another work of Apache. Another situation is when a non-Apache speaking person says one word in Apache for whatever reason people think this funny and they laugh at them. Instead of laughing at them they should encourage the fact that this person is trying to learn the language. Then something else that bothers me is I hear people say if you don't speak Apache you're not Apache. If the language is that important then an effort like what you have done for the Ojibwe should be done here, but then again if signs were put up no one would know how to read it...

starsong's picture
starsong
Submitted by starsong on
Chi migwetch!
2