Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Native Language & Culture Camp

Aanii (hello in Anishinaabe)!
On July 25-27th hubby and I had the pleasure of attending our first Native American Language and Culture camp here in Manistee, MI.  Some of you may already know but for those of you don't, I am half Native American, from my father's side who belonged to the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI) from our area. My siblings and I and all our children are official citizens of  the LRBOI.  One of the reasons why my hubby and I moved up here.

Four sessions were held daily and it was so hard to choose from but here are the few that I attended:

This was the first session I attended, learning to make Indian Corn Soup.  Did you know that Indian Corn Soup takes three days to make?  The corn is the reason why it takes so long but oh so worth it.  Here the kids are removing the corn kernels from the cobs.  It took awhile because the corn kernels are hard.  On the left two ladies are putting wood ash (real wood not pre-treated wood) in a cotton cloth and tying them into small sacks that then get put into the soup with the corn kernels.  Ewwwwww!!  That's what I thought at first too!  Come to find out, the wood ash helps the kernels to open.  How in the world did the Native Americans ever figure that out??  Don't worry, any wood ash that seeps out is rinsed away.

Here's the delicious soup three days later.  Broth, chicken meat were added.

There was plenty to go around for everyone at the camp, almost 300 people.  I plan to make some this coming Fall so look out for the post/recipe.

One of the moms there was carrying around this papoose.  I would've loved one for my kids.  They are so snuggly and secure.

I attended several sessions learning to speak the Anishinaabe language.  I have such a LONG, LONG ways to go.  The key is not to give up.  We must keep it going for generations to come!  **Hint, hint to my kids and my grandchildren and future grandchildren!! :)

This guy was braiding sweet grass.  I'm not sure the purpose for it.  I'm still learning but I just took the picture because I thought it was cool

Making baby moccasins.

Making baby moccasins.

Here are the pair of baby moccasins I made.  My first try!!  We used strong felt material to make these and to practice with.  I will be making some soon out of deer hide and I can't wait!

Here's a picture of the moccasins with a vase my sister painted years ago.  Now she's the one with all the artist talent!!

I went around the camp when I wasn't in one and just took pictures.  Here is the session of Plants & Medicines Important to our People.

Here are the youth having their own sessions separate from all the others.

Drummers doing what they do, drum. :)

This was such a fun time for hubby and I.  He didn't attend some of the sessions with me but we both learned a lot.  I was most fascinated by the elderly woman speaking the Anishinaabe language.  Some stories they told were in English as well, one about eating Muskrat brains when she was little (I almost choked when I heard that one).  Another spoke about harvesting wild rice in the area we live in.  I also learned to make fresh teas from blueberries and Sassafras which apparently grows wild all around upper Michigan.

Anyway, that was our weekend.  I'm so looking forward to next years.  We are allowed to bring non-Native friends so if you're interested in learning more about the Native Americans and want to come up and join us, by all means please let me know.  Or perhaps you can be allowed to attend a camp with your local Native American tribe.  A great learning experience, especially if you are a teacher.

Until next time,


  1. Love the papoose baby:)
    Ottawa.. Our nation's capital is named Ottawa.!

    1. The baby was so adorable, look at her long eyelashes! She reminded so much of my grand-daughter. I love that name Ottawa so much, I should've named one of my kids after it. :)

  2. Oh how very interesting. Love the papoose and those moccasins are adorable. Looks and sounds like a wonderful weekend.

    1. Thank you Happyone. The papoose was the talk of the camp plus that baby is a cutie. :)

  3. Bev,
    I'm so happy for you two. It's wonderful that you had the opportunity to learn more about your culture, and
    practice preserving it.

    I'm guessing that the wood ash works to soften the water, and help the corn re-hydrate.

    My Dad used to teach survival classes, and I remember him making biscuits with wood ash. The wood ash worked like baking soda, as a leavening agent. He would only use the very whitest part of the wood ash.

    It will be fun to read and learn more about your culture as you practice what you've learned. We'll be interested to see how that corn soup turns out for you.


  4. Edited to add: I meant to type in - baking powder, not baking soda.

    1. LOL! I didn't notice the difference :) The instructor had a jar full of wood ash and I did notice that it was a light gray, no black in it. I'm gonna have a hard time finding wood ash since our fireplace runs on gas. I'm definitely looking forward to making my own corn soup :)

  5. What a beautiful way to spend the weekend. Plus, you'll have the gift of knowledge to share with your adorable grandikids!