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UMD at Ojibwe Language Camp
The art of making moccasins was taught at Nagaajiwanaang Ambe, Ojibwemodaa (Fond du Lac’s "Come on, let’s all speak Ojibwe"). Photos courtesy of UMD alumna Ivy Vainio ('92).

UMD Staff Appreciative of Lessons Learned at Ojibwe Language Camp

It was an opportunity for Chris Davila, coordinator of UMD's Latino Chicano Student Programs, to walk it like he talks it-- and then 'talk it' in a whole new way. He attended Nagaajiwanaang Ambe, Ojibwemodaa, an Ojibwe language and culture camp held in Sawyer, Minn. June 13–16 and left with new perspective he can apply to his work. "Staff in our office, Office of Cultural Diversity, help with diversity workshops and other trainings all the time and we are constantly encouraging others to 'step out of their comfort zone.' This gave me the opportunity to do just that and attend the language camp where I didn't know anybody and I didn't know what to expect at all."

This is the fifth year for the camp, which teaches not only the language but also about the Ojibwe culture. The camp's atmosphere made learning all the more memorable for Angela Nichols, director of UMD's GLBT services, "I can't think of a better learning environment than one that's positive, open, inclusive, and inviting - a great place to learn and socialize!"

Learning with Laughter: Baapiwag

UMD's Nichols and Davila at Language Camp  

Chris Davila and Angela Nichols learn how to say, "This is a ball. Catch it!" in Ojibwe.


"I've always appreciated being able to laugh while I'm learning so I thoroughly enjoyed the humor that was incorporated into the teaching," says Nichols.

Davila decided ahead of time that he was going to totally engage in the camp's activities, getting as much out of it as he possibly could. "I tried to go in with an open mind and a willingness to just jump in and get involved and the reward was being warmly welcomed, learning some Ojibwe words and meeting some great people."

UMD's Vainio at the Language Camp  
Dr. Arne Vainio, who teaches at UMD's School of Medicine, conducted science experiments to the delight of camp participants.  

The event was sponsored, in part, by the Ruth A. Myers endowed chair in American Indian Education. Brian McInnes, assistant professor in the Department of Education says, "This sponsorship is reflective of UMD's commitment to helping Indigenous communities revitalize traditional language and culture, and to help others learn about those traditions and practices."

Ojibwe Language Camp held in June  
Organizers say 1,254 people registered for the four-day camp. The youngest being two-weeks-old and the oldest more than 80-years-old.  


Lori C. Melton,


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