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Ojibwe Heartbeat
by Monika Lawrence


Each summer the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota organizes an Ojibwe Language and Culture Camp for children, youths, and adults in Ponemah—a remote village in the backwoods of the Lower Red Lake. Ojibwe, an Algonquian language, is listed as “vulnerable” according to UNESCO. Only about one hundred elders are fluent Ojibwe speakers currently in the region. Experiencing punishment for speaking Ojibwe in the boarding schools up until the 1970s, many chose not to teach their language to their children. Consequently, the language was on the brink of being lost—but the tribe took great efforts to bring back not only Ojibwe as a spoken language, but also the Ojibwe culture and way of life. The camp, in the backwoods of the Lower Red Lake, is an intergenerational community effort to keep the heart of the Ojibwe culture beating within American society. With my photos I wanted to focus on the love, the fun, and the joyful learning within the Ojibwe community. It was a great learning experience for me too.

All photos were taken on assignment for MPR News, July 26, 2018 in Ponemah, Minnesota.