Golden Apple: Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Students Learn About Ojibwe Culture
Walker-Hackensack-Akeley High School began teaching students about Ojibwe culture in depth this year, where they’re digging into the Ojibwe language and customs.
“[We’re] working with the community to make sure we can make the lessons and the content as authentic and meaningful as possible,” said Ojibwe cultural teacher Janelle Johnson.
Every student walks in the door with a different perspective of the class. For some, it has been a way to connect with their culture and family, and for others it has been a completely new topic to learn.
“We get to go ricing, and getting the experience and learning how to [harvest wild] rice and how to parch it,” said student Ingozis Neeland. “And you get to eat it, learn new words and, like, when we go on the trips, like meeting new people and learning like what they went through.”
“Just learning the language makes me feel like I’m getting closer with her,” said student James Allen. “I like to try to connect with her in some ways.”
“It feels really great to learn to know how to bead and stuff, because even if this isn’t the technique she wanted to show me, this is something that holds a lot of significance,” explained student Cecelia Gale.
After learning about an array of different words, rituals and many other topics, students have broadened their learning beyond what they thought could happen.
“With the students it goes very unrecognized. I’ll see people take it as like a joke. People just, like, mess with it,” said Allen. “But, I don’t know, deep down it’s where I’m from.”
“And anybody can join Ojibwe classes. It’s not just for Native Americans and it’s overall a good class to take in high school,” said student Kaleah Jackson.”
“[It’s] different ideas and different ways of doing things. And I like seeing that all come together, all in just one classroom,” added Gale.
As a first-year teacher, Johnson says she has much more to cover for her students.