In the book Growing up in Ojibwe15-year-old Tommy Sky takes readers on a journey through important aspects of Ojibwe culture, from fishing for walleye to harvesting wild rice.
The children’s book was published by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission to introduce children to Ojibway life.
Now this is the first of a collection of books written by Ojibway authors that has been compiled for an online book club.
“Growing up in Ojibwe is a GLIFWC publication, and then there’s the Sacred Harvest: Gathering Ojibwa Wild Rice by Gordon Regguinti. There is the water walker by Joanne Robertson. And the Birch bark house by Louise Erdrich,” lists Morgan Coleman, who organized this book club as an intern with Wisconsin Sea Grant. It is a statewide program dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes and the nation’s water resources.
Coleman wanted to do a project to engage young people and spark an early interest in Ojibwe culture and environmental protection.
“If you hand a child, or even an adult, a research paper on water quality in the Great Lakes, they probably won’t get much out of it, unless they have a degree in limnology,” she says. “But if you tell someone a story, you can reach a different demographic that doesn’t have that deep experience and foster a love of the environment.”
So Coleman launched a virtual book club discussion guide. She selected four children’s books, then put together discussion questions and activities to go along with each one.
Now Sea Grant and GLIFWC run programs for parents and educators to teach them how to use the resources.
This is all part of an effort to increase awareness of Ojibwe culture while promoting the sustainable use of the Great Lakes.