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Wisconsin Sea Grant, GLIFWC use children's books to teach about Ojibwe culture and the Great Lakes

The cover of Growing Up Ojibwe, one of the books selected for a book club
Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) Facebook
The cover of Growing Up Ojibwe, one of the books selected for a book club

Wisconsin Sea Grant, in partnership with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, is hosting an online book club designed to give parents and teachers tools to introduce young readers to Ojibwe culture and environmental stewardship.

In the book Growing Up Ojibwe, 15-year-old Tommy Sky takes readers on a journey through important parts of Ojibwe culture, from spearing walleye to harvesting wild rice.

The children’s book was published by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission to introduce kids to Ojibwe life.

Now, it’s the first in a collection of books written by Ojibwe authors that’s been compiled for an online book club.

Growing Up Ojibwe is a GLIFWC publication, and then there’s the Sacred Harvest: Ojibwe Wild Rice Gathering by Gordon Regguinti. There is the Water Walker by Joanne Robertson. And the Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich,” lists Morgan Coleman, who organized this book club as an intern with Wisconsin Sea Grant. That’s a statewide program dedicated to caring for the Great Lakes and the nation’s water resources.

Coleman wanted to do a project to engage young people and foster early interest in Ojibwe culture and caring for the environment.

“If you hand a kid, or even an adult, a research paper about water quality in the Great Lakes, they probably aren’t going to get much from it, unless they have a degree in limnology,” she says. “But if you give someone a story, you can reach out to a different demographic that doesn’t have this deep background and foster a love for the environment.”

So Coleman started a virtual book club discussion guide. She selected four children’s books, and then put together discussion questions and activities to go along with each.

Now Sea Grant and GLIFWC are hosting programs for parents and educators to teach them how to use the resources.

It’s all part of an effort to increase awareness of Ojibwe culture while promoting sustainable use of the Great Lakes.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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