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LDF Summer Program Employs Students to Learn About Tribe's Culture

A group of high school students from the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa have been staying busy this summer.

They’re part of the second cohort of students to participate in a summer work program that employs students to engage in their culture.

It’s pouring down rain in Lac du Flambeau.

But the rain doesn’t stop a group of about six high school students from gathering under a picnic shelter to carve traditional wooden flutes or shave strips of cedar wood into wild rice knockers.

The teens are part of a summer work program called the Lac du Flambeau Youth Cultural Experience.

Erin Gottsacker/WXPR

Funded by the Economic Support Office, they spend about 20 hours, four days a week working on cultural projects.

“The goal of this program is to educate and give our kids here the opportunity to work like our ancestors did,” Greg Johnson, the program’s supervisor, says.

That’s exactly what these students are doing.

“We’ve collected cedar bark, we’ve made a couple wigwams, we’ve learned how to make traditional flutes and how to gather traditional medicines,” lists Lacy Valliere. She’s one of the students participating in the summer program.

Before this summer, Lacy says she couldn’t have imagined herself spending her school break learning about this culture. Now, she can’t imagine being anywhere else.

“It’s just being able to bring the culture back after so long,” she says. “The type of wigwam we built wasn’t made for 100 years, so it was awesome to be a part of that.”

As school gears up for the fall, the summer program is winding down.

However, the lessons learned this summer will last much longer than a season.

“I’ve picked up a lot of skills I can use in my lifetime,” Lacy says. “I feel that will serve me well and others too.”

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