By Richard Ackley, Jr.
Last weekend, 25 youth from the Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Bad River, Lac Courte Oreilles, Lac du Flambeau and the Coast Miwok Tribes participated in the Binaakwe Falling Leaves Cultural Fall Camp held at Goodman Park in western Marinette County.
The Camp began on Friday and concluded on Sunday afternoon. Youth and 30 adults camped and explored traditional fall hunting activities and cultural practices throughout the weekend.
Chris McGeshick, one of the organizers, shared, “These events and activities are vital to learning and preparing our future generations. We want to preserve our culture for future generations. The more information that can be learned about our Ojibwe culture and history, the better our youth will be able to use this knowledge, enabling them to be more experienced leaders.”
Sessions were hosted by regional Tribal harvesters and Elders of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community and Lac du Flambeau Tribe. The camp
addressed safety and cultural heritage topics including language, respect for Mother Earth, and respect for the natural resources.
Participants harvested six deer, five muskrats and a turkey. A highlight of the weekend involved gutting, cleaning and dressing the deer and removing the hide in the wild, offering hands-on techniques for the youth.
Cassandra Graikowski, Sokaogon’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, assisted in planning the camp. She shared that her goal is to help youth to understand the importance of what each season of the year has to offer as it relates to the hunting and gathering activities of the Anishinaabe culture for thousands of years.
Camps throughout recent years have been designed to strategically plan activities for each season. The camps also focus on the ideals of establishing respect for one another and instill the ability to recognize the intent of the harvest and the multitude of gifts which nature has to offer.
Roger McGeshick, Jr., a Tribal Member and Warden with the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), stated, “This is one event that the community and youth look forward to each and every year. GLIFWC is always willing to assist with any youth event that teaches traditional and cultural activities.”
Peter Nelson from Coast Miwok in California, shared, “It was great to see the kids learning traditional knowledge and skills from the Elders and adult hunters.”
Trish Thorbahn, an adult volunteer, said, “The youth had a great amount of respect for each other, and it was great to see many of them reunite for this event. Hopefully they have learned quite a bit. I can’t wait until next year. It would be very nice to see more youth from other Tribes around Wisconsin take part.”
Cassandra explained that this year’s camp was made possible by the Sokaogon Chippewa Community, GLIFWC, and the Great Lakes Inter-
Tribal Council (GLITC).
“Everything ran very smoothly this year. We had great cooks, instructors and lots of helpers. Our kids are getting to know each other more as we progress, and there is more respect and teamwork among the youth.”
Tribal Members from all Tribes are welcome to participate in future activities. For more information, email Cassandra or call 715-522-0757.
Chi Miigwech to all of the volunteers who assisted during the camp and shared their knowledge with our yout