Storytelling is an integral part of who we are as Anishinaabeg. Back in the days of wiigiwams, we have been telling stories to each other — to remember heroes like Wenabozho, to learn from mistakes, and to teach our language to our little ones. It is an important aspect of just being human.
I think about stories that I heard as a child — beautiful fairy tales of mermaids, sprites, and princesses. Some of them I would think about in a different way because of our own stories around those ikwewag wezhigwanaajig, memegwesiiwag, and ogimaakwens. None of them, of course, really hit home with me in a deep way because they weren't about people that I recognized or the ones that I saw daily, nor did they connect with the things that I had learned from my grandpa or other Elders.
To this day, that is one of my deep passions: to write stories for and about us as Anishinaabeg. We have so many wonderful people within our tribe: doctors, artists, language warriors, counselors, teachers, conservationists, and great leaders. They all deserve to have their stories told, and when that happens, we all become a closer community by knowing each other on a deeper level.
When I was initially asked to write for the Inaajimowin, I was skeptical and unsure. I doubted my own abilities as a writer and to be quite honest, I was worried that the things that I would write would upset people or be misconstrued. Eventually, I started to realize that my stories were having a positive effect on the people that they were written about, and those who were reading them. I recall the story that I wrote recently about Robin Eagle. After the story published, she had a million dollar smile for weeks. She told me how she had cut out her article and framed it, and how proud her grandkids were of her for it.
With the gentle guidance of Brett Larson over the years, I have found a comfortable groove in the stories that I share with you all in the Inaajimowin. He has grown my confidence in my writing, and as time has gone on, it has become easier to write and prep for interviews with the individuals and/or connected events that I want to write about.
When I think about stories that I may want to write, the inspiration may be a story that I heard about a kid, a great employee who hasn't received much recognition, or an Elder sharing traditional knowledge that I think would be great to share with everyone. I also get inspired to share initiatives that are happening within Mille Lacs Band departments. I think it is so important for Band members to stay current on the ways that our government is working to serve them. That way they can be informed about upcoming opportunities, projects, and even make suggestions to leadership about what they think will help them in their own lives.
I was asked to write this article to share my insight and experience about being a regular contributor to the Inaajimowin in hopes that it would inspire others to come forward and share their stories, perspectives, and voice here in the Inaajimowin. I hope that others decide to step forward and do this. One thing that I always think about and say is that future history is truly happening now, and it is up to those who are recording those stories now to give those stories our voice as Anishinaabeg to the future generations. This is important. Our stories need to come from our own voices, minds, and experiences, not from the perspective of anyone else. Who will tell your story? Miigwech. Mi'iw.
If you're interested in writing for Ojibwe Inaajimowin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 320-495-5006.