Niibi Center Updates and Call for Interviews

By Amy Myszko

Autumn is a rich time here in northern Minnesota, from the vibrant colors of the fast fading trees to nourishing cultural practices like fishing and collecting/processing manoomin. It is a time to enjoy the harvest season by putting up the garden and giving gratitude for the earth’s generosity. Here at the Niibi Center, we wanted to take a moment and reflect back on some of the work we have done this year, as well as to invite and engage the community in our current projects and future work.

The Niibi Center is a local non-profit here on White Earth, whose mission is to preserve and promote Anishinaabe culture in order to protect niibi (water) and manoomin (wild rice). Guided by the wisdom and experience of Executive Director Joe LaGarde, as well as our Board of Directors, the Niibi Center aims to be a repository of Anishinaabe culture and tradition, as well as a source of support and inspiration for the local community and beyond.

One of the primary programs at the Niibi Center is our language revitalization program, called Ayaanikeshkaagewaad, meaning “the next ones in succession.” Ayaanikeshkaagewaad seeks to take a new approach to revitalizing Anishinaabe culture and language on WE by increasing the number of proficient Ojibwemowin speakers. We plan to do this by creating a sustainable, home based language immersion program for Anishinaabe families. Many traditional teachings around niibi and manoomin are grounded in the Ojibwe language and so language preservation and teaching are critical elements of cultural survival and community resilience, as well as being central to protecting niibi and manoomin.

Led by Biidaabanikwe (Kim) Anderson (MA, White Earth), the Niibi Center’s language programs focuses on the development of archives, resources, and community-based learning opportunities, many of which will ultimately will be available on the Niibi Center’s website. With gratitude, the Niibi Center has recently received a grant through the Equation Campaign, as well as funding through the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, to continue expanding our language training program. The Niibi Center’s website,, is expected to go live by the end of October 2022 and has information about all of the Niibi Center’s programs, an interactive map in Ojibwe, a Resource Library with links to articles on current events, an Events calendar and much more to be added in the coming months.

Another key program at the Niibi Center which has made substantial progress this year is our Rights of Nature work headed by lawyer and Indian law expert Terry Janis. The Niibi Center has been working closely in conjunction with the WE DNR to begin developing policies around the Tribe’s legal ruling in 2018 which gives manoomin the rights of personhood and protection under the law. The Niibi Center is working with the DNR and various leadership councils within the Tribe to begin codifying these rights into enforceable laws at the Tribal Court level. Be on the lookout in November for community council meetings asking for community input on this process!

Another area that the Niibi Center has been heavily focused on in 2022 is our work with Historical Trauma Healing, particularly around boarding schools. While the conversations around the generational trauma from forced removal of Native children to government run boarding schools is often difficult, many of the elders and families who have participated in our community dialogues on the topic of boarding school trauma have reported that sharing these experiences is an important aspect of healing.

Niibi Center is working to collect interviews with boarding school survivors and their families for ongoing archival work to protect and share these stories. If you or anyone you know would like to share an interview related to boarding schools please call Joe LaGarde at 218-375-4118 or email him at, stipends are provided for participation. We plan to facilitate more community-led events focused on historical trauma healing, and we invite all interested community members to be involved.

Looking forward into 2023, the Niibi Center is excited to collaborate on multiple conferences, but most especially a preliminary 2-day gathering focused on Anishinaabe Law (to be understand in a broader scope of Indigenous or Natural law and not to exclude other non-Ojibwe Tribal perspectives). This gathering promises to be incredibly informative for anyone involved with the Tribal legal systems and will focus on knowledge gathering and sharing around how to integrate Indigenous Law (often based in oral history and cultural practices) into existing tribal legal systems.

We have not set a date for the Anishinaabe Law Conference, but will post information in local papers and on our website as soon as that has been determined. The Niibi Center is also potentially collaborating on a Niibi and Manoomin focused conference with University of Minnesota, tentatively set for April 23-24, 2023, as well as an event co-sponsored by international Indigenous allies through the Artic Center at the University of Iowa, tentatively slated for May, 2023. We hope to see community engagement at all our future events, there are generally stipends available for expenses like travel and honoraria are available for those sharing knowledge, time and/or other cultural resources. General questions can be directed to

This article is published in the November 2022 edition of the Anishinaabeg Today on page 4.,%202022%20c.pdf

manoomin and boat
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