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Revitalizing the Ojibwe language

The first local Ojibwe speaker and instructor has joined the Central Lakes College faculty.

John Benjamin, whose Ojibwe name is Waabishkigaabaw, will teach the Ojibwe language class in the upcoming school year. Benjamin is from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Benjamin brings a high level of knowledge of the language and culture, said Mary Sam, CLC's director of Diversity, Equity and Tribal Relations.

"John is a well-respected Ojibwe instructor within the Mille Lacs Band community and across the region," she said.

Benjamin is one of two Mille Lacs Band members who received mentoring from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Ojibwe instructor Dan Jones throughout last year.

The CLC Ojibwe language revitalization initiative is made possible through a recent Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Diversity and Equity Innovative grant.

In addition to CLC, Benjamin teaches Ojibwe for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe through community education and in the tribal schools. He also serves as an Ojibwemowin tutor for Jones's interactive TV classes through the Mille Lacs Band's Anishinaabe College.

Benjamin has had a passion for the Ojibwe language since he was young. He enrolled at Fond du Lac Community and Tribal College in 2000 and studied the Ojibwe language with Jones.

Benjamin is constantly learning more about the language and relies on the expertise of elders and many family members. He even speaks to himself in Ojibwe to stay in practice.

At CLC, the Ojibwe class experience is very hands-on and interactive, Sam said. It uses Ojibwe humor and cultural teachings to help students learn the language. By the end, students can expect to learn and write conversational Ojibwe.

Visit to learn more about CLC's Ojibwe classes.