Miigwech from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg!
We would like to acknowledge the passion and hard work of all the individuals who have given so freely of their time and knowledge in the collective efforts to revitalize Nishnaabemwin across Nishnaabe country. We are very fortunate that our elders across our Nishnaabe territory understood the value and importance of our language to our way of life. We say Miigwech from the bottom of our hearts.
We want to express a very heartfelt Miigwech to the technicians, linguists, and other professionals, who have worked so diligently with our elders in documenting Nishnaabemwin.
We want to express our gratitude to two very special projects, without whose permission to build upon their work, we would have never been able to save the dying dialect of Biigtigong Nishnaabemwin. We will be thankful always.
The first is Patricia Ningewance of Lac Seul First Nation. Patricia has done outstanding work in the area of language documentation. Authoring many books and resource materials, she has provided our Nishnaabe world with hope and a belief that, together, we can rightly reclaim our language and the spirit of our Nishnaabe life. Patricia has generously allowed us, and encouraged us, to utilize her work in our efforts to reconstruct and revitalize our Biigtigong dialect of Nishnaabemwin. “Learning Ojibwe will enable you, the student, to put on a new set of glasses, and learn to see the world in a different way – the Ojibwe way.” (1993, p. 3). Biigtigong Nishnaabeg will follow the example set by this wonderful Nishnaabe-kwe leader and visionary.
Secondly is the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary, which is another amazing resource developed for our people. It is an innovative and very useful resource which documents Anishinaabemowin and is freely available to the world. Understanding the state of our language, the limited resources available for language revitalization, and ultimately the importance of our language, the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary is exactly that – the people’s. This online dictionary is shared under a Creative Commons license which encourages the use of the material in our collective efforts to revitalize our language.
In the spirit of sharing demonstrated so kindly by both Patricia Ningewance and the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary, Biigtigong will follow in the same path set by them. Appreciating our Nishnaabe gift-giving values, our ancient tradition of returning thanks, and our deeply held beliefs about the foundational importance of reciprocity, it is our intention to make all of our work, as well, freely available to the world. It is our goal to not only revitalize Biigtigong’s dialect, but to also help others who are struggling with the same challenges in reclaiming their true identity and language. We will continue to move forward, staying mindful of the lessons and shared insights of our ancestors and elders, all of whom we are working to honour.
Biigtigong Nishnaabeg would like to say Miigwech to the people of Biigtigong. Without your support, your belief in fighting for our language, for our Nishnaabe identity and world, our dialect of Nishnaabemwin would be dead. With this reconstruction and documentation work, we have a fighting chance to keep our dialect alive so that it might once again live in the daily lives of our people.
And finally, to JP Montano, without whom none of this would be possible, we will forever be grateful.