The monolingual Ojibwe young reader book “Awesiinyensag: Dibaajimowinan Ji-gikinoo’amaageng” has been named Minnesota’s Best Read for 2011 by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. It is Minnesota’s official selection to represent all of the publications in the state this year at the National Book Festival, Sept. 24-25, in Washington, D.C.
Anton Treuer, professor of Ojibewe at Bemidji State University and co-editor of “Awesiinyensag,” said, “I just love it that anyone who wants to read the best book in Minnesota this year has to read it in Ojibwe.”
The award carries no cash prizes, but brings attention to Ojibwe language publishing, which has been a rapidly growing field in the region with the advent of several new immersion programs and resurging interest in tribal languages and culture in the area. “Awesiinyensag” is the first in a series of Ojibwe language books being published by Birchbark House, a tribal-language publishing firm based in Minneapolis.
Heid Erdrich is the director of Birchbark House. Contributors to “Awesiinyensag” include Ojibwe speakers from Red Lake, Leech Lake, and Canada and an editorial and transcription team from several other communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as teaching staff from Waadookodaading Ojibwe Immersion Charter School and Niigaane Ojibwe Immersion School and academic staff from Bemidji State University and the University of Minnesota. Ojibwe speakers include Nancy Jones, Eugene Stillday, Rose Tainter, Anna Gibbs and Marlene Stately.
The book is illustrated by Wesley Ballinger of Mille Lacs.