Bemidji State languages professor lands Benjamin Franklin research grant

BEMIDJI, Minn. (February 11, 2011) — Dr. Anton Treuer, professor of languages and Ojibwe studies at Bemidji State University, has received a $6,000 Benjamin Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society to continue his work to develop the first written grammar guide to the Ojibwe language.

The Franklin grant is the latest in a series of grants won by Treuer in recent years to support his efforts to develop the grammar book.

“A few years ago I started hitting a series of home runs with grants,” Treuer said. “That really set the groundwork for a lot of this.”

The Franklin grant will support some project-level work in the region as Treuer works to fill some of the remaining holes in the research. The research will include trips to the reservations in the Bemidji area where Treuer has developed a network of Ojibwe-speaking elders who have been the key component of his research so far.

“There aren’t books out there, so our books are people,” Treuer said. “I’ll be focusing locally on people at Leech Lake, Red Lake and Mille Lacs and continue with interviews to plug holes in the grammar.

“We are always finding new dialect issues,” Treuer said. “Ojibwe grammar is really complicated, and there are issues where things are conjugated differently depending on whether you’re speaking to someone or speaking about someone. These things only come up in conversations, so to fill in those holes you have to get out and talk with people.”

Since 1933, the Philadelphia-based American Philosophical Society has awarded small grants to scholars in order to support the cost of research leading to publication in all areas of knowledge. Last academic year, the Franklin Research Grants program awarded over $360,000 to 73 scholars, and the society expects to make a similar number of awards in this year’s competition. The Franklin program supports non-commercial research and is particularly designed to help meet the costs of travel to libraries and archives for research purposes; the purchase of research materials; the costs associated with fieldwork; or laboratory research expenses.