Bemidji State student earns scholarship for Ojibwe language studies

BEMIDJI, Minn. (March 21, 2011) — Susan Hallett, an Indian studies major at Bemidji State University, has won an $800 scholarship from Anishnaabemowin Teg, a non-profit organization advocating for the further study and expansion of the Ojibwe language.

Hallett, who is a junior and lives in Bemidji, is the 2011 recipient of the organization’s Marjorie Mishibinjima-ba Award. The scholarship was one of two awarded to university-level students by the organization this year. The scholarships are intended to support students who are dedicated to maintaining the Ojibwe language. Applicants must be enrolled as a full-time student; be enrolled in a language course; have good attendance; and be involved in community and/or extracurricular activities. Additionally, scholarship candidates much be recommended by an education counselor, teacher, elder, principal or vice principal.

“Susan Hallett’s receipt of this award and scholarship is a great statement about her academic achievements and passion for the Ojibwe language,” Dr. Anton Treuer, professor of languages and ethnic studies at Bemidji State, said. “The award is especially competitive and prestigious and reflects well upon the entire Ojibwe language program at Bemidji State. Ms. Hallett is a hard-working student and single parent. The financial support is surely greatly appreciated and richly well-deserved.”

Hallett will accept the scholarship at the Anishinaabemowin-Teg Language Conference at the Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on Friday, March 25. As part of the acceptance, she will give a three-minute speech in Ojibwe.

“I’m excited,” Hallett said. “It’s going to be interesting accepting an award in front of 1,000 first speakers and distinguished guests. I’ve been polishing up my speech so I can be ready to accept the award in Ojibwe only.”

Hallett says the scholarship will help her reach her goal of providing an Ojibwe immersion class in home economics.

“I have been a homemaker my entire life,” she said. “It is going to be a fun and exciting process for me, learning the language. Being a teacher of the language can only help you learn the language long-term.”

Hallett’s studies in Ojibwe also are helping her play an important role in keeping this language a living, vibrant part of the Native community.

“I believe this  language is a huge part in the healing of our people,” Hallett said. “It is the language of our hearts. If we were to go back and begin to use our speaking skills then there is no room for error in our lives.

“In our language, there are no cuss words; there’s no lying,” she said. “It’s just an incredible, beautiful, honest, pure language. To go back to that, I believe, would really change the face of humanity.”

• Anishinaabemowin Teg:

About Anishinaabemowin Teg
Anishinaabemowin Teg, Inc., is a nonprofit charitable corporation dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the Anishinaabemowin language of the Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes region. Anishinaabemowin Teg has a 12-member board of Directors, with a six-member Elder’s Senate and four youth representatives, to provide direction and support of the organization’s goals and objectives. Each year, Anishinaabemowin Teg hosts an annual language conference in the Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., area at the end of March each year. The organization is leading the way in efforts by the Ojibwe people to take ownership of their native language by practicing the language in social settings and in the workplace.