Boozhoo Nindinawemaaganidoog! Bangii eta go nindoojibwem. Niwiikwajitoon da ojibwemowyaan. Nageisesukwe nindizhinikaaz. Marjorie nindizhinikaaz zhaaganaashiimo. Waawaashkeshi nin doodem. Wikoonametaawingaasing nindoonjibaa. Nimino ayaa noongom. Niminwendam bi-izhaayaan noongom. Mii sa iw minik waa ikidoyaan. Miigwetch Bizindawiyeg.
Marjorie Eagleman is the Cultural Coordinator for the St. Croix Ojibwe tribe, and she is a graduate of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College, with associate degrees in Native American Studies/Ojibwe language, 2008, and Early Childhood Education, 2015. The Ojibwe introduction is her way of telling about herself to others.
“I really enjoy working in the culture dept. I am able to teach Ojibwe language to St. Croix students”. Marge reflected on the importance of her position as cultural coordinator. Marge also teaches culture/language classes to students at Cumberland middle school grade 5 – 12. In her office at the St. Croix education department, Marge spends time working on lessons for students, preparing for presentations at schools, and assembling booklets on Ojibwe language with English translations.
Marge grew up with the language, with first speakers of the Ojibwe language in her immediate family. “I sit with Ralph and Kwe and watch how Ralph teaches. I follow how Ralph teaches. Now that I completed a degree, I am able to sit with him as an instructor”, Marge stated pensively. Gwayakochigewin, how things are connected and making decisions the right way, are important teaching for Marge. This is the basis of much of the Ojibwe belief system.
When asked about highlights of her time at Lac Courte Oreilles College, Marge recalled attending a class at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, to meet degree requirements. This required a lot of travelling and rigorous course work. Early childhood Education Practicum classes were exciting, and rewarding.
“The students get to know you”, Marge recalled. Education at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community has provided Marge the confidence needed to teach language and culture at schools and community events.
“People have inspired me. I see how people teach. For you (Thelma Nayquonabe)…you’ve inspired me. Others who have inspired me are Brooke, Ralph and Kwe.” “Years ago, I did not know what I was doing. Kate pushed me. I think of my parents and grandparents. How our language was disappearing, I wanted to be a part of that. I suppose because of my parents and grandparents, I wanted to help save our language. I think I am going to cry.” Marge is overcome with emotion, thinking of how crucial her job as educator means to the preservation of Ojibwe culture.
Marge tells of her family of six children. “I lost one, the five remaining are all grown, and I now have fifteen grandchildren, and one great granddaughter.” Family is so important to the beliefs of the Ojibwe and Marge is a wonderful attentive mother and grandmother.
Everything Marge has accomplished has inspired her to work with young people to teach the importance of the language. “I am hoping some of the students will pick up the language and culture. Maybe they will be inspired to teach language. My granddaughter is so good with Ojibwe introduction”, Marge stated proudly.