As a folklorist, I work closely with many different communities to document, preserve, and present different aspects of folklife. I have worked with Scandinavian-American communities in the Upper Midwest and have worked with Mino-Giizhig (Wayne Valliere) of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, for several years.
The project included making two short documentaries, both of which are available below:
Birchbark Canoes and Wild Rice from Marcus Cederstrom on Vimeo:
Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture from Marcus Cederstrom on Vimeo:
Aug. 2013–July 2014 Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture
I assisted in the building and documenting of a traditional Ojibwe birchbark canoe by Wayne “Mino-Giizhig” Valliere, an Ojibwe teacher, artist, and community leader from Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. The project, titled “Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture,” began with harvesting well in advance of the start of the 2013 fall semester. The project was moved to the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as Wayne Valliere took the position of artist-in-residence. Over the course of the semester, middle-school students from the Lac du Flambeau’s ENVISION program along with students from the Goodman Community Center’s Seed to Table program in Madison took part in the project. Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture was designed to teach the art of birchbark canoe building to Ojibwe youth, but also to use indigenous methodologies and pedagogies to improve health and wellness by focusing on traditional exercise, teachings, and culturally-situated leadership skills.
Along with Professor Tom DuBois, Dr. Tim Frandy, and Colin Connors, I was able to combine my experience in marketing and my humanities training to help create a blog, design a website, conduct and film interviews, and even write press releases. In organizing and participating in digital and public presentations of the work, including ceremonial canoe launches in Madison and Lac du Flambeau and creating signage and planning the installation of the cane at DeJope Hall, we brought this traditional craft to the attention of tens of thousands of people. We worked directly with an inspiring array of people: tribal elders and twelve-year olds, professors and undergraduates, administrators and journalists and fundraisers and community members and the list goes on. We are also working on multimedia project focusing on the role of education in the building of the birchbark canoe.
As a part of the team documenting the project, I built the website and blog and contributed photographs, video, and written accounts of the canoe-building process. I also co-managed the Facebook page and marketed the launch of the canoe using Facebook and the distribution of press releases throughout south central Wisconsin.
- Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture blog
- Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture on Facebook
To learn more about the project check out the links below:
- “Wiigwasi-Jiimaan (Birchbark Canoe)” by Forward Motion | Big Ten Network – April 14, 2014
- “Building Tradition” by Wisconsin Life | Wisconsin Public Television – January 10, 2014
- “Birchbark canoe launch celebrates collaborative art and culture” by Susannah Brooks | University of Wisconsin-Madison News – November 27, 2013
- “Birch bark canoe helps keep Ojibwe culture afloat” by Dennis Punzel | Wisconsin State Journal – November 22, 2013
- “Ojibwe birch bark canoe launches in Lake Mendota” by Mary Ellen Gabriel | College of Letters & Science – November 20, 2013
2013 and 2014 Ojibwe Winter Games
Wayne “Mino-Giizhig” Valliere, an Ojibwe teacher, artist, and community leader from Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin organizes and hosts the Ojibwe Winter Games, which are held in February. The games are a revitalization effort to bring traditional Ojibwe games back to the Lac du Flambeau area, including activities such as snowshoe racing, atlatl throwing ,and the snowsnake game. I, along with several students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Scandinavian Studies Department and the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, helped to document the event, as well as assist in the organization and running of the games for the past two years.
To read more about the project check out the links below:
- “Comparative Literature, Folklore students volunteer at Ojibwe Winter Games” by L&S News Team | College of Letters & Science – March 12, 2013
- “Students Get Hands-On Cultural Lesson at Ojibwe Winter Games” by Lex Gray | WJFW News – February 22, 2013