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Maajii-Ojibwemowag (They Begin to Speak Ojibwe) is a Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance project targeting tribal youth ages birth to five years within the 11 tribes of the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC). The goal of the project is to develop early childhood resource materials to build a foundation for Ojibwe language learning. The developed resources will provide teachers, parents, and caregivers with books, supplemental documents, and interactive, online learning tools in a continuous effort to ensure the survival and utilization of the Ojibwe language.

Following the traditional medicine wheel, the Maajii-Ojibwemowag (They Begin to Speak Ojibwe) book series is being developed in 4 themes: Waabanong (East): Stories of the Four-Legged, Zhaawanong (South): Stories of the Plants, Ningaabii’anong (West): Stories of the Swimmers, and Giiwedinong (North): Stories of the Flyers. Project staff worked with tribal elders/storytellers to develop the stories which include simple Ojibwe words and phrases. Each story highlights traditional, Ojibwe harvesting practices and cultural relationships with animals, plants, fish, and birds. Each theme set includes three books Illustrated by Ojibwe artist, Wesley Ballinger. Each 6×6 book is printed on a non- toxic, polyester based, synthetic paper resistant to tearing and is waterproof. The books can be cleaned with a gentle dish detergent diluted in warm water to help prevent the spread of germs.

Accompanying each book is a Parent/Teacher Supplemental Document which includes translations of the Ojibwe words and phrases used in the story, as well as cultural and harvesting information relating to the book’s subject matter. For example, the Giigoonyag (Fish) supplemental document provides cultural information about the relationship between the Ojibwe people and fish, ways to reduce mercury exposure to certain fish, and alternative fish to eat. There’s also a coloring book included which has been adapted from each of the storybooks.

The second part of the project is the development of a companion webpage for each book theme that includes interactive Ojibwe language learning activities appropriate for the target age group as well as beginning language learners. Activities include a simple language learning game which relates to the subject of each story and a translation and pronunciation guide for the Ojibwe words and phrases from each book. The webpages also feature an animated, interactive version of each storybook to listen to and read along with.

To access the Maajii-Ojibwemowag (They Begin to Speak Ojibwe) website please visit:


And to view an entertaining instructional video on using the site go to: