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Native American Immersion Experience Wins Award for Multicultural Programming

Exploring the Indigenous Ways of Knowing the Ojibwe program receives 2008 Rose Dohan-Sells Program Award.

by Matt Swayne (August 2008)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The National Multicultural Education Association (NAME) recognized a Penn State Outreach program for making contributions to multicultural education. The group announced that Exploring Indigenous Ways of Knowing Among the Ojibwe was the recipient of its 2008 Rose Duhon-Sells Program Award.

Dr. Bruce D. Martin, lead faculty for the program, said that this is the second national award for the program this year, a recognition that would be shared with the Ojibwe partners.

“This course immerses students in Ojibwe culture where they learn Ojibwe life ways and worldview from more than 25 Ojibwe educators, political leaders, spiritual leaders and traditional knowledge holders,” Martin said. “This award should be shared by the sovereign Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth nations.”

The Ojibwe, also known as the Chippewa, were one of the largest and most powerful Great Lakes tribes, according to tribal history. They currently have reservations in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana and parts of Canada.

“I hope this award increases awareness among students, faculty and staff about the course and the Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK) at Penn State,” Martin added.

Students are immersed for approximately 16 days in the history, culture and life ways of the Ojibwe.

“Our students continually tell us that the course has been a powerful experience,” conference planner Kathy Karchner said. “The students return with a deeper appreciation and understanding of Native America.”

David Stanley, who attended the course in 2007, said the trip was a profound experience.

“Not a day goes by that I don't think about that trip,” Stanley said. “It had a tremendous effect on my life and I'm so glad I took part in it.”

This non-traditional course is offered every spring and will be offered again from May 17 to June 5, 2009. The course is a collaboration between Penn State Outreach Conferences, the College of Education and the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Information about the course is available online.