John Benjamin teaching Ojibwe language.

Central Lakes College welcomes its first local Ojibwe speaker/instructor, who will teach the Ojibwe language class in the fall and spring semesters.

John Benjamin, or his Ojibwe name Waabishkigaabaw, is from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. He brings a high level of knowledge about the language and culture, according to Mary Sam, CLC’s director of diversity, equity and tribal relations.

“John is a well-respected Ojibwe instructor within the Mille Lacs Band community and across the region,” Sam said.

Benjamin is one of two Mille Lacs Band members who received mentoring from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Ojibwe instructor Dan Jones throughout last year.

CLC’s Ojibwe language revitalization initiative is made possible through a recently received Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Diversity and Equity Innovative Grant.

In addition to CLC, Benjamin teaches Ojibwe for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe through community education and in the tribal schools. He also serves as an Ojibwemowin tutor for Jones’s ITV classes through the Mille Lacs Band’s Anishinaabe College.

Benjamin has had a passion for the Ojibwe language since he was young. He enrolled at Fond du Lac Community and Tribal College in 2000 and studied the Ojibwe language with Jones. Benjamin is contently learning more about the language and relies on the expertise of elders and many family members. He even speaks to himself in Ojibwe to stay in practice.

At CLC, the Ojibwe class experience is very hands-on and interactive, Sam said. It uses Ojibwe humor and cultural teachings to help students learn the language. By the end, students can expect to learn and write conversational Ojibwe.

To sign up for Ojibwe classes or learn more, visit www.clcmn.edu/directory/ojibwe.

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