Waadookodaading was founded by a group of elders, language activists, and community members who shared a concern about the loss of Ojibwemowin at Lac Courte Oreilles.
Meetings were held at the LCO Ojibwe College, LCO K-12 Schools, and sometimes at individuals’ homes to discuss ways to revitalize the Ojibwe language. With support of these institutions, the Ojibwe Language Immersion Pilot program began in the Lac Courte Oreilles elementary conference room with 6 kindergarten students who were instructed in Ojibwe for half a day, in the 2000-2001 academic school year.
Elders and first language speakers of Ojibwemowin Ruth Carley, Clara Beebe, and Rose Tainter guided the instructors learning and helped translate children’s books for use in the classroom. The students were co-taught by Waawaakeyaash, Keller Paap and Bebaamaashiikwe, Lisa LaRonge. A parent volunteer, Mary Hermes, applied for a Wisconsin charter planning grant, sponsored by the Hayward Community School District. William “Mooka’am” Wilson provided spiritual guidance and named the school, “Waadookodaading, the place where we help each other”.
Of the original founders, Keller Paap and Lisa LaRonge continue to work as teachers. Sadly, many elders have passed on. Others have left to pursue other areas of language revitalization education. Since our humble beginnings, the Waadookodaading community has grown to now serve students in Kindergarten through grade 8. Staff members and parents have moved and made Lac Courte Oreilles their new home to take part in the revitalization of our language here at Waadookodaading!
A Brief History of the Ojibwe Language
Ojibwemowin has been spoken since the beginning of time.
Currently, there are approximately 43,000 Ojibwe language speakers in North America. In 1995, research found less than 500 fluent Ojibwe language speakers in the tri-state area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. According to a 1999 survey, less than 10 speakers remained within the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation out of 3,000 community members. Other communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin have similar rates of fluency; a handful of speakers, all over 60 years of age, with no one in the younger generations attaining fluency despite tribal efforts.