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The Power of Indigenous Languages

February 12, 2022 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

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A discussion on the value, preservation, and challenges facing the languages of the Gaeltacht and of the Anishinaabe nation

As part of Celtic Junction Arts Center’s Social Justice Seminar Series, speakers of Anishinaabemowin and of Irish explore the topic of Indigenous language including the deep cultural value and the many challenges associated with them. We will discuss their work to preserve these languages and how they’ve learned to best share them with others. Distinguished panelists are speakers of Gaeilge and Anishinaabemowin and include Dáithí Sproule, Margaret Noodin, and Michael Sullivan.


There is a long history of connection between the Irish and the Ojibwe peoples, especially in the Minnesota and Wisconsin areas of the United States. From the fur trade to logging, intermarriage to intersectional land use, the people of the Ojibwe nation and the immigrants from Ireland intermingled, intermarried, and shared experiences like the loss of their native languages, suppression of their arts and culture, and dispersion from their homelands. 

This is an exploratory discussion to communicate the value of these ancient, living languages, the challenges being faced as native speakers dwindle, and what we can do – and have done – to preserve and grow speakers of minority languages like Anishinaabemowin and Gaeilge. 

This free webinar will include links for language classes, publications in which you can further explore them, and additional resources to understand how indigenous language holds the key to many unique and diverse ways of viewing the world. It is our hope that this meeting of minds will spark topics that we will investigate further in future seminars. Watch this space!


Meg Noodin, Ojibwe Nation - Native linguist, poet & speaker Margaret A. Noodin is an American poet and Anishinaabemowin language teacher. She is a Professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Noodin and the editor of ojibwe.net. She is the author of Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature (2014) and Weweni: Poems in Anishinaabemowin and English (2015).

Mike Sullivan with drum Mike/Migizi Sullivan is an Ojibwe Nation linguist and musician. The son of an Ojibwe mother and an Irish father, Mike heard his native language spoken by members of his grandmother’s generation. As he grew up, he realized that the language of his people was endangered. In graduate school, he assisted in putting together an online Ojibwe people’s dictionary. He served as a translator for the award-winning film “First Speakers,” which won a regional Emmy. He worked with Elder Eugene Stillday – one of the “main voices” of the Ojibwe people’s dictionary – on a children’s book that won the 2011 Library of Congress’ Minnesota Book of the Year award. By working with both the reservation’s native-speaking elders as well as its youngest children, Sullivan is already seeing progress in ensuring a robust future for the Ojibwe language. He is currently the Faculty Director of Native American Studies at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College.

Seminar with Dáithí Sproule Since the early days of attending Irish College at Rann Na Feirste in Donegal and winning national championships with the St. Columb’s Irish Language Debating Team, Dáithí Sproule has been an avid Irish language speaker and scholar. He earned an MA in Early and Medieval Irish, and worked as an editor for an Irish language publisher before coming to the U.S. His scholarship on Early Irish poetry and history has been published in Comhar and Ériu. His collection of short stories in Irish was published In 1987. Dáithí has taught Early and Medieval Irish at University College Dublin and courses on Celtic culture and history at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota. He continues to teach at the Center for Irish Music in St. Paul and tour with the Irish band, Altan.


February 12, 2022
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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