Culture & Traditions

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s history dates back more than 250 years, when our Ojibwe ancestors settled their home in rural East Central Minnesota, bringing with them a rich culture that has transcended the test of time. Today the Band’s language and traditions thrive throughout the Mille Lacs Reservation.

The Band’s Nay Ah Shing Schools have an Ojibwe Language and Culture Program that brings Elders into classrooms to offer wisdom and knowledge to preschool through high school students. The Band has assisted living units to provide a way for Elders to stay in the community and continue passing on the Ojibwe culture. Elders also serve as advisors to the Band’s government, and many teach classes at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum on traditional Ojibwe crafts such as birch bark baskets and beadwork.

The Band has ceremonial buildings and an Ojibwe Language and Culture Center where Band members can participate in Ojibwe language classes, ceremonies, and other traditional activities such as wigwam construction and sugarbushing (making maple sugar). Band members continue to follow traditional hunting and fishing practices. Powwows draw neighbors and friends to the Mille Lacs Reservation each summer. And traditional drum music is heard at dance and drum ceremonies held across the reservation.

These are just some of the many ways that the Mille Lacs Band is preserving its language and traditions, ensuring that its culture lives on for generations to come.

A great way to learn about our culture is through our members’ “Moccasin Telegraph” columns.

The Seven Grandfather Teachings

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe has community values that are rooted in our history and in our culture. These values form the foundation of our lives and are predicated on our language:

Gwekwaadiziwin (Honesty)

To achieve honesty within yourself is to recognize who and what you are. Do this and you can be honest with all others.

Dbaadendiziwin (Humility)

Humble yourself and recognize that no matter how much you think you know, you know very little.

Debwewin (Truth)

To learn Truth, to live Truth, to walk Truth, and to speak Truth.

Nbwaakaawin (Wisdom)

To have Wisdom is to know the difference between good and bad and to know the result of your actions.

Zaagidiwin (Love/Compassion)

Unconditional love and compassion is to know that when people are weak, they need your love and compassion the most.

Mnaadendimowin (Respect)

Respect others, their beliefs. Respect yourself. When you practice respect, respect will be given back to you.

Aakwade’ewin (Bravery/Courage)

Have bravery and courage in doing things right even though it may hurt you physically and mentally.

Learn more about the Band’s culture at Mille Lacs Indian Museum.

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About the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe