Ojibwe Winter Games take place at UMD

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It was a nice and cold Saturday on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth to attend the Ojibwe Winter Games. Organizers say events like this and others expose non-native students to various Indigenous cultures.

“To be able to sponsor events like this where other students who may not have an opportunity to interact with any cultures outside, says Carufel. It allows them to get educated outside of the classroom, outside of books, and experience different types of things; and to be able to have a hands-on experience to learn from the community.”

Iris Carufel is the organizer of the Ojibwe Winter games and the assistant director of the American Indian Learning Resource Center at UMD.

Some games at Saturday’s event was snow snake (Gooniikaa-Ginebig Ataadiiwin). Snow snakes are wooden poles that are carved and weighted to slide well over snow or ice. The purpose of the game is to see who can slide their snow snake the farthest. If snow conditions are well perfect, a snow snake can travel up to a mile or more.

Wayne Valliere, an Ojibwe language and culture teacher at the Lac du Flambeau Public School teaches students how to snow snake. “It hadn’t been played in 175 years in our community, and we brought it back ten years ago in our community,” says Valliere.

Other games displayed were Apaginaatig (Atlatl or spear-throwing) and Hoop and Spear (Dakobijigan-Minawaa Zhiimaagan), where players compete in throwing sharp spears through a moving hoop.

“Winter Games is basically about revitalizing native culture and a community where we’re from Lac du Flambeau,” said Valliere.

If you would like want to learn more about Ojibwe Winter Games, visit Ojibweg Bibooni-Ataadiiwin.